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Vadim Vankov

You're kissing up and bleeding all your trust

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Vadim Vankov

There was one thing that everyone knew about @Lazuli von Klassen: he liked his company.  To be precise, he liked his company tall, broad-shouldered, and sporting an Adam's apple.  Or short, narrow, and sporting an Adam's apple.  

Actually, when Vadim thought about it, the only real requirement was that his company be male and this new environment had provided his dormmate with a variety that he didn't have back at Durmstrang.  Normally, it wouldn't matter what (or who) Laz spent his spare time doing (or with).  They were in different years.  Vadim could ignore the way his friend bounced from companion to companion like a well-used, communal pogostick.  He could look over his breakfast at the Swede without so much as thinking about his escapades from the day before because Vadim didn't have to live with him.  @Elio Nygaarddid.  

And Elio liked it—obviously.

That was the unfortunate thing about the tournament though.  It didn't matter that he was a sixth year and Laz was a seventh year.  They'd been funneled into the same little two person cabin—a cabin which was stacked on other cabins like they were sardines in a can.  Then again, even with magic, the ship couldn't work absolute miracles.  It couldn't make him blind or deaf to Lazuli's incredible need for companionship.  He was too nice to say much about it (to say anything about it, really, because Vadim lacked a backbone and possessed a weak stomach) and so he suffered through it during the trip.  He even suffered through it for a few days after they'd arrived.

But then they'd dropped anchor and it became French boys and English boys and every boy between Stockholm and Paris.  He'd come to the conclusion that there was not an infinite well of patience buried somewhere in his chest—he had limits, like any other human being, and so on the third day of indescribable discomfort the likes of which he could never speak of lest he turn tomato red from his chin to the very tips of his ears, Vadim gathered up his pillow and his blanket and he toddled (yes, toddled) across the ship.

If Deja was going to manipulate and blackmail him, he was damn sure going to get something out of it.

The blond rubbed his eyes when he stopped at her door.  He was starting to develop a level of comfort around the tiny seventh year—he had come to realize that without him, she really did have nobody and unless she wanted to spend the rest of her days as a lonely old maid, she had to tolerate him.

He knocked, waited for the door to swing open, and then heaved a sigh.  "If I have to spend one more night sleeping across from him, Deja..."  He shook his head, trying to convey how desperate he was with a puppy dog face.  "Please, you know what I'm going through.  It's like dorming with a rabbit.  It never ends!"

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Nadeja Kysely

Honestly, Nadeja couldn’t even remember who her assigned roommate was. After they had one too many disagreements with the tall girl who didn’t know how to defend herself, Deja found that she was gifted with her own room. This was more due to the fact that she intimidated everyone who neared her, but the seventh year took it as an award that she had earned. Each night, she nestled under her blankets in a silk nightgown with a cover over her eyes. It was nice, it was peaceful, it was quiet.

Well, it was normally quiet. Tonight, there was a pounding knock at the door. Nadeja turned her head in the direction of the entrance while she whipped off her eye cover.

It took her a few moments to get out of her burrito of blankets and to adjust her nightclothes before she answered the rattling on her door. She wasn’t sure who she was possibly expecting, but when she noticed Vadim standing outside her doorway with his sleepwear, she was more than a little confused. “Um…” she started as her eyes got wider with further examination. For the first time in a very long time, Nadeja found herself speechless as she opened her door a little wider.

 

“Oh,” she said, lips pursed as she tried to keep herself from laughing at the situation. Nadeja knew that the day would come with Vadim regretted rooming with Laz. Deja had heard more than enough stories as they had grown up to know that her ally was being tortured – and that was the kindest word she could use. “Lazuli has always been rather,” she paused for a moment as quirked one eyebrow, “free with the physicality of his relationships. I would have thought the two of you discussed that before you agreed to room with him.”

 

Nadeja wanted to take this power and slam the door in Vadim’s face. He should have known better than to room with Laz. If he would have just trusted Deja’s judgment, perhaps he wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place. It took everything in her to keep from closing the door and laughing hysterically until she could control herself in this situation, but instead, she let a faint smile line her lips.

