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Kaelyn Paddock

The cruelest dream: reality

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Kaelyn Paddock

“Yeah, we’ll catch up later upstairs,” Kaelyn could be heard saying to Inara as her best friend left the table after dinner, off too meet up with John.  Kaelyn was happy for the two of them, she really was, but also had to admit that it stung just a little to watch two people so happy and enamoured with each other and know that wasn’t the same in her life anymore.

 

Her attention returned to the pile of potatoes on her plate, sitting next to a generous serving of chicken and some obligatory vegetables.  It had gotten far too easy to make a big show of being perfectly okay, and much harder to actually live it.  Her usual appetite, for one, just wasn’t up for the challenge.

 

Kaelyn sighed a bit as she picked up her fork and swirled the prongs idly through the potato mash, creating a circular pattern, pausing only when someone dropped into the now-empty seat beside her.  Looking up, she found herself gazing into a very familiar set of grey eyes.  

 

“Oh, Silas, hey,” she said, and even though they still hung out occasionally and it wasn’t completely unexpected for him to approach her during dinner, her voice still lifted a bit in surprise.  It felt like it had become a rare occurrence these days for her to hang out with him without Toby somewhere around, but of course, that was back when her and Toby had still been dating.

 

“Come to critique my, um, tasteful new masterpiece?” She joked, swivelling her plate so he could see her swirls of potato more clearly.

Edited by Kaelyn Paddock

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Silas Harding-Clarke

Silas was, as usual, sitting with a book instead of participating in any kind of dinner conversation around him. This time he wasn't actually reading, though, just pretending to, because he'd noticed lately that if Eloise was anywhere around him, she made it a point to try to speak to him which made him exceedingly uncomfortable. He wasn't sure why he even thought reading a book was going to make a difference, because if she wanted to talk to him, she would, and the presence of a book might even give her an opportunity to do so.

 

Thinking of this with a mouthful of steamed broccoli, Silas gave an inward sigh and pushed the book over gently. Now that it was no longer obstructing his view, he peered across the Great Hall out of habit, scanning the other tables for familiar faces and offering small smiles of acknowledgment the one or two times that someone happened to be looking back.

 

One familiar face, however, was not smiling. Kaelyn Paddock's normally brilliant blue eyes were downcast, as she moved a pile of potatoes around on her abnormally full plate. Silas, frowning to himself, pushed his own plate away and scooped up his book, then made his way around the head of the other tables until he got to Gryffindor and threw a leg over the bench beside his friend, settling in next to her.

 

"I don't think I've ever seen you with so much food," he teased. "At least, for such a long time. Usually it's gone by now." She offered him a wan smile in return and he dropped his voice a little. "You know... I'd... been meaning to check in on you, after everything. I don't know what took so long, I guess. I'm probably not the person you'd want to talk to about it."

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Kaelyn Paddock

“Yes, well…” Kaelyn pulled her plate back towards herself and sighed.  “It’s… not as appetizing as it looked, that’s all.”  But, just because Silas pointed it out, she picked up a knife and started slowly slicing it through the meatiest part of her chicken.

 

"You know... I'd... been meaning to check in on you, after everything,” Silas continued.  “I don't know what took so long, I guess. I'm probably not the person you'd want to talk to about it.”

 

The movement of the knife slowed.  There hadn’t been many people who approached her talking about the duel between Irene and Toby, thankfully, because even after she’d spoken to Toby on the matter and said the things she had to Irene in their recent tournament round, Kaelyn was still grappling with what had happened.  Since this was the most recent event to have taken place in her world to make her seem okay enough for Silas to come check in on her, naturally Kaelyn thought that was what he was referring to.

 

She lowered her knife with a sigh.  “So you heard about that too, huh?  I actually already talked to Toby about it, and Irene too, sort of.  Not that I wanted to.”  Her knife picked up pace again, and this time instead of slicing through her food gracefully, it was like she was hacking right through it with a mini saw.  “I’ll be fine,” she added dismissively.

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Silas Harding-Clarke

Silas tilted his head down a little so that he could look up into Kaelyn's face as she stared glumly at her plate. He was trying to recount how many months had gone by since Toby had confessed that he had dumped Kaelyn. It was entirely possible that she was down about something else, but given the way they'd been before, during, and after their relationship, somehow Silas didn't think so.

