(1939-01-05) Aunt of Doom
Details for Aunt of Doom
Summary: It's a good thing that Cassius is under an enchanted sleep or he wouldn't get much rest at all. Zack comes to check on Rhyeline, Rena comes to take statements, Shelley gets lost in her befuddled state and wanders in. Ismene Malfoy is the only one there (besides Rhyeline) to actually see if Cassius is alright. Note: A few changes were made to the log when Rhyeline's player realized that Cassius' guards wouldn't be quite as unobtrusive as they usually are.
Date: Sunday, January 5th 1939
Location: Private Room - Spell Damage Ward at St. Mungo's
Related: This scene follows Holiday Horror.

One of the perks of the rich and powerful is a private room in St. Mungo's, away from most of the noise and chaos that has descended upon the wizarding hospital after the attack on the Sykes Gala. Although Cassius Malfoy did not suffer any actual injury, the healers have decided to keep him overnight for observation.

Rhyeline sits at his bedside, hand clinging to his as she rests with her head resting upon his chest. Eyes closed, her cheeks are rather pink from where she'd been rubbing, trying to wipe away her tears. A plate of chocolate sits on Cassius' bedside. Rhyeline was told to eat it, but so far she hasn't seemed to have touched it beyond the first bite she took under a healer's watchful eye.

Outside of Cassius’ room, three burly, very serious looking guardwizards and one guardwitch stand at his door.

Jocunda Sykes had managed to force Shelley into the hands of the waiting healers upon seeing the blank look in her friend's face. She'd even murmured something about a memory curse.
But a memory curse isn't life threatening, and she had no noticeable injuries, other than a slight burn to one leg, so she was left sitting in a chair - wearing her beautiful blue dress, torn, sooty, burned and bloodied. The fascinator on her head now all askew, her hair a mess. And she had sat for a while - a good long while. The healers bustle about, and she simply watches. For the time being, at least.

Zack wanders the halls, checking the sign outside each door in search of the particular one he's looking for. He has to fight off several Healers along the way - they keep wanting to check to make sure he's all right. It might have something to do with the fact that he's wearing a set of old, tatty brown robes that have all manner of stains and tears in them. Upon finding the room where Rhyeline is with her suitor, and the guards standing outside it, he gives his name and tells them he wants to go inside.

The guardwitch recognizes Zack and his family name, and thus, he is allowed to go inside. But one of them follows to keep an eye on him.

Rhyeline lifts her head, startled when someone comes into Cassius' room. Her dark gaze is cautious and guarded, but recognizing Zack, she calms and even looks a bit relieved. "You're safe…" she murmurs. Her eyes are still a bit red, as are her cheeks and nose, from her crying. She glances to Cassius a moment, still holding tight to his hand with both of hers. "Are you alright?" she asks, peeking back over at Zack.

Today just went from interesting to … disturbing. Rena thought after the majority of her day being spent in St. Mungo's on a rookie wild goose chase that she could go home and put her feet up. But, apparently some idiot decided to shoot everything to hell at a high-toned party and even the greenest initiate has been called in. Something pretty dire and serious must be going on.
Rena was ordered to find Rhyline Diderot and Cassius Malfoy. Asking for directions, she is ushered to the hall, just in time to see Zack disappear into the room indicated by the harried nurse. Well, there's nothing for it. Rena is almost completely out of the loop, but she must carry on and pretend that she knows what she's doing.

A soft rap on the doorframe and the young woman peers through the open door to ask politely: "May I come in?"

The guards first require Rena to flash her auror’s badge, but after that she is allowed to continue.

Finally, Shelley rises to her feet. The nurses, still quite busy, either don't notice her, or assume she's off to 'powder her nose.' She leaves the ward unharassed, and wanders into one of the halls, her hand trailing along a wall, gently passing over doors. She looks one way and then another. Searching. Puzzled.

Zack doesn't seem to hear her at first. He watches the way Rhyeline clutches Cassius's hand and bites down on his lip. "Hmm?" he says a moment later. "Yes. I'm fine. Nothing happened to me." He then notices her face, and he peers at her with some concern. "Oh. Are you all right? You look different." He glances over his shoulder at he knock on the door. "This is a private room," he informs Rena without seeming to recognize her.

Rhyeline lowers her gaze at Zack's question. She's not alright, but she doesn't want to let him see that. "I'm alright…" she murmurs faintly. With Cassius unconscious there in the bed, she looks rather lost- vulnerable. That is the sight that greets Rena when she peers into the room.
Rhyeline bites her lower lip as she glances past Zack over at Rena. It's clear that the little one has been crying recently. She parts her lips to speak, but hesitates before just giving a small nod.

Rena gives Zack a disparaging look that pretty much says it all. A faintly beleaguered sigh follows as she simply enters the room and says: "I'm an Auror, remember? I'm here on official business."

Moving past the absent-minded man, she walks over to the bed and comes around to the side where Rhyeline is seated and stoops down beside her. Withdrawing a clean white handkerchief from a pocket inside of her suit jacket, the young woman offers it to her with a kind but faint smile. "Come on, luv. It could be much worse. We need to pull ourselves together, yes?"

Why didn't she recognize the halls? The stairs changed - the halls didn't usually. Shelley looks back the way she came, then continues forward, fingers still dragging lightly over the walls - healers still bustling past.
Until her fingers brush over an open door. She pauses, turning towards it.
Oh - this must be where the class is. Of course.

"Oh," Zack says, still looking at Rhyeline with some concern. "Okay, good. Because I heard you scream. At the party. I was worried." Now that he's found her, he finds being in the room rather uncomfortable, and he stands just inside the door, absently rapping the knuckles of one hand against the palm of his other. He looks round at Rena, missing the look she gives him entirely. "Oh. The scared Auror. Yes, I remember. Oh, you're coming in." He all but jumps out of her way, scraping his ribs on the door handle and knocking the door into the wall with a heavy thud.

Rhyeline gives a subtle flinch when the door knocks into the wall. It's a good thing Cassius is in an *enchanted* sleep. The little one hesitates a moment when Rena offers her the handkerchief. Holding one of Cassius' hands in both of hers, she does not seem to want to let go. At last, with great reluctance, one hand accepts the handkerchief with a small, appreciative nod. She dabs under her eyes a little bit and sniffs before dabbing at her nose.
The door is wide-open after Zack kncoked it into the wall. She bites her lower lip as she peeks over at Shelley, looking a bit guarded. But- there's something different about Shelley. The girl's dark gaze flickers from Shelley, to Rena, and then back again.

The stealthy speed with which Ismene Malfoy fled the Sykes estate this evening was little short of Apparition. And, indeed, became Apparition as soon as she was beyond the reach of the jinx preventing such an escape — she missed most of the flames, the fuss, the furore. She went home and had a cup of tea.

She had expected to have a houseguest tonight — a crony from school days, up from a crumbling manor near Godric's Hollow for dinner, the Sykes family's annual gala, and a dissection of the latter aided by firelight and brandy. When the said houseguest fails to effect a similarly canny retreat — which she'd quite expected of her, knowing her as well as she does — within an hour, she puts on her hat and her robes again — still the same she wore at the party, neat and tidy, without so much as a whiff of smoke clinging to the expensive black cloth — and pops along to St Mungo's just in case.

The hospital is more than usually distasteful in its present state of activity. It is of no use whatsoever to the busy healers and their assistants, to have information about the whereabouts of someone they've never heard of required from them by Madam Malfoy in no mood to linger — she won't take a single 'no' for an answer, though, and, assuming that her first victim was merely ill-informed, moves on to another and then another. And so she's stalking the corridors long enough to hear a chance remark which lifts her eyebrows in genuine astonishment… "Did you say Cassius Malfoy?" she demands.

There's a veritable traffic jam at his door. Her black eyes glitter with dangerous impatience at all in her way; her small figure surges swiftly between Shelley and Zack, and at a glance she takes in her nephew in his enchanted sleep, her putative future niece half out of her mind with nervous exhaustion and fear, and who's that other girl standing there? She can't be anyone.

"Miss Diderot," she utters crisply. "What has happened to Cassius?"

The door hitting the wall causes Shelley to jump, and take a step back - providin plenty of space for Ismene to slip through. She watches with slightly widened eyes, her lips parted as if to speak. After a moment she finally asks, "Am I late for the exam?"

Well, now the room seems to have become a veritable traffic jam of people crowding in all at once. It's a good thing that Mister Malfoy IS under an enchanted sleep, or he'd never get any rest under these circumstances.
Shelley's appearance causes Rena some concern as well, and she reaches over to give Rhyeline's arm a gently reassuring squeeze before slowly rising to her feet again. Obviously, her senior officer is in need of some assistance. "Shelley…" She says cautiously, coming over to the older Auror. Only Ismene's entrance causes her to nearly double back in surprise. It takes a flustered moment to recover from the sudden shock, and Rena is more than happy to get out of the lady's way so that she can see to Shelley.

"Sorry!" Zack announces to no one in particular as he turns to the door. He pulls it gently away from the wall and settles it back where it was before he stepped into it. Then he adjusts the position slightly as if trying to get it to the exact same place. Wincing, he rubs his side where he hit the door handle, feeling even more as though he doesn't belong in there. He's dressed in old, faded, torn, and generally ragged-looking brown robes, looking almost as though he just got blown up. But with two new arrivals to the room he drops his eyes to his shoes and keeps quiet.

Rhyeline freezes like a rabbit under the shadow of a hawk the moment Ismene steps into the room. "At… at the Sykes Gala… he… he was- was…tortured… Madam Malfoy." Her voice starts out a soft murmur, but by the end, it all but fades to a whisper. Although there are quite a few others, the mouse maintains her full attention on Ismene.

The other girl says Shelley's name, and her eyes fix on Rena, puzzlement clear on her features. "I- yes?" She doesn't remember her - but she's obviously a classmate. "Hufflepuff, right?" she asks for confirmation. "Am I late for the charms exam? I was studying so hard last night - I'm afraid I may have overslept."

Few enough in fifty-odd years have seen Ismene 'Is Meanie' Malfoy taken aback by any particular revelation. As the two women look into one another's eyes, Rhyeline might be one of them, if she has enough thought left over to notice more than the black gaze lingering upon her for half a breath longer — narrowing, sharpening to a diamond hardness — before cutting away to the blonde man magically at rest in the private room's only bed. Cassius Malfoy's aunt takes three quick steps to his side, looking down at him with lips pressed tightly together. "He was?" she demands of Rhyeline. "I didn't see…" She looks sharply up at the girl again. "What have the healers said?"

"He was lifted into the air first," Zack informs Ismene, trying to be helpful. "He might have had the Full Body-Bind used on him too, but I'm not sure. It was hard to see because it was dark. And then he was tortured. After the Body-Bind. Or whatever it was." He peers at Shelley, looking a little afraid of the way she's acting. "Stop that," he says. "Stop acting like that. You're an Auror. Act like an Auror."

A look of anxiety. Yes, Cassius Malfoy was attacked and tortured - that's what Rena was sent here for. But can she get the low-down? No… Oh well, some things are more important.

"Mister Fudge - she can't help herself," Rena says thinly in an aside to Zack. "Something is very wrong."

Coming to Shelley now, she reaches out to take the other woman's arm and she smiles kindly: "You're not late, Gryffindor. The exam's been postponed. We all get the day off today. It's a holiday, actually. We can all rest our brains a bit, yea?"

What is all this talk of body-binds and torture? Shelley takes a step back, looking at Zack in confusion and alarm. "I- I'm not an auror yet. Not until I pass all my NEWTs? Where's Alis? She would never miss an exam." She turns, as if expecting to see her friend in the hall - and then Rena has her arm, and she fixes her gaze on the other woman. "Oh, postponed. That's a lucky break." The relief in her gaze is obvious.

Rhyeline bites her lower lip as she looks over at Zack when he relates the night's events with a bit more detail. Her dark gaze flits over towards Rena and Shelley, but lingers only a moment before she looks up to her suitor's aunt once more. "He will be alright, Madam… no permanent harm. They- they just wanted to- to keep him for observation… just overnight. He'll be alright."

Zack looks to the door, expecting to see his father. He frowns when he doesn't. "Oh, you mean me," he says to Rena. "My name is Zack. I thought you knew that already. It's Zack, remember? Lots of things are very wrong. We're in a hospital. That's wrong. And I'm not wearing my blue robes. That's wrong too." But then Rena starts to pretend they're still in school as well. "Stop it!" he says, their conversation upsetting him. "This isn't Hogwarts. It's a hospital. And it's not a holiday, it's Saturday. Stop lying."

At first Madam Malfoy tunes out the masculine (ish) voice from behind her, so intent is she upon whatever answer Rhyeline may give to her quietly urgent question; but then Zack's words seem suddenly relevant and she turns, serpent-beaded black robes swaying about her, to fix him with a cold and penetrating dark gaze for as long as it takes him to impart whatever information he has at hand. (Scruffy, she reflects, in whatever small part of the back of her mind isn't devoted at present to Cassius and his plight; but he has the look of the Fudge family…) And then she looks to Rhyeline again. "Overnight," she repeats, "and no permanent harm." Her lips twist; she looks down at Cassius, as though she is possessed of a healthy doubt of what any mere healer has to say. A second passes, and another. "You look ill yourself," she remarks to Rhyeline, baldly; "what have the healers had to say of you, child?"

"Will you shut up!?" Rena seethes through her teeth at Zack, her dark eyes snapping with irritation. She wanted to soothe Shelley's unsettled mind - and he's probably undone any chance of progress she might have made with her.

Since Zack has undoubtedly blown it, she has to shift to a different tactic, trying to urge Shelley toward a nearby chair to sit with her. "Alright, so I fibbed a little… It is Saturday. And there's been a bit of an accident." Her gaze flicks toward Zack again. "An /incident/." Since he will no doubt take it upon himself to correct her. "But everything is under control. People are safely here in Saint Mungo's and recovering."

Warmth deepens in her tear stained cheeks as Rhyeline sneaks a peek over at the chocolate on Cassius' bedside before looking once more up at Ismene. "I… I was not harmed. My… my father made sure I was safe. But…" she hesitates, not brave enough to even attempt a lie. "They told me to have some chocolate."

At Zack's ranting and Rena's hiss, Shelley's form starts to get tense, her expression confused. "Hospital?" she repeats. "But I'm not hurt. I- is that why they canceled the exam?" And then real worry crosses her features. "Is Alis alright? She wasn't hurt, was she?"

Zack does not take it upon himself to correct Rena. Nor does he say anything else. The last time a law enforcement officer commanded him to be quiet, he did so at once, and it's no different here. He shuts his mouth immediately, sucking in his lips and biting down on them. At least Rena isn't lying anymore, but he still looks quite unsettled when Shelley continues to pretend. So he tries to focus on the conversation between Rhyeline and Ismene instead.

Madam Malfoy is still ignoring the other, less significant persons whose presence here grates upon her senses and yet into which she has not yet troubled to inquire. Her gaze flicks sideways, following Rhyeline's to the bedside table, then returns to the girl and narrows again. Nervous energy crackles through her small, straight-backed, black-robed figure — hardly contained… "And you haven't?" She sniffs, picks up the chocolate, and puts it into Rhyeline's hand in a manner which brooks no nonsense. "Now," she orders. She stares into Rhyeline's eyes until she sees acquiescence (it doesn't take long) and then turns upon Rena, Shelley, and Zack. Literally. "Who the devil are all of you?" she demands. "And what business do you think you have in my nephew's chamber at such a time?"

Where healers fail, Madam Malfoy succeeds. Though she has no taste for chocolate at such a time, Rhyeline lowers her gaze and murmurs, "Yes, Madam…" Obediently, she nibbles on the piece of chocolate placed in her hand. As Ismene turns her attention upon the unfortunate souls caught in a room with her, the girl peeks over at them with quiet caution.

Now Rena is in a bind. Shelley's question regarding Alis, and now Ismene's demand to know who she is… How can she hope to maintain the pretense with her fellow Auror, even though she needs to be gently enticed back to reality.

Rena attends to the woman beside her first, saying as soothingly and quietly as possible: "Don't worry about Alis, luv. You don't need to worry about her." Giving Shelley's arm a firm, but gentle squeeze before letting her go. Turning to Ismene, she withdraws a badge from the inner pocket of her jacket and offers it to the woman: "Irene Lee. I work for the MLE." The badge clearly indicates that she is indeed an Auror - though merely an initiate. "I was sent here to acquire statements regarding what happened to your nephew."

"She's alright, then?" Shelley asks - partly relieved, but still questioning. As Rena steps away, her gaze goes up and then down the corridor of the- it is a hospital, isn't it? How could she have thought it was Hogwarts? /Had/ she been injured after all? She starts to inspect her hands for signs of injury.

Zack glances over at Madam Malfoy, but doesn't answer her. Having been commanded into silence by Rena, he stays that way. In fact, it might seem like he's ignoring her question entirely, because he doesn't look in her direction for more than a second before his eyes wander to other parts of the room and finally settle on Rhyeline, who he watches nervously.

