Kaelyn Paddock

I'm the one at the sail, I'm the master of my sea

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The first task of the tournament was over, and for the most part Kaelyn had caulked up all the intense emotions that she had felt in the forest to something completely negligible.  They had clearly been induced by spells and enchantments, specifically designed to cause confusion and fuel rage — something completely out of the ordinary and not anything to do with her usual realm of emotions.  Kaelyn told herself these things, but the memory of the way she’d burned in that moment — the way she’d felt, the way she’d hurt and wanted to hurt — still pestered her.

 

It was frighteningly familiar.

 

It probably was nothing, she continued to tell herself, and she would be happy enough to bottle it in or confide it all to Toby, but a day before her next patrol with Silas an idea struck her.  That evening Silas received the following letter by way of Linus’ enthusiastic little owl.

 

Silas,

 

Let’s meet on the fifth floor for our patrol tomorrow night.

 

Kae

 

She knew he wouldn’t need her to specify exactly where she would be waiting beyond that single detail.  A few minutes before their patrol was about to start, Kaelyn was already waiting in Their Room, legs dangling off the edge of the desk she was perched on.  “Hey,” she greeted lightly when he arrived with a smile on her face.  "Beat you here, for once."


Edited by Kaelyn Paddock

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"I think you were here first the last time, too," Silas corrected with a wan smile of his own. His mind was so frequently stretched in a thousand directions these days (between OWLs, Irene, Columbia, Guinevere Poleon, secret textbooks, and trying to decide whether he was still mad at Addison Toft) that he'd had blessed little time to think about his confused feelings regarding Kaelyn.

 

He was relieved when, upon seeing her, the confusion didn't return in a flood. It still tweaked occasionally, the memory of a summer breeze, but it didn't confound him the way it had originally. She looked well--content, healthy. Still going strong with Tobias, as far as he knew. The thought of Toby caused a shadow to flicker across his thoughts, and he frowned a little.

 

Wiping the look from his face, he turned to face the blonde. "Was there something you wanted to talk about?" he asked. "Not that.. not that I assumed, I just.." he gave a shrug and an apologetic smile. "This is our spot, y'know."

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“So I was.  You’re really losing your edge, Clarke,” Kaelyn joked, already feeling like she’d just been transported back to a time not so long ago, when they would meet in this very room and briefly, or for however long they wanted to, shut the rest of the world out.

 

Unlike Kaelyn, Silas didn’t look so well, but this wasn’t the first time that she was noticing this.  The dark rings under his eyes were made all the more prominent by the sunken look of his too-pale cheeks; it was evident that he’d lost weight since last year.  It was worrisome, but she didn’t say anything about that for the moment, throwing him an apologetic look of her own.  

 

“I know,” she said slowly before realizing she didn’t actually know where to begin.  All the thoughts that followed her didn’t seem so important that she needed to take time out of their patrol to discuss them, much less request they meet in their old room to do so, and suddenly Kaelyn was wondering if she had made a huge mistake asking him to come here.

 

She looked down at her hands and seriously considered hopping right off that desk and walking straight out that door, as if she hadn’t asked anything out of the ordinary of him, but when she looked back up at Silas the will to do that completely left her.

 

“I just… it’s probably stupid,” she tried again with a dismissive laugh.  “But… I was actually wondering… how was it in the forest for you guys?  During the tournament, I mean.”

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So she had called him here on purpose, Silas calculated. For a moment, he worried--worried she'd confess that she'd told Toby everything, or beg him to let the other boy in on the secret. That their last argument (if it could even be called that) would come back to haunt them, when he'd tried so hard for them to part in amiable agreement.

 

But no... it was something else entirely.
 
“But… I was actually wondering… how was it in the forest for you guys?  During the tournament, I mean.”

 

"Ah," he said, thoughtful. "Like... the world was upside down. We were all inside one another's heads." He gave a snort. "Juan was singing a song. It was.. horrible."

 

He left out the part about how he had strenuously emptied his mind using the techniques from Building Your Mind Palace, desperate not to accidentally spread all of his secrets to the rest of the team, focusing instead on the most inane, obnoxious thing on his person (the Key with No Lock). "Actually, I was rather fixated on part of our puzzle... overly fixated, I guess. Jake ended up screaming at me. It would have been upsetting if it hadn't been..well, hilarious."

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The world was upside down.  Horrible.  Kaelyn turned each of Silas’ descriptions over in her mind, stacking them up next to her experience to see how they compared.

 

“Silas Harding-Clarke, overly fixated on something?  I would never,” Kaelyn joked, laughing as she remembered the way his dark brow looked when knit in furious concentration, how he could obsessively go back to the same thing over and over again until he’d completely mastered it, how he could completely ignore the pangs of hunger or the lure of sleep when he was deeply immersed in something.

 

Kaelyn’s mind was more prone to wandering.  She had always been the first of them to throw a book across the table, complain that the room felt like it was shrinking or that the air seemed stale, and break his incredible focus.  Now that they weren’t studying together, she lacked proper stamina and he… well, he could use a bit of sun, elusive as that may be in this part of the world.