 

“So you heard about that too, huh?  I actually already talked to Toby about it, and Irene too."

 

Now the Ravenclaw sat back a little bit. "To Irene?" he said with some surprise. He didn't even know if the two girls were really friendly. "About your breakup with Toby?" He rested a forearm on the table and leaned to that side, turning his body to face her more, expression puzzled. "What would she have to say about it?"

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Kaelyn Paddock

Now it was Kaelyn’s turn to be taken back.  “No, about- wait, what?”  This time, when the movement of the knife stopped, it was because Kaelyn had set the utensil down and was returning Silas’s puzzled expression with a wide-eyed look of her own.

 

“No,” she repeated again more slowly this time.  “I thought you were coming here to talk to me about - you haven’t heard?”  There’d been enough talk afterwards that Kaelyn had heard the news from a near-stranger before hearing it from Toby; it hadn’t even occurred to her that Silas didn’t know yet.

 

“About… about Toby asking Irene out during their tournament duel?” She continued a bit hesitantly at first, before resorting back to doing what she always did where Tobias was concerned: defend him.  “It wasn’t like… planned or anything, he just… he just kind of… said it, and realized how bad it was… afterwards.”  This didn’t seem the time to admit that Toby had also told her he tried to confuse Irene afterwards to get away with it; clearly this was the first Silas was even hearing about what had gone down between his best friend and ex-girlfriend.

 

“Um… and I don’t think they’re actually going out either?”

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Silas Harding-Clarke
Silas narrowed his eyes as Kaelyn spoke, as though he were seeing the world without glasses and trying to force it to come into focus. Tobias had asked Irene out. He repeated the sentence over and over in his mind; it both started and ended as word soup, he couldn't make sense of it. Kaelyn wasn't helping, adding more words to the pile that also didn't track, that he hadn't planned it, as though that was better, and more defensible. 

 

"Why," he said slowly, his voice uncharacteristically dull, "would he do that?"

 

The hand he had propped on the table curled into a fist. "You talked to him about it? To her? What did they say?"

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Kaelyn Paddock

Oh flack.  Silas wasn’t taking this very well, and honestly, Kaelyn felt like she should’ve expected it.  Even though he and Irene had broken up a while ago, she still remembered seeing them hold hands at a party recently.  And Merlin only knew how well she had handled things after seeing Luke walking off with his arm slung around Darcy’s shoulder, as if Kaelyn didn’t even exist, months and months after their break up.

 

There was still a chance she could steer the conversation back to her break up with Toby, but Silas wasn't stupid.  If he didn't hear the story from her, he was going to hear it from someone else, and who knew what twisted account was running rampant through the rumour mill as they spoke?

 

“I…” Her words failed her here, because Kaelyn was still making sense of this herself.  Realizing that what Toby had done was not a joke, and was based on actual, real emotions, was the bit she was still struggling to swallow.

 

She answered the easier question first: “Um, yeah, I talked to… both.  Separately.  They… well, I don’t know.  Toby… he said what I just told you, that… that he hadn’t planned on doing it and it just… happened.  And Irene… Irene thought it was a joke.”  She remembered something else they both told her too. “There was something about Irene wanting Toby to throw the duel for her, and said she’d do anything to make that happen and so… and so Toby… asked… that.”

 

Her eyes rested on Silas’s curled hand uneasily. However mad she still was at Toby right now, there was still no part of her that actually wanted to see him get hurt. 

 

Plus she’d kinda took care of the revenge part of this already, with the help of some cat litter.

Edited by Kaelyn Paddock

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Silas Harding-Clarke

Drawing a breath through his nose, Silas counseled himself not to jump to conclusions, but his body was already miles ahead of his mind. His heart rate was accelerating, his stomach was roiling, and his jaw was tightly locked. It WOULD be like Toby to do something like that as a joke, but somewhere inside, Silas knew that it was not. He'd once dreamed of Toby stealing Irene before he'd even had the chance to date her: that had been what had spurred him to ask her out in the first place. And then the bouquet of flowers in Transfiguration. And probably countless other signs that Silas had written off because, no matter how unfaithful Tobias was to his romantic partners, for some reason Silas had always expected that he would be exempt from the other boy's betrayals.

 

How foolish.

