(1939-03-24) The Die Is Cast
Details for The Die Is Cast
Summary: Cassius takes issue with Rena's actions, and a decision is made about her future.
Date: 24 March, 1939
Location: Berylwood Estate, London
Plot: Unity
Related: Politics and Show Business

When Rena arrives at Berylwood, she is shown in by the butler. Unlike before, there is no welcoming party in the reception hall. Instead, she is taken to the second floor, to a cozy study where Cassius is seated behind a sturdy desk. Books of law line the shelves along the walls, forming a modest legal library. There are a few comfortable chairs in the room, one of them arranged to face Cassius across the desk. At Rena's appearance, Cassius glances up from a parchment he is writing up and gestures to the empty seat. "Miss Lee. Please sit, I'll be with you momentarily."

It's like being called into the headmaster's office — that's what it's like.

Slowly, arduously, Rena climbed the stairs to the second floor, following the butler as quiet and as meek as a mouse. Although trying to square her shoulders and keep her chin high, the young woman has the air of a school-kid who is being dragged away to pay their dues for some infraction they have caused.

She says absolutely nothing. No warm greeting, no chipper hello… nothing of her usual brightness and light. Instead, Rena quietly moves to the seat indicated and sits down. Folding her hands demurely in her lap, she just waits; trying hard not to look anxiously at Cassius and read his expression.

Cassius remains quiet for several minutes as his quill glides over the parchment. In the silence, minutes can sometimes feel like hours. Each scratch of the quill punctuates the telling lack of communication. Before he has even looked up, he finally intones, "Do you have a notion as to why I asked you here today, Miss Lee?" Setting the quill into its inkwell, he lifts his gaze to her, folding his hands on the desk before him.

When Cassius Malfoy breaks the silence between them, it's almost as though he shattered a glass on the floor. Calm and quiet though he may be, his words cause Rena to jump, utterly derailing whatever intense reverie was running through her mind until now.

"You asked me to come over 'ere … to cuss me out, dress me down and give me a general 'iding?" She answers his question with a timid, but pointed question. Scarcely able to bring her eyes to meet his, she has to force the issue and be brave — or try to be. It isn't easy.

Cassius chuckles softly. "Cuss you out? Do I really strike you as so uncouth? No, Miss Lee. But I gather that you do understand my displeasure. What I need from you is an explanation. I thought that we had an understanding. We had a strategy for handling Mr. Moody. Did you misunderstand? Was something unclear about how we were to proceed?"

Rena tries to work out in her mind just how to explain herself… and it isn't easy. She's a doer — not a talker. In situations like this, she's out of her element.

"Sir, the problem was that Mister Moody's letter was very specific. It was an invitation to be on 'is show to explain what 'appened in Diagon Alley. I knew if I answered 'im with a straight up refusal and counter 'is offer with an open debate, 'e would use the refusal against us." Rena shifts uncomfortably in her chair and goes on. "By answering 'is question in the letter and accepting the invitation the way that I did, I knew 'e would likely then refuse to 'ave me on the show. But, I also took a gamble on it, sir, that 'e would read my reply on the show. That way, my side of the story WAS put over the airwaves, regardless. And furthermore, 'e did accept the invitation for the debate."

Falling silent, Rena drops her gaze to the floor once more. That was the long, winding, round about way of saying that she was trying to be clever.

Cassius sighs, shaking his head sadly. "Do you not understand his tactics at all? He has given you the rope to hang yourself by, and you are wrapping the noose around your own neck by responding to him. You should not have replied at all. He can rant and rail all he likes about a lack of response, but it is flimsy ground to stand on. The only ears his argument would have reached will be those that already buy into his demagoguery. But now you have given him firm footing to draw in more of the undecided faction."

All the while as Cassius speaks, Rena slowly appears to be shrinking back from him and into her seat. The social difference between them is quite clear. He doesn't realize that he is, in fact, "cussing her out" in the exact way she expected him to. Ah, terminology…

For some moments after he has done, Rena stays silent. If a pin dropped, it would cut through the tension in the air with the sharpness of a gunshot. "I'm sorry, sir," she says, at length. "I've disappointed you, and I apologize for that. But, I suppose as they say, the die is cast. I'll 'ave to take whatever comes from it and go from there. It's my neck, after all." She may make monumental mistakes, but at least she never has any qualms with paying for them.

