(1938-12-21) Too Attached
Details for Too Attached
Summary: Rhyeline explains why she took in her stray houseguest. Bailey mentions she might need to stop serving as Rhyeline's guard.
Date: Saturday, December 21, 1938
Location: Rhyeline's Flat
Related: The Stray Houseguest

A chaotic storm of papers and books has taken over Rhyeline's sitting room, except for the small oasis that is the girl's armchair before the fireplace. As absent-minded and obsessed as Zack is in his work, he has somehow managed to keep that area clear for her. However, standing in the doorway of the kitchen, Rhyeline decides to partake of a cup of tea in the kitchen and leave the sitting room as it is. She hasn't mentioned Zack to Bailey, but no doubt the other guards will have informed her about the stray houseguest that the little one unexpectedly took in.

"He was sleeping outside… in a muggle tent. He'd still be there now, if- if I hadn't invited him…" she explains, looking a bit self-conscious as she busies herself with tea preparation. She sets out /two/ cups.

Bailey's eyes have been unnaturally wide since entering the flat. She gazes about at the state of disarray with a kind of shock and awe, hands in her robe pockets, examining the room like a crime scene. "I'm sorry…you say he was sleeping outside? He just pitched camp in your yard?"

"No… I think he was sleeping where his laboratory had been. He lost it trying to perfect a- a rather ambitious teleportation spell. Found himself in Russia with half of it… and he's still looking for the other half… pauvre petite." Rhyeline still avoids Bailey's gaze. Although Cassius hadn't seemed too fussed by her houseguest, she is still a little unsettled by the situation.

Bailey picks through the mess, carefully shifting some of the papers to make room for herself to sit on the couch. "Are you certain it's safe to have him here? If he accidentally teleported himself to Russia…" She gives her usual strained smile, the worry evident on her face.

Rhyeline follows Bailey into the sitting room with a teacup in each hand. She places the first in Bailey's hands with great care before going to curl up in her familiar spot before the fireplace. "He promised not to do any experimental magic here…" murmurs Rhyeline, looking down into her cup of tea.

"I'm not sure I'd trust him to do any magic here," Bailey mumbles, then takes her first calming sip of tea. "So what is all of…this," she gestures to the avalanche of papers surrounding her.

"His research," murmurs Rhyeline, following the gesture to gaze down at papers seemingly strewn across the floor of her sitting room. "What he's recovered of it… I- I've sent a letter to- to an old colleague of mine who- who still works for the I.M.C… I'm hoping that- that she can help him possibly locate the second half of his laboratory…"

"Assuming there's only one other section of the laboratory to find," Bailey muses. "Just because his half arrived all together doesn't mean the other half did." She grimaces. "He's lucky to be alive."

"He is… I- I am impressed he survived… But- he understands that- that just because something is dangerous, that's- that's not a good reason to stop," murmurs Rhyeline before taking a small sip of tea.

"That depends entirely upon the possible reward for success," Bailey says cautiously. "Risk can sometimes make a thing seem exciting. Danger is a rush. But…trust me, it's not always worth it."

"He… he might be a little reckless… but- his work matters to him. I- I don't think he could be happy without it…" murmurs Rhyeline with a subtle furrow of her brow. She isn't quite sure why she feels compelled to defend him.

Bailey sighs, shrugging. "His happiness isn't worth the lives of others. If he's relocating entire buildings, he may be getting in way over his head. Just be careful, alright?"

"Of course… He- he won't do magic around me… and- and he promised not to do experimental magic here. He'll- he'll need to find his own place for that," murmurs Rhyeline as she peeks over the brim of her cup at Bailey. "I- I just couldn't do anything else though. I- I am here so rarely… and the Leaky Cauldron wouldn't have been a good place for him…" She bites her lower lip. It's almost as if she is seeking some sort of approval from the guard she trusts most.

Bailey tilts her head curiously. "Why not? The Leaky Cauldron is very safe, in spite of all those that come through there. The protective charms in that place are extraordinary."

"I didn't mean the building… I meant those that pass through there… He- he seems so lost in his own thoughts that- that he misses simple things…" Rhyeline folds one arm across her belly as she brings her tea to her lips once more. A subtle, anxious furrow remains between her brows.

Bailey nods slowly, taking in what Rhyeline is saying. "You think that someone will take advantage of him somehow?"

