(1938-11-08) Plotting the Course
Details for Plotting the Course
Summary: After the release of Grindelwald's manifesto, Rhyeline and Cassius lose a night of sleep studying it, and come together to discuss their thoughts on the future of the Unity Party.
Date: 8 November, 1938
Location: Berylwood, London
Related: Für das Allgemeinwohl

Cassius Malfoy had spent only a short amount of time at the Ministry on Friday, getting his affairs in order for the weekend and heading home promptly in the early afternoon. Come Saturday morning, the butler has at least managed to coax his master into a dressing gown, but has been entirely unsuccessful at luring him out of the study and into bed.

Cassius sits at his desk, flipping through his copy of For the Greater Good by Gellert Grindelwald for the fifth or sixth time. The desktop is covered in stray sheets of parchment with various notes upon them. His platinum-crown head hangs heavy in one hand, the dark circles under his eyes telling the story of his sleeplessness. The most recent cup of tea steams near at hand, always kept fresh by the concerned staff.

The staff seem just as concerned for their master's delicate consort when she arrives at Berylwood at last. She looks as if she's been up all night as well, completing her analysis of Grindlewald's manifesto. A warm cup of tea gets placed in her hands before she sets off in search of Cassius. Healer Keenan would not be the least bit pleased if he knew how she's been pushing herself. Slipping into his study, the little one watches Cassius in silence for a moment. Her brows are furrowed in quiet concern and her shoulders seem weighed down. "Good morning…"

Cassius lifts his weary gaze up to Rhyeline. A weak, but warm smile touches his lips. "Good morning, dear one. I see you've been knee deep in Grindelwaldian writings as well. Have you slept?" He rises with a slight groan, moving around his desk and extending his hands to her in greeting.

"Yes… a little. Graham came to see me last night when he heard about the manifesto. Once I'd finished my analysis, he insisted…" Lowering her gaze, she tucks a loose curl behind her left ear before she approaches him with a roll of parchment in one hand. "I've brought my notes and analysis for you to read…"

Cassius takes the parchment, but immediately sets it behind him on the desk, instead focusing his attention on her. He seizes her gently by the arms, pulling her in for a welcoming kiss, as if he hadn't seen her in days. "An evening with Gellert Grindelwald makes a man realize who he'd rather be spending his time with." He smiles, and gestures to a pair of chairs where they might sit and talk.

Rhyeline's dark gaze widens as Cassius pulls her close. A subtle blush warms her cheeks at such a kiss. It melts away much of the tension in her shoulders. Peeking up at him, her eyes shine with such shy warmth. "And each time I see you again, I'm dazed by how wonderful you are…" she murmurs. Slipping a hand into his, she keeps close as they head over to the pair of chairs near the magnificent fireplace. "It seems the debate has shifted now. No longer are we faced with a choice between coming out of the shadows and leaving muggles to their own devices…"

Cassius gets her settled in her chair before taking his own, half-turned to face her. "No, Grindelwald will force the issue if he can. I suspected it might come to this, but his timing is terrible for us. There will be demands that we make a statement about whether or not we support him. We are going to lose support from one faction or another over this."

"Time is so short now… I was hoping that we would gain enough influence here in the United Kingdom so that we might be able to influence the discourse on the continent… Did you have a chance to listen to what Brad Moody said? Mere hours after the manifest was released? He can't have more than glanced through it before he'd come to his conclusions…" Lowering her gaze Rhyeline takes a small sip of tea. "From the start, the key has always been how unity comes about… if force is used as Grindlewald advocates, unity will be the last thing we achieve…"

"I wouldn't be at all surprised if Moody had received an advance copy of the book." Cassius strokes his chin thoughtfully. "So far, Grindelwald has only advocated force. But he hasn't yet taken action. We may still be able to influence the course of events. But we'll need to buy time. What we need are our own predictions. Surely, there must be Seers that have prophesied something that could be interpreted in a way that contradicts these 'Crystal Night' prophecies."

Rhyeline ponders Cassius' words for a few moments, taking a long slow sip of tea. At last, she shakes her head. "I don't think we need to contradict the prophecy… the signs are there for all of us to read. We know there is a storm brewing over Europe. It is in our response to that knowledge that we differ. Education is a far more effective way to change the present course than force… Education will bring acceptance, lifting muggles out of their darkness, while force will simply bring about even greater conflict…"

Cassius nods. "You're right, direct contradiction isn't necessary. Nevertheless, an alternative interpretation may give us the time we need by causing some to question Grindelwald before lending their support. We need to be able to demonstrate that his conclusions about the omens are too extreme. So much the better if we can do so in a way that draws him out to parley with us. Rhyeline, we have a very important decision to make. As you said, if this thing reaches a boiling point, the question of unity will become moot, and we'll have to choose a side."

"I think that the lines have already been drawn. The voice of fanatical purism, Brad Moody, has aligned with Grindlewald's message. You have always been the voice of moderation. On the continent, I think that Wizarding society seems as receptive to extremism as their muggle counterparts… However, here I believe that moderation will gain the greatest support. I think now is an opportunity for us to solidify support. We might lose some support, but we will gain much more…"

"Moderates don't win wars, Rhyeline. If things turn violent, it is the people advocating decisive measures that are listened to." Cassius steeples his fingers, sighing. "Aligning with Grindelwald has always been an option. The game board has changed, and we must plan our moves accordingly."

"The board has changed, yes. The end of secrecy is no longer a question of 'if', but rather 'how' and 'when'. The muggles will not welcome us as their rulers… their oppressors. Their history shows again and again what happens there. Grindelwald's path leads to darkness far greater than what might have been through leaving muggles to their own devices… But… there is still hope. Our call could be decisive if we have the will to raise it up. And I know you have the will." Rhyeline's dark gaze shines with that quiet strength of hers, luminous and unwavering. She watches Cassius with absolute conviction.

Her words bring a glowing smile to Cassius's face, and he reaches across the gap for her hand. "I have the will. But I don't know yet which course is the wisest. If conquest is to occur, it may be that we could guide it toward a more positive outcome. As it stands, Grindelwald has been quite clever. Nobody knows how vast his forces are, but we do know they exist. It leaves us questioning whether we have the strength to oppose him, and gives him the advantage of surprise if he is underestimated."

Rhyeline squeezes Cassius' hand as she leans close. "We have an opportunity… one that won't come a second time. Grindelwald's declaration will galvanize widespread opposition in the United Kingdom. We can channel that opposition into support for the measures we advocate. And those measures will be the same as they always have been: education to bring about the unity of our long divided worlds. And together, wizarding and muggle, will can stand strong against the threat on the continent. In Europe, Grindlewald and his supporters will find themselves overwhelmed by the task of oppressing the muggle masses. And from our place of strength, our forces can ally with the rebellions which no doubt will arise. Grindelwald is doomed to fall and when he does, the vision you have always advocated will be the foundation of the new world to come."

Cassius sighs, stroking a thumb lovingly against her wrist. "I adore your idealism, Rhyeline. It's infectious. But we must also be pragmatic. It is not a foregone conclusion that Grindelwald will fail. He has demonstrated superior strategy thus far, and he is very much in touch with the feelings of resentment that permeate every level of the wizarding world. With the charisma he is said to possess, that becomes a powerful weapon. In my estimation, he could very well succeed, and undoubtedly has a plan for how to accomplish his aims. He will use the Muggle conflicts to his advantage. While the Muggles weaken one another, he will position himself for precision strikes."

Rhyeline's dark gaze lingers on his thumb stroking across her wrist. Lifting her gaze at last, she shakes her head with a furrowed brow. "I am not underestimating his cunning our strength… but I think you might underestimate your own. My curse is powerful and overwhelming, should have killed me long ago… but I haven't given in. Joining forces with Grindelwald is no more pragmatic than giving into my curse. It is not a future worth accepting."

"Darling," Cassius says softly, "A general does not enter battle with only a single victory condition in mind. My aim is the end of secrecy, above all else. A diplomatic solution has always been preferable. But if that becomes impossible, alternatives must be considered acceptable. It is the continued cowering in fear of Muggle persecution that I find unacceptable."

Rhyeline's shoulders slowly droop as she watches Cassius. "I have no faith in the success of such a future… muggles and their technologies are more tenacious than you give them credit… it is your vision to which I am devoted. But now… are you a paper tiger that will fall at the first sign of true opposition? Our task was always insurmountable… but now we have an opportunity to gain widespread support here in the United Kingdom…"

Cassius frowns disapprovingly, his tone taking on a sharper edge. "Challenge me, Rhyeline. But do not question my integrity. You know better, and you know full well that I do not underestimate the Muggles. It is the reality of their technological might that set me on the course toward unity in the first place. But it would be foolhardy not to consider all options. There is no wisdom in doggedly clinging to a strategy in spite of a shift in the battlefield. A general that cannot adapt is doomed to defeat."

Rhyeline's cheeks flush under such a disapproving frown. Her eyes lower and her head bows under the sharp edge of his words. This time, she remains silent and doesn't look up at him.

Cassius sighs, squeezing her hand. "I said challenge me. I wish to hear your point of view. I simply wish to hear it without scorn. Please, speak your mind, dear one."

Rhyeline peeks up at him, meeting his gaze. The feverish passion that had shone bright in her eyes before now seems a bit muted. In a much softer tone, she murmurs, "Forgive me… I'm not sure what more to say. You know my view… If Grindlewald presents himself as the oppressor of muggles, they will never accept. And there will always be parts of the wizarding world that will support muggle freedom. There are far more half bloods and muggle born than pure blood…"

"Don't be too quick to assume ideological alignment according to blood status," Cassius counters. "But I'm well aware that the Muggles won't accept a conqueror. Nobody ever does. But if it turns out that the only alternative is remaining in the shadows?" He shakes his head slowly. "Never. I mean to see the Statute of Secrecy torn down, one way or another."

Rhyeline shakes her head. "Remaining in the shadows is no longer even a question… Grindlewald will gain strength in the continent and sooner or later, the muggles there as well as here will learn of our existence. The question remaining for us to answer is how will the muggles here learn of us? Will they see us as allies or enemies?"

"I disagree. The question still remains. There will be those that actively oppose Grindelwand. I guarantee that even now, there are talks behind closed doors about whether to take direct action against him before he can march on the Muggles." Cassius leans back in his chair, his weariness showing. "A threat to secrecy will create unlikely allies banding together to oppose him."

"That's true… but there is little chance of silencing him before he has torn down the veils of secrecy on his own. We must convince Grindelwald's opposition that leaving muggles to their own devices is no longer an option. All that is left for us to influence is how our muggles are first introduced to us… and whether they will be slaves or have some semblance of freedom…"

Cassius sighs, running a hand down his face. "Yes. That is one option. Another is to align ourselves to Grindelwald and try to guide his movement toward a swift and just reign." He smiles weakly to Rhyeline. "Believe me, Rhyeline. I have no wish to be a conqueror. It doesn't suit me, and I tend to believe that any wizard empire forged with violence would be nightmare to maintain. My concern with attempting to influence Grindelwald's detractors here in Britain is that most of them are also our detractors."

"You yourself spoke of unlikely alliances…" murmurs Rhyeline rather softly. Tilting her head to the side, she watches him a moment before continueing, "And you also accept that maintainng an empire forged in violence would be a nightmare… If we cannot gain support for a strong stance against Grindelwald, working to influence the course of things and undermine him from within might be the only way… But… Please… could we not at least try to see if we could channel his opposition into your support?"

Cassius smiles adoringly at Rhyeline through his exhaustion. "You know I would prefer diplomacy. But we may find that pursuing one course will cut off the other. If it becomes known that we have taken action to oppose Grindelwald, the option to join him may no longer be an option. Alternatively, we might not even get audience with his opposition without a public condemnation of his manifesto from us. But…I do see one possibility." He eyes her keenly, a wry smirk forming on his lips.

Rhyeline has been clinging so tight to evanescent threads of hope that Cassius' vision which she believes in so deeply could still somehow be possible. But as he speaks, the last one slips away. Bowing her head, she sinks deeper in her chair and takes a small sip of tea. The darkness on the continent is too powerful. A new storm will take the place of the old and swallow them all up. At the mention of one possibility, Rhyeline peeks over at Cassius. "…what is it?"

"In order to keep all avenues open," Cassius explains slowly, the thoughts percolating as he speaks them aloud, "We may need to give the impression of minor dissent in our ranks. You, especially, represent the most compassionate aspects of our philosophy. Our detractors are far more likely to listen to you than to me. It would give us a chance to meet covertly, and it would be plainly obvious why such skulduggery would be necessary, since you would be supposedly acting without my knowledge or consent."

Rhyeline blinks a bit. Slowly, she tilts her head to the side, looking a bit lost. "…I don't understand… What do you mean, Cassius?"

"I mean that you could contact those detractors that we might need to influence or ally with. But you would do so under the illusion that I have rejected the notion of such alliances, disbelieving that anyone would agree to them. So, since you would be acting against my desires, the meeting needs to be clandestine. This allows us to make contact without alerting Grindelwald's people."

A soft, luminous little smile grows upon Rhyeline's lips as understanding dawns at last. "So… there is still hope. Thank you, Cassius… I will speak with Graham. I will- I will seek out those who would oppose Grindelwald and- and see if I cannot persuade them to stand with you in opposition to him. And- if they prove unwilling- they will be proving you right. How wise that you would be positioned within Grindelwald's organization- to try to influence and undermine it from within… I would return to you, but to be the little mouse nibbling at strings from within…"

Cassius nods slowly, a variety of feelings playing across his face. "Yes. Of course, making contact with be just the beginning. We will still need to convince them that our plans are for the best, because they will only work if we preempt Grindelwald. If he shatters secrecy with a bold stroke that turns the Muggles against wizardkind, any hope of peaceful integration will be destroyed."

Rhyeline's eyes shine as she gazes at Cassius. "Last night… that is already what I was telling Graham. I think he agrees- but is still cautious. If he and the others could understand that preserving secrecy is a lost cause, that the only choice now is to act swiftly to bring about peaceful integration, then there is hope." Rhyeline places her hands on the arms of her chair, pushing herself up so that she can draw close. She tries to take his hands in hers so that she can tug him to stand. Should he rise, she draws close, embracing him tight around the middle and pressing close.

Cassius groans to his feet, gladly moving into her arms, and wrapping her up in his. "We'll get through this, one way or another." He kisses the top of her head, and remains there, content to simply hold her.

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