(1939-02-08) Potables and Politics
Details for Potables and Politics
Summary: Rhyeline and Kahren meet over tea and coffee to practice French, and discuss books and the current political climate.
Date: 1939-02-08
Location: Books Unbound

Kahren found Books Unbound to be rather charming and relaxing - and so it would be no surprise to anyone that knew her, to find her seated in one of the stuffed chairs, a cup of tea beside her, and a book in her hand. She's twirling a lock of hair around one of her fingers as she reads a book - a fiction book for a change, instead of a medical text. One of those little romance novels that it was always so embarrassing to admit you enjoy, all truth be told, but was it really so bad to indulge every once in a while?

A tall, stern looking woman wearing a style of robes favored by most MLE, except her crisp, grey robes are far too well-tailored to belong to public servant. The insignia for Aegis Security confirms that this woman is a private security guard. Kahren receives a sharp, assessing stare. Once she seems satisfied that there are no monsters or evil doers in the little bookshop, she steps aside and allows the little gamine that is her charge to enter the shop, followed close by a second guard.

Rhyeline steps into the warmth of the bookshop with a look of relief. She is all bundled up under a thick fur-lined winter robe and has a cashmere scarf wrapped round and round her neck and nose. Pulling down her scarf, she offers a soft, shy smile to the shop keeper's assistant behind the counter. Then her young, dark gaze flits to Kahren who sits not far away. The little one pauses, not yet removing her scarf from around her neck as she gazes at the woman.

The two guardwitches take up imposing stances on either side of the door.

Kahren looks up as the door opens, offering the stern and imposing looking woman who enters an uncertain smile. She glances down at her book again after a moment, but glances up again at the sight of more movement out of the corner of her eye. She looks surprised, and then pleased to see Rhyeline again, nodding her head in acknowledgement. "Hello again, Ms. Diderot," she greets her in a friendly voice, pitched just loud enough to carry. It always feels /wrong/ to be loud around so many books, after all.

Rhyeline blinks, shifting back ever so slightly when Kahren notices her watching. Behind her scarf, her cheeks grow a bit pink. But, after a moment, she returns Kahren's friendly greeting with a little nod. "Hello… Ms. Umbridge…" The girl then takes a small, hesitant step to the side. Then another. Turning away, she busies herself with removing her cloak and scarf to hang them up neatly by the door. Meanwhile, the shopkeeper's assistant has been preparing a mocha for the girl. By the time she looks back over her shoulder to sneak another peek at Kahren, he is approaching with it and presses it gently into her hands. "Oh… I- um… thank you," murmurs Rhyeline, peeking up at him with deepening shyness. Her guards fix rather stern stares on him, warning him to keep his distance.

As Rhyeline turns away, Kahren glances back down at her book, the finger still caught in her hair breaking free long enough to turn the page, and then take a sip of her tea. But her left hand reaches up again, first running through that stray long of hair, and then wrapping it around her fingers, weaving it in and out and twirling it round and around as she reads.

Rhyeline warms her hands against the cup's sides and with one last glance over at Kahren, she ventures off into the rows of shelves. Her guards follow close, not allowing her out of their sight for even a moment. Some time later, she emerges with a dark, cloth-bound book with gold lettering hugged to her chest. Her mocha still in hand, she makes her way over towards Kahren, slowly. There are other places to curl up, but after a moment of hesitation, she comes to stand before Kahren. "…could… could I- I sit with you?"

Kahren looks up to greet Rhyeline with another warm smile. "Of course. I'd be a poor sport not to return the favor - after imposing on you the other day," she remarks, nodding her head to invite Rhyeline to the seat just on the other side of the small table holding her cup of tea. "Besides - I always prefer a little friendly company."

That warm smile draws out a soft, shy smile from the girl in turn. The little one sits down upon the rather comfortable, stuffed armchairs across from Kahren. "You weren't imposing… it- it was good to meet you." She places the book upon the table. The title is in French. "Les aventures audacieuses de l'errant."