"Oh, how I wish it were only your neck." Cassius pinches his lips as he begins to fold the parchment before him, now that the ink has had time to dry. "You see, regardless of what you insisted in your letter, you will always be perceived as speaking for the Unity Party. That is how Moody will portray it, and that is how the listeners will hear it. That you coupled your acceptance with an offer to debate on behalf of Unity will only cement this. You have forced me into a corner, Miss Lee, and I am trying very hard to find more than one avenue to escape it." Taking up a stick of dark green wax, he warms it in a candle flame, then drips it onto the parchment before applying a seal bearing the logo of the Unity Party. "This is a letter I have penned for the Daily Prophet. It condemns you, naming your action as unsanctioned by the party. In essence, it cuts ties with you, making it clear that we consider you a rogue element, and no longer a member of our organisation." He slides the letter to the side, then stares hard at her over steepled fingers. "I give you this one opportunity to convince me that there is another course. Some way that I can salvage the party's position and your support."

Again, silence falls between them — far heavier this time than ever before. For the longest time, Rena sits and stares unhappily at the newly sealed letter and says absolutely nothing.

"You're a politician, sir," she says at last. "I'm never going to be anything but myself. You and people like you will always be able to talk to each other and make political things 'appen as you please. But you will never be able to talk to the person in the street so they understand or like you. The poor will mistrust you because you are rich. The hungry will know that you've never known hunger. And when the time comes for you to take your message across into the Muggle world…" Rena pauses, looking pointedly and a little defiantly at Cassius: "I wouldn't count on selling your chances for a tired crooked sixpence. You're not a man of the people now, and you never will be."

Pausing briefly, the young woman rises from her chair and leans her hand on Cassius' desk: "Your movement thinks from its 'ead, and nothing more. I speak from my 'eart and from my convictions. You need me if you want the people on your side. But I'll be damned if you denouncing me will ever stop me. I'll find a way to 'elp make peace 'appen, with or without you. Or I'll die trying."

Cassius sighs, looking down at his hands with a saddened frown. "As you say, I am a politician. Do you know what politics is, Miss Lee?" He looks back up to her eyes, his gaze cool and collected. "It is, by its very nature, the art of swaying the hearts of thousands. Individuals think with their heads. But the masses think with their hearts, and it is the masses that politicians appeal to when sweeping change is needed. You are correct, I do value you for your ability to connect to the common man. But you are gravely mistaken if you think I have no influence over him. A man may sneer at me and my wealth…but he will be more than happy to support me when I am putting food on his plate. Do not mistake my lack of poverty for a lack of understanding it." Cassius rises from his seat, standing to his full six feet of narrow height. "But even if I did need you for those reasons, it doesn't help us in this current situation. You have still overreached your grasp, and worse…you've betrayed my trust. I very much wanted this to go differently, but I cannot entrust the voice of Unity to a person that I cannot place my faith in."

Rena seems absolutely tiny in comparison to Cassius when he rises to his full height, but the little redhead appears to be completely undaunted by either his personality or size.

Lifting her chin and straightening her shoulders, Rena draws herself up with a steadying breath: "That's your call to make, sir." She says fearlessly, not indicating whether she believes that he is right or wrong in deciding on this course of action. "As it was your idea though to have that debate with Mister Moody… it'll fall on your shoulders to carry through, now." She remarks with a faint smirk: "That should be interesting to see."

Turning to go, she doesn't offer her hand. It's not a matter of being unladylike, she knows the offer would undoubtedly be refused, given his attitude at the moment. Having second thoughts, however, she pauses at the door and says: "Shall I deliver the letter for you, sir?" She would do it, too. In person, to the Daily Prophet's doors without a hint of shame.

Apparently the young Auror doesn't know Cassius nearly as well as she thinks, for he is the one to extend his hand, frowning in disappointment when she has turned away. "No, I think it best that the letter go through the normal channels." He clears his throat the way one does to get attention. Then he steps around from the desk, striding on long legs to the door to open it for her. "For what it is worth, I regret how this has ended. You are an admirable woman, Miss Lee. Perhaps we will find that we are still allies in the fight to come, even if not under the same banner."

Rena turns to look up at Cassius. Her expression is well and truly masked, and there is very little chance that he can easily read what is going on behind those dark eyes of hers; beyond one being "On their dignity" as the saying goes.

For her part, she says nothing of regrets. She simply offers a polite-company smile like a lady should: "With all due respect, sir," Rena calmly replies, "Again, that will be entirely up to you."

Cassius recieves an inscrutibly placid stare as Rena locks her gaze with his for a moment. Then, on her own time, she walks away without a hint of contrition in her step. So, she's left the Unity Party — or been kicked out. At least she can return to feeling honest and true to herself again.

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