Irene Redgrave

Don't wanna hear you say: ain't nothing but a heartache

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Valetine's Day - Outdoor Patrol, Thanks Kelly [/sarcasm].

 

It was not the best mood to be going into any patrol, much less one with a higher than normal probability of finding students out after hours snogging. However, here Irene was: late and irritable. Why? Luke, being the pal that he was - thought it would be hilarious to do Irene's makeup, why? The world may never know but he spent two, count 'em T W O hours fussing around Irene with brushes and things that smelled odd and random potions.

 

At the end of it all what did Irene have?

 

A perfectly clean face.

 

Luke smugly held up the mirror to Irene and declared that she was a perfect human being just the way she was. Irene threw the mirror at Luke and stormed out of the dorms with her hair done and no makeup. She was also late now for her meet-up with Silas. "Took him two hours of messing about to be an arse." She grumbled under her breath the entire way from the dormitories to the entrance hall where she pasted a tight, unconvincing smile on her face for Silas. Her fists were mashed into the bottoms of her pockets.

 

"Don't ask." Irene whipped out one hand and made a gesture that encompassed her sleek curls and absence of makeup which didn't match at all. She probably looked tired and like she needed a caffeine concoction. The only upside to being late was that they'd probably missed Tobias and Kaelyn meeting up and immediately sneaking off to "patrol". Since it was Valentines and they were a couple Kaelyn no doubt looked like the model she could be if she was so inclined. Not that Irene cared. She didn't. As she had tried to explain to Luke, patrols even ones on Valentines were not dates, especially ones with her ex-boyfriend she was trying not to alienate. For some reason throwing oneself at an uninterested party qualified as alienation in Irene's head - go figure. Luke Cronus did not understand this very simple logic.

 

"I'm sorry I'm late. Luke is a terrible human being." Her apology was sincere and soft and for once not dripping with sarcasm when she spoke of another human being. Then she belatedly remembered she meant to give him something, "Oh, uh...." her hands grappled in her cloak pocket to unearth a small folded item.

 

"Happy whatever." She reached over and tucked it awkwardly in his pocket and gave him a sheepish smile before relinquishing his personal space. Then she quickly grabbed the front door and pulled to let in a burst of cold air and hopefully keep Silas from reading her stupid valentine's card in front of her. "Ready?"   


Edited by Irene Redgrave

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By the time the evening came, Silas had forgotten that it was Valentine's Day, and that this was Ashcroft's idea of a cruel, self-amusing joke. As such, he hadn't tried to make himself look particularly presentable, just the normal Silas in his school uniform, badge neatly pinned to his front, his hair a little bit long and disheveled from running a hand through it while studying. And when he turned to receive Irene, she didn't show any signs of being particularly decked out, either, which was another lack of a red flag, lulling Silas into a sense of security.

 

In fact, she looked surprisingly less tense and porcelain than usual--more fresh, youthful, and earnest. It was a very interesting Irene, different, but not bad.

 

"I'm sorry I'm late. Luke is a terrible human being."

 

Silas smiled and automatically followed Toby's advice, as he was now coded to do. "What did he do?" the boy asked companionably, and he blinked in surprise as she stuffed something into his pocket and then quickly moved to the door like she wanted to get this over with. Silas pulled the neck of his cloak up toward his chin and followed her, wanting very badly to see what she had put in his pocket but maybe it was like a note or something telling him to meet her later for a duel at midnight or something so it was probably best to wait on that.

 

"I'm ready," he agreed, taking the door from her and gesturing out into the open. "Ladies lead."

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"Mmm." Her normal non-committal noise was always appropriate for every situation and she used it now. She hadn't expected any kind of 'valentines' reaction from Silas. In fact he was probably being overly-gentlemanly about actively NOT mentioning the holiday to be sensitive to Irene's single status. Either that or he really didn't want to mention how he'd rather be getting ready for whatever plans he had himself later in the evening ... the latter of which Irene didn't care to think about so she chose to impose the former intent on Silas' actions.

 

Grateful for a thick cloak she pulled it tighter around her as her steps turned towards the familiar path that led into a darkened tree line. "Forest edge first? I doubt there's any couples choosing a romantic interlude in there but you never know. People are weird." Irene shuddered delicately, "Can you even imagine?" Her laugh tinkled across the late evening air, "Shadows and dark creatures and rotting vegetation... what could possibly make anyone amorous in that garbage?"  The look she sent Silas over her shoulder said they were obviously above such base behavior. They were two civilized people who wouldn't go into some dangerous locale to make out with their dates just because it might be 'exciting' or 'cool'.