The badge Rena offers is clasped briefly but sharply between Madam Malfoy's bony white fingers; her golden hanged-man signet ring, thus lifted, catches the light shining down from overhead (hospitals are relentless in that respect). She glances up from the badge to Rena's face, and down again to the badge, and up again as she relinquishes it. "You couldn't wait," she remarks in a remote and acidic tone, lifting an eyebrow at the Auror, "until Miss Diderot has eaten, and rested, before coming to the bedside of her injured consort to trouble her for an account of the harrowing events she has witnessed this evening? Can you not see the state she's in?"

"Madam, I can see the state that she's in," Rena replies steadily to Ismene. "My first response upon coming into this room was to offer her my support /and/ my handkerchief. I didn't have time for much else before a hoard descended on my head." Is the little redhead exasperated? Just a bit.
A look is shot toward Zack. She noted the fact that he did not answer when asked, and she remarks: "You may talk again, Zack." Trying to sound as gentle as possible, given the circumstances.

Rhyeline sits in silence, gazing at Cassius' sleeping countenance as she nibbles on the chocoate. Her hand has not left his- not since before he was loaded into the ambulance. The little one pauses upon hearing her suitor's aunt berate Rena. Slowly, she peeks over with a profound caution.

While inspecting her hands, Shelley finally begins to notice a dull ache in her leg. She lifts the hem of her dress - why is she wearing a party dress? - and sees a burn under the scorched section. "Oh," she remarks in quiet confusion.

Zack edges away from the door, scurries past Ismene and stands next to Rhyeline. He gives her a tentative, uncertain look, not sure if his presence in the room is welcome or not, especially after Madam Malfoy's questions. When he Rena gives him the okay to speak again, he nods his head once at her and then leans down to whisper something in Rhyeline's ear.

"Then you will certainly understand," Madam Malfoy utters to Rena, in a tone edged with a razor-blade, "that it would be far more appropriate for a suitable representative from your office," she doesn't say for you; the girl's surname hasn't escaped her, and she is not the least bit disposed to be charitable toward Muggleborn witches tonight, "to call upon Miss Diderot tomorrow, and procure at that time any statement which may be required of her." And then the scruffy Fudge boy, to whom she has not yet been introduced, is oiling his way up to Rhyeline in much too familiar a way; Madam Malfoy spears him with a sudden glance. "Who are you, precisely? And have you some word of private comfort you wish to share with my nephew's consort? Speak up, boy."

Rhyeline looks a bit scared as her dark gaze flickers from Rena to Ismene. Should Rena glance in her direction, the little one would give her a pleading look. Don't provoke her. Please. Finding Zack at her side, the girl parts her lips, about to whisper back when Ismene fixes her attention on her poor friend. "M-madam… he- he is… a friend… Zack Fudge…"

Rena remains standing calmly like a tree being buffeted from all sides by a many-faceted storm. However, her dark eyes do catch sight of Rhyeline's pleading expression, and she gives a faint nod: "Right." Nothing about her change of mind shows any indication of being caused by Ismene. If anything, she is completely ignoring the older woman now. Instead, she moves back to Shelley and takes her by the arm again quite gently: "We're going to see to you now, luv. These people have their own problems to discuss." She begins urging her fellow Auror to the door.

Zack looks up, surprised when Madam Malfoy asks him to speak up. "Yes, Zack," he says after Rhyeline introduces him as a friend. "Oh, precisely? Zachary Norman Fudge. First son of Antonius and Myra Fudge. I graduated from Hogwarts in 1913. I was in Ravenclaw. My favorite color is blue. It used to be green before I was at Hogwarts. I'm 25 years old. Oh, and I'm a researcher. I develop new spells." He pauses, wondering if this is sufficient to precisely explain who he is. "I wanted to ask Rhyeline if I could give her a hug. To comfort her. It's what friends are supposed to do."

"How did I burn my leg?" Shelley asks in confusion as she is urged down the hall. "I really should find Alis. If there was an accident - she'll be worried." She doesn't argue, though, as she is lead down the hall - and off to find a healer, one presumes.

This flood of personal information at least confirms Madam Malfoy's (well-informed) suspicions as to Zack's lineage. But she isn't, she could never be, hugely keen on the idea of young woman she considers to be her nephew's property unless and until he decides otherwise, being embraced by any young man of any lineage. "I don't think that will be necessary," she drawls.

