(1938-11-23) Doubts and Reservations
Details for Doubts and Reservations
Summary: Dillorous Diderot comes to Berylwood for dinner wherein Cassius, his daughter's suitor, seeks his blessing in courting Rhyeline.
Date: Saturday, November 23, 1938
Location: Berylwood

"No, no, no," Cassius shakes his head in exasperation at his staff. "This tablecloth is too ostentatious. Something simpler. Tasteful, but uncomplicated…and for Merlin's sake, candlesticks, not candelabra. Dillorous Diderot is not going to be impressed by displays of wealth." It's less than an hour until Rhyeline's father is expected to arrive for dinner, and Cassius is demanding a complete redress of the dining room.

Rhyeline tends to spend most of her time at Berylwood curled up within its magnificent library. Tonight her usual spot by the fireplace remains empty, though stacks of books and papers surround it, waiting for her return. Fresh from a long bath, Rhyeline makes her way into the dining room wearing a flowing dress of delicate pale-rose silk. Quiet, she observes Cassius' exasperation for a moment before drifting to his side. Sliding her arms around his middle, she presses close, hugging him tight. "Don't worry, Cassius," she murmurs, peeking up at him with a warm smile.

"Of course I worry. This is a man that might be my future father-in-law. I must show him that I'm not some disconnected bourgeois pig with delusions of grandeur." He looks down at Rhyeline, curling an arm around her back, and letting out a long sigh, exhaling so much tension. He dips his head to kiss the top of hers. "Thank you. You are such a calming influence."

Rhyeline's eyes shine with a gentle, innocent mirth as she grins up at him. Nuzzling against his chest, she murmurs, "Cassius… the house I grew up in wasn't exactly humble… it was a large house near the sea… and we had a cook and a maid too. And my mother said he was often off at elegant parties. I don't think you need to worry that he'll be put off by a display of wealth. As long as you serve excellent cognac, I think he'll be happy." Rising up onto her tiptoes, she presses a gentle kiss to his lips. "Besides…" she adds quietly. "What will matter most to him are your words…"

Cassius takes a steadying breath. "Very well. You may instruct the staff on how to prepare the dining room. You know him best, obviously. I'll see to the cognac." If there is one thing Cassius knows he can do right, it is provide the very best cognac, his own drink of choice. He releases Rhyeline, trailing a hand down her arm to give her fingers a squeeze, then slips off to carefully select a bottle.

Rhyeline nods and approaches the staff to make her soft spoken suggestions. She encourages them to seek a middle ground between extravegance and humility. A simple tablecloth, but made of silk. Cut down on the pieces of silverware at each setting, but use the fine china. Soon the dining room embodies her preference for elegant simplicity. Somewhere Berylwood, a grandfather clock chimes the hour.

Dillorous Diderot gazed out the window of the carriage as the landscape changed outside, knowing that every moment pulled him closer and closer to Berylwood and the kind of dinner that fathers rarely looked forward to. Even if they often insisted on them. Though it was not always the case of late, for this evening he had taken the time to shave away his greying stubble, leaving his face smooth and somber. His hair was neatly combed back - that was, what hair he still had. The style of his clothes belonged to a sophisticated academic and worldly gentleman; a wizard's robes above a three piece tweed suit that was fitted to make the best out of his still lean physique. He was an active enough man to have avoided that bane of the middle age; the potbelly. At least for now.

Cassius glances up from the bottle in his hands at the sound of his butler clearing his throat. "Yes, what is it?"

"The carriage has arrived, sir," says the butler in the dry, subservient manner every butler trains hard to master.

"Ah, excellent. Have Miss Diderot meet me in the reception hall." With the butler dispatched, Cassius sets the bottle upon the bar, where it will undoubtedly be fetched by the staff to await an after-dinner drink. He strides to the reception hall, smoothing out his jacket and adjusting his cape, where he stands and patiently waits.

Rhyeline glances up from the vase of flowers she is rearranging as the butler approaches to relay Cassius' message. Moments later, she steps into the reception hall and drifts once again to Cassius' side. At her full, diminutive height, the girl stands no taller than his shoulder. Peeking up at him, she rises once more onto her tiptoes to murmur into his ear.

The older gentleman stepped out of the carriage, placing a hat on his head for exactly the amount of time it took him to reach the reception hall, at which point it came back off again. Pointless? Not at all! One had to have some manners. Though his eyes had given some admiring glances at the outside opulence of the manor, once he was inside there was no hint of that remaining. Instead the man fixed his gaze rather firmly on one Cassius Malfoy.
"Mr Malfoy." Though there was a touch of stern detatchment in his manner of greeting, it was not directly unfriendly. With his hat tucked under his other arm, he extended his hand. "Thank you for the invitation." And not a flick of a look towards Rhyeline just yet.

Cassius gives Rhyeline a quiet smile at her whisper. But when Dillorous enters, let in by the house-elf, Cassius's smile broadens, and he approaches to greet his guest. "Mr. Diderot, it was my pleasure. Welcome to Berylwood." He bows slightly at the waist for a touch of old-fashioned formality, and takes the older man's hand for a firm, friendly handshake. He turns and gestures invitingly to Rhyeline, stepping back to allow daughter to greet father.

Rhyeline clasps her hands behind her back, watching as her father greets Cassius. Not until Cassius turns and gestures her forward does she approach. Head slightly bowed, she peeks up at her father with a subtle shyness. "Hello, father…" she murmurs, nodding to him with respect.

Dillorous' grip was firm, even if his palm was completely without callous. Soft like you'd expect from an academic, completely without trace of having ever done even a hint of physical labor all his life. At the end of the hand shake he added a small smile to the proceedings, one that suggested the man possessed a fair bit of charm when he wasn't quite so serious.
His attentions slid towards Rhyeline and his smile grew. "Hello my dear. Let me look at you." His hands on her narrow shoulders as he studied his daughter. In the end he decided: "You're looking good." With that his touch fell away before it became anything like an embrace.

Cassius's gesture sweeps toward the dining hall, where the butler waits to open the grand double doors. "Shall we get settled, and see what the chef has prepared for us?" He pauses to see if Rhyeline will take her father's arm, offering his own if not. One mustn't leave a lady unescorted, after all.

Even her father's brief contact seems to captivate Rhyeline. As he studies her, the little one gazes up at him, eyes shining with a quiet, subtle hope. A hope for his approval. The contact is short lived and expecting no further attention for the moment, Rhyeline accepts Cassius' offered arm. Hand placed in the crook of his elbow, she keeps close to his side as she follows to the dining room.

"Very well, Mr Malfoy. I'll admit that I could eat." And so Dillorous followed alongside Cassius and Rhyeline, his movements confident and unhurried. With the greetings out of the way, he allowed himself to start looking around the manor as they drifted through it. Eying the architecture, the marble, the draperies, and any artwork on sight.

Despite his worry about a display of opulence, Cassius's home is practically a museum of wealth. Black marble everywhere, brightened with silver-white draperies. The paintings are classical, all from wizard artists. There is a fair amount of sculpture as well, some classical, some more modern. Flowers from the garden brighten up many surfaces throughout the manor.

As the trio approaches the dining hall, the butler swings open the doors, and they are treated to a sight of simple elegance, as directed by Rhyeline. While Cassius goes to take out Rhyeline's chair for her, footmen stand by to do the same for Dillorous and the master of the house. Soon enough, they are seated, and the tray covers on the dishes vanish, revealing a varied feast of fine foods, drawing upon both traditional English recipes, and a healthy does of French cuisine.

"Mister Diderot," Cassius begins with a casual tone. "I've recently finished your book on your theories about the fate of Atlantis. Fascinating material. I wonder if you have had any further revelations on the subject since its writing."

Rhyeline peeks up at Cassius with an adoring little smile as she sits down and he pushes in her chair. Her appreciative smile grows as she beholds the magnificent dinner- the roasted fish and vegetables on her plate. She looks to the butler who remains on hand, hoping he will relay her smile of appreciation to the chef.

When he spotted a particular piece known to him, Dillorous' head bobbed with a bit of subtle approval. He could obviously appreciate beauty when it was placed infront of him. Who didn't like a classic? At some point he'd allowed his hat and outer robes to be taken from him, leaving him comfortably unburdened when he finally sat down at Cassius' table.
As the dishes appeared he indicated for a bit of this and that to be added to his plate. His palate seemed drawn towards culinary arts of his frog loving ancestors. If there was anything seafood related, it was going to end up consumed. He had a healthy appetite, for all he never lost his manners. Eating in fine social circles was a delicate art.
"Oh?" His query came with a bit of honest enthusiasm. These days it was usually his fiction that drew attention. In his heart he remained the scholar, though. Some of his distant politeness was replaced with grudging engagement. "You know, the three years poured into the research for that book were among the best of my life. I've often thought of updating it with a revised edition, but time never seems to allow it. Still, I very much believe that when Atlantis sank, the survivors didn't merely go east.. but west into the New World. The ruins in the jungles of South America are full of clues." And he could go on about them forever, if Cassius encouraged him. Hours. Nonstop.

Cassius lifts his brow in interest. "A revised edition? That sounds promising. You know, my brother Cyril recently returned from an expedition to South America. He sent me the most extraordinary artefact — a tablet depicting an Incan creation deity. Viracocha, I believe, is the name? Perhaps you'd like to see it after we dine?"

Rhyeline's smile grows brighter with each bite as the conversation unfolds between her father and her suitor. In the presence of her father, the little one often grows rather quiet. But she tries to make an effort to speak up. "Is… is that what you were doing in the Amazon?"

"I should very much like to see it, yes." Dillorous leaned back in his seat, thoughtful. "And yes, yes. That would be it. Pre-dates them, actually." There was just a flicker of something evasive about the gentleman when Rhyeline asked her question, but then it was quickly gone and replaced with a smile. "Something like that, my dear. Something like that."
"But we're not really here to talk about me, I think." His eyes passed between them. "I should like to know a bit more about you, Cassius. Tell me, how would you describe yourself? I've already heard how others do. Who is the man who is courting my daughter?"

Cassius smiles and dips his head. "As you wish, sir. How would I describe myself? I'm an ambitious man," he says plainly. "I do not settle for what life will hand me. I have a clear vision of how I believe the world should be — both my own corner of the world, and the world at large — and I act to effect change toward that vision. Rhyeline, for instance, proved herself quite a challenge when I pursued courtship. But that is what I adore best about her. She makes no decision lightly. Always carefully weighing the consequences of her choices." He smiles fondly to his consort. "I feel very strongly about your daughter. She is quite special to me."

Rhyeline's soft cheeks warm with a gentle blush as Cassius smiles at her with such fondness. It's difficult to guess what she had expected, but his affection seems to catch her a bit off guard. Though overcome with a sudden bashfulness, she peeks up at him with a quiet, adoring little smile of her own. It leaves her feeling a touch vulnerable as she peeks back over at her father, wondering what he will make of the seemingly genuine affection between them he has glimpsed.

"Ambition." Dillorous tasted and judged the word, and there was just a hint of a sigh as he leaned back in his chair. "Certainly I would not want any man who pursues Rhyeline to be without it. A bit of drive is necessary to make something of yourself. Still.. I'm not so sure what I think of it as the primary trait. It might make a great man; but the pursuit tends to leave a lot of ruin in its wake." His eyes slid towards Rhyeline, and he could not hide all of the regret he felt. "Especially those close tend to bear the brunt."

"There I must disagree with you, sir." Cassius casually swishes the wine in his class as he goes on. "It is not ambition that leaves a destructive path behind it, but zeal. Blind hunger for power and glory is dangerous, indeed. But ambition need not be blind. Compare me, for example, to that fellow on the wireless: Brad Moody. I heard your comments at the community forum, sir, and I couldn't agree with you more. Moody is a man who lusts for attention. His power is in his voice, and he wields it like a cudgel, swinging wildly, heedless of who might be in the way. But not I. I have grown up learning the art of wielding power. I know that it requires not only finesse, but a sense of responsibility, lest it consumes the wielder. It is a truism your daughter knows well, also. In fact, she has often counseled me on exactly this topic, and I find her advice invaluable."

Rhyeline brings her glass of wine to her lips for a small sip- but her glass pauses before her lips when she catches sight of the regret in her father's eyes. The little one blinks, perceptive of his emotion, but oblivious of its cause. Looking a touch lost, she hides behind her glass of wine, taking a long, slow sip. The mention of Brad Moody draws a subtle frown from the girl and she nods, agreeing with Cassius' characterization of the talk show host. A soft smile returns to her lips when Cassius mentions how much he values her advice.

"Perhaps it does not need to be blind, but I find that it often is. And even when it starts out with the best of intentions, then ambition, and especially the sort of ambition that grasps for power, corrupts." Dillorous did not seem to be aware of the fact that he had finished his glass of wine in two quick sips until he blinked and found it empty. How had that happened? His expression was troubled as he looked between them. "There is something very dangerous about thinking your vision of the world is the one that it needs to be made into. It's especially dangerous if you have the gifts to see it so. Even being aware of the danger of ambition," as Cassius seemed to be, "doesn't necessarily protect. I worry. And I see guards in your employ watching over my daughter's moves, and I worry about that, too."

Cassius listens quietly, nodding to a few of Dillorous's points. "All ambition is a grasp for power. Be it empowerment through self-improvement, or the power to change the world. But power is necessary to effect change. So, I cannot agree that ambition is ever a thing to be feared. Not unto itself. And it is a slippery slope argument to suggest that because some are corrupted in their pursuit of power, that it would always corrupt. Everyone in the world thinks that their vision is the correct one. Yes, I do recognise the danger a man like me could present. But that is why I stress the responsibility of power. My naysayers like to accuse me of being careless in my efforts to repeal the Statute of Secrecy. But they couldn't be more wrong. It is my care for the future of our society that guides my hand. It took years for me to decide that unity was the only answer that could protect us, and now that Gellert Grindelwald is threatening to shatter the veil of secrecy anyhow, it because that much more important that we push for a peaceful, universally beneficial revelation, before any hope of peace with the Muggles is damaged beyond repair." He glances over to Rhyeline, reaching a hand to briefly cover hers. "As for the bodyguards looking after Rhyeline, that has nothing to do with my political aims. But that is not my story to tell."

The remnants of dinner on Rhyeline's plate and the half drunk wine in her glass seem forgotten as the little one glances from her father to suitor and back again. Her dark, expressive eyes shine with a quiet caution. It deepens at the mention of her guards. When Cassius leaves it to her to explain, she bites her lower lip before murmuring, "I've- I've already explained… about- about the muggle…" There is more to the need for a continued presence of guards, but judging from the warmth burning in her cheeks, she is a bit too shy to offer elaboration.

"She has told me, yes. But I can't help but feel that there must have been far less invasive ways to deal with the issue. I am of course glad that my daughter's safety is seen to, but it a very heavy handed and invasive way to do it." There was a bit of a grumble to his voice, now. Perhaps due to the wine being refilled and then drunk, in sequence. Was the man aware of it? Perhaps not. His lips pursed in thought, his chest expelled of all air. "Now Grindelwald.. there is a lunatic. Domination is never a pretty thing. Though I'll admit that I don't find your Unity Movement much more practical, though for different reasons completely. Darkness lurks in our hearts, Cassius. We might not be better than Muggles, but we're certainly more than them, and nobody enjoys the feeling of being inferior, even if that inferiority is only in their own mind. I think it would end terribly. But..!" He smiled sadly, lifted up a hand in a peaceful gesture. "While I disagree, your political views I won't hold against you. How about we talk about something else? When did the two of you realize your feelings for each other?"

Cassius nods graciously as the conversation is ushered to a new topic. Surely, there will be plenty of time for Cassius and Dillorous to debate politics in the future. "It's been an interesting path for Rhyeline and I. I'm sure you know that she has worked as my personal assistant for about a year now. But it was strictly professional until about a month ago, when I asked to court her. My feelings for Rhyeline have grown steadily over time, from a seed of admiration, now blooming into affection. She is one of a kind, and every bit my equal. I couldn't imagine courting a woman who was not."

Rhyeline hides behind her glass of wine, growing ever more bashful when the conversation turns as directly as possible to the feelings between them. Though it isn't difficult to make the little one blush, her cheeks now positively burn with warmth. At first the girl seems to hope that Cassius' answer might suffice, but when her father makes it clear that his question was for both of them, the little mouse is compelled to answer. "I- I have always admired Cassius… he is motivated by noble purpose… and- after witnessing first-hand the failure of our secret attempts to mitigate the growing storm over Europe- Well… once I'd recovered and… and was trying to find what to do with myself next, I- I found myself drawn into serving as his assistant…"

Setting down her glass, Rhyeline tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. Trying not to look too self-conscious, though in truth, her eyes shine with such vulnerability, she continues, "Though I admired him at once, my feelings… they took time to grow… but… when I fell ill… and he continued to- to see to it that I was cared for…"

The little one's words come softer and softer as the shyness deepens in her manner. Head bowed, she continues in such a quiet murmur, "Even though I have been so slow to recover… even now, I'm not permitted to work yet as I did befre… he has cared for me… and… I began to realized just- just how much I mattered to him… and… and in recent weeks, he- he has come to matter more and more to me… In new ways…"

Dillorous seemed to have remembered that there was food and not just wine on offering, because he had taken the oppertunity to taste some of the baked fish. For the most part though he just listened to the pair of them describe how their feelings had developed. "I like that," he said finally, with approval. "When it grows out of mutual admiration, it's much better than the sudden storm that sweeps everything away." If there was any bitterness in that statement, he hid it well. Still, he obviously had a romantic's heart, because he next asked the: "If you could describe one quality of each other that makes you smile, just thinking of it, what would it be?"

Cassius gives Rhyeline an adoring smile at her meek admittance to the feelings she is developing for him. He gives her hand another affectionate touch, but not so long as to be inappropriate in her father's company. Dillorous earns a respectful nod for his praise to their relationship. "One quality? Her mind. It's the very first thing that drew me to her. Of course, back then it was professional interest. But her keen intellect has never stopped surprising me, and it is easily her most attractive quality, which is saying something, given how charming and beautiful your daughter is."

Rhyeline smiles with a hushed relief when her father pronounces approval over the nature of their nascent romance. Cassius' affectionate touch to her hand seems to reassure the little one further. Though her shyness remains profound as she listens to Cassius' compliments, her eyes shine as she almost seems to bask in the glow of warmth his words fill her with. Peeking over at Cassius, she murmurs, "And… for me… his strength… the strength of his noble purpose- his convictions… but also… the strength of his will… he has lent his strength to me time and time again… I chose before I'd even left Hogwarts that I didn't want to hide from the dangers and darkness of the world… I wanted to do something meaningful with my life… despite the dangers… and my fear… but now, I- I don't feel so frightened… for once, I- I feel safe and- and brave enough to- not just to make use of the time I've been given, but also to- to savor it…"

It was a bitter sweet smile on Dillorous' lips. Quite obviously pleased to see his daughter all but glow in her shy little ways, he yet haunted by something none the less. "Well.." he started to say, then finished the rest of his glass of wine in a single swallow. This time he didn't merely hold it up to be refilled, but instead set it aside. Whatever he had begun to say was left unfulfilled. Instead he lapsed into silence.

Cassius takes up his napkin, dabbing at his mouth, and setting it on the table. "Well," he echoes, "If everyone has had their fill, perhaps we should retire to the solar for a nip of something? I believe the chef may have even prepared a cake, if anyone wants dessert." He rises, moving to take out Rhyeline's chair for her."

Rhyeline tilts her head to the side -curious little mouse- when her father starts to say something, but doesn't continue. However, the mention of desert distracts her. She peeks up at Cassius with a nother warm smile when he comes to pull back her chair. She places her hand in his and uses a bit more of his help than she might when the curse is defeated at last. Keeping close to Cassius' side as they proceed to the solar, "I know that- that our politics- our hopes for the future- aren't quite similar… but… I hope that- that the matter of our courtship… it- it is not such a source of- mm… debate…"

"What? Oh, yes. Something to nip at sounds.. rather nice." With a wince for a bad knee, Dillorous pushed himself up to his feet. He'd let himself be lead to the solar, where hopefully there was some of that fine french brandy waiting for him.
"You want me to give my blessing, I know, my dear. And I can see your affection is genuine." Again he sighed, rubbing his face with a weary gesture. He turned towards his daughter, extending a hand in invitation to close the distance to him.

Indeed, a bottle of important cognac is awaiting them in the solar, along with three snifters. Cassius busies himself with pouring drinks while father and daughter get settled. "It would mean a great deal to the both of us," he comments, offering a drink to Dillorous, then a small one to Rhyeline.

Contact, let alone affection from her father, two things that mean so much to Rhyeline, are rare. At the offered hand, Rhyeline steps closer and slips her delicate hand into his. Though she has her mother's dark eyes, she has her father's slender hand and long, dexterous fingers. Silent, she gazes up at her father with a profound shyness. Handed a nisfter of cognac, Rhyeline accepts it with a small nod of thanks before peeking back up at her father.

"Though I can't say I'm without doubts and reservations.." There was going to be no glowing enthusiasm regarding the match, apparently. At least not yet. He accepted the drink, taking a sip rather than a heavy swallow for now. It burned quite nicely down his throat and in his belly. "I can see this is what you desire, Rhyeline. I would not wish to deprive you of your happiness. So.." he looked from Rhyeline to Cassius, then back again. "You have my blessing. To happiness." His glass lifted in a salute.

Cassius's smile stretches from ear to ear, and he lifts his glass in toast. "Thank you, sir. You've made us very happy, and I shall always strive to be worthy of your faith." The blessing given, he links his fingers into Rhyeline's free hand, lifting it to place a light kiss to her knuckles.

A luminous smile appears on Rhyeline's lips, despite her father's reservations. Her eyes glow with the light of her gratitude. "Thank you… it means so much to us…" The subtle blush in her cheeks deepens once more when Cassius kisses her hand. The innocent adoration is easy to see in her expressive gaze. "…to happiness…" she murmurs, echoing her father's toast before she closes her eyes and takes a deep sip of the cognac.

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