 

It was nice, though, to be able to laugh when she was with him, even if it was at his expense, and see that their time apart hadn’t drastically affected their friendship.  Truthfully, Kaelyn had missed him, and if not for the fact that she couldn’t think of too many other things for them to do together in lieu of their underground research — their interests were markedly different — she might’ve sought him out before now, even if it was just to talk about nothing in particular.

 

“The forest for me was…” she paused, trying to find the right words.  “I mean, I know it was supposed to be that way but… do you remember when we first told each other about our attacks?”  It was a rhetorical question; she knew he did.  “And… and after we got back from Hogsmeade, when I first showed you those spells we bookmarked?”  Another rhetorical question.

 

“I… when we were in the forest, Genevieve, she punched me.  I still don’t really know why, but… but I hit her with a stinging jinx and then I- I told her if she touched me again... I’d kill her.”

 

Her voice dropped after that confession and she chewed her lower lip thoughtfully.  “I mean, obviously I don’t feel that way now, now that I know about all the enchantments, but… but it was real, Silas.  I feel like… I feel like I really would’ve.”

 

Whatever that was, I feel like it’s still somewhere inside of me.

 

"And nobody else that I've talked so far seem to have felt things so... so strongly in there."


Edited by Kaelyn Paddock

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“I… when we were in the forest, Genevieve, she punched me.  I still don’t really know why, but… but I hit her with a stinging jinx and then I- I told her if she touched me again... I’d kill her.”

 

Silas frowned and tilted his head a little bit. That admittedly didn't sound like his sweet girl, the one who, though she'd hated the Death Eaters, showed such brightness and resilience during all of their secret sessions. At times, her attitude had made Silas feel less grim about the whole thing; as though their studying in secrecy was a fun game, an extracurricular activity, rather than giving it the ugly names of reality that it deserved: military training. Studying dark magic. 
 
"And nobody else that I've talked so far seem to have felt things so... so strongly in there."

 

He had certainly not experienced something so strong, but then again, he had been doing his best to meditate away all the...

 

Meditate.

 

"Well, none of us were homicidal" (except Trish, but that seemed to be related to Juan specifically) "But we were definitely more aggressive, angry. I think it's like, when animals are scared, that's when they start to get violent. Jake cast a spell on us that helped us get out of there." He frowned thoughtfully. "Was it..Concentration? Focus?" He shook his head. "Anyway--that can help when you feel like you're losing yourself.. but I've also been working on something else."

 

He gave her a small smile. "It sounds dumb, but--have you ever tried meditating?"

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“I wish I’d thought of that,” Kaelyn said of Jake’s spell.  “Maybe it was the clarity charm?  Like the one I practice with you last year, down in the chamber.” 

 

She tried to put herself back in that moment, when her wand had slashed through the air and she’d snarled those hateful words at the fourth year.  Even with the irritation and the confusion, Kaelyn didn’t think she’d been scared.  She’d been furious, and it had taken a lot of counting down afterwards for her to get herself back to a normal state of mind.  Speaking of which…

 

“Not exactly, but… I see this healer on and off, and he taught me to take deep breaths and count down when I feel myself about to lose it.  It helps, usually, but only if I remember to do it.  Why?”  Her eyebrows rose with her intrigue.  “Have you been meditating?”

 

What else had Silas been up to lately without her?  Kaelyn found herself wanting to know.

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“Not exactly, but… I see this healer on and off, and he taught me to take deep breaths and count down when I feel myself about to lose it."

 

Hmm. He would add that to the meditation rotation. Perhaps filling his head with sequential, meaningless numbers (counting) would empty it of all the other things that swam around in full force while he was trying to shut everything out. This had so far been the greatest obstacle in his attempts to learn Occlumency. It would have been easier over the summer, perhaps, with not so many things happening at any one time. So many people, so many concerns, so much homework, so much magic.
 
"Have you been meditating?"

 

"I have," he admitted, not seeing any particular harm in telling her; it wasn't like anyone would automatically assume the truth. "Lately I feel like my head is full of so much garbage.. I wanted to learn to come back to center. To see if it would bring out my true potential if I pushed everything else out."
 

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“Really?” Kaelyn said curiously.  “What kind of garbage?”  There was something about the way he said true potential that made her think back to all the time they’d spent in this very room last year, pushing each other to their limits.

 

She missed it, she realized.  The spells, the mystery, Silas… the longing to have it all back was more acute now that they were where they were, and not just passing each other in a lesson or at a meal and making small talk.  Kaelyn dug her fingers into the desk she was gripping.

 

“Are you… are you still?  Without me?”  Just like how she didn’t need to specify the location of their meeting spot tonight, she didn’t specify exactly what it was that she was referring to when she asked him if he was still doing it.  Her eyes met his as the questions left her, but there wasn’t any hurt or betrayal that accompanied her somewhat desolate-sounding ‘without me’.  They had agreed to this.  They’d both said it would be better.  But the question was still in her eyes: 

 

Did you let me go, the way I let you go?

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