“I suppose you can come in this time, but no stories or intimate details allowed. The last things I need to hear about are his escapades and the steps he takes to … get there.” Nadeja wrinkled her nose as she remembered the stories of some of her old best friend’s more… gruesome incidents. “And you ruined a particularly good dream, so you owe me.” She gave him a stony look to ensure he knew that she meant business before opening her door a little wider to allow him to slip in.

“Well, I don’t know where you want to sleep, but I’ll be over here.” She climbed into her comfy, overly stuffed bed as she eyed the floor with a shrug. She was saving him. Why should she have to make the sacrifices? "Hope you can get comfortable down there!"

Edited by Nadeja Kysely

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Vadim Vankov

Free with the physicality of his relationships was an understatement so vast it could have filled the lake their ship was anchored in.  He thought about pointing that out—informing her that she had clearly forgotten just how much her ex best friend desired constant companionship that Vadim could not (and would npt) provide.  If he'd shown any interest in Lazuli, he was sure that Iskara (following their bizarrely intimate parting in the corridors) would find a way to eviscerate him and probably use his entrails to decorate a Christmas tree.  She certainly seemed the type to take trophies and gloat over her ritual insanity.

Vadim frowned, hugging his pillow under his arm a little bit tighter.  "Like I want to relive them," he mumbled glumly, sounding rather like the world's saddest puppy as he spoke.  He certainly didn't.  He was going to spend the next day in the Hogwarts library trying to find a magic way to bleach his brain.  There had to be something in a library that big and full of things that weren't long, rambling manuscripts on the benefits of torturing muggles and muggleborns.

"Yeah, well..."  He eyed her, wobbling forward sleepily as she let him into the room.  Deja was a slip of a girl, one hundred pounds soaking wet, and probably shorter than most fourth years.  That was how she'd gotten to be the Seeker on their quidditch team—too small to see very well at a distance, too fast to catch...she'd taught him to seek as a first year, always wearing that snide look on her face like she was staring down at him.  He'd been taller than her then, too, even if he'd been shorter than the rest of the first years (which was how he'd ended up following her around at every practice—a fact neither of them really liked remembering, but that both had submitted to because Deja wanted to climb through the team's hierarchy and Vadim always followed the Captain's orders.)  Fortunately, it hadn't been a permanent gig.  She'd stayed Seeker and he'd moved on to hanging at the hoops.

But she'd remained small, which was the real point of his train of thought (which had clearly rambled, as Vadim was prone to allowing it to do.)  "You know, the tournament will be physical.  I can...help you practice when you're...inevitably picked."  A little flattery tended to go a long way with Durmstrang's resident mean girl.

Vadim dropped his things and rolled his eyes.  Her attempts at making him uncomfortable could grow tiresome, but the idea of watching her sit alone like some disgraced debutante reminded him too much of his mother and he rather hated being reminded of Thea.  The boy pulled his wand from the mess of blanket he'd dropped on the floor.  "It's a good thing I can use magic then, isn't it?  Who'd have thought—six years at Europe's most exclusive magical school and I can conjure a mattress."


 

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Nadeja Kysely

Nadeja had intended on Vadim swooping into her room and demanding to be given things he did not earn. This was always the Durmstrang way. Without fail, she had seen dozens of her classmates launching into fits of rage because they wanted something they could not have, so inevitably, they did whatever it took to make the item theirs. Vadim was always a different sort compared to the rest of them. It seemed that a boy with a heart of gold did not fit among the cunning and crude who trudged through their school.

Somewhere along the way, Nadeja had begun to find his presence to be an asset. Long ago, she had once been able to trick her classmates into thinking she was smaller and less than all of the rest of them, but it appeared that Vadim had always seen through that. If she were honest, he appeared to see through more things than she had ever anticipated. When she lost Lazuli (or did he lose her? The stories differed depending on the person), Nadeja was left at a serious disadvantage when it came to people. She was always quick to yank others around and manipulate them as she wished in order to better herself, but Vadim seemed to make genuine connections.

