(1938-12-14) Aversion and Withdrawal
Details for Aversion and Withdrawal
Summary: In a crowded Cafe Tasseo, Rhyeline joins Phil at her table and the two have a conversation at last.
Date: Saturday, December 14, 1938
Location: Cafe Tasseo

Christmas shoppers have crowded the little cafe's every nook and cranny forcing people to jostle to get past bags and parcels, coats and rolls of wrapping paper, chairs and tired bodies slumped into them. Every eatery in Diagon Alley is suitably filled this evening. There is but one lone chair left in the entire cafe, and that because a dark haired wizard recently vacated it on his way out. Across from that lone chair sits Phil. She too has parcels and string tied packages beside her, but is people watching.

Rhyeline appears at Phil's table, hugging a parcel to her chest. Either tonight she isn't being followed, or her guard is blending into the crowd more easily than usual. Head slightly bowed, Rhyeline peeks over at Phil with quiet hesitation before she murmurs, "Mind if I sit with you?" Her voice is only just barely loud enough to carry over the din of chatter.

There is a moment when it is obvious that Phil is trying to find an excuse to say yes, yes she does mind, but in the end politeness wins out. "No," she says, pulling her tea things closer and onto her half of the table. "Is that enough space?" A quick glance goes round as if she were searching for the guard, but since Phil has only seen Rhyeline with Bailey and the woman isn't visible she asks, "No retinue today?"

A naive but perceptive creature- Rhyeline can see Phil trying to find an excuse to say no, but doesn't understand why. The little one lowers her gaze, her instincts telling her to leave, to withdraw as she did the night she saw Phil in the bookshop. But instead, she peeks back up at Phil and places a hand upon the table's surface to slowly ease herself into the chair. Resting the parcel in her lap she watches Phil for a moment in silence. She doesn't answer the question. Instead, she murmurs at last, "Have I… have I made you angry with me?"

"What are you afraid of?" Phil's question isn't obvously linked to Rhyeline's own. "Why are you so meek? I've met your father, he seems lovely. Not the type to be abusive. To drive a woman to grow up into someone who cowers or hides or demures to the opinions and feelings of others." She toys idly with her teaspoon. "Was your mother abusive? Is that why you are this way? So meek. So seemingly afraid of the shadows of everyone and yourself?"

Rhyeline blinks at Phil's first question, puzzled. However, as the questions grow sharper and pry deeper, her brows furrow. A harried waitress arrives just then to ask what the girl would like. At first Rhyeline seems as if she is about to shake her head, but then she pauses. In a rather low, quiet tone, she asks for a cup of coffee. Peeking back over at Phil, she studies her for a time. "Such hurtful questions… were you hoping them to hurt? Why would you want to know?"

"Because I want to know why you do it. If it's really who you are. Or if it is some ploy to make people like you. To draw them in, luring them in with feigned meekness so they all circle the wagons and protect sweet, innocent, gentle Rhyeline." Phil releases the handle of the spoon and it drops to the table with a faint thud. "I'm unable to figure it out and I keep trying. What's so special about you? There are hundreds, thousands of women who are too petrified to do anything without someone bigger and stronger to hold their hands. Are you just one of them? Someone living life through others? Or are you more sinister, hoping you can take everything and everyone for yourself."

Rhyeline averts her gaze. "…I was coming to trust you. And yet… now you assume such things of me…" Hurt shines in her dark gaze as she peeks back over at Phil. "You have your answer… why I am so cautious."

With a shake of her head Phil offers a rebuttal, "I don't have an answer at all. Are you hoping you can get Thomas back? I've seen how you look at him. How when he walks into the room you suddenly ignore me as if I am not there. Do you resent the idea that he moved on from you so quickly? When you speak about it, you always make it sound as if you think his feelings for me are not genuine because he must of course still be in love with you." And there is the crux of the matter.

Rhyeline stares at Phil in silence. At that moment, the waitress arrives at their table and sets down the little one's cup of coffee with a little curtsy before rushing off to the next table. Taking up her cup of tea, she warms her hands against its sides for a moment, still watching Phil, looking almost puzzled. "He's not still in love with me… I'm- I'm still not quite sure what to make of how he /did/ feel for me… but- it wasn't something I wanted. I was worried when he took interest in you, but- I was worried for /you/… But then… marriage… that is not a sign of fleeting interest… So… I realized what he feels for you must be deeper. Far deeper than what ever passing interest he took in me…"

Phil gives the waitress a fleeing glance. "If you have no feelings for him why do you stop speaking to me and focus on him whenever he turns up? Like you did the last time I saw you." She crosses her arms over her chest.