 

Silas looked at Kaelyn, his grey eyes stormy. He saw the crystal of her irises, the softness of her lips, the shape of her face in stark detail. All things he had once wanted-- all things Toby had taken, and Silas had stood aside, said nothing, because Kaelyn was happy and Toby was happy. Silas thought of Eloise, all legs and golden hair, invading his space and giving him every invitation to make a mistake, and still he had done nothing.

 

But Tobias, bored and impetuous, thinking of no one else-- how easy it was. How very wonderful it must have been, Silas thought, to only worry about satisfying one's own needs without consequence. His fingernails left ridges in his palms. 

 

"Do you know," he said steadily, looking blankly over Kaelyn's shoulder now, "that I once really liked a girl that Toby liked? And can you guess what I did about it?"

 

Silas raised his fist and pounded it on the table, rattling the plates. 

 

"NOTHING."

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Kaelyn Paddock

In all the time she’d known Silas, Kaelyn couldn’t remember ever seeing him as angry as he was now, not even on the day he first recounted the story of his death eater attack with her.  The way his eyes narrowed, his jaw clenched, his knuckles went white… it was all very foreign to Kaelyn where Silas was concerned, but strangely familiar too.  She realized with a start that he looked exactly the way she felt when she was cornered — trapped, with no other choice for escape, bound in place by decisions beyond her control.  Sometimes it was her emotions that did this, and other times it was the situation.  If Toby ended up in the hospital wing tonight and Silas in detention (or worse), it would be, Kaelyn felt, entirely her fault.

 

“You- what? Baby?!” she guessed wildly, her wide eyes blinking rapidly in confusion as her brain reeled to piece together this new bit of information.  Silas slammed his fist against the wooden table and nearly made her jump a mile.

 

“Silas!” At this point Kaelyn’s hands found his, desperately cupping themselves around his curled fingers as if, by sheer will alone, she could make him uncoil them and go back to being calm, level-headed boy she’d always known.  Her thumbs ran over his knuckles gently, and her voice dropped in pitch and in volume as she repeated his name again.  “Silas?"

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Silas Harding-Clarke

It was less Kaelyn's touch that tempered the brewing storm than the sheer cluelessness with which Kaelyn (incorrectly) guessed the shared object of his and Toby's affections. Silas normally might have laughed but he didn't much feel like it; however the utter ridiculousness of her best guess was silly enough to take some of the wind out of his sails.

 

He shook his head, then, and pulled his hand, with hers wrapped around it, to his mouth and brushed her knuckles with a kiss before gently placing his other hand over them. "No, Kae. Not Baby." He sighed. This certainly hadn't been where he intended this conversation to go when he'd sat beside her mere moments ago-- plus, it was of so little consequence now, for a multitude of reasons, that he really didn't see any purpose in telling her he truth other than in the interest of full disclosure. And he knew that any effort to lie or avoid it was just an attempt at self preservation, and to be honest, he wasn't sure what he was trying to preserve anymore.

 

"This is really neither here nor there, at this point," the Ravenclaw said, releasing Kaelyn's hands and leaning back against the table again. "But no-- the person that we both liked was you," he told her. "I mean, I see now that I was misinterpreting things between us," he went on. "Before you two got together I thought.. I'm not sure, I thought maybe I was beginning to feel something around you."

 

Silas shrugged. "But when you two got together I realized how much more sense that made, than you and I, and I realized I must have been wrong, and he was so happy about it at the time so I just.. Put those feelings to rest, I guess." He also remembered the many month tantrum Tobias had thrown, not speaking to him and saying nasty things to their friends behind his back, when Kae and Silas had been studying in secret. Which made it even more unfathomable to think that he would assume it would be totally fine and not backstabbing at all to ask out Silas's first love without even a heads up, first. Thinking about it in such stark terms caused the flames to flare again in his stomach. "I'm just -- why do I have to tiptoe around him and be open with him and loyal with him for him to be happy and our friendship to be strong and then he just gets to do whatever the bloody hell he wants with no regard for anyone else???"

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Kaelyn Paddock

If not Baby, then…

 

Her mind rerouted itself and was on the path to arriving at the correct answer (because for some reason Kaelyn didn’t pin Eloise as Silas’s type; at least Baby had the whole mysterious cloud effect going for her), when Silas brushed his lips against her hand and revealed it to her himself.  In the moments immediately following his revelation, Kaelyn could only sit and stare.

 

Silas… had liked her?  He’d liked her… at the same time that she’d liked him? 

 

The realization dawned on her in ways it never fully had in the many bewildering moments between them before.  The time she’d taken solace in Silas’s arms after that awful row she had with Toby, those many intimate moments they’d shared… there’d been something between them, something she’d mistaken as a kind of comfort and belonging that could only exist between friends who’d run headlong into danger together.  It was something she’d continued to ignore, long after the fact, when she was with Toby and ended her secret studies with Silas.

 

Part of her already knew; Kaelyn had become gradually more aware of her feelings over time.  When she first told Silas about kissing Toby she’d felt conflicted, and when they’d ended their secret meeting she’d been disappointed.  Then there was that time she cursed a death eater in a daydream and awoke to Silas struggling with the ropes that had come out of her wand and flung themselves around his neck.  In the long, terrible moments that passed afterwards, when Kaelyn didn’t know yet if he was going to live or die, she knew: if she hadn’t kissed Toby that summer, she might have eventually ended up with Silas instead.

 

I’m sorry, she wanted to say.  I must have hurt you in ways I didn’t even know. But Silas was already long past that, questioning why Toby gets to do whatever he wants while Silas politely tiptoes around his feelings.  Kaelyn lifted her shoulders helplessly.  “You’re just… you’re different people,” she tried to answer.  “I don’t think Toby meant to hurt your feelings, or mine, by doing what he did.  He told me himself: he didn’t think, and it only occurred to him afterwards how it might come off to me, and he must’ve apologized a dozen times for hurting my feelings.  You know how he gets.”

 

Her hands found the hem of her shirt and started twisting it as she processed everything else, and her voice dropped to more hesitant tones.  “I- I didn’t do anything either. Back then, I mean.  I…” One hand remained where it was, with fabric clenched between her fingers, and the other hand flew to the back of her head, rubbing it uncertainly.

 

“I don’t know if it was… guilt, but I just… I couldn’t do that to Irene, you know?  She was just so… sad.  And I- I know I didn’t cause you guys to break up, but we spent so much time together afterwards…” Her voice trailed off a bit here, making her realize that it was guilt that had kept her from pursuing Silas.  Guilt, and maybe a bit of fear.  “I don’t think I… thought much, about how I felt about you, because I just… anyway, like you said, this is neither here nor there.  It’s just… I don’t know.  You weren’t misinterpreting anything.  I- there was something there for me, too.  But… it’s just… with Toby… I couldn’t live without him, you know?  I’m sorry it happened the way it had.  If I had known…” But what would she have done differently?  In the end, Kaelyn might still have given it all up for the boy she couldn’t live without.

 

For the boy she still couldn’t live without.

Edited by Kaelyn Paddock

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Silas Harding-Clarke

"He always doesn't think," Silas snapped, not in the mood to have the object of his anger defended by someone who was clearly still lovesick over him and in no way objective. "Unless it's of himself, and his immediate desires."

 

The boy pursed his lips against further outbursts as she struggled through admitting that she had liked him too, which turned out to be a good decision on his part because it withheld any sarcastic comments that threatened to burst forth when Kaelyn said she hadn't wanted to hurt Irene, and took that into consideration when processing her own feelings. ("Imagine that!")

 

While it made him feel better, in some way, that he hadn't entirely misimagined the signals, and that Kaelyn had cared for him in that way as well, it really no longer mattered. He was comfortable with the road they had all gone, and at that time he had not really been over Irene, anyway-- he wouldn't have been fair to Kaelyn in a relationship. 

 

"I couldn't live without him, you know?"

 

Silas let out a soft, derisive snort. "It's funny, when he and I went months without speaking and I didn't know why and then finally you two get together and he's a different person, that was what he said, too." Silas looked at her, his eyes impassive. "Obviously, that's changed."

 

In reality, perhaps it hadn't. Toby had Kae's unconditional love, and perhaps always would. He could behave however he wanted and she would still be there, in some capacity. Perhaps that was why Toby had said he'd be fine with it if Kae were to find someone else. He would still always be her number one.