"I'm glad. I was happy to meet you, as well," Kahren agrees with another smile. "And - if you like - you'd be welcome to call me Kahren," she offers, her book lowering for the moment so she can reach across for another sip of her tea.

"I… I hope you will call me Rhyeline," murmurs the girl before hiding behind her mocha for a small sip. Her dark gaze flits to her guards that stand not far away, keeping an eye on the door and the shop keeper's assistant who they seem to think is a bit too fond of their charge. Tilting her head, Rhyeline tries to see what Kahren is reading. "Is that… on healing?" she asks, biting her lower lip with a touch of caution.

"Be happy to, Rhyeline," Kahren answers. At the question about her book, her expression turns a little bit wry. "Not today, no," she admits, before displaying the title. 'Just Beyond Forever,' the title reads, the most recent book out by a rather popular romance novelist. Just a hint of color sneaks onto her cheeks as she displays her choice of reading material - but everyone's allowed to read something just because they /enjoy/ it, sometimes!

Rhyeline doesn't recognize the title or even the author, not in the habit of wandering the shelves of romance novels. Peeking up at Kahren curiously, she murmurs, "What's it about?"

"Star-crossed lovers," Kahren admits wryly. "A boy and a girl whose parents were rivals and enemies, and vowed the hatred between their families would last forever. It's really well written… Well. I enjoy it."

"Oh… that- that sounds… rather… um… intense…" Rhyeline hesitates, glancing down at her own book. "I… when I- I'm not reading something for work, I- I read stories about… about travelers…"

"I haven't traveled much - but those sorts of books are good, aren't they?" Kahren remarks. She tilts her head at Rhyeline's book before adding, "Though I don't think I've read that one quite yet. I know the author, though."

Rhyeline blinks, intrigued that Kahren would know a French author. "You know Dominique Mollet?" she asks, tilting her head a bit.

"Well, I read…" Kahren racks her brain to remember. "Les Mysterieux en Afrique, I think it was?" she muses uncertainly. "At least, I think that was the title. It's been a while."

Rhyeline's soft smile brightens. With a nod, she murmurs, "Yes… I loved that one. The wizards of the ancient kingdoms of Ethiopia had such fascinating relics… But… you- you prefer… stories of love?" She glances to the book in Kahren's hands.

"I enjoy them both," Kahren responds. "But… well. Maybe a little," she admits. But maybe that's just because she's had so little luck with it - and no real time to even think of pursuing anyone.

A subtle blush warms Rhyeline's cheeks. She sneaks a cautious peek at her guards, but their attention is more focused on those who might approach rather than Rhyeline and the harmless woman she's speaking to. In a rather soft tone, one that won't carry beyond Kahren's ears, she murmurs, "Umm… what- what sort of- of romance stories do- do you like best?"

"Well…" Kahren responds, trying to think of how to explain it. "I'm not quite sure. I tend to like a little bit of intrigue. Secrets, hints of danger and risk… And not too formulaic and easy to predict. Though, admittedly, you know fairly early in this book just who's going to end up together."

"Mm… then… your book… it- it doesn't seem to have much in the way of- of secrets. Not if you already know," murmurs Rhyeline with a bit of a grin. Resting back in her chair, she brings her mocha to her lips for a moment. From behind it, she pauses to murmur, "You enjoy secrets?"

"Well, this one has secrets of a different sort - who will help them, who will oppose them. Will their parents find out, and how? And /when/?" Kahren explains, shrugging her shoulders. "Sometimes the don't end well - it's more of a romantic tragedy? I enjoy those, as well - I will admit."

In amusement she adds, "In reality, I have little patience for secrets. I try to avoid them."

"Wise of you… secrets are dangerous… mm… and can be harmful." Lowering her gaze, Rhyeline takes another sip. "I don't think I'd enjoy a tragedy of love…"

"Not everybody would. But - well. As long as it's just a /story/… I don't mind," Kahren responds. "Stories get to do all those things I wouldn't do, or couldn't do, or even that I'd simply rather avoid."

"Stories… they seem so real sometimes… I think that- that a story like that would be… painful…" murmurs Rhyeline in a rather soft tone. For a moment, a touch of vulnerability enters her young dark gaze and she quickly lowers it as she takes another sip of her mocha.

"Then I wouldn't read 'Tous Feux Eteints,'" Kahren recommends in a wry tone. "But everyone enjoys different books - and I find that delightful. At least we both agree about Dominique Mollet."

A soft smile returns to Rhyeline's lips. "Yes… that's true…" The subtle warmth deepens in her cheeks as she hesitates a moment. "I… I didn't mean to keep you from your book for- for so long… Forgive me."

Kahren shakes her head. "That's part of the charm of books - they're always there for you, whenever you want them. Unfortunately, I don't find that pleasant conversation is quite the same case."

The warmth in her cheeks continues to deepen. "Ah… yes, that- that's true… um… so… how- how did you learn to- to speak French?" asks Rhyeline, sinking a bit deeper in her chair as she half hides behind her mocha.

"A friend in school," Kahren explains. "Her parents had just moved here from France, so that her father could work in the Department of International Magical Cooperation. English was still a struggle for her and so - well. I thought it seemed only fair if I returned the favor, and struggled with French. It was just a few phrases a first - but I carried on with it, and managed to spend most of my summer in France, that year."

Rhyeline's dark gaze widens with a hint of awe. "That… that was- was most kind of you… to help her like that… I… I spoke French at home… as a child… I knew English but- but speak was- was still… rather difficult," she murmurs in a hushed tone.

Kahren shrugs her shoulders, looking a little embarrassed by Rhyeline's words. "Well - it turned into a fun challenge, in the end," she remarks. "And I'll admit - it /was/ nice to be able to say things sometimes, and be fairly certain that the others around you wouldn't understand. Not something I used often but… sometimes."

Rhyeline shifts into French when she speaks next. "It is a beautiful language… more gentle on the tongue than English, I think…" she murmurs with a soft smile.

"On your tongue, maybe!" Kahren laughs, still speaking English. "You were raised on it. It's more of a challenge on mine. But it is lovely to listen to." She looks a little apologetic as she adds, "It's been several years since I spoke much French - Marie returned to France a while ago. I'm afraid I'm quite out of practice."

"You… you could practice with me… if you like," murmurs Rhyeline with a hesitant touch of shyness as she peeks over at Kahren.

"I could do that," Kahren agrees, switching to French. "If you- if it doesn't bother you. I'll have to speak much more slowly." She's clearly laboring over each sentence, planning it out in her head, to think of how to /say/ the thoughts she has in mind.

"It… it would be a shame if- if you lost your French," murmurs Rhyeline just as slowly, as if cautious that she might be putting an unwanted strain on Kahren.

"I can /read/ very easily," Kahren responds. "/You/ don't need to speak slowly. It's only… I have to think. The best way to say things."

Rhyeline nods. "Alright… I- I hope you don't mind. You- you don't have to speak French if- if you don't wish to." Looking a bit self conscious, she tucks a loose wisp of a curl behind her ear.

Kahren gives Rhyeline an amused look. "I /must/ practice," she remarks. "You're right. But… I won't practice all the time, I think."

Rhyeline turns pinker under Kahren's amused look. She bows her head just a bit as she hides behind her mocha and peeks over at Kahren. In a rather quiet tone, she murmurs, "Do… do you still write letters to your friend?"

"Sometimes. Normally, in English. She writes me in French," Kahren admits. "It's easier for both of us. I should visit her…"

"You should go soon… I don't think that- that going to France will be safe for much longer…" murmurs Rhyeline in a rather quiet tone. Then she adds, "If it gets much worse… you could invite her to- to come and stay in London…"

Kahren frowns, switching back to English entirely at that jarring thought. "You might be right, there…" she admits softly. "And - well. I've told her before that she's always welcome, but… repeating the invitation might not go amiss."

