(1938-12-24) To Weather the Darkest Storm
Details for To Weather the Darkest Storm
Summary: On the morning of Christmas Eve, Rhyeline and Cassius wake early and share a quiet moment before the day begins.
Date: Tuesday, December 24, 1938
Location: Berylwood

The Christmas holidays bring joy, cheer, a sense of peace, and extraordinary family-related stress. Cassius Malfoy found himself awake hours before sunrise on Christmas Eve, his mind racing with not one, but two Malfoy Christmas parties to prepare for. The first rays of the morning sun peek in through the snow-laced window to find Cassius seated in a large armchair before his bedroom fireplace, wrapped in a warm bathrobe. His jade eyes peer out at the grounds beyond, observing the massive serpentine and draconic topiaries that are seemingly torpid beneath a thick layer of snow.

Not long after Cassius' warm, reassuring presence left her side, Rhyeline's usually peaceful slumber grew fitful. Although the sun has begun to peek through the window, it is still hours before the pair would have normally woken when work was not waiting for them. Curled up in a small ball, a bit tangled in the sheets from her tossing and turning, Rhyeline at last breaks free from her troubled dreams. At once, she reaches out for Cassius, but finding only his absence, she pushes herself up to sit.

Cassius's eyes shift in the direction of the bed at the slight sounds of Rhyeline's stirring, though he cannot see it with the chair facing mostly toward the fireplace. "Over here, beloved," he says softly, his voice carrying through the quiet room.

Rhyeline crawls to the edge of the bed and slips through the curtains. She wears a sheer, silk nightdress dappled with lace. Hugging herself a bit, she hastens to his side. Without the slightest hesitation, she sits and curls up in his lap. Her arms wrap around his neck as she burries her face against his pale locks. She inhales deep of his scent and slowly, tension eases from her fragile form. "Good morning, my love…" she murmurs, as she does each morning.

Cassius gathers Rhyeline into his arms, holding her to him, one arm around her back, the other cradles her legs, his hand against the backs of her thighs. "Good morning, dear one," he whispers. "I hope you slept well." He turns his head to kiss first her nose, then her lips, nuzzling his forehead to hers.

Rhyeline nuzzles back, eyes closed as she savors his presence. "I had a bad dream…" she murmurs softly, confiding in him. "I dreamed I got lost in a big house… a strange house… I was looking for you, but whenever I found someone, I couldn't find my voice… I tried to shout, but it wouldn't come… And then… my dress started to get too big for me… and it kept slipping from my shoulders." She adds this last bit, hiding against his neck

Cassius frowns sympathetically, giving her a reassuring squeeze. "It's just nerves, my little mouse. You mustn't allow your worries about meeting my family unsettle you. I realize that our clan has a fearsome reputation, but you've seen for yourself that the reality often does not fit the legend."

"Yes… I know… and- and in Berlin, I- I was faced with- with far more frightening encounters." Rhyeline lifts her head, peeking up at Cassius. Despite her words, her dark gaze shines with a profound vulnerability. "But… back then, I- I was suppposed to just be the shadow of a powerful man… now, I- I am to stand with on in the light, stand tall… And… it is not simply a game of politics…"

"Oh, you may find that your political expertise will be more useful than you give it credit for. Especially when it comes to navigating Malfoy waters." Cassius lifts his hand to stroke her cheeks affectionately. "You have this within you. You do not have to be an outspoken woman like Edwarlinda to stand in the light. You will be a presence; a force of quiet strength and unfathomable wisdom. I have every bit of faith in you."

Rhyeline tilts her cheek into his touch. Savoring both his words and the gentle touch, her eyes drift shut and a soft, luminous little smile appears upon her lips. When she peeks up at him once more, her eyes shine with such love and profound appreciation. She wants to speak, to tell him how much his words mean to her. The vision he paints in her mind lifts her up more than he could know. Or perhaps somehow, he can see it in those dark, expressive eyes of hers.
Just in case, in an attempt to express her appreciation, she draws closer and presses a deep, loving kiss to his lips. It lingers, but then she shifts even closer to press a kiss just beneath where his ear meets his neck. Into his ear, she whispers her most precious secret, "I love you, Cassius…"

Cassius's eyes drift shut, and a soft, happy sigh drifts past his lips. "To hear you say those words…I know just how much it means from you, and what it has taken for you to feel such things." He turns his face to kiss her again, savouring those soft, supple lips. "You are my light in this dark world, Rhyeline."

