(1938-11-14) The Pessimistic Realist
Details for The Pessimistic Realist
Summary: Having received an owl from his daughter and learning of Cassius Malfoy's desire to court her, Dillorous Diderot visits Rhyeline's flat for a chat. The two speak of her suitor, and inevitably the conversation turns to current events.
Date: Thursday, November 14, 1938
Location: Rhyeline's Flat
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Characters
Rhyeline

Dillorous Diderot stood in front of his daughter's flat, overcome by a sudden reluctance. It had halted his knuckles from rapping on the door, and instead frozen him in mid-motion, his hand lifted and his eyes fixed on a distant point somewhere far away from the actual physical reality he was confronting. Slowly he exhaled.

He was a good looking man in his middle age, with most of his hair still remaining even if it was slowly going to grey. His attire would have made him blend effortlessly into Oxford or Cambridge; that smartly put together gentleman's look with a tweed jacket over shirt and slacks. While one arm was lifted up,t he other was holding together the things he had brought along: A box, a bottle of wine, and a gently put together boquet of exotic flowers. A hint that he'd very recently been to South America.

Finally, finally, if he wasn't spotted before, he'd knock.

Rhyeline Diderot knew her father would come to call at some point- but when was a mystery. Setting aside her cup of tea, she folds the muggle newspaper and sets it atop the small tower of newspapers at her feet. She rises to her feet with a slow, careful grace and pauses to let the momentary dizziness pass. A witch with hints of silver in her auburn hair stands in the foyer, watching the girl's progress. Her robes are simple and functional- close to what many of those magical law enforcement tend to favor, but of far better quality than what most could afford. Rhyeline peeks up at her with a hesitant shyness before reaching the door.

The door opens slightly, just as it always does, so that she might peek out onto the street from behind it. Recognizing her father standing there laden with gifts, her dark gaze widens. "Father…" Long since gone were the days when she called him 'Papa'. During her Hogwarts years she began to adopt the more formal address. Stepping back, she pulls back the door to allow him to step inside. The witch standing in her foyer surveys Dillorous with a cool professional glint in her murky green eyes. "Father, this is- well… a guard that- that Cassius has- has asked to keep watch for me…"

Dillorous wore a gentle smile for his daughter, and there was warmth in his voice as he spoke her name: "Rhyeline." There was more reserve for the witch, but only for a second. Putting on his most affable personalit, he smiled broadly to her bodyguard. "Good day, ma'am. A pleasure to meet you!" And he would offer his hand, too, while still juggling the items he'd broght. "Dillorous Diderot." His name was better known than his face.

Looking back to Rhyeilne he said: "Well, my dear, I must admit I'm somewhat surprised. Quite.. dramatic. Is she really necessary? Should I be worried about you? Oh, and here, please. These are all for you."

Rhyeline's gaze flits from her father to her guard, back and forth. The bodyguard is meant to watch and not interfere. But when Dillorous extends the greeting, she accepts his hand with a firm shake and returns with a nod. The little one accepts the gifts. "No… no need to worry. Just- well… there was some trouble with a muggle who- em… fancied me… and- he was rather persistent… so- Cassius thought it might be best to assign a guard to- to ensure he kept his distance." Rather pink, the girl carries his gifts into the sitting room and places the box and bottle of wine upon the coffee table. "…Thank you these gifts, father…" she murmurs, moving to replace the roses in the window with his fresh bouquet.

Dillorous gave the guardwoman one last nod, then moved on. "Just sprinkle them with a bit of dew in the morning and they'll do fine," he told Rhyeline in regards to the flowers. Well, they were technically orchids, and rather rare ones at that. "Or so they tell me." He glanced at the guard witch again and added a sheepish: "I never had very green hands, so I have to go by instruction!" There was a natural charm about him, the sort designed to put people at their ease. Even if just beneath the surface he kept looking around with a bit of wariness.

"You can wait with that," the box, "until we've had a bit of tea, perhaps? So, a Muggle admirer. May I ask how that came about?"

"Em… well… he hasn't returned," murmurs Rhyeline, arranging the orchids with care. As ever when she is under pressure, or embarressed, her cheeks warm even more. Peeking over at her father, she adds, "I was at a muggle restaraunt near St. Mungo's and- and he came and sat with me… Em- shall I fetch the tea?"

"That would be absolutely lovely, my dear," Dillorous replied. His eyes narrowed a touch when he heard that the Muggle hadn't returned, but there was still a 'guard' on duty in the residence, but he kept his opinion to himself. Instead he moved further into the flat, intending to find somewhere to sink down and relieve himself of the burden of standing up. The downside of age; creaky knees that grew into great balloons if pressured too much. Back when he'd first crossed into Tibet by foot, he would never ever have believed the day could have come.

"Two spoons of sugar and a dollup of cream, yes?" Even if he probably didn't have to say it.

A soft smile touches Rhyeline's lips and from the kitchen she returns, "Yes, I remember…" The kettle is still warm from her earlier cup and it takes but a moment before she returns with two cups of tea. His daughter has done rather well for herself. Not only are the furnishings in her flat rather expensive, but her clothes as well, and the tea- the tea is the finest available. With a shy warmth, she hands Dillorous his tea before settling into her usual spot in the high backed chair by the fire.

"Thank you." Once he had the tea in his hands he casually gave it a little stirr, before taking the first sip. The sound in the back of his throat was a luxurient purr of pleasure. "Now that is some excellent tea." Breathing out, he reclined back into his chair with a look of refined comfort. One leg crossed the other, while the tea was allowed to sink down until it balanced on the round of his knee.

"Have you been renovating recently?" He asked of the oppulent surroundings. Some polite small talk before jumping at the big issue that had brought him to visit in the first place.

Rhyeline's dark gaze shines as her father shows such approval of the tea. Taking a small sip, she glances around. "Mm… no, not- not really. I- I don't spend as much time here these days… I've been- I've been working a bit more recently and- and so- often I sleep in a room at Berylwood, Cassius' manor…"

"I see," Dillorous said, and couldn't help but the slight disapproval in his voice. With a sigh he fixed his gaze on his daughter. They had never lacked for warmth, his eyes, even if he had simply not been around enough for that to ultimately matter. Rather gently he queried: "Cassius Malfoy. From the Owl I recieved I do understand that the two of you are enamored, but is that really appropriate? And this guard business. I want nothing more than to see you happy and safe, my darling, but is this really what you want? Politicians.. bodyguards everywhere. There's so much attention and scrutiny up there at the lofty heights."

Rhyeline bites her lower lip and brings her tea cup to her lips for a long, slow sip. Hidden behind her cup, she meets her father's gaze with a quiet caution. To all fathers, their daughters will forever be their little girls. Still so young looking herself, with Rhyeline it might seem especially so. "I know, father… but- at Cassius' side, I- I could do so much good… It- it seems well worth the dangers…"

Dillorous briefly closed his eyes, an onslaught of world weary exhaustion seeming to descend onto her father out of nowhere. In the blink of an eye he was twenty years older, the lines of his features deeper and the grey in his hair more pronounced. Then he opened them and smiled again. He set aside the tea, easing out of the chair. A brief flickered look flew in the direction fo the foyer and the witch who had been there. He hestiated for a second or two before he moved towards his daughter. His was a scholar's hand, soft and gentle, his fingers long and elegant. They reached out to lay against her palm. "I.. of course. I worry, though. You have no idea how proud I am of you, my darling, but I can't help but wonder if there aren't other ways you could be doing good. Have you really thought this true? Do you even know if you love him? I—" he paused, hesitating. "It's easy to be caught up in the swarm of emotions and mistake what you really feel." Like he had mistook what he'd felt for her mother.

Rhyeline bites her lower lip, watching the exhaustion causing added years to weigh upon her father. Her dark eyes, always so expressive, shine with pained concern. As he draws closer, shifting on the small love seat immediately adjacent to her own, the little one sets aside her cup of tea. Her delicate hands are exactly as his. The tips of her long, elegant fingers rest against the underside of his wrist. "I know that well, father…" she murmurs, gazing down at his hand over hers. "Such things are never certain. And so- I accepted for other reasons. But even so- he has been more than kind to me. And I- I feel much affection for him."

"I simply want to be sure it's what you really want. And.. don't hate me for saying this, but pandering to people is his job, you know. That is what politicians do. And then there is all this Unity business." He frowned when he said it. "I know this is your job, and your life, and it's not my place to tell you what to do. I'm sorry. Don't think that I'm not happy for you, if this really is everything you hope it will be."

"It is courtship. Not yet marriage," murmurs Rhyeline in a rather soft tone, peeking up at him. "And- and I know well the nature of politicians… I am a politician's confidant, after all…" She offers her father a soft smile before lowering her gaze once more. "There is time for me to reconsider and- and he had made it clear that I would be able to return to my work as before. Happiness and love aren't certain- though he- he does… he makes me feel warm…" Her cheeks burn with warmth as she keeps her gaze fixed upon her father's hand. "But- at his side… I believe I woud be able to do the most good… to- to do something that- that matters… with this life of mine."

It didn't take looking too deep to see that her father still wasn't convinced that this was the right courtship for her. "I see. Well, I shall attend the dinner and give the gentleman wizard a fair chance to impress upon me why he is the right man for my beloved daughter. I shaln't deny that I'd rather have you be with someone who is less of a lightning bolt, but I'll try to keep my prejudice slumbering for now." He patted her hand again, then said: "How about you open my present?"

Beloved daughter. The words mean so much to Rhyeline. Her eyes shine with such warmth as she savors his affection. Holding his hand, she tries to bring it to her cheek where she nuzzles against it. Looking to the gift, the warmth of her dark gaze is infused with an innocent delight. With a nod, she releases his hand to lean forward and take the gift into her lap. She opens it with the greatest of care.

It was a tender stroke she recieved of his thumb when she brought his hand against her cheek. It ran across the delicate ridge of her cheekbone back and forth, while his fingertips played softly through her hair. It was absent now as it had been absent then, but no less fond. Something he really did without thinking about it at all.

The box opened to reveal a set of books. They weren't natural companions, but rather put together with care. The first two were from the Muggle world. One was just published; The Sword In The Stone, by T.H. White. A mostly whimsical bit of fantasy fair, but with a touch of legends that spoke of wizard past, too. The second had nothing at all to do with wizadkind at all. It was As I Lay Dying by Faulkner. Lastly, though, was something else. Just a loose collection of pages. The unedited version of the novel he'd been writing for the last couple of years. Of late his work had been dark. This one was no better. Murder, treachery, horrible tragedies. Those of his fans who wanted a return to his ligther adventures were going to be disappointed yet again.

"I thought you might like a preview, assuming you still have time to read."

Rhyeline closes her eyes, and her hands upon the gift grow perfectly still at the tender stroke. Past visits had always held such a formal atmosphere as Rhyeline mirrored her father's distant reserve. But in this moment, she is once again a little girl, having taken her distracted father's hand and tried to get him to stroke her cheek like he would sometimes. And now he does. The effect of her father's affection overwhelms the little one. Eyes closed, she bows her head and continues to unwrap the gift.

Rhyeline's dark gaze shines as she draws out book after book. No wonder the box had been so heavy. Though she doesn't yet know what stories lie hidden behind each cover- a muggle tale of the half-remembered age when muggles and wizards lived side by side is exactly what she has been looking for. The loose collection of pages causes her the greatest pause. Her eyes widen and she peeks up at him in hushed awe. She hugs the manuscript to her chest. Not yet knowing what darkness is contained therein, her eyes shine with such innocent delight. "Of course. Always, always. Thank you so much. I- I will take good care of it until- until I've finished reading… I'll read it tonight."

Dillorous had either been oblivious to the effects the caress had upon his daughter, or he just pretended not to see it. As soon as she moved to retrieve her presents, he once more occupied his hands with his tea. There wasn't likely to be another oppertunity like that for the rest of the evening. He was once more looking the perfect scholarly gentleman where he sat; comfortable but politely detatched. The warmth in his eyes remained, though, as did a slight little smile on his lips when she showed her delight. His worries receeded, if only for a little. "Oh," he waved it away casually. "No hurry. You take your time, my dear. I will have to ask you to not show them to anyone else, though. That includes Malfoy and his minion, if you please. I'd rather not have a repeat of '22."

"I'll keep it in my room then… Don't worry, it will be safe with me. Thank you so much. So much. And for the wine… and the flowers." Rhyeline peeks over at the flowers. "You have- have been abroad?"

"Buenos Aires for a bit, then Rio, then up the Amazon. You know how it is; I migth be writing mostly fiction these days," and keeping his scholarly contributions to occasional articles in the Daily Prophet, "but that's not an excuse not to do the proper research. I'd like to think that even now I'm contributing small bit to our understanding of our world and our past. Oh, listen to me." He started laughing, a rich and melodious sound that effortlessly filled the room with summer warmth. "Gosh. I'm starting to sound like those self absorbed academic rivals of mine, always going on about how much their little nonsense books are changing the world! Forgive me. Who'd have thought I'd be a bore in my old age?"

"You know what, why don't we open that wine? It's not so early, is it? I should have enough time before I have to leave to at least finish a bottle."

Rhyeline smiles and at once rises to her feet. Too fast. She hesitates with a subtle sway and has to steady herself on the arm of the chair. The warmth returns to her cheeks as she tries to hide the moment by saying, "Your pieces in the Daily Prophet have true influence… I have always followed what comes after and noticed that your penned words are noticed by policy makers… Yours are not mere words that end in words…"

It took effort to remain seated where he was, rather than offer his assistance. Against every instinct in his body he acted as if he had seen nothing at all to her fragility, and merely contnued to sip politely from his tea. "That's kind of you to say, Rhyeline. A little bit of influence, I shall admit that I still possess."

The brief diziness fades and with a small nod, she heads off into the kitchen to fetch wine glasses. As she returns, she murmurs, "Cassius is well familiar with your work. Whenever it pertains to magical and muggle relations, I always make sure he knows your arguments." Placing the glasses upon the coffee table, she lets her father pour the wine as she sits down once more with a rather slow, careful grace.

His mouth thinned when mention of Cassius returned. "I see. Well. As long as my work isn't being used as support for his.." he paused, then belatedly added: "Your cause, I can only be flattered by the attention." With long practice in the art of drinking, Dillorous was a light hand when it came to pouring wine. Noticably she got barely a quarter glass, while his was filled up to the brink. A little sign tha the had infact noticed her faintness earlier. "The more I live, the more I think that man's heart, wizard or Muggle, contains too much darkness for good intentions to easily win through. Or at all." Mostly at all.

Rhyeline bites her lower lip when she notices her father's thinning lips. Accepting the glass, she tucks her legs beneath herself on her chair and curls up a bit. "Cassius is a man- human as any other… but his purpose his noble… I would not have served him otherwise. When the secret negotiations for peace in Berlin failed, I knew that- that to calm the growing storm over Europe… well… working from the shadows had already failed… He understands that as well as I know it. More direct intervention is what's needed… but- but not in the way that Grindelwald advocates… not through force and oppression… Cassius has- has always advocated for a more careful, moderate course… education- of both wizarding-kind and muggles so that the return to unity is- is smooth…"

"My gran-mama, she was a wonderful woman. Probably the most wonderful person I have ever met. It always saddened me that you never got to meet her. I think things.." he drew in a slow breath, his words trailing off as well as his gaze. "No, no matter. She gave me a peek into the world of Muggles that I've always cherished, though. We're not better than them. But we are more than them, and the truth is, my darling, that nothing creates hate more than a sense of inferiority. Grindelwald.. is a lunatic.. but I sadly, very sadly, think he has the right on the danger they pose if they found us out. And I'm not so sure any amount of education would work." This was not an idealist talking; it was sad realist who sounded like he'd much rather have been a romantic.

Rhyeline lowers her gaze and retreats behind her glass of wine for a slow, thoughtful sip. "…Above all- Cassius is concerned with- with bringing us out of hiding… to free us from- from fear of what might happen to us if we were discovered… And- if education proves- proves impossible… or if- if there are not enough to stand with him in favor of a more moderate approach… I think that- that he will soon align with Grindelwald…"

Dillorous didn't immediately answer, instead taking for himself a moment to slowly drink from his glass of wine. And he kept drinking, too, until a third of the glass was empty. The greying scholar paused there to gaze into the darkness of the glass. Then without hesitation he swallowed all of the rest in one single go. The empty glass settled down onto the coffee table with a soft little clink.

"I see," he said slowly, his expression grim. "My grandmother was a Muggle. We're both technically half-bloods, you and I, even if we grew up in good wizard homes. The things Grindelwald and his supporters say.. I could.. no; never. Never."

Rhyeline watches her father from behind her wine-glass with quiet concern. "There are many rumors… rumors that paint Grindelwald's supporters as both monsters and angels… I suspect the truth lies in the middle, but how close to which side, I don't know… Perhaps the force they advocate will be just- similar to the legitimate force used by magical law enforcment when maintaining order in our own society… or perhaps what they advocate will lead to… to something closer to what the muggle nazis appear to be doing… For now… I will continue to read… and watch…"

"Absolute domination does not lend itself well to gentleness, my dear." With a sigh he leaned forward to pour himself another glass of wine. Absently he tugged loose his pocket watch, too, and had a glance to check the time. It was how it always was. Dillorous never stayed very long, and when he left it was usually to be a way for quite some time. Of course this time he had at least promised to attend the dinner with Cassius.

That quiet reserve slowly settles over Rhyeline once more as she watches her father check his pocketwatch. Closing her eyes, she tilts her head back and drains the last of her wine. Head tilted a bit to the side, she peeks back over at her father. "It is always difficult for me to voice my thoughts with clarity… Cassius is far more elloquent than I…"

A second glass, gone as quickly as the first one had. Even when she had been young he had been a hard drinker, though he had done his best to shield her from the effects of his inebriation. Except finding him passed out in his study, over his books. But then that might have looked like the gentle sleep of exhaustion to a child. Of course these days the causes that drove him to drink were different. He watched the emptiness of the glass with a bitter light in his eyes. "Rhyeline. You've always been a very smart girl. Don't ever let eloquence fool you to forget that cruel is cruel. Evil is evil. And when people suffer or die for others' greed or fear or ambition, it doesn't matter what reasons they give. I've heard.." and told himself, "every excuse there is. In the end, that's all they are." And self loathing rising, so did he. "I'm sorry, my dear. I would've loved to stay longer, but I do have an appointment. I didn't think time would pass so quickly."

Rhyeline knows the darkness of the world better then most- and far more than most might suspect she'd understand. Such an innocent creature, living in a world of secrets and snakes. She listens to her father's warnings with the solmen expression she's always worn for his lessons. Setting aside her glass, she places her hands upon the arms of her chair and pushes herself up to stand with that slow grace of hers. "I understand, father… Thank you so much for coming," she murmurs, gazing up at him. "I… I look forward to seeing you for dinner at- at Berylwood."

Her father sighed, and as if she was still some little girl, he reached out and gave her a gentle and paternal pat and stroke cross the top of her head. "Of course, little one. It's always a pleasure to see you grow more and more into yourself. Well." His hand withdrew, and his bearing took on a note of dignified reserve. "That's that, then. You take care, and I'll see you when I come to dinner."

Despite how Rhyeline tries to maintain her reserved composure, her dark expressive eyes shine with such emotion at the gentle affection from her absent father. And though standing at her full, diminutive height, she is almost the same size as when she entered her fourth year at Hogwarts. Silent, his daughter gives a small, dutiful nod and shows him to the door. Through it all, her guard standing in the foyer remains as a watchful statue.

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