 

"Like I said, none of that matters." Then he remembered he'd come over here to cheer Kaelyn up and gotten sidetracked by this unfortunate news. Her resolute insistence, however, on championing the very source of her misery, had really eliminated much of his desire to talk to her... But he still cared about her. "Listen, its up to you what you want your future to look like. I'm just saying that maybe your--and certainly my--loyalty is wasted on someone who has ADMITTED he can't spare a passing thought to anyone else's feelings in the pursuit of his own... I don't even know, amusement."

 

All of Silas's friends were always upset with him for being too secretive, or judgmental, or unavailable. He'd agonized over these complaints and made efforts to amend them. Silas stood up from the table. "I won't accept 'that's how he is' as an excuse anymore, because frankly, that wouldn't be afforded to me or any other adult who should be held responsible for their actions."

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Kaelyn Paddock

“He always doesn’t think,” Silas snapped, and Kaelyn expression immediately turned to one of hurt, as if the words were about her and not Tobias.  When he continued, ending his next segment with “obviously, that's changed”, Kaelyn actually turned her head and looked away.

 

It hurt to hear all this, because no matter what anybody told her or even what Toby told her himself, Kaelyn still only wanted one thing, and she didn’t know if or when that was ever going to change.

 

Maybe Silas caught on to the fact that she was closing him out rather than letting him in, which was how she usually was with him, because when he spoke again after that, there was a certain softness too his words that hadn’t been there before, even thought he was clearly still mad.  And even though the things he was saying were still not the things she wanted to hear.

 

She finally turned to look up at him when he stood, but the hurt was still clearly etched on her face.  It wasn’t Silas’ fault, though; the hurt originally stemmed from the fact that she knew at least a tiny bit of what he’d just said was true: things had changed.  Kaelyn knew his anger wasn’t exactly misplaced.  After all, she had felt the exact same way when she first heard the news.  Hell, she probably reacted even worse, upending an entire litter box of belongings over Toby’s head and then proceeding to ignore him for a week.

 

“I’m not trying to make excuses for him,” she protested softly, although the fight was gone from her voice.  “All I’m saying is… I think if he knew how upset you were, he’d feel bad.  And he knew what he did was wrong - or at least that’s what he said to me.”  She quietly didn’t spare any mention of how any of this might be affecting Irene; Kaelyn had been trying very hard these days not to think of Irene.

 

She sighed heavily as her gaze dropped back to her plate of swirly potatoes.  “Believe me, Silas, if I could hate him, I would.”

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Silas Harding-Clarke

“I’m not trying to make excuses for him,”

 

But you are, Silas wanted to say, and he bit the words back, clenching his jaw tightly and curling his hands into fists again, feeling the sting of just slightly trim-ready nails biting into his palms. Kaelyn might as well have been under the Imperius Curse. She didn't realize what she was doing to herself, by giving Tobias a pass on everything he did. Silas thought of Addison, whom he'd always cared for, and how he kept going back to her no matter what she did. But he certainly hadn't made excuses, or said that her behavior was fine, or tried to explain it away.

 

"If I could hate him, I would."

 

Silas almost laughed, but instead it came out a tiny scoff. "I'm not asking you to hate him, Kae.. that's a little too much." He looked down his nose at her and let out one final sigh. There was nothing more he could do here. She couldn't be helped until she wanted to help herself. He gently put a hand on her shoulder before he walked away. "I'm just telling you to have a little self respect."

 

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Kaelyn Paddock

"I'm just telling you to have a little self respect,” Silas said before he left, and Kaelyn just stared at his retreating back with her mouth slightly parted.  It had never crossed her mind that her trying to understand where Toby, her best friend, was coming from meant she wasn’t respecting herself enough.

 

Did she make too many excuses for him?  Did she forgive too easily?  Kaelyn could still remember the day Luke coldly told her the only reason why she didn’t care who Toby hurt (which wasn’t completely true - Kaelyn did care, but perhaps not in a way that was apparent to anyone else) was because he hadn’t hurt her yet.  But that wasn’t true now either, was it?  Toby had hurt her more in the last few months than he had their entire lives, and here she was, still wanting to be with him.

 

Kaelyn sighed and buried her face in her hands.  Every time she felt like she was moving one step forward, she took two steps back. Nothing made sense anymore.  Nothing.

 

She pushed the plate of swirly potatoes away and grabbed her things to leave too.  She needed to get some air.

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