She used them for her own betterment. What was the saying again? You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But Vadim was more useful than she would ever give him credit for, which was why she found herself moving from her position at the door with little to no fight.

In a way, she had come to respect him. Though he was still an imbecile who could not hold his own when it came to the brutality that was required to climb to the top of Durmstrang’s social hierarchy, he did have people skills that most at their school seemed to lack. He may not have fit into her vision of perfect, but the boy fit snugly into his place in their entourage.

It helped that he always could boost her confidence, even it was unintentional. Her eyes sought out his as he spoke as a way of gauging whether he spoke the truth. “You think so?” she questioned, focusing more on the part about Vadim thinking it was only a matter of time before she was picked. Nadeja was so overcome about envisioning that moment when she would be picked as champion, she almost forgot his suggestion. “Oh, well yes. I need practice in that. And someone who can quiz me on all the menial things I’ve learned for the past six years.”

That was her attempt at a joke. Obviously, this was going very well.

Deja grinned at Vadim’s sarcasm towards her comments. “I like you better when you have a spine,” she said with a smile that was far less sinister than the one she wore during the daylight hours. “Sarcasm suits you well. Just remember, if you tell anyone about this, you are out of here.” She paused for a moment before adding, “And no snoring allowed.”

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Vadim Vankov

Rather than conjuring an entire mattress, Vadim opted for charming the floor to be soft for the remainder of the night while Deja snuggled down in her bed with that (and he would never say this out loud) ridiculous looking eye cover still on her forehead.  If only the rest of the school could see her like this: with a messy head of blonde hair, no war paint (read: makeup) on her face, and wearing an alarmingly normal looking nightgown.  When he'd thought about Deja in the past, he had always imagined her sleeping in something black and made of lace...

While sleeping upside down and hanging from a ceiling with her arms crossed over her chest because she was a monster who probably bathed in the blood of her destroyed enemies or something like that.

At least, that was what Deja liked people to think—that she was some untouchable, powerful Queen atop her throne and they were all just peasants in her kingdom.  Vadim, however, had always been different.  He knew exactly where it came from, not that he ever talked about it (in part because nobody ever asked and in part because he didn't really want more people to know.)  Kostadin and Thea Vankov were career criminals.  They lied, they cheated, they stole and they didn't care who they hurt along the road.  The only thing they ever offered the world was negativity and bad luck and they reveled in it.  As far as they were concerned, the rest of the world deserved it.  On the few occasions he had asked them about it, they'd had the audacity to laugh about how miserable they made people—like it was all some luscious form of entertainment and they were part of the elite club that got to enjoy it.  They wanted him to understand it—encouraged him to, in fact, so that when they were gone he would carry on their wretched tradition of being among the world's most reviled human beings.  They were just a war crime or two away from breaking into the top ten.

Vadim decided (at a very young age) that he was going to be the good thing that they brought the community and he was going to do it whether they liked it or not and when he had mastered being decent (which wasn't too difficult, really, all he had to do was everything they didn't) he set about to finding the good parts of people that would have otherwise been written off as revolting.

Deja, for example, had ambition in spades and if she set her mind to something, rest assured, it was going to get done.  She was a woman of action and wherever she ended up after her graduation....they'd be lucky to have her, even if it meant wearing earphones to drown out her constant self-aggrandizing.  

The sixth year kicked his pillow to the top of the currently squishy floor and then dropped down into his nest of his blankets while Deja questioned him.  He hadn't meant to start her in on that previously stated self-aggrandizing (though it wasn't a hard thing to do with Deja.)  At least he wasn't lying.  

"Well, yeah," he answered with a half-shrug of one of his shoulders while he fumbled for his glasses in the pile of blankets.  He pushed them back onto his face and she swam into sudden focus.  "You're the most goal-oriented, focused person I know.  It would be...stupid for the Goblet to overlook that.  Even if someone outperