(1938-10-25) Trust and Intimacy
Details for Trust and Intimacy
Summary: Cassius and Rhyeline talk about how much closer they have become, and what it might mean for their future.
Date: 25 October, 1938
Location: Berylwood, London

Stretched out on the chaise lounge in the library, Cassius has his hands clasped and pressed to his lips in a thoughtful pose. "Furthermore," he speaks aloud, dictating the end of the letter for Rhyeline to transcribe, "It is with deepest regret and greatest respect that I must return the donation, and encourage the Society for the Legalization of Troll Baiting to put it toward a suitable supporting charity. Warmest regards, Cassius Malfoy." He arches an eyebrow at Rhyeline. "Is there even a way to be diplomatic about refusing the financial support of the Society for the Legalisation of Troll Baiting?" He sighs wearily, loosening the top buttons on his constrictive shirt. It's been a long day, after a long and harrowing week.

In a high-backed chair by the fireplace, Rhyeline sits with her legs folded beneath herself. A sheet of parchment hovers in midair before her and a quill flits across the page in neat, delicate handwriting. The quill vanishes and the completed letter sails through the air over to the writing desk. Rhyeline can't help but grin as she peeks over at Cassius, "A friend to all is a friend to none… I don't think that being diplomatic in this case will help much or be especially useful."

In recent days, Rhyeline has been spending a fair amount of her time at Berylwood. And though Healer Keenan has not yet pronounced her well enough to return to full-time work, Rhyeline has eagerly accepted any additional work Cassius might request of her.

Cassius chuckles, reaches over his head to a side table where a small bell resides. "Well said, and with that, I declare the day's work done." The gives the bell a ring, and within moments, his house-elf pops into existence. "Some wine," he orders. "Anything for you, Rhyeline?"

Most often, Rhyeline requests a cup of tea, but tonight she hesitates. "I think… some wine, as well. Yes…" Once the house elf is gone, she gazes at Cassius from where she sits, curled up in the chair by the fire. "I still haven't- haven't heard from Madam Malfoy…" she murmurs, rather softly.

"Hmmm…then she is as wise as I'd hoped," Cassius comments casually. "I made it very clear to her that you belong to me, and I would brook no interference. But now that we have chosen to move forward with your treatments, you will need to contact her, I suspect."

Rhyeline's sinks a bit deeper in her chair, bringing her legs up against her chest when Cassius casually reminds her that she belongs to him. At the thought of seeking out Ismene, the little one bites her lower lip. Averting her gaze, she tucks a wisp of a curl behind her left ear. "…in the past, she… she always sent for me…"

Cassius lifts himself to a more upright slouch as the house-elf reappears with a hovering wine bottle and two glasses, which are soon filled. "She likely will not, this time." He pats the spot next to him on the lounge. "Come drink with me."

With a soft smile, Rhyeline rises from the high backed chair. On the way towards him, she accepts her glass of wine from the house elf. Taking a small sip, she sits down beside Cassius, gazing down at him from over the glass rim. With the glass still in hand, she leans closer, tilting her head to the side for a moment. She gives the impression of a kitten, wanting to come closer, but not quite knowing how.

Cassius takes up his own glass from where it hovers, and the house-elf and bottle pop out of existence instantly. He watches her over the rim of his own glass. But while she is a kitten, his eyes are more those of a stalking tiger. "Rhyeline, we have been through a great deal together now. Particularly since I've explored your mind. In a very real way, I have been intimate with you…but it was very one-sided. I worry that you will come to resent it, or view it as a violation."

Rhyeline draws back for the moment, now holding her glass with both hands to bring to her lips. "You have always seen more of my nature than I have known of yours…" She peeks over at him over the rim of the glass. As her dark, expressive eyes meet his, he can once again see that luminous innocence shining deep within her. "I want to know more of you… But- I understand your caution… I- I appreciate it…"

Cassius tilts her head, taking her in for a moment. "Once I have looked that deeply into a person, it is difficult to feel anything but close to her. There is really only one layer deeper I could have gone, and that…that should never be attempted lightly." A shadow passes over his eyes, but he quickly shakes it off. "My point is that we have place outstanding trust in one another. I would be devastated to lose that. So…do you still look upon what we did favourably? Is there anything to be concerned about?"

"Nothing. Nothing to be concerned about." Head bowed, Rhyeline gazes into her glass of wine before adding, "I trust you. More than anyone. You promise to keep me safe. To keep me yours. And- you are dangerous enough that- that you would be able to. I know your words- they aren't just words. And to be trusted… to be your secret keeper-" She peeks up at him at last. "-It means everything to me."

Cassius smiles with warm satisfaction, nodding slowly. "And…what I said to you — what the dragon wanted, so to speak — this doesn't frighten you?" He makes certain to keep his eyes firmly locked with hers, consciously preventing them from wandering…elsewhere.

Ensnared by his piercing emerald eyes, Rhyeline can't seem to avert her gaze. Her cheeks glow with warmth as she peeks up at him with such trusting innocence. "A little…" she admits. Biting her lower lip, she concedes, "Yes. It… it did. But… it also… it… made me feel…" she hesitates, trying to find the right word. "Wanted."

"You are," he says plainly. "You are wanted. In…many ways. But you know what I am. You know that I will not change. Knowing these things, I ask you to realize that you are becoming more to me, and if ever you do not want what I want, you must tell me so. Firmly. Am I being clear enough?"

"When I /know/ that I don't want something, I am clear. It is- is when I am caught between desires… that is when, I… I am not so clear… even if I try to be." Withdrawing behind her glass of wine, she gazes up at him in silence as she takes a long, slow sip. From behind it, she murmurs, "I understand that you have others… the ones who sate your needs… Eden, who might become your wife… I don't want to be any of them… I want to be unique to you. That is what I want. To simply be another of many… I don't want that."

Cassius closes his eyes a moment to take a long draught of wine. Licking his lips, he shakes his head. "Eden…is indecisive. Flighty. She doesn't seem it, but her actions show it. I have ended my courtship of her. Besides, I don't think she would understand the real me. Not like you do." With his hand on the back of the lounge, he beckons her forward with a wave. "Rhyeline, you will always be unique to me. Nobody is 'one of many' to me. But you, in particular, are extraordinary. Even before I explored it, I found your mind to be a fascinating and singular thing. That you are also such a lovely creature merely adds an aesthetic icing to the cake." He gives her a soft smile. "You say that you know when you don't want something. So tell me," he leans in closer, his eyes piercing, "Do you want me?"

Rhyeline blinks as the news of his ended courtship catches her rather off guard. Beckoned close, she drains the last of her wine so that she might set it on the ground. She begins to creep closer, but when he leans in to ask such a question, she pauses. Silent, she stares up into his eyes like a gazelle caught in the lion's gaze. "You are not mine to want…" she whispers.

Cassius cannot help his grin of amusement at her innocent outlook. "Wanting is not about what we already have. Rhyeline, I hope I am not putting your recovery at risk by tempting selfish desires. In light of that, I want you to consider not only your own wishes, but the greater good we could accomplish together. May I speak frankly?"

Tilting her head with that innocent kitten's curiosity, Rhyeline draws closer. Nestled against his chest, she peeks up into his eyes and murmurs, "Yes… what is it?"

Cassius's smile broadens at her affection, and he drops his arm to wrap around her, holding her snugly. "I need to marry. I want a family, and it would be good for the cause. You are not only a half-blood, which would strengthen my standing among those that would call me a purist, but your family would afford me overseas connections. Politically speaking, it's a good match. For the romantics, it's a lovely story. From my own perspective, I would prefer a wife that understands me fully. We have become increasingly intimate, and I find I quite enjoy it." He sets his wine glass down, bringing his hand over to tip a finger under her chin meet her gaze. "I think I may have been courting the wrong woman." Immediately, his finger goes to her lips. "Sh-sh-shh. Don't answer now. Give it some thought."

Rhyeline's eyes widen when he makes his wishes clear to her. She parts her lips to speak, but even if he hadn't hushed her, she wouldn't have found her voice. Overcome with such a powerful shyness, she folds her knees so that she might curl up against him. Apprehension shines in her dark gaze, as does a glow of attraction. Caught in a cacophony of intense, conflicting emotions, she nuzzles close, relieved to be able to remain silent for the moment.

The reaction is much as Cassius expected, and as expected, it gives him an opportunity to simply hold her tightly. It is a chance to let her feel the safety of his arms, and the warmth that even a monster can show to someone he cares about. For as long as she requires, he keeps her there, protected, gently caressing his fingers along her back.

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