(1938-10-27) The Answer
Details for The Answer
Summary: Cassius presses Rhyeline for an answer to his proposal of courtship.
Date: 27 October, 1938
Location: Berylwood, London
Related: Trust and Intimacy

The fireplace in the library has died down to the faintest glow of coals. Rhyeline sits curled up in a high backed chair. A blanket has been pulled up over her shoulder and tuckd under her jaw. The book she had been reading rests on the ground next to an empty cup of tea. Though Cassius saw Rhyeline the morning after his request, last night there was no trace of her. But here she is at last, so at home at Berylwood that she has fallen asleep reading.

Cassius stands in the doorway of the library, leans up against the frame, arms crossed and smiling endearingly at the sleeping Rhyeline. As she has stayed in the manor more frequently, she has gotten to see Cassius in more casual dress than his usual crisp suits. Even now, he wears casual slacks and a comfortable, billowy shirt with the top few buttons left undone. One cannot be stiff-necked all the time, after all.

The pale-haired Malfoy steps into the library, stooping to pick up the book and cup, setting them aside on a table where the servants can attend to them later. He crouches by Rhyeline's chair, tenderly petting her hair as he places the softest of kisses upon her temple. "Awaken, my little mouse," he whispers.

Rhyeline gives a content little sigh as Cassius' fingertips stroke through her loose, dark curls. His whisper reaches into her dreams and draws her to him. Peeking up at him through a haze of sleepiness, an unguarded smile of such trust appears upon her lips and shines in her eyes. "Cassius…" she whispers.

"The one and only," he quips, his fingertips teasing along the top of her ear. "You needn't truly wake. Would you like me to take you to your room? I fear you'll get a crick in your neck like this." Though, by the look of her, Rhyeline could fit comfortable into just about any space.

It's true, Rhyeline is curld up in the chair like a kitten in a tiny box. She fits. The moment his fingertips caress across her delicate ear, Rhyeline's dark gaze slides out of focus and her breathing stills. She parts her lips, knowing he asked her something. But she can't quite seem to focus now.

Cassius's lips spread into a cheshire grin. "You are unbelievably adorable. Do you know that?" He draws his hand away, standing and pulling another chair closer to sit near her. "Did you rest well? I hope I'm not disturbing you."

Rhyeline bites her lower lip, shy as a door mouse as she peeks up at Cassius. Now that he's found out what happens when someone touches her ear, her dark gaze shines with vulnerable caution. She pulls the blanket up over her nose, peeking out at Cassius in silence. Her soft voice comes slightly muffled as she murmurs, "No… I- I was waiting for you… Fell asleep, but- I wanted to ask you… I wanted you to tell me more… What great things could we build if- if I became your wife?"

Cassius sits in a lazy slouch, again not at all like his more formal daily persona. He extends a hand toward her, palm up in invitation. "Aside from our political aims? A family, first and foremost. Do you want to be a mother, Rhyeline? I suppose that is the most important question."

Rhyeline gazes at his offered hand for a moment. Her arm emerges out from under her blanket and her delicate hand slips into his. As if expecting him to tug her closer, she shifts beneath the blanket. Her expectation turns into a self-fullfilling prophecy. Drawn from her chair, she slides into his lap and curls up once more. Resting her head against his chest, listening to the beat of his heart, she murmurs, "One day… yes. I'd like that. To share the beauty of this world, to watch a new mind develop full of curiosity and wonder…"

Cassius wraps Rhyeline into his arms as she settles in his lap. So close, he can close his eyes for a moment and just feel her against him, smelling her scent. "I want a partner, Rhyeline. I have always known that, whomever my wife might be, she must be my intellectual equal. She must be somebody that can understand my work, and be a part of it…someone that will influence it in ways I did not anticipate. I am destined for even greater heights. This I have never doubted. But it is lonely upon the summit, and I would much rather rule my kingdom with a queen at my side." His fingers find her face, gently stroking her cheek. "Let me court you, Rhyeline." Is he asking, or telling? "No series of interviews will teach you better than real courtship what we can be together."

"I have always made my choices with great care…" Gazing up into Cassius' intent jade eyes, Rhyeline can't help but tilt her warm cheek into his touch. "There are many dangers to emerging into the public eye as more than your assistant… And if- if I do not prove as suitable as you had hoped… would I be able to return to my work and continue as before?"

Cassius frowns, pursing his lips and tut-tutting at her. "Of course, Rhyeline. So long as you wished to continue working for me, I would have you, no matter the result of courtship. Surely you do not think me so petty that I would cast you aside."

"I didn't think you would be pety…" murmurs Rhyeline, though his reassurance has eased some of the caution from her manner. "Ours would not be a simple romance… we would build more than a simple life. We would build great things… alter the present course of history. I do not have your gift for speaking before crowds… but I have other strengths you do not…"

"Which is why I believe we would make a smart match," Cassius agrees. "We compliment each other well. We always have. And now," he dips his face to place a gentle kiss on her cheek, "we have learned that we connect in other ways, yes?"

Rhyeline tilts her cheek into his kiss before peeking up at him with a soft smile. "That is true… but there is still much I do not know of you… And- there is much I do not know of myself… But- perhaps… that is what courtship is for…" She falls silent, watching Cassius a moment. She closes her eyes and tucks her head under his chin. "Forgive me… Choice has- has always been difficult for me. I… I find it easier to accept what is not for me to choose than to weigh all options, to foresee what lies hidden down each path…"

Cassius chuckles softly. "Another one of those things that is a strength for me, but a challenge for you. But I do not wish to make this choice for you. After all, you already know what my choice would be. Yes, this is what courtship is for. Spend some time getting to know me, and I you. I have already begun sharing much more of myself with you. I am prepared to do more, if you'll have me."

"There is much I don't know of what would be expected of me or what it would mean… But- to step out of the shadows, to stand at your side… to be- to be more than I'd ever imagined… I could do great things as your wife… together we could build a future for the greatest benefit of all mankind…" Her voice trails off as she loses herself in her thoughts for a moment. Silent, she peeks up at him. Still thoughtful, she tilts her head to the side as she considers his eyes. "You are motivated by noble purpose," she murmurs at last. "That is what matters most to me… what we could build… it is worth all the possible risks… Life is full of pain despite whatever choice I might make… and so… I think… yes. I… I accept."

Cassius's smile puts the cheshire grin to shame. His eyes fill with affection and no small amount of triumph — indeed, it is a victory for the man. He eases Rhyeline back against his arm in a dip to the side, and then follows, leaning over her to claim her lips in a celebratory kiss.

Rhyeline can't help but smile- no- her eyes shine at the sight of what triumphant joy fills Cassius' features. As his lips claim hers, she places a hand upon his chest so that he might take hold of his loose white shirt and cling to him. Though tentative and inexperienced in the kiss, she lifts her chin to return it with unguarded warmth.

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