(1938-12-30) Crups in the Snow
Details for Crups in the Snow
Summary: As they walk in the snow surrounded by the crups of Berylwood, Cassius asks Rhyeline for counsel regarding the Magijugend and Rhyeline seeks his advice regarding certain investments.
Date: Monday, December 30, 1938
Location: Berylwood
Related: An Evening Drive

The extended Malfoy family has yet to pass its verdict on Cassius' young consort. The recent gatherings were mere opening statements. However, with the Malfoy family Christmas gatherings said and done, a small measure of peace has settled upon Berylwood once more.

When Cassius arrives home after a brief mid-holiday visit to the office, the butler informs his master that the young mistress is in fact outside, playing with the crups. For some time, Cassius has gently been introducing the girl to the kennel of crups he keeps. The crups took to her at once, sensing their master's scent upon her, but the little one remained apprehensive. The sound of bright, impish laughter, and the joyous barking of the crups might reach Cassius' ears before he glimpses them.

Rhyeline's cheeks and nose are bright pink and her eyes shine with life as she stands in the snow alongside the house. All around her, the crups wag their forked tails, running ahead and doubling back. Each time they run past her, she tries to catch them, but they are always too quick.

Cassius appears around the corner of the house, bundled up in a thick wool cloak lined with fur. He smiles at the sight of his dear Rhyeline playing with the dogs. But his laugh causes some interruption. A soon as the crups hear their master, they come running en masse toward him, yipping and barking happily as they scamper about him. All of them, save one. Shucky, a little black crup, and the smallest of the pack, sits at Rhyeline's feet, staring up at her expectantly, tail wagging.

Rhyeline turns at once when she hears the sound of Cassius' laughter. Although the crups are far more uproarious in their joy, the love in Rhyeline's dark gaze holds far greater depth of affection. Looking down at the dark little runt of the pack, the diminutive girl kneels in the snow to scritch behind its ears. Then gathering it up in her arm, she holds it close as she makes her way over to her beloved. "Hello, my love…" she murmurs, peeking up at him with a quiet shyness.

The crups part for Cassius as he takes a step toward Rhyeline to pull her into his embrace, the little crup snugly between them. "Hello, dear one. Shucky seems to have taken to you. How fitting. He's the smallest and shyest of the pack." He chuckles, leaning in to peck a kiss to her lips.

Rhyeline's breath catches with a soft, squeak of a mewl when Cassius pulls her into his warm embrace. Closing her eyes she nuzzles and presses close. Peeking up at him, she rises up onto her tiptoes to meet his brief kiss. "I like him too… when the others are chasing a bird or- or a squirrel, he starts to follow them, but then always comes back and crawls into my lap."

Cassius laughs lightly. "That reminds me of somebody else I know." He gives Shucky a loving pet to his scruff. "Walk with me? I am in need of your wisdom, my love." He gestures toward one of the topiary gardens. At the motion, the crups are immediately running off in that direction, anticipating the humans' movements.

Rhyeline tilts her head to the side as she peeks up at him. With a silent nod, she places the delicate crup upon the snow before tucking against Cassius' side. Although she is bundled up warm under her fur-lined cloak, now that she isn't running about with the crups, the cold is starting to affect her. The little black crup keeps close at the girl's heels.

Cassius keeps an arm around Rhyeline, rubbing her back to warm her a bit. "As you know, I met with Medusa in Hogsmeade a few weeks ago. She told me some things that have me deeply concerned about what it going on at Hogwarts. Tell me what you know about the Magijugend."

"The Magijegund…" repeats Rhyeline in a rather quiet tone. "I believe that the group itself is what it presents itself to be. An exclusive cohort of elite students. It is a sign… A sign of Grindelwald's influence in Britain… an attempt to influence the children with his ideals. A sign of increasing blood tensions among the students. I know Medusa is a prominent member of it… she was among the signatories of a letter to the Daily Prophet in defense of the Magijugend and the dismissal of Professor Merrythought."

Cassius nods. "She is what Flint calls an 'Overseer.' A student in a leadership position in the club…if it can even be called a club. What she told me has me deeply concerned. Flint has the Magijugend sign a contract, and by the sound of it, it is magical in nature. He fits their wands with a special ring of some kind, and she says that if they break their Magijugend oaths, their wands will snap in two."
\Rhyeline's brows furrow at such news. W"I see… that is not something that belongs to a harmless school club. That is a means of control that goes far beyond such activities. Have you been able to obtain a copy of their oath?"

Rhyeline's brows furrow at such news. W"I see… that is not something that belongs to a harmless school club. That is a means of control that goes far beyond such activities. Have you been able to obtain a copy of their oath?"

Cassius shakes his head. "I have not. He doesn't give the students a copy of the contract. As you can imagine, I would very much like to see it for myself. It doesn't sound legal to me. But I'm in a precarious position. The Malfoys and the Flints are connected. In particular, Gervase Flint is a personal friend of both my father and my Uncle Enceladus, who is Chairman of the Hogwarts Board of Governors. You can be certain that Flint isn't acting without Enceladus's approval. He wouldn't be Headmaster without him."

Rhyeline nods, agreeing with the truth of this. Brow furrowed in thought, the little one walks tucked against his side in silence. "Mm… the Magijegund must not be seen as a mere student's organization… it is a movement to take part in the greater conflicts stirring among us. The letters written… I thought at first the scent of politics about them might be simply a result of the particular student who wrote them… but no." Falling silent, she tucks a loose wisp of a curl behind her ear.
When she speaks again, she looks up at Cassius with a solemn, steady stare. "With this movement, the students will not find shelter from the coming storm at Hogwarts."

Cassius sighs heavily, scowling at the snow-covered ground before them. "You're right. I don't approve of this organization. It is one thing to educate our children about the upcoming conflict. But this…this is active recruitment. This will turn Hogwarts into another Durmstrang. It could very well be Grindelwald trying to pave the way for his eventual entry into the country." He rubs his chin. "I cannot do anything without both implicating Medusa, and going against my family. I'm powerless to take direct action. But I do not like where this is going. The question is, how to effect a change. Who could act as an agent in this?"

"To keep your sister and the other students out of the conflict to come- at this point, it will be more than difficult," murmurs Rhyeline in a quiet, gentle tone. "Encouraging opposition among the students will only intensify the conflict. And… its very creation indicates a desire to recruit the students into the storm… or perhaps to even hold them hostage when the time comes. Perhaps there are those on the board that do not see it for what it is… the desire to involve the students might not be shared by all. If enough of them can be persuaded to dismantle it, then a quiet, peaceful end to it might be possible…"

"I certainly don't want to fan the flames at Hogwarts," Cassius sighs, his troubled eyes looking to Rhyeline. "The Magijugend cannot dismantle anything if they are bound by magic. What I want is to break Flint's stranglehold. Let the man believe what he wants, but that contract is dangerous. It needs to be nullified. Let these Magijugend have a choice. If a copy of it found its way to someone like Ursula Shacklebolt, she would have an injunction in no time. Flint would have no choice but to destroy the master contract."

"Then you do not believe that those besides Flint who saw to its creation will dismantle it…" murmurs Rhyeline with a small nod. Gazing down at the snow as she drifts alongside him, she continues, murmuring, "You need a copy of the contract… Medusa… she is not in a position to obtain one… Another student? There are always clever ones who have a knack for getting into places they should not be… or…" Rhyeline peeks up at him. "Do you not wish to involve students… instead… an adult…?"

"Flint could have easily created the contract himself. He is a rune master of the highest order. I doubt anyone else had a hand in it, and only he will have the power to break it easily." Cassius pauses by a small fountain, which has frozen over. "Hogwarts is as secure a location as one could ask for. Getting somebody in would be a herculean task. But involving somebody on the inside…" He grimaces. "A member of the faculty would be ideal, but I think few of them would take such a risk after what happened to Galatea Merrythought. Dumbledore will be too closely watched, and wouldn't trust me anyhow. He made it clear from the beginning that he thought I was simply echoing Grindelwald's words. Tottery old fool."

"He… he might… listen to me. But… yes, he will be watched close. Professor Lunet was always especially kind to me… she invited me to speak with her a few times… gave me tea. We both spoke French… Professor Aczel.. most of all Professor Viridian. Charms was my favorite subject and he- in my first year, he caught someone… someone that- that was being… rather unpleasant. Annie was standing up to them, but when Professor Viridian came upon us, he turned this person into- into a chicken…" Her cheeks are quite pink as she peeks up at Cassius with a small, shy smile. "Professor Viridian got in trouble for that… but… no one tried to make me write their homework for them again…"

Cassius cannot help the little smirk that turns up the corner of his mouth. "Viridian is formidable. But he's likely to be watched closely as well. I don't have to wonder that Flint is probably looking for an excuse to be rid of him, just like Merrythought. Besides…Viridian may not be as inclined to hear you out, now that you are associated with a Malfoy. He was never overly fond of us." He gives Rhyeline an apologetic wince. "But I would rather keep our involvement to a minimum. If anyone were to trace this back to us, it could cause much bigger problems. We need to be subtle, and simply make certain this information reaches the right people. People who will take action on their own."

Rhyeline hesitates and bites her lower lip. The thought that Professor Viridian might not be quite so fond of her now that she is associated with a Malfoy hurts a bit. With a small nod, she lowers her gaze. After a moment of thought, she murmurs, "Graham might be able to help… or Rena…"

Cassius shakes his head. "It's no good. They are with Unity now. We need somebody unaffiliated with us. Preferably somebody with an agenda other than our own."

"There are others I know… but… whether they are reliable… not so sure. I will meditate on it further. Someone who would not be traced to us, with their own agenda… but who would share our concern…" murmurs Rhyeline, tilting her head to rest it against Cassius' shoulder.

"It's a specific set of requirements, I know. But hopefully you can see what a difficult position I am in if I want to take any kind of action."

Rhyeline presses closer against Cassius' side as a slight tremor of cold runs through her fragile form. "Yes, I do see. I… I will see what I can do." With a subtle furrow of her brow, she murmurs, "Perhaps… my father might know someone… Or perhaps… Zack Fudge. His father… his second son will be attending Hogwarts soon. He might have an interest… but- I have not met him…" Biting her lower lip, she hesitates a moment before shaking her head, "I will meditate more on it."

Cassius nods, holding her tight, and turning them around to move back toward the house. "If you come up with anything, let me know. Whatever happens, I want that contract broken. I'll not see my sister effectively enslaved to another's will."

Rhyeline nods and murmurs, "Yes, my love… but… this trouble is but a sign of greater conflicts… have- have you… you give further thought to… to what you will do?" He knows well her efforts to persuade as many as she can in his favor. Biting her lower lip, she peeks up at him.

Cassius shrugs helplessly. "I know what I must do. But which course I take depends entirely upon whether we can enact meaningful change here in Britain."

"I have another meeting tomorrow… and… perhaps soon, I- I might have a chance to meet Zack's father…" Gazing up at Berylwood as they approach, she adds, "I… I have decided to- to fund a bit of Zack's research. He wants to perfect a spell that- that will find people… when they are lost, in trouble… taken… I think it would be a good spell to exist."

Cassius lifts his brow curiously. "Oh? Well, I applaud your intent. But I fear Mr. Fudge might be chasing an unattainable dream. Many have tried to create such magic. But if the M.L.E. has yet to achieve it, I fear it may be impossible."

"Everything was yet to be achieved until it was… and… he is quite brilliant… if anyone can, I'm sure he can," murmurs Rhyeline softly. The dark little crup gives a small bark at her feet with a pleading whine. It wants cuddles from the gentle girl. Pausing, Rhyeline can't help but smile and kneeling, she gathers the pup into her arms.

Cassius chuckles at Shucky. "Alright, bring him inside with us. I can see you'd probably like to spoil him." The butler is already waiting at the back door to let Cassius and Rhyeline into the house, and bless him, there is tea and hot cocoa available and waiting in the solar. "As for Mr. Fudge, don't let my doubts stand in your way. You're quite right — genius is not something that should be constrained."

Rhyeline pauses when Cassius says the little pup can come inside. She holds the creature even closer to nuzzle her cheek against the top of its head. Her dark gaze shines with such adoration as she rises once more with the little one in her arms. Peeking up at the butler, she offers him a quiet nod and the sweetest smile of appreciation before following Cassius to the solar.

The subtle shivering affecting the girl gradually subsides as she takes small sips of cocoa. The crup cautiously explores its new, rather warm environment, but every few moments returns to Rhyeline's side for reassurance. Watching how the girl pauses to stroke and scritch him behind his ears with such gentle tenderness, he might catch a glimpse of the sort of patient, loving mother she will one day make.

"Something else… that… I've been wishing to do with what funds I have… there is an influx of muggle children from the continent. At present, it is muggles that the conflict in Europe is affecting most, but soon, I expect that wizardin children will be coming as well… I… I thought to- to establish a… a fund of some sort… scholarships for the children to attend schools while here… and… perhaps stipends to help those who would care for them…"

Cassius sips at his tea, nodding as he listens to her proposal. "A noble sentiment, dear one. As somebody with some experience coming into a large sum of money and learning how to spend it, may I give you a piece of advice?"

"Please… that is- is why I mentioned it," murmurs Rhyeline before bringing her cup of cocoa to her lips. Though she stands as his equal, she still admires him and looks up to him in many ways, just as he seeks her wisdom and guidance as well.

"Never simply pour money into something. Consider everything an investment." Cassius sets his cup aside, steepling his fingers. "I know that might sound cold, but there is a compassionate logic to it. If you simply hand over money, it will be depleted. If might have a powerful short-term effect, but in the long run, all it will do is prolong the inevitable. But if you put that money to work, investing it into something that will pay returns, you can put the profits from your investment into the charity. It won't be as much money all at once, but it will last longer, and have a greater net effect."

Rhyeline nods looking thoughtful as she lowers her gaze to the cup of cocoa in her hands. "It might not help as many… but… it would- would be sustainable…" she murmurs with a small nod. "Thank you my love…" With a bit of a smile, she peeks back up at him. "I'd be lost without you."

Cassius smiles, reaching over to cup her cheek affectionately. "I'll do everything I can to help you. But I'm glad to see you branching out and taking such initiative. You compassion…it is inspiring, my love." He drops his hand down to take hers as they finish their warm drinks and fend off the cold.

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