"Several invitations would be good… for her to accept the first time, some might consider it rude… you should gently insist," advises Rhyeline quietly from behind her cup.

Kahren nods - then flashes Rhyeline a smile. "You're right, of course. Thank you. I've been so preoccupied with everything happening here that - well. I should have spared more thought for Marie."

"I'm sure that she- she is just as preoccupied with her own affairs… such is human nature… and… it's obvious you have not forgotten her… you are good to your friend," murmurs Rhyeline in a soft, shy tone.

"I hope so." Kahren lets out a sigh, picking up her tea for another sip. "Are things as bad on the continent as they say?" she asks.

Rhyeline lowers her gaze and nods slowly. "And… sometimes worse…" she murmurs, not looking up.

"You don't have any family there - do you?" Kahren asks with quiet concern.

Rhyeline nods slowly and doesn't speak.

"Oh, I'm sorry…" Kahren murmurs softly, reaching across the table to catch Rhyeline's hand, if she'll allow her, and give it a gentle squeeze. "I don't even know what to say. But I wish them the very best."

Rhyeline remains rather still beneath Kahren's gentle touch, but peeks up through her lashes at her. "They are strong… but… I hope some of them will agree to come to London…"

"I hope so, too," Kahren agrees. Especially if there are any little ones. She gives the woman's hand another squeeze, then pulls her own hand back - wrapping it up in a lock of hair as she begins twirling it again. "I often find myself wishing there was more I could do to make a real different, but…"

"We… we each have our place… our own strengths… all we can do is- is do all we can…" murmurs Rhyeline as she watches Kahren.

"I suppose that's true - but it's hard to accept sometimes, isn't it? Especially when we feel so small, against…" such fast threats. Kahren smiles sadly.

Rhyeline nods, knowing well such a feeling. "I am just a researcher… an assistant to a powerful man… Cassius Malfoy is the one who- who stands before the great crowds, and speaks the words that will bring about great change… But… there is much need for the small ones as well…"

Kahren nods in understanding. "You know what I admire most about Unity and Mister Malfoy's stance? The simple fact that it seems to treat everyone as equals. Even amongst the Preservationists, so many of them simply fear and revile Muggles… And I think it's a great shame."

Rhyeline has lapsed back into English and murmurs, "Yes… because he- he is a Malfoy, many assumed that- that he was prejudiced against muggles and those who aren't purebloods… they didn't even stop to listen to what he actually was saying. I'm pleased that- that you have… More and more who were once for preservation are now speaking up in support of Unity. In an ideal world, perhaps the debate would still center on whether or not our world should be reunited with the muggle world… but… Grindelwald and his supporters are sure to rend the veil of secrecy on the contininent… and… when that happens… we will have no choice here… the Muggles will learn of us…" Lowering her gaze, she adds, "Unity hopes to- to reveal ourselves to the muggles of Great Britain in a manner of our own choosing… to extend a hand and prove that- that not all of us are the same…"

"As equals," Kahren agrees. "I haven't had much exposure to Muggles, admittedly, but Muggle-borns, and squibs I've met. And I can see little difference between us. We define ourselves in such narrow an specific ways, when… I think in reality, the boxes we place ourselves in mean so little. It only has the meaning we force upon it."

"In the end… I think… people are people… even muggles. We have our strengths, our flaws… the differences are- are what make us strong together. We compliment each other with different strengths…" murmurs Rhyeline with a soft smile full of such innocent idealism.

"Just so," Kahren agrees firmly. "I couldn't agree more, Rhyeline." If she's an innocent idealist, Kahren is equally so.

Rhyeline's soft smile brightens. "I… I hope that- that Cassius will- will be able to- to count on your support… in the future… He hopes to effect change… swiftly… and… todo that… we need to stand together… to demand that the Ministry take action… before it's too late."

Kahren looks uncertain. "I support his ideals. Certainly," she agrees. "But…" there's still some obvious hesitation there.

Rhyeline bites her lower lip. She lowers her gaze and withdraws for a moment behind her mocha before peeking back over at Kahren.

"There's a squib I know - Guy Grosvenor. A simply wonderful fellow," in her estimation. "He lives with the Muggles. He's in their military. He thinks it would be folly to tell them of our existence. I worry that he's right. That too many Muggles would react with fear of the unknown," Kahren explains.

"Yes… it might be folly… but… Grindelwald is even more powerful on the continent than he has grown here… we have only a choice of how to reveal ourselves to the muggles here… if we waver… the choices will be made for us… and it will be through the news of violent suppression of wizards against muggles…" murmurs Rhyeline in a rather quiet tone, eyes lowered.

"Then maybe what we should be doing… is putting our energy into opposing Grindelwald," Kahren suggests. "There /must/ be a way to stop him, if the international wizarding communities would simply…" /do/ something.

"Unity has taken a stance against Grindelwald… but… the veil of secrecy on the continent is too fragile, and his power is too great… Britain and the rest of the international community has little power and far less authority to influence what is happening there…" After all, the United Nations has yet to even be created yet. "All we can do is decide how we at home are going to face the calamities to come… which path do /you/ think will successfully lead to peace?" asks Rhyeline watching Kahren.

"I don't know," Kahren admits. "I abhor violence. The thought of it sickens me." She looks down as she adds softly, "And I see no path that wouldn't lead to at least some bloodshed. If we reveal ourselves to the Muggles… From everything Guy has told me of, they could destroy our society, if they chose to. And with the threat of Grindelwald looming… How are they to draw the distinction between friend and foe?"

"If we reveal ourselves to them carefully… showing them that we /are/ friends… working with them to educate their public as well as ours… there is hope. What Grindelwald proposes, that /will/ inevitably lead to bloodshed, and for those who cling to preservation… even if they are successful here, their influence will not be felt on the continent… their efforts will come to naught and when we could have chosen how to reveal ourselves, we will be at the mercy of what will be chosen for us…"

"With the threat of Grindelwald so imminent… Do we have the /time/ to reveal ourselves carefully?" Kahren asks. "And how can we be certain that anything we say or do won't be dismissed as propaganda the moment they are aware of the threat of Grindelwald?"

"Time is short… so short… but… there is still hope… we… we need to at least try… nothing in life is certain… but… I have faith in muggles. I think there are reasonable ones and unreasonable ones… I think it is worth standing up to Grindelwald and the policies of violence he would bring about… to not allow ourselves to be at the mercy of the actions he takes…" murmurs Rhyeline quietly.

"Oh, I believe he's worth standing up to," Kahren agrees, her tone firm. "I think there's no other moral choice. And I believe there are reasonable Muggles - but are there enough? And in the right places?" She gives Rhyeline a tight smile. "Everything that's happening… it frightens me. And my heart already aches, just thinking of how much we're likely to lose - /all/ of us."

Rhyeline gives a small nod. "Yes… it is frightening… the world can be a dark place… but… the small ones like you and I… we still do what we can… because… it is what we /must/ do…" Despite how young she looks, her dark gaze is unwavering.

Kahren shakes her head slightly, meeting Rhyeline's gaze sadly. "I wish I had your faith," she answers. Is she simply paralyzed by fear? Too frightened to do what must be done? "I dearly wish we could have an open, free, and equal society. It just seems such a… remote possibility, especially in the current climate. We'd have an easier time casting charms underwater, with our lungs burning for air."

Rhyeline lowers her gaze to stare down into her mocha. "It won't be easy… and… the more paralyzed by fear and doubt we are, the more impossible it will become… but… I still have faith… I have faith that there will be those that- that are willing to take action towards the best chance we have for peace… even if that peace will be tenuous and lasting, universal peace will take a long time to manifest…"

Kahren is silent for a while. "What makes you so certain?" she asks softly. "Why are you so sure that we can establish a friendly relationship with the Muggles in the current climate - but that it's impossible to stop Grindelwald from revealing our existence in his own violent and harmful manner?"

"It's our only hope…" murmurs Rhyeline, not looking up at her. "If you were faced with a choice… giving into the certainty of death, and the possibility of death… would you not do all you could to work for that chance at life however small?"

"Of course I would," Kahren answers. "But /why/ are you so certain it's our only chance? Why are you so certain Grindelwald cannot be stopped?" she insists.

Rhyeline blinks, peeking up at Kahren. "Because I follow the news not just here, but on the continent as well… I have seen first hand our diplomatic ties severing… how would you propose we exert any influence over what is happening in Europe? We have control only over what /we/ do…"

"I don't know," Kahren admits. "But there must be witches and wizards on the continent who oppose him as well." She lets out a sigh, adding, "Just as there are those here who foolishly support him." She frowns, staring down at her lap for a moment before continuing. "It seems to me… Both are equally unlikely - stopping Grindelwald before the Muggles learn of our existence, and establishing a relationship with the Muggles that won't degrade into a witch hunt when they /learn/ of Grindelwald. And… well. If we can stop Grindelwald without breaking the secrecy, there will be no bloodshed between Muggles and wizards. But if we approach the Muggles… Wouldn't you agree there'd be at least some?" Kahren asks.

She looks genuinely conflicted and uncertain, now. But Guy knew more of Muggles than she ever would - and he was so /certain/ that Unity was a bad idea. But then - how much did he know of Grindelwald?

"There might be… but again… it is a choice between the certainty of bloodshed and he possibility of it… I know that on the continent, the wizarding community is as receptive to radical ideas as the muggles are… Grindelwald has gained a great deal of support already and the ranks of his followers swell day by day… As for here… the hope is that we can unite enough to stand against the darkness on the continent… hopefully the muggles will see us as different from the wizards on the continent as /they/ are form the tyrants like Adolf Hitler ruling over the muggle nations there…"

Kahren stares into her lap a while longer, before looking towards Rhyeline again. It's clear from her gaze she finds Rhyeline's words persuasive - but it's still a bitter pill to swallow and accept. "I don't know, Rhyeline. And I don't know what I could possibly do to help - other than what I already do, regardless."

Rhyeline gives a small shrug and lowers her gaze once more. "We can each only do what we can…"

Kahren nods in agreement. "And I'll keep hoping that sane and equal-minded heads will prevail, in the end."

Rhyeline gives a faint, fleeting smile before lingering in silence for a time. Then at last, she murmurs, "Forgive me for… for mentioning such things… I did not mean to bring such dark clouds into such a warm, peaceful place."

Kahren shakes her head. "I appreciate your insights. I prefer to be as educated as I can on these matters." Even if it does cost her a sound night's sleep, at times.

"It's important…" murmurs Rhyeline with a small nod. The weight of their conversation lingers heavily upon her though. Not having had a chance to even open the book she'd chosen, she sets aside her empty cup. "I… I should go…"

Kahren nods, offering Rhyeline a tight smile. "Perhaps one of these days we'll get light conversation right," she jokes. "And I hope you don't think less of me for my indecisiveness."

Rhyeline rises rather slowly, just as she had when she rose from their first encounter. Shaking her head, she murmurs, "I would never think less of your desire to consider things with care… you should examine matters for yourself, rather than simply accepting anyone's interpretation… perhaps you will see something that everyone else has missed."

"I hope I do - but I don't expect I will," Kahren offers wryly. That would be the height of arrogance, after all. "I hope we meet again. Perhaps, someday, we can hear each other play…?" she suggests.

It takes Rhyeline a moment to remember what she means, but then a soft smile appears in her worn expression. "I'd like that…thank you… Please… take care, Kahren…" And with that, she clasps her hands behind her back and makes her way back towards the door where she takes up her cloak and scarf.

Kahren stares in thought at the bookshelf across from her for a while, her fingers twisting a lock of hair round and around, before she finally picks up her book to distract her thoughts. She'll accomplish little by worrying herself sick, today.

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