 

"Although," she decided and linked her arm with Silas' for balance on the uneven ground. Irene probably should have worn different boots. "If we do find anyone, there will no comments on anyone who is prettier than me because the Reason Luke is a prat... today anyway, is because he offered to do my makeup." Irene had launched into full gossip mode now, there was no stopping her tirade until she had finished her full story. 

 

"Ridiculous I know, but I was being supportive of males embracing feminine things and there was a whole discussion of feminism... I dunno I was tricked. Anyway... Luke spent Two Hours fiddling with my face and then didn't even put any makeup on me. He was all, 'You're perfect the way you are' " Irene's mocking tone of voice clearly indicated she thought this was baloney.

 

"So that's why I was late meeting you. But we're past that now, it's a nice night. We're not going to find any rando couples having their Valentines celebrations in curious places and then we can get you back to the castle if you need to like be somewhere..." she carefully did not maintain eye contact. If he needed to tell her that their patrol was getting cut short for a date with someone she didn't want to see they way he looked anticipating the company of someone else.  

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His quiet smile remained in place as he followed Irene and she led them to the edge of the forest. For a moment he was confused; she seemed to be expecting to find couples all over each other in the forest, what would make this night different than any other? It was February, much too cold for------------------------oh.

 

Silas reflexively reached into his pocket as everything clicked into place, and his fingers curled around the little packet, which he quickly released and pulled his hand back out. Valentine's DaySon of a snitch.

 

What was on the parchment? He wondered, internally freaking out. Why would Irene give him something on Valentine's Day? Did she still like him? Did she know that he still liked her? DID COLUMBIA TELL HER?!

 

Irene looped her arm through his and he almost evaporated on the spot.
 
"If we do find anyone, there will no comments on anyone who is prettier than me because the Reason Luke is a prat... today anyway, is because he offered to do my makeup."

 

His head spun. Luke was going to do Irene's makeup... for this patrol... with him? Luke had made clear his intentions to force the two of them back together, although in what capacity he didn't know, since they were obviously friends again and Luke's efforts had dwindled considerably so he must have considered his mission accomplished.
 
"'You're perfect the way you are.'"

 

This sliced through Silas's confusion because if there was ONE THING he had inherited (or perhaps learned) from his mother that his father was woefully incompetent about, it was how to identify a woman fishing for a compliment and a tactful way of supplying it, particularly if you really cared about that woman.
 
"Irene, I completely forgot it was Valentine's Day," he said finally, cutting her off. He placed one of his hands over her arm, still linked in his. "And there is no other way I would rather be spending it than strolling with you, whether you have makeup on or not--it doesn't matter to me. I just like to be with you."

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Apparently Silas had not forgotten in their time apart that it was best to let Irene just run down before attempting any kind of interference. She might have been holding her breath at the end but she somehow managed to suck in even more air when he spoke:

 

He'd forgotten about Valentine's day.

 

Silas wasn't a forgetful person. So this admission did more to leech the tension from her shoulders than anything else he could have said at that moment: He surely didn't have some elaborate, romantic date planned with some harlot later because Silas Harding-Clarke would have never forgotten something he'd taken the time to plan meticulously. That certainty made his next words ring with the possibility of sincerity.

 

Irene's cheeks warmed and she tucked her chin into the edge of her scarf to hide the stupid grin threatening to break her face.

 

Then she tripped at his next words. Not just a stumble. Her boots ill-fitted to the outdoor patrol had finally given way to the snow-soaked terrain and she would have face-planted if not for Silas' two hand grip on her arm. She pulled up in front of him and looked up at his storm grey eyes. Her heart made a similar tumble.

 

There's no one he'd rather be with tonight? She shouldn't read too much into that. Irene ruthlessly attempted to shake her emotional center back into place: he probably just trusted her not to make any unseemly demands upon his person. Irene was staid and boring: a safe bet for anyone looking for a lack of complications. They were friends. The three little words were like a mantra she repeated to herself on a daily basis. It was true and it wasn't, at least as far as Irene was concerned.

 

"Me too." She uttered the words breathlessly and then backtracked when she realized how dumb that might have sounded, "I mean, I'm glad we're here, ...I mean, not here in the cold here, but ... I'm glad. I like," you too - no don't say that - awkward pause, it's been too many seconds now, say anything! "To be with you too." ... ... ... Yeah, much better. Idiot.

