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Nadeja Kysely

Clouds of rage, web of lies, misty haze and dark red skies

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Nadeja Kysely

Her heart beat urgently against her chest at the too close distance of @Lazuli von Klassen standing at her right side. The hair on her arms stood straight up as goosebumps lined her skin. His close vicinity reminded her just how much she had fallen while he remained at the top, wildly popular and loved. Her fingers were practically vibrating at her sides with nervous energy until foreign fingers curled around her own as they stood in their respective lines. For a moment, she thought it was the same familiar hand that grabbed her own during every moment of terror throughout her life at school. It was always her secret signal with Laz when one could sense the other was uncomfortable. A single squeeze to ask ‘are you alright?’ The other person would squeeze back: once for yes, twice for no. Nadeja started to squeeze until she looked down at the hand and realized that it wasn’t Laz.

For a moment, she closed her eyes and believed the soft skin under her fingers was that familiar shade of brown that matched her best friend. For a moment, she believed the last year hadn’t happened.

Then she opened her eyes.

The hand circled around her own was too pale to be the shade of brown she had been expecting. In that moment with her eyes tightly squeezed, she foolishly let herself believe what she wanted; her life was restored to its former glory. She was on top, dominating the social hierarchy with her best friend. Nothing was going to bring her down.

That was all a naïve vision of a hopeful, little girl.

When she finally realized it was Vadim’s hand that she was gripping tightly in her own, she quickly flinched, ripping her hand out of his as she glanced back in horror. What was he thinking?! All too soon, the Headmaster had them greeting the other schools as if they were supposed to be civil and friendly. Nadeja had a hard time schooling her face, and her general discontent was easy to see as she greeted each person with a sense of obligation. All the while, her mind was stuck on the fact that Vadim had grabbed her hand and thought it to be an acceptable action.

As soon as the pleasantries were finished, the seventh year’s eyes bore into her Quidditch teammate and only friend as she quickly nudged him to the side of the lakefront near where their ship was docked. Excitement filled the air between her cohorts, so Deja felt confident that her hushed whispers would be safe away from the overeager ears that surrounded them. Ensuring that Laz was well occupied by his cousin, Nadeja turned her sole focus to the meek boy before her.

“What the hell was that?” she hissed with fire in her eyes. “That… touching my hand? In front of everyone? Like I’m some weak princess, so distraught I can’t handle myself?” Anger boiled within her until she looked at Vadim’s innocent face and slowly deflated slightly. “Lazuli will notice things like these. Do you realize how quickly our fellow students will hear a rumor? This is a competition, and we cannot let weaknesses bring us down.”

It hurt it to utter his name out loud, but Nadeja kept on. Out of everyone, Vadim knew the most about how the past year affected her. Even then, she did not openly speak about her feelings, but the younger boy was the only one who had not abandoned her during the isolation of her former social circle and the never-ending training for the tournament. While she did not trust anyone after the things Laz had done to her, Vadim was the closest thing she had to an ally. He was the only one who stood steadfastly by her side. And though she would still step on him in order to get to the top, she would regret taking him down more than anyone else.

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Vadim Vankov

It was a foolish thing—grabbing Deja's hand like that.  He knew better than to cast her as the damsel to his Prince Charming.  Hell, he knew better than to think of himself as a Prince Charming in the first place.  

But Vadim was a foolish boy.  That was what his father said, anyway.  A soft-hearted, foolish, weak-willed boy who was too tender to ever learn his trade and who lacked the spine to survive in the upper echelon of society where his mother's family walked freely—where Deja once walked freely.  Prior to the great fall (for that was how he thought of it...when he thought of it, which was not very often, in fact) Nadeja had just been a teammate.  He knew her.  She knew him.  They would have never called each other friends, though that could have been said about most people in Vadim's case.  He moved between cliques and groups like a lost bird—a fledgling without a flock who, while not cast out entirely, was not completely welcome within the pack mentality of teenagers.

They weren't his friends.  They were simply his people...until she'd needed him.  By the time he was all she had, there'd been no real choice.  It was Vadim or nothing and rather than be alone, she had tentatively taken to drifting into his vicinity more often than not.

That was how he'd known that his father was right:  He was a fool.  It was the sudden electric tension when she jerked her hand away from his—like he'd burned her and the feeling seared from her arm to his, spiking up into his shoulder so that he, too, retracted lest anyone be made aware that his fingers had once been knotted in hers and that for one beautiful, infinitesimal breath of a moment, she had appreciated it.  There would always be lines drawn though.  Vadim would always be an other...a lone ship adrift in the sea around her and her friends, only good when they were drowning.