Rhyeline returns the kiss with a blissful smile. "You are mine…" she whispers. "This dark world… because of you, it- it doesn't frighten me any longer. The curse is faded… and I will never be alone again… even tonight, no matter what happens, I know you will keep me… yours… as you are mine…" Her eyes shine with emotion as she smiles up at him.

Cassius nods, nuzzling her cheek in doing so. "I'm glad you understand that. This trust we have, it is as powerful as any I've known. More powerful. There are none I have entrusted with all of the secrets and truths I have given you. I love you so dearly, Rhyeline. The though of a life without you is inconceivable to me, now."

"I am your confidant… I know you. And. You are mine. Mine to love," she murmurs gazing up into his eyes. She knows well his nobility, and his darkness. And despite the fragile creature she seems, she had had the strength to accept it all. She tucks a loose strand of his hair behind his ear. "Watching from the shadows, I've seen many romances… many lovers. Most often the troubles they face come from within, born of their fragile trust and fleeting emotions. But we-" she pauses, stroking his own cheek as she takes in the sight of his eyes as if sating a scorching thirst.
"We are strong in our bond… we will face the darkness and dangers of the world with unwavering trust and support… our troubles are not born of petty quarrels or jealous suspicion… we are to face greater things… and to weather those storms with enduring love."

Cassius smiles into her dark eyes with warm adoration. "Listen to you. It is as I said, unfathomable wisdom. Well beyond your years." Stroking his fingers through her hair, his brow creases. "I am curious, my love. Does it ever bother you? The difference in our ages?"

Rhyeline blushes and smiles with such pleasure at his loving words. However, at his question that follows, she blinks and tilts her head, both to further seek out his touch, but also in quiet curiosity. At once, he can tell that their age difference isn't something she's given much thought to. "No…" She bites her lower lip, hesitating. "Does it- has it caused trouble? The fact that- that I am still… so young?"

"Not at all," he says without missing a beat. "It is simply something I've occasionally wondered. I try not to judge anyone by their age. Even I am quite young to be in the political position I am."

"That's true," Rhyeline murmurs with a soft nod. After all, the previous man she worked for was a decade older than Cassius. "I… I don't think either of us are defined by our age… Though I- I think that… that I look younger than my years… you tell me that I possess a wisdom beyond it. And- and you wield a power and possess strength that few men even older than you could ever hope to command."

Cassius smiles proudly for the both of them. "Though even I must admit I had an unfair advantage to begin with. I won't claim that I've never traded on my family name and wealth. I am not a self-made man, despite what I have accomplished since scurrying out from under my parents' wings."

"Thus far, you have accomplished far more than your siblings… far more than most with a name of wealth and privilege…" reminds Rhyeline as she gazes up at him with quiet adoration. "Just because a bird possesses magnificent wings doesn't mean they will seek to soar at the greatest possible heights."

Cassius smiles, stealing kisses when he can without interrupting her. "Dear one, you will only increase my ego like that. Then, Merlin help the world." He laughs lightly, snuggling her tightly against him.

Rhyeline giggles, sweet and impish as she nestles closer within his embrace. "Your eyes should never be blind to truth, my love," she murmurs into his ear before nipping at it like the playful kitten that she is. "Just as you open my eyes… reminding me of- of how I might stand at your side, a force of quiet strength… Not a powerful woman like your sister, but- but with a strength of my own… It means the world to me… and I will never let you forget your own potential and reality."

Cassius nods sagely, his demeanour turning serious. "Yes, and I will live up to that potential for you, and give you the world." With that promise, he presses his lips to hers, claiming her in a long, deep kiss to seal his vow.

Rhyeline smiles, gazing up at him with such profound adoration as he speaks. Though once he was careful to ensure that she would believe in Unity, rather than in him, it is clear from the way she looks at him that her devotion belongs to him above anything else. The fire in her eyes is quiet, but it is the sort that is the most enduring and possesses far brighter flames. The little one inhales deep of his scent as she returns his kiss, needful and full of the kind of love that grows slow, but strong.

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