"Yes…" murmurs Rhyeline with a small nod. "Or- or not understand his- his peculiar manner… take offense, or- or hurt him… Or he might hurt someone without meaning to. So… so I thought it better for him to stay here…"

Bailey watches Rhyeline quietly, perhaps absorbing what she isn't saying. After a few sips of the tea, she nods. "You relate to him. Don't you? So few people understand you, and so many try to take advantage of you. He's like a reflection of your own experiences. Am I right?"

The subtle blush in Rhyeline's cheeks deepens. Lowering her gaze, she hesistates. "No… I am not so lost in my thoughts as he… but… I once was. If it hadn't been for Annie, I- I might never have come out from behind my books… He- he seems as lost as- as I might have been without- without the kindness I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by."

"And you want to do the same for him." Bailey nods, brow furrowing thoughtfully. "You're…so sweet, Rhyeline. I don't think I've ever known anything so full of compassion."

Rhyeline's cheeks burn with warmth as she tries her best to hide behind her cup of tea. At the most, she had hoped for begrudging acceptance that it was the right choice. Hearing such words instead proves a bit overwhelming to the girl. At least, she murmurs in the softest tone, "Thank you, Bailey…"

Bailey gives Rhyeline a reserved smile. But soon it fades, replaced with lips pinched with concern. "Rhyeline…I'm not sure how to say this." She sets her teacup aside, scooting a few papers to make room for it. "I'm not sure I can continue on as your guardwitch."

Bailey sighs, frowning apologetically. "Rhyeline, it's very important for a guardwizard to be able to maintain a certain professional distance. We have to keep a cool head, and make decisions based on logic and reason, not emotion. I like you, Rhyeline. I like you an awful lot. I'm afraid my fondness for you may begin to compromise my ability to protect you."

Rhyeline bites her lower lip, gazing at Bailey for a moment. Setting aside her cup of tea, she rises and tiptoes her way through the mess of scattered parchment to sit down on the small settee beside Bailey. The little one gazes up at her guard and murmurs, "I like it best when it's you watching me… I feel safest… I don't want you to go…"

Bailey folds her arms over her belly, tucking her hands snugly against her sides. "Feeling safest isn't necessarily being safest. I don't want to give up this assignment. But I feel that I could be endangering you if I keep it."

"If- if I matter to you… then… then you will be- be even more cautious for me… more watchful… than- than if I were just another- another assignment…" reasons Rhyeline. Although sooner or later, all of her guards become a bit attached to the little one.

"And I'll start seeing threats where there aren't any. Or I'll get too wrapped up in you, and not see them coming." Bailey looks down at her lap, frowning. "Or a real danger comes, and I'm so frightened that you'll get hurt that I get emotional and make a drastic mistake. Rhyeline, there are so many things that can go wrong. This is why we're not supposed to get attached. This is why witches like Helga are so good at this."

Rhyeline's cheeks grow rather warm as she begins to realize just how fond of her Bailey has become. The little one looks down and immitates the older witch, folding her arms across her belly before peeking back up at her. "…Would you be like Graham then? Still there… protecting me… but- not as a guard?" Her dark gaze shines with an almost frightened look of hope.

Bailey lifts her gaze, a touch of incredulity in her eyes. "Of course I would. It…would be difficult. The agency wouldn't like it. But as long as I don't cause them any problems, I think they'd overlook it." She sighs. "I'm sorry to lay this on you. I haven't made any decisions yet. But I wanted to see how you felt about it, and for you to know."

Rhyeline seems much reassured by Bailey's words. "Well… I- I'll… miss you… I like it when it's just us here… it's- it's a bit like it once was… before the guards… and I just had a- a friend over for- for tea… But- I… I do understand." As she speaks, the little one draws a bit closer so that her shoulder rests against Bailey's arm. Falling silent, she peeks up at her once more.

Bailey sighs, smiling down at Rhyeline. "I like it, too. Honestly…I don't know that I want to give it up. It wouldn't be the same with another guardwitch looming. Though…I'm sure they'd be willing to wait outside if I'm here. Like Graham, as you said."

"It's gotten so cold… I don't like to ask them to wait outside these days… But- but maybe she could wait upstairs or something," suggests Rhyeline with a soft little smile.

Bailey chuckles, nodding. "If I decide to request a reassignment. I'm still not totally sure. I just need to know you have the best possible protection, even if that means it isn't me."

Rhyeline smiles and as she so often does with Graham, she tries to hug Bailey's arm. "I'm sure I will be alright… And… And even though what you said before makes sense, I- I hope that you don't go…"

Bailey tenses a little, but leans into the hug to her arm. "I know you do. We'll see how things go, alright? I feel like I've found a friend in you, and I don't want to ruin that in any way."

"Can't be ruined. If you go, you will be just like Graham… watching over me, even- even if you have other work as well… However! I hope you stay." Grinning with such trusting innocence, she nuzzles her cheek against Bailey's shoulder before looking back over at her chair where her half-finished cup of tea is waiting there, mocking her by being out of reach.

Bailey parts her lips to speak, something just on the tip of her tongue, but she thinks better of it and shuts them tight again. She nods, smiling. "Of course. Graham and I have plenty enough in common, already. We may be alike in this, too."

Rhyeline is oblivious to the reconsidered words. She has drawn her wand and with a silent little flick, caused her cup of tea to soar through the air and into her hand. Pleased with herself, she takes a small sip before peeking back up at Bailey once more. "I hope I don't make you worry so much… I- I do my best not to…"

Bailey shrugs, ducking her head slightly. "It's hard not to worry about you. You attract trouble like honey attracts flies. These men that want to…" She shakes her head. "To say nothing of possible political enemies."

Rhyeline bites her lower lip, looking a bit hesitant. "I… I don't mean to. And… I- I can't imagine what- what I could do different…"

"Probably nothing," Bailey says plainly. "It's who you are. Which is why I worry, and why Graham worries, and probably why Mr. Malfoy worries. I wish I could say the world was a nice and gentle place. But it's full of awful people that will take advantage of anyone if they see a vulnerability."

"I know that… I… I have seen that many times… standing in the shadows. I was easy to overlook… so I saw what happened when they thought no one was watching. But… when- when I am in the midst of things… when I am close up, it's- it's much harder to make sense of things. I'm- I'm not used to seeing things from- from that angle," murmurs Rhyeline, lowering her gaze before taking a small sip of tea.

"You're very alluring, Rhyeline," Bailey says somewhat meekly. "You're beautiful. But that's not all of it. Your apparent innocence…it's attractive to a lot of people for a lot of different reasons."

Rhyeline grows rather still upon being told such things. Slowly, she peeks up at Bailey, blushing deeply with that profound shyness of hers. She hesitates, biting her lower lip. At last, bowing her head, she murmurs, "Phil thinks it is just a facade… that I- I am trying to manipulate others…"

Bailey sighs, furrowing her brow. "Phil is also engaged to a man that once professed his love for you as easily as he did for her. It's not hard to see how insecure she is about it. Besides, she makes a living second-guessing motives and looking for corruption. It isn't hard to see why she's so completely off track."

Rhyeline peeks up at Bailey and offers her a warm, appreciative little smile. She seems much reassured by Bailey's words. "Thank you… I- I'm- glad that- that you're here… that- I've got you… and… and Graham. And Cassius. Before- my world was so dark and- and lonely…"

Bailey nibbles at her lip pensively. "It doesn't have to be. I know you say it isn't so dark now. But…aren't you worried that having guardwitches with you all the time will put off possible friends? I'm not saying you shouldn't have some protection. But…people like Helga don't exactly invite friendly approaches."

"It… it would be nice if- if I didn't need to be watched all the time. But- but at the same time, I appreciate it," she adds quickly. Rhyeline has always been careful to show nothing but appreciation for her guardwitches. "But I'm not worried. I'm- I'm already surrounded by more warmth and kindness than I- I ever imagined…"

"I suppose I shouldn't worry, either. After all, if not for your Mr. Malfoy being so concerned about your protection, you and I may not have met." Bailey smiles with a rare warmth, taking up her tea again.

"And… and if it weren't for- for you and the other guardwitches… I- I'm not sure if I would have- have been brave enough to invite Zack to stay here," she admits, biting her lower lip a bit. She seems almost worried that Bailey will not think her as kind as she had said before.

Bailey lifts her brow and shrugs. "Well, there you have it. My worries are unfounded. Our guardianship has actually improved your social life, rather than hindered it."

Rhyeline can't help but grin, and she even giggles a bit. "Yes. It has been very helpful. I've felt- more brave than I ever have before… So… thank you, Bailey…"

Bailey dips her head. "You're welcome. Though the credit is really yours. Anyhow, I'm glad for it, whatever the case."

Rhyeline nods, smiling up at her before bringing her cup of tea to her lips once more. The two settle into a comfortable silence.

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