He had hoped she would shrug it off.  He had (once again, foolishly) thought that she might appreciate him enough not to make an issue out of something that should have been so simple.  Instead, he had to separate himself from the milling students of Durmstrang and Hogwarts who wore their brightly colored robes with surprising pride, seemingly regal over looking like shining beacons among their darkly clad northern visitors.  

The blond shifted on his feet, acutely aware of the look on Deja's face
angry.  Nothing in the world made him more uncomfortable than confrontation and he withered under the sharp blue of her eyes, colder than the worst days of winter...but he let her unleash all of that rage, all of that world-bathed-in-red anger, all of that ferocity that she kept pinned around her heart like a suit of armor.  

She was pretty when she was angry.  That didn't change that she was terrifying, too.

And it didn't change that Vadim knew, in his heart of hearts, that this was wrong.  Letting her walk all over him for the sake of belonging was wrong.  Letting her lash out at him because he cared more than she did was wrong.

But Vadim Vankov was a sweet boy with a sweet heart and a spine that bent like rubber under even the slightest of pressure from his peers.

So he took it.  

He took it until she was finished and he chewed on the inside of his cheek for the duration of it, his own blue eyes fixed on a spot between the toes of his boots so that he didn't have to look at her more than he was required to—more than she demanded.  

Vadim looked up at the word competition though.  His ideas about the tournament were unusual among the other Dumstrang students but Vadim was, by definition, an unusual boy.  "It's not about weakness, Deja.  It's about forging international bonds.  It's—"  It was useless.  That's what it was.  This was useless.  Deja already knew his opinion and she had already told him exactly why she disagreed with him.  For her, this was just another step on her climb to the top and she would crawl over all of them to get there...even if it meant crawling over corpses.

He turned his nose up then, eyes narrowing in the same moment.  "Laz didn't notice anything.  He's too busy staring.  Picking out his next conquest, calling Daskalov papasha."  He rolled his eyes at the last bit, inserting the only real Russian he knew—a slur, courtesy of @Kazimir Petrov
.

He turned solemn again though
—even contrite.  "The only weakness you have, Deja, is how much you let him bother you.  I only meant to let you know that you're not alone."  He shrugged then, trying to appear nonchalant though the dressing down had certainly given him a fresh perspective and a sharp reminder that she was not a princess in a tower.  There was no dragon.  He would never be a knight.

"Won't happen again," he tacked on dryly.

-------------



Papasha - A negative Russian word in the direction of sugardaddy

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Nadeja Kysely

Nadeja had turned to look at the glistening waters behind Vadim’s shoulder for just a moment as she tried to collect herself. Though the boy was much taller than her, Deja know that she was often too dominating for most people to handle. Beneath her small stature was a girl who would stop at nothing to get what she wanted, and that was not just a simple expression to her. For the past year, she had been absolutely miserable as she sat in the background without having the capabilities to dust herself off and come back standing strong.

This tournament was her only chance to be more than what the circumstances had limited her to in the past year. In just a few months, she would graduate with nothing. There was no money left nor parents to support her. The magical group home she occupied during her holidays would turn her away with the ‘go forth and conquer’ motto they spoon fed all of their wards as if it were that easy.

As if she was supposed to be able to collect herself when she was stuck at the bottom of the food chain; the piranhas were ready to be let lose so they could destroy her piece by piece until her entire life was ruined. This tournament meant more to her than any of her schoolmates, and the thought of weakness being shown to the entirety of her competition already made her queasy. Weakness meant failure again. Weakness meant letting someone chip away the perfectly chiseled statue she let people believe she was.

Weakness meant flaws when Deja had spent her entire life trying to convince everyone that she didn’t have any.

“This isn’t about weakness?” she asked, her voice oddly calm, though her eyes told a different story. “Do you understand how this is everything? It’s the only thing I have left. Treating it idly as if it were some Quidditch game between the other schools is how they will defeat us, Vadim. Do you want that? Do you want to leave Durmstrang looking foolish because we are all here for a good time?” Her eyes were alight with a fire and passion behind them that most people did not see. To most, she was Nadeja Otilie Kysely, the ice queen of Durmstrang who refused to let anything bother her.

The past year had changed her, though it was not in a good way. While that girl was vile to everyone she considered to be less, this girl was ruthless. Deja had never had to fight for a single thing in her life, but as soon as it was all taken away from her, she didn’t care what methods she had to use.

She would stop for nothing. There was no risk that was too much when it came to her future. This was her life.

