(1939-03-17) Too Close
Details for Too Close
Summary: Rhyeline goes to see Bailey and confides in her about her fears of interacting with people she does not yet know well. Bailey offers some advice before telling the girl that she has been taken off her security detail. It would seem she has gotten too close and her boss has noticed.
Date: Monday, March 17th, 1939
Location: Bailey's Flat

It is still as cold as that morning. Spring is due to come soon, but heavy clouds obscure the afternoon sun and send buckets of snow fluttering to earth. That afternoon, as soon as Rhyeline had finished a fair amount of work, the little one apparated away to seek out Bailey. The girl lifts a trembling hand and knocks. As she steps back to wait, she hugs herself tight and squeezes her eyes shut against the cold.

Bailey was fortunate enough to be stepping out of the bath just as she heard the knock. Quickly wrapping herself in a heavy, warm robe — one of the few luxuries she allows herself — she hurries on bare feet to the door, leaving moist footprints behind herself. A glance through the peephole brings a smile to her face, and she swings the door open to greet her friend. "Rhyeline! Come in, come. I'm sorry about my state. Just came from the bath."

Rhyeline blinks, but then can’t help but grin as she peeks up at Bailey. Invited to step inside, the girl scurries in at once, hugging herself still against the cold. “You look so warm… and cozy.” Tucking a strand of hair behind her ear, she adds, “Forgive me for- for not sending an owl. But… I just… I saw that- that you seemed worried… and… I wanted to come and- and make sure you weren’t.”

With Rhyeline inside, Bailey shuts and locks the door, and moves quickly to her little iron stove to stoke the fire to warm up the flat a bit more. "You don't ever have to send an owl. You're always welcome here. Come, sit near the fire, you look cold." She pulls down some cushions and pillows from the couch, laying them on the floor before the stove. "You just seemed anxious earlier, at the broom shop. I was concerned about you."

Rhyeline follows Bailey like a duckling and sits down at once upon the cushions she places on the ground for her. Peeking up at Bailey with a soft, nigh adoring smile, she murmurs, “I was alright… just… shy. And… if I had gotten here a few minutes ago… You might not have heard my knock. But… thank you. I hope you know that- that you never need to send an owl to visit me either.”

"Well, thank you. I'll remember that." Bailey lingers over Rhyeline a moment, then gestures to the tiny space that passes for a kitchen. "Can I get you tea? I have a kettle on." Without waiting for an answer, she goes to fetch two cups. "So, why so shy? I got the impression that you were familiar with the Umbridge woman."

Rhyeline looks warmed when she doesn’t even need to answer. The soft smile upon her lips tells Bailey clear enough that she would love a cup of tea. At the question, she hesitates. “Mm… well, I… I don’t know her as well as you… or Graham… or- or as well as- as I’ve come to know Laurence. And… when she came in and- and joined us… I didn’t know what to say… I felt… just a bit lost.”

Bailey smiles, looking over her shoulder at her guest. "Alright. I can understand feeling awkward. I'm not fantastic about meeting new people, either. But it's the only way to get to know them. If you shy away from them, they might think you snobbish, or fear that they've offended you. You could be missing out on some wonderful friendships that way." She brings over a tray with two cups of hot earl grey. Setting it down on the floor, she settles in on the cushion beside Rhyeline. Though her bare knee pokes out of the robe, she is careful to keep herself otherwise covered.

Rhyeline blinks. It had never occurred to her that she might make someone else feel that she thought little of them because of her shy manner. Once Bailey has settled beside her, the girl peeks up at her and shifts just a bit closer. Warming her hands against the sides of the cup, she doesn’t yet sip. Instead, she murmurs, “But… what if… they don’t really care for me… and… are just wearing a polite face… and when I… I confide in them… their polite face will turn to a- a sneer… of disdain…” The little one’s eyes shine with vulnerability as she peeks up at Bailey, having shared one of her secret fears.

Bailey frowns sympathetically, reaching a hand to touch Rhyeline's forearm. "I'm not suggesting that you should confide in anyone. That kind of trust takes time for anyone to build. I'm simply suggesting that sometimes it is in our best interests to smile through our own discomfort."

Rhyeline leans closer at Bailey’s gentle touch. Her words make the girl grow even more thoughtful. “To smile… even if- if I… feel shy?” Bringing the cup of tea to her lips, she takes a small, careful sip. “At Hogwarts… I only spoke to a very few people. To Annie… who stayed close despite my silence. I… I never… tried to build trust. I simply realized that… that she /was/ trusted. And I began to speak…”

"That seems to be your way. To keep your silence and wait for others to come to you." Bailey shrugs, "I cannot fault you for it. But have you ever wondered at how many potential friends you might have missed out on because you didn't say something first? Not every friend needs to be a trusted confidant."

“But… I thought… friends were- were those you could trust. Because… when you let someone close enough to be a friend… they see things of you that- that you might not have intended to show. And… until then… they are… simply acquaintances. And… and I have wondered… sometimes. But… I also wonder… how many people couldn’t hurt me… because I was cautious,” murmurs Rhyeline.

Bailey chuckles softly, shrugging. "There are degrees. Not that I'm one to talk. I'm not exactly swimming in friends. But whether or not you make friends, I will say this much. If you're worried about giving things away that you don't intend, things like what happened today can do that, too. If you're worried about people who can hurt you, the last thing you want to do is show them how they can get a reaction from you. That makes it easier for them to manipulate you and your actions. They could spook you right into a trap."

“You… you make it sound like… like I could act as if- as if I am in a- a game of politics. To not let them see me… to not let them know I can be hurt… But… today… it… it wasn’t a- a contest of power and- and influence… it was… something else.” And it seems that this something else is not something Rhyeline has ever quite understood so well as she does politics.

"You're overthinking it," Bailey says, taking up her teacup for a sip. "I'm just saying that there are other ways to handle discomfort. But I fully understand the feeling itself. I'm not so different. You and I…I feel like we're very lucky to have gotten past one another's walls of caution." She offers a soft, warm smile, with none of the restraint she usually favors.

Rhyeline’s eyes shine with such innocent adoration as she gazes up at Bailey. “If… if it was just you… who was watching over me… I never would have asked Cassius if- if I could have more distance…” Setting down her tea, she draws close and hugs Bailey’s arm as tight as she can manage. “I know that… that I matter to you…” She pauses and adds, peeking up at her, “And- and you matter to me.”

Bailey chuckles when Rhyeline clings to her. It's something she's had to grow more accustomed to. She tilts her head against Rhyeline's, leaning into the other woman. "Thank you. It's good to have a real friend. But…that's why…I don't want you to be upset, but…I'm being taken off of your protection detail. I'm too close to you, and my boss can tell." She grimaces, bracing herself for the possible fallout.

Rhyeline blinks, but after a moment, nods slowly. In truth, it makes her feel warm to know that she matters so much to Bailey that even her boss has noticed. She slowly nuzzles her cheek against Bailey’s shoulder. “But… will you still… protect me like- like Graham does?” she murmurs.

Bailey sighs with audible relief, and wraps her arms around Rhyeline in affection. "Of course, sweetie. How could I not? You have nothing to worry about when I'm around. Between Graham and I, we are your two-man army." She chuckles, squeezing Rhyeline tight.

Rhyeline nuzzles even closer, slipping her arms around Bailey’s middle. Smiling up at her, the little one’s eyes shine with such delight.

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