 

Irene nervously tucked some of her hair behind her ear and looked away at the grounds. "Doesn't look like anyone is dumb enough to try for the 'adventure' card at the forest tonight. Where next?" She didn't realize she was clutching Silas' arm like a lifeline.

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Suddenly, Irene fell.

 

Automatically, Silas tightened his grip on her arm as the girl's legs went out from under her and she skittered across the ice-capped snow. He moved to snatch up her other wrist, bringing her up with both hands and setting her steady on her feet. And then she was standing in front of him and staring into his eyes, the breath knocked out of her from the fall. (lol, Silas)
 
"I like... to be with you too."
 
Silas felt his chest constricting and realized that he had been holding his breath. Carefully, he exhaled and drew a new breath, the icy air lining his lungs and throat and burning with an almost minty freshness as he smiled back at her. "Good," he managed, before she asked where they should go next. "The usual?"

 

The usual was the Greenhouses, a place that was sacred for Irene but had been mutilated in its sanctity by also being the place of their last kiss and subsequent breakup. He regretted saying so immediately, and quickly recovered before he had a chance to flounder too obviously. "I mean, we can 'patrol' it--aka, you can tend to whatever I'm sure you have living in there."

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Silas was much better at being 'friends' than Irene was. He accepted her fumbling declaration with grace and poise and didn't seem at all affected by the prospect of going to the greenhouses, their place. Which was fine. Great, even. Why wouldn't he be? She took the moment he breathed in to plaster a smile back on her face.

 

"Oooooh, can we? I just want to check on a couple of things." She actually did have things to check and hiding in what she considered her dark, safe place sounded Excellent at the moment.

 

Her eyes lit up more genuinely at the prospect. Irene was easily distracted with the lure of her plants. "Really, just a couple. It'll only take a second. You're the best!" And she was off making a beeline to the greenhouses with Silas in tow.

 

Thinking of all the little things she wanted to peek at she started a very typical Irene!tirade as they walked, "I swear after this year, no more good Samaritan acts of kindness where my plants are concerned. Between Gary and Columbia they've about killed off half of my projects." She let go of Silas briefly to open the door of the greenhouse and pull him inside.  

 

"I told them I'd help them both study for owls but all they do is make-out with each other it's gross and the damage they do when they're actually trying to learn is even worse. I eventually gave up on Columbia and managed to get Gary to read his flash cards. Hopefully that helps some otherwise all my efforts were wasted." Irene pocketed her gloves and blew in her hands to warm them up before touching any of the delicate plants. Her words had been on the irritable side but she'd said them in a way that bestowed her feelings of affection towards the pair of Gryffindors. She'd pull them kicking and screaming through their exams if she had to.

 

"Did you want to check in your whisper while we're here?" Irene had been careful not to bring it up until now. There was always the off-chance Silas had decided to abandon it after they broke up and for all she knew her hard-work was withering away somewhere, a sad commentary on their relationship. But surely given his normalcy around her he would have at least kept up the plant in her absence. It had been his idea after all and Silas was never one to waste an idea.  

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It worked.

 

Irene began to glow and sparkle like a Christmas tree at the mention of her plants, her babies, and Silas had to chew the inside of his cheek to disguise a smile, although when she turned in that direction and set off a trot and began talking about Gary and Columbia, his smile withered a little.
 
He knew he didn't necessarily need to feel threatened; Gary and Columbia were together again, which by definition meant that Gary was not with Irene, and Columbia no longer seemed bothered by the entire thing, so why would Silas? But the idea of Irene sitting in a quiet, cozy library trying to get Gary to read flashcards and spending time and energy on him... it was disheartening. It reminded him that something between them had almost certainly happened, and he didn't know the extent, but ultimately, she'd chosen someone like Gary, the polar opposite of someone like Silas, and she still seemed to feel very fondly for the Gryffindor prat.
 
"Did you want to check in your whisper while we're here?"

 

"Hmm?" Silas had gotten lost in his thoughts and now glanced up to see Irene looking expectantly at him. "Oh, yeah," he mumbled, and made his way to the place where the plant now lived, awaiting the day when he might try to do more than simply maintain it, and help it grow into something more. Irene tended to her own plants and Silas checked up on the witch's whisper, which he wanted to breed a new strain of to have a different warning function. He peeled his gloves off and poked at the dirt around the base of the plant, warm, unlike the outside.

 

Then, unbidden, sounding casual when it came out but burning his throat and lips as it left, Silas said, "You spent a lot of time with Youdle last term, huh?"

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"Oh yeah, well we uh, discovered something in common," still being in love with our exes, "...and became better friends, yeah. Now I'm kind of stuck with them both, I think they adopted me. Columbia insists we're 'besties'." Clearly, from her tone and the way she shook her head over her plants, the term baffled Irene who had given up on trying to have best friends. "I should probably stop being nice to people." She smiled at her joke and finished adjusting some of the soil in one of her recuperating pots before turning around to lean against the work bench.

 

Silas wasn't looking at her as he talked either, paying attention to some detail in his own soil. She liked that about them, that they could work separately and still be together in the same moment. Except.. something was off. Part of her brain was processing this scene faster than the rest so it took a moment to click: Silas always looked at people when he spoke to them.

 

Irene's eyes narrowed slightly in consideration. Some people might mistake this for manners and while Silas had the full share of a Proper upbringing - Silas liked to watch people as a point of control. Irene had noticed first year because she too felt the need to know people by their actions and reactions. Silas was always watching people, summing them up and wanting to see/learn everything he could from them. So why wasn't he looking at her?

 

He'd asked about Columbia and Gary and-- no, he'd only asked about Gary. ...why?

 

Oh Columbia, you skeeze, what did you say.... Irene often forgot that Silas had many close relationships with females in their year who would only be too happy to disclose certain things to interested parties. Things like Irene all but throwing herself at Gary and him running straight back into Columbia's arms. Irene sure did have a talent for trying to attach herself to people whose first instinct was to run towards Gryffindor females. Columbia was the most dangerous person of all to have said anything - she had the tendency to misremember things. Like when Col tried to tell Irene on New Year's that Silas Loved her with a capital L... clearly she had that wrong. Titania had unwittingly set her straight on that front shortly thereafter. If Col had said anything to Silas there was no telling what kind of messed up version Silas had heard or even who's version - Gary probably had laughed with Columbia for days as a result of That One Kiss. Was Silas about to make fun of her too?  

 

Is this the kind of friends Silas and Irene were now, did they talk about these kinds of things? Was he making some kind of gesture that should close the torturous door of her heart and feelings? --Hey Irene, talk to me about other guys. I want to talk to you about other girls.... OH [CENSORED]... was Silas about to tell her he had feelings for a girl?! Despite knowing this was an inevitable 'someday' situation Irene wasn't ready for it today. She didn't want to let go of the happy little flutter inside her every time her hand accidentally brushed Silas'.

 

The conflict was real - she wanted to be a good fried, to make him happy and support Silas in everything in his life that could possibly make him complete; she did not want to hear about the romantic things he did with other girls like Titania, couldn't hear that the long curious looks he sent Kaelyn in class meant something more, not from him it would break her. Be the friend you'd want, Irene. Tell him you want him and he doesn't need other girls. ... Damnit, Irene.

 

She could try... and be honest at least. She'd only ever promised him honesty and it helped that he wasn't looking at her. Her fingers gripped the edge of the workbench. "Gary was clearly miserable when Columbia broke up with him. Obviously he'd done something wrong, it's always the boy's fault after all." She tried to make him smile and alleviate some of the tension she could tell was wrapping itself around her for no identifiable reason. "Anyway I told him if he still wanted her, he should fight for her. Girls like to know they're important, after all. We're not mind-readers and if he loved her and couldn't live without her then he needed to tell her. But he didn't, of course, even though he was obviously still miserable even weeks later." The implication obviously that boys were stupid.

 

Silas probably just agreed that Gary was stupid - it's not like he could sympathize.

 

"So I kept him company instead, tried to make him happier. No one should have no one, you know?" Like me, I had no one when I was heartbroken and alone. "And eventually I wondered, I guess." Irene blushed in the shadows. "Especially after you and Columbia had been together... well maybe that - I dunno - I thought we could help each other get over other people." Did she realize she had just admitted she still had feelings for Silas as of Christmas? No she did not. "I really kissed him and tried to make a go of it. It was nice and all I guess but he wasn't ---" you, the words had almost slipped out.  "--but um," she fumbled the recovery poorly now lost in a spiral of -oh crap what am I even saying?-, "Uh... ultimately it wasn't what either of us wanted. I think he might have found Columbia the next day." Her grin was self-depreciating but genuine. Maybe Irene should go into business as a matchmaker. Gary certainly found what he wanted as a result.

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Silas was very occupied with dirt as Irene told him that she and Columbia were now besties which seemed like a very dangerous situation for both Irene and Silas. Though he truly, at this point, thought that Columbia probably had his best interests at heart when she deigned to concern herself with them at all, there was no question that her methods could be unorthodox at best--heavy-handed or disastrous at worst. He had not yet forgotten the poisoning of Addison, which haunted them all well into their fifth year at Hogwarts, in different ways.
 
He remembered Columbia's voice through the mirror as Gary's footsteps echoed in the hall, as they together came to the conclusion that Irene and Gary had found each other and were spending time with one another in a way that felt like stabbing thorns.
 
"Gary was clearly miserable when Columbia broke up with him. Obviously he'd done something wrong, it's always the boy's fault after all."

 

Silas tensed and although his fingers were still deep in the earth of the potted vine, he was motionless. He could feel dirt under his fingernails, little beads and granules of stuff that made up the composition of the soil. She explained, though she owed him no such thing, and he knew it, that she was merely being companionable in Columbia's absence, which had apparently been very difficult for the Gryffindor.
 
"Especially after you and Columbia had been together... well maybe that - I dunno - I thought we could help each other get over other people."

 

Abruptly, he pulled his hands from the pot and turned to look at Irene. She knew what had happened with Columbia--but how much did she know? That it was a complete failure? That they'd spent the rest of the day sitting in smushed custard while Col tried to talk him through his love of Irene?

 

"I really kissed him and tried to make a go of it. It was nice and all I guess but he wasn't ---"

 

Even though he had known, of course, rationally, that something had to have happened, hearing the words still cut, his heart sank like a stone, his perfect girl had found some reason to love that absolute savage of a human being, enough not only to give him the time of day but to try to fix him, to heal and to help him, something Irene only did when she cared for someone deeply.

 

"I wondered," Silas said, voice tight. He smoothed the front of his robes without thinking, smearing them with dirt. "He came to me, you know. Threw all my books on the ground and told me if I hurt Columbia he'd curbstomp me, or something. Said he'd find a way to get me back." He looked at her somewhat sheepishly, and then defensively, before turning away. "Then he said he was going to see you, and.. well. I wondered."

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Irene stepped forward, unconsciously the caregiver, to clean the front of Silas' robes at his absent gesture. When he quickly turned away and her steps faltered. The awkward unfinished movement of an imperceptible rejection she should be used to by now. Know your place, Irene. It should be her life's mantra or the lesson it would take her the entirety of life to absorb.

 

Her mind reached to search for the day Silas mentioned. Irene thought she knew it but was quickly distracted by his tone of voice. "...said he'd find a way to get me back then... he was going to see you and ... I wondered." The softness and understanding in her eyes kindled. His entire commentary on Irene's attempt to find someone else to care about her was that the singular possibility rested on the premise of her being a pawn in some male competition. It burned.

 

"Joke was on him then wasn't it." The cutting words were out and under her breath before she could scoop them back in. Obviously such a move was ill-suited, Silas was completely over her. It couldn't be anymore obvious. Though Silas' assumption was sort of funny, imagine giving Gary credit for such an elaborate play - Gary was an emotional, simple guy. Irene connected with that - his lack of ability to do anything but wear his emotions openly for all to see. It was his lack of artifice and cunning that made him appeal. Silas was dark and twisting secrets: a fog that never revealed his true mind or heart. Some girls liked a mystery, the puzzle he created. Irene just mostly found herself lost in the murk. If only he'd light a lamp for her every once in awhile... 

 

Her arms fell useless to her sides. A small effort of will kept her hands from fisting. There was a small voice, perhaps Toby's, telling her she should stand up for herself - for what she perceived as some small opinion of her desirability. But she didn't want to fight with Silas, it's not like there was anything to gain. Then again there wasn't anything to lose. He had promised to be her friend no matter what she ever told him. Maybe he would respect her more if she spoke her mind, her heart.

 

"You know," one of her hands came up to push insistently at his shoulder, "I do have more value than as a pawn. Just because I don't have certain qualities like maybe Titania doesn't mean I'm not a valuable companion and someone will see that." Some day. Was she trying to convince him or herself ...

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"Joke was on him then wasn't it."

 

Silas looked up in confusion. They were ships passing in the night--he would say something and she would respond in such a strange way, to some imagined slight, and he would be left backtracking, wondering how he had miscommunicated so poorly. The chill edge to her voice, after the playful tone of mere moments ago, made the hairs on his arms prickle. "How was the joke on him?" Silas asked. "He knew you'd be an easy way to get to me." He was right.
 