Proboha, Vadim, it doesn’t matter what Lazuli did or didn’t see.” She rolled her eyes at Vadim’s mention of her old friend’s comment. If things were normal, if they were them, she would smile that secret smirk the two of them had always shared. Deja was always the queen, and Laz was always her perfect companion in every way. His outlandish behavior had always made them bigger than life itself together. She expunged the fond memory from her mind before focusing back on the topic at hand. “His idiot lapdog of a cousin is always around, always watching to see what they can exploit next.”

I used to be one of them. I used to be the worst of them. I know how they work. Though she did not say the words out loud, the sour expression on her face was indicative that her thoughts were deep and reflective. Most days, she wished she was still one of them.

But that meant giving forgiveness to the one person who ripped everything away from her.

Because she loved him more than she loved anyone in the world. Deja liked to believe that the world had carefully laid out soulmates for each of its occupants. Even if it wasn’t romantic, she knew there was one person she was destined to spend the rest of her life with. Her platonic soulmate.

The one person she was sure would be her family when everyone else was gone.

That was all a lie. A bitter laugh reverberated through her at Vadim’s words as the anger took over once again, nearly making her blind with rage over how foolish she was. Lazuli was her weakness. How many times had she begun to think about it before stopping herself? But here was Vadim, her last ally, telling her the one thing she refused to admit to even herself.

If she wanted to rise to the top once more, she had to let Lazuli, her person, go.

“I’m not alone?” she asked. Her interest was clearly piqued, for she let a thin eyebrow rise ever-so-slightly at his words. “Are you trying to tell me that you are on my side, Vadim?” Though she tried to school her face, her lips quirked at the edges just slightly.

 

---

Proboha - Czech word meaning God

Edited by Nadeja Kysely

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Vadim Vankov

Vadim and Deja had very different ideas of what everything entailed.  Of course, that was to be expected.  Deja was a debutante of sorts—a beautiful girl with a wretched chip on her shoulder, hailing from high society, brought low by personal tragedy.  She struggled to adjust, sinking like a ship caught in a storm.  He'd watched at first because how couldn't he?  It was a train wreck—something horrific, tragic, and oddly beautiful in its complete destruction.  There was no looking away when the angel fell from grace.  There was only bearing witness to the crater left behind in the scorched earth.  

He had never had to adjust to being the gutter rat.  He'd been born that way—nothing, nobody.  No one had ever imagined Vadim Vankov making a difference in the world, or even to one person, but there he was...the only one left to stand in the crater with her, head tilted to the side, waiting to see if she'd ever fly again or if her destruction was perfectly complete.

For Deja, everything was just her.  Just the climb up the ladder of the social hierarchy so that she could take her place as Queen.

For Vadim, everything meant the world.  It meant everyone.  It meant tearing that ladder down and laying waste to the idea that any one person was better than the other by right of birth or bank account.  It meant making people see...making them understand...that regardless of the language they spoke or the color of their uniform, they would all bleed red in the end.  

There was a brief moment—a lapse in his better judgement or a glitch in his personality—where Vadim saw the same red that Deja saw when she looked at @Lazuli von Klassen.  She had such a narrow view...such a self-centered, pretentious, appalling sense of superiority that a small part of him (very much like his father, not that he would ever admit being anything like Kostadin) wanted to spit at her feet, turn on his heel, and shrug her off as a lost cause.  She could be bitter and alone if she preferred it that way.  She could marinate in her own misery, so long as he wasn't a part of it.

What a wretched human being, he thought to himself, but the figure at the center of his thought wasn't Deja.  It was him...for thinking something so detestable in the first place.  His heart jumped in his chest a little bit, clenching with guilt and a pinch of shame.  This would bother him all day now...that he'd thought something so inhumanely awful about someone at their lowest point.  

Still—"No, it isn't about weakness," he corrected again, setting his teeth and taking a deep breath so as to keep his head cool for the onslaught of Deja's god-complex.  "And it isn't about Durmstrang.  You make this about you.  I make this about all of us.  About more than us."  He bit the inside of his cheek, tasted the sweet-copper tang of blood, and wrinkled his nose.  The tournament was bringing out the worst in him.  It made him more than hungry for the changes he desired.  It made him starve for them.

He opted to ignore her comment on Iskara.  It wasn't about Iskara.  It had never been about Iskara.  This was about Deja and Laz.  Everything was always about Deja and Laz.  Vadim and Iskara...they were just minor players.  A chorus line, if you will, just caught like a rope between the two leads.  

Vadim had never picked sides in that grand game of tug-o-war.  He'd preferred to think of himself as a spectator, silently observing the machinations of two social powerhouses and Iskara who, in this instance, played the role of Laz's sidekick.  He didn't want to believe himself another pawn in Deja's games.  He'd managed, thus far, to remain in the good graces of all of them (with the exception of Iskara herself, who was the only exception in his 'hate no one' mentality—he did hate her.  Passionately.)  Laz was his roommate aboard the ship.  Deja hung around him for the sake of company.  He was neutral.

But he had always been spineless.  He had always been weak in the wake of a strong-willed woman.  "I..." he started, stammering.  A flush rose to his cheeks and his breath caught in his throat, forming an aching lump just behind his tongue, which refused to form the shapes he needed to speak in any language.  He couldn't even bring up words in his native Bulgarian—just incoherent, nervous stuttering.

He tried again.  "I..."  He tried to say no, he wasn't on her side.  He wasn't on anyone's side.  That was his mantra—neutrality.  Cooperation.  The importance of indiscriminate allyship.  

"I....guess I am?"

Edited by Vadim Vankov

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Nadeja Kysely

Nadeja always found that no one truly understood the ramifications of weakness as she did. The slightest implication of imperfection had always been Nadeja’s own weakness. She had a presence to keep up with her schoolmates that painted her as the best that Durmstrang had to offer. And for a while, she was. She could never lie and say that the attention didn’t bring her some satisfaction when she heard her name whispered through the halls like a secret everyone was just aching to tell. Their words gave her power over them. Everyone knew that she could destroy them with just a few words, so they spoke carefully in whispered voices about the true extents of Deja’s abilities.

She thrived off of it.

Until one day, it was all taken away. One day, a foolish mistake by her parents resulted in them gambling all their money away to a man that should have never been trusted. Instead, they were too desperate to look at anything more than face value, and they cost her everything. Her beautiful home with her elegant dresses and extravagant things were all gone because her parents couldn’t think further than themselves. They couldn’t remember that they had a daughter who needed everything to be perfect.

They threw it all away without blinking their eyes. They threw it all away as if it didn’t matter to them – as if she didn’t matter to them. Then, they did the worst thing anyone had ever done to her up until that point. They died.

There was no grand ceremony or silent tears. Nadeja was now an orphan who could afford nothing on her own. She was given two twin urns with her parents cremated ashes and a group home with a dusty top bunk and rambunctious children who never knew to shut up. In her dreams, she could imagine that life was as it once was, and this was all a cruel joke. But each day, she found she was waking back up into her own personal hell. Deja thought if she tried hard enough, she could break the cycle. She thought maybe, with enough persistence, one day she would be free.

That day never came. Instead, Lazuli took the only thing she had left and crushed it in his vile fingers as if her life were just some joke that he refused to let her in on.

She had gone from the very top, and now she was as far down in the dirt as someone could be. Everything was about weakness, and she was determined to make Vadim understand.

“Yes, it is,” she replied with a cruel smile, though it was directed more at herself than anyone else. In her life, everything had always been about weakness. Even the people who made her feel safe exploited her for everything she was worth. This was her last chance to prove to the world that she was more. That Durmstrang was more. Hadn’t Hogwarts won the bloody competition over and over again as they dragged her school in mud? They were supposed to be the elite school of Europe, yet this castle seemed to have bested them all.

How did Vadim not understand?

“More than us?” she questioned with genuine curiosity. “How would you propose that, dearest Vadim? Year after year, we come here and make fools of ourselves as Hogwarts beats us again. Durmstrang is supposed to be the elite, yet it is attitudes like yours that force us to go home empty-handed every single time.” Nadeja wasn’t intentionally trying to be cruel to the only person who had stuck to her side since she fell from grace, but her words always came out this way. Clipped, short, and impassioned – for if she believed something, she believed in it wholeheartedly and would stop at nothing to convince someone else.

She was so convinced of her own truth that she was trying to explain to Vadim, it threw her off-guard as he began to stutter. Out of all the people who could have stuck by her side, she got the weak, stuttering boy with the heart of gold. Oh, how fate tempted her. Deja smiled sardonically to herself before shaking her head.

“You are?” her eyes got a little wider as the boy before her finally announced he was on her side. She almost vocalized how he would regret it soon enough. He would end up ostracized and alone just like she was for choosing the least popular allegiance. Lazuli and Iskara had all of the power now in this endless fight, but Deja planned to usurp them one day.

And maybe now with an ally who had truly chosen a side, she would have a better chance. Though he was at least two heads taller than her, she stood on her tiptoes and patted his cheek as if she were a mother talking to her young son instead of a girl just one year older than the boy before her. “Good. Then it’s time to put our plans in order.”

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