And then — the Muggleborn Auror manages to make herself useful removing the Prewett girl in the burnt frock, who must have wandered in from another room, and with Zack the only intruder remaining (whatever Rhyeline may say, the girl is far too lenient, far too accepting of the claims people make upon her) Madam Malfoy beams a look of warning from her eyes up into his. She is still standing close beside her slumbering nephew, and in consequence close opposite Rhyeline, who clings tenaciously to his hand; she is thus very near to Zack as well. In fact it might be considered that the three of them form the points of an isoceles triangle at Cassius's beside, with Ismene the sharp end.

Rhyeline listens in silent caution as Zack recites his personal details in response to Madam Malfoy's inquisition. She hopes that he won't- ah, but he does. He tells her he'd wanted to hug her. Though it would have been much appreciated, under the circumstances it would not be wise. Her cheeks burn with warmth as she peeks over at Ismene. The little one cannot keep the look of vulnerable caution hidden.

Zack looks across the bed to Ismeme, his brow furrowed. Whether he misses the warning look completely or just mistakes it for something else, he just looks confused by her remark. "You can't know if it's necessary," he answers. "That's why I asked. To find out if it's necessary. And to find out whether it's allowed. I'm still waiting to find out. You interrupted me." He doesn't say any of this in a rude tone - he sounds as though he's just stating facts.

How lacking in the social graces must a young man be in order to utter such words, in any tone, to a witch twice his age and with a family connection which renders her presence here beyond reproach— "I am telling you," Madam Malfoy informs Zack icily, "that any such display would be not only unnecessary, but under the circumstances deeply inappropriate." She draws in a breath. "It is late. And I am certain that, whatever terms of friendship exist between you and Miss Diderot," and an eyebrow quirks derisively, "you will not wish to keep her from the rest she so evidently requires."

"I-I'm alright Zack… it- it was kind of you to- to come and see me." Rhyeline doesn't dare say anything to undermine Madam Malfoy, but she can't bear to let Zack think his presence was unwelcome in any way. Should he look to her, she would even manage a small, reassuring smile for him.

"Yes, I know," Zack says to Ismene. "You're telling me a lot of things. I don't understand why. I wasn't asking you, I was asking Rhyeline. She's the one who gets to decide if it's inappropriate or not. I don't want to hug you." He still seems a bit puzzled by the woman, and he glances down at Rhyeline when she speaks. "Oh," he says, giving her a small, slightly embarrassed smile in return. "Yes. It was." He looks round at Ismene again. "Hmm? She is resting. She's sitting down. She's been sitting there since before I arrived. I haven't changed that."

That's it. That's the end of her tether. The end, likewise, when she's had such a trying evening already, of her capacity for chit-chat. Madam Malfoy's hands have been clasped in front of her waist since she passed the chocolate across to Rhyeline; one of them lifts now, and an unwavering white finger points toward the door left open by Rena and Shelley's departure. "Miss Diderot and I both wish you to leave, so that we may speak privately," she utters in a quiet, still more distant tone. "If you don't, I will have my nephew's guards remove you from his room." Her eyes never leave Zack's.

"Please Zack… I… I will see you soon. But… right now- you should- should go…" whispers Rhyeline, gazing up at Ismene as a mouse watches a snake. She holds Cassius' hand tight, more for her own comfort now than for his.

"Oh!" Zack says, his eyes growing wide. "You want me to leave. You should have said so. You don't have to have me removed. I don't like hospitals. I wouldn't have come if Rhyeline wasn't here. There are too many sick people. And the Healers always want to check me." He looks at Rhyeline, clearly disappointed that she doesn't want a hug. "Okay," he says with a slightly hurt frown. "Goodbye. I'm glad you're not dead." Then he steps away from the bed and scurries out of the room. Only to return five seconds later and close the door behind him, which is how he found it in the first place.

"Th-thank you for- for coming, Zack…" murmurs Rhyeline, pained at the hurt frown he gives her. She quickly adds, "I'm glad you're safe too."

Madam Malfoy's highly piqued black gaze follows Zack across the room and out of it — and returns to Cassius, who has, fortunate man, slumbered in unnatural quietude throughout all this highly unilluminating byplay… For a second or two she regards him in silence. Then she is halfway to the door to shut it when Zack returns to perform that office; she stops where she is, halfway between him and Rhyeline, eclipsing his view of the latter, and watches until the door is shut and he has vanished from the far side of the panel of glass set in it.

She turns back and demands of Rhyeline, in urgent, businesslike tones: "Tell me again what the healers told you. And has the rest of the family been notified?"

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