"I do have more value than as a pawn."

 

He flinched, not from her touch, but the words. She was right--so what if he felt like Gary was using her? He didn't know what was in Gary's mind (thank god) or Irene's for that matter. Maybe there had been something more between them. Wasn't that his fear? Yet to soothe his own ego, he'd convinced himself that Gary was just using her to hurt him, for taking Columbia (which he hadn't even done) relegating Irene to some prize status that she didn't deserve, not to mention not considering her feelings in the slightest.

 

"I didn't mean t--"

 

 "Just because I don't have certain qualities like maybe Titania doesn't mean I'm not a valuable companion and someone will see that."

 

Silas flushed dark red, the rest of everything in the entire world forgotten.

 

"What about Titania," he stammered. "Who said anything about Titania?"

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"He knew you'd be an easy way to get to me." If only, she rolled her eyes. Probably just because they hadn't even been very close as friends at the time. He just missed her friendship. Irene could have probably explained away a declaration of love at this point. However, she didn't have time to bicker about that because they'd moved on to -

 

"Who said anything about Titania?!"

 

"....Um...." Irene took a step back and reached up to rub at a spot under her ear in an uncomfortable gesture. Her other hand waffled about in front of her dismissively. Was she not supposed to know about that? Titania had been pretty open and proud even to Irene about her time with Silas. 

 

"She ... may have mentioned something about the two of you ... it's not important." She's not important. "Though I guess, congratulations on being fixed or whatever that means- no, never mind, it's not important. Sorry." She really didn't want to hear any lurid details of how Silas had given a piece of himself to some trollop who saw portents in crystalized milk. Really if he wanted to judge people on their lack of taste in companions... he should start a bit closer to home.

 

"Look there are plenty of other things that are important and I don't even know why we're talking about this." Irene was suddenly flustered and didn't know what to do with her swirling agitation. "Unless you want to talk about this?" Dear heavenly source of all things magical, Silas - do NOT ask me to listen to you describe how you took another female into your arms, into the private depths of your sacred personal space. Irene knew he would only let his guard down enough to be with someone truly special and she couldn't bear to hear how someone like Titania apparently fit that bill.

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Silas let out an audible, miserable groan as Irene stumbled through an admittance that Titania herself had told the Slytherin about her dalliances with Silas. Dalliances that, by the way, he had only engaged in because he thought Irene was in love with Gary Loud-le. Silas dropped his face into his hands, hardly even cognizant of the fact that they were still dirty. At least he'd brushed most of the clumps of earth off away on his clothes first.

"congratulations on being fixed or whatever that means"

 

He had never wanted to die or disappear more before in his life, and it was quite an experience to be having right now, in the Greenhouse, in front of the very person he'd been trying to forget while committing aforementioned sinful deeds. The words 'I can't believe she told you' rose to mind but of course she had, why would Titania think to keep anything a secret? He wanted to be angry at her but he couldn't even do that, he just felt so completely ashamed, ridiculous, and horrified that he was actually seeing what it was like to make a bad decision and have it come back to bite you.

 

"It wasn't about that," he said instead. "And no, I don't want to talk about this--I just want you to know it was not... like, an intimate thing." Oh God. It just kept getting worse. He dug the heel of his hand into his forehead. "I mean--it was like you and Gary. Just trying to get over it. And not working, and. Just-- yeah, I'll just go," he muttered, heading for the door.

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"And no I don't want to talk about this."

 

Irene's jaw unclenched. "...and not working." Had he really started having feelings for Columbia and was so distraught over Gary and Col being back together that he had needed someone, anyone to try and fill the void? She could understand that at least even if it hurt her to do so.

 

The little pieces of her caught in balls of tension cautiously loosened but he was leaving before she could process anything fully. 

 

"No wait! Silas... stop." She wanted to reach out for him but she couldn't touch him, not just now. Don't abandon me again. "You promised me," she tried instead with a small smile. He wasn't allowed to not be her friend. "You know, you have a sister. I'd think you'd be better at having girls being girls around you."

 

All the fire and turmoil was gone from her and she raised one hand solemnly, "I promise to behave. And you haven't opened your valentine yet." It was a simple, silly card with a small cactus drawn on the front 'My life would succ without you' and inside an enchanted tree would pop to life upon opening showering leaves up to fall down around the card holder with the inscription: hope your day is unbe-leaf-able like you.

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