"If… if you mean the night at the bookshop… I sensed your distance… an aversion to my presence. I didn't understand why… but… it hurt. So I withdrew…" murmurs Rhyeline, before withdrawing behind her cup of coffee. Taking a long, slow sip, she watches Phil with a quiet caution.

"You sensed an aversion to your presence?" Phil scoffs at this. "How? You turned up with a hired guard and expected me to speak freely and openly in front of her and paying customers in the bookstore? That's naive." She shakes her head at the very idea. "I was being polite and doing the work I had been asked to do."

Rhyeline hesitates, seeming to lose her footing, so to speak. She bows her head, pondering Phil's words, until at last she looks over at her once more to murmur, "Yes… polite… as if- as if I was… was any other customer… not- not someone that- that you'd- you'd done so much for… been so kind to and- and- made sure to bring friends over one night for- for a birthday party…" Her hands tighten around the cup in her hands as she bows her head. Gaze averted, she hopes to hide how much the pain has deepened in her eyes. "I once seemed to matter to you… but that night… it was as if I- I was no one…"

"You might feel confident and comfortable speaking openly in front of those in the employ of Cassius Malfoy, but I do not. Nor would I expose Thomas' customers to anything untoward or unprofessional either," counters Phil. "Every word said in front of them, every deed and every action gets reported back. That is how those contracts work." Once more she looks around for a guard before turning back to Rhyeline. "I am sure wherever the woman is at the moment she is recording my facial expressions and your own and tonight a nice tidy report will be delivered to his desk which makes me a person of concern - someone for him to encourage you to avoid in the future."

There is a witch in her mid thirties standing not too far away against the wall. For the most part, her attention is on the crowd, but her gaze meets Phil's when she glances over, keeping an eye on her charge. Biting her lower lip, Rhyeline hesitates before peeking up at Phil with profound caution. Her cheeks are quite pink as is her nose. Her eyes might seem to glisten ever so slightly. "…forgive me… I… I didn't realize how-" she hesitates, biting her lower lip. Looking way, she tucks a loose strand of hair behind her ear. "I didn't realize and- and my distance… it made you think I had interest only in Thomas… I- I hope you know that- that's not true…"

"Didn't realise what? How having those people around you makes others feel? What danger is there? Really? More likely a way to control you and mould you into the kind of wife he wants. Someone who only has the friends he approves of. Goes to the places he allows." Phil shakes her head. "Nevermind. It isn't as if you care what I think. I warned you things would be different but you were determined to carry on regardless, pushing forward so you can martyr yourself for your chosen cause." Reaching into her pocket she fishes for her coin purse. "So it was merely conincidental that once Thomas arrived you ignored me, because you felt I was being distant and rude?"

"I thought… I wasn't welcome… and… that still seems true… You don't need to leave, Phil. I'll go…" murmurs Rhyeline in a rather quiet, low tone. Setting down her empty cup of coffee, she rises. "And… I took your advice very much to heart. I just… I just thought that the good I could do outweighed the danger…" She places a few knuts on the table, not meeting Phil's gaze. Her eyes shine with tears.

Sighing heavily Phil leans forward, imploring the smaller witch, "If you are scared…if he ever…if you wake up one day and realise he is controlling every aspect of your life…be clever Rhyeline. Plan yourself an out. An escape route in case that day ever comes." Leaning back again she becomes silent, pressing her lips together in a thin line.

"If I ever wanted to leave, I could, Phil… but… if I allowed my fear to make my choices, I- I would never leave my books… I can't let it rule me… not like it tries to…" murmurs Rhyeline, so quiet it just barely reaches Phil's ears over the noise of the crowded cafe.

"There is fear and then there is abuse," murmurs Phil. "Malfoys don't play nice, Rhyeline. Their reputation exists for a reason." She looks annoyed with herself for speaking up again. "Go before that witch becomes suspicious. Go and be safe." For all her irritation with the witch she doesn't wish Rhyeline ill or a life as an emotionally abused spouse.

"Not Cassius… he doesn't try to rule my life. He doesn't want a servant for a wife… he loves me… I never expected it, but- but it's true…" murmurs Rhyeline, biting her lower lip. Having told Phil this, her eyes shine with profound vulnerability. She looks almost scared- as if expecting another cutting remark after having shared a secret she keeps precious and safe.

Sighing inwardly Phil nods and says softly, "I hope for your sake he was being honest and is not a good liar. Take care of yourself Rhyeline. Find your independence in that marriage somehow."

Rhyeline nods. She watches Phil for a moment longer with silent caution. "…If you want… I won't come by the shop anymore… if it makes you uncomfortable…"

"It is not my place to make a request nor would I do so. I trust Thomas completely." Phil picks up her cold tea only to set it back down again, not wanting any. "If you wish to visit the shop, then do so."

Rhyeline nods once more, but this time, she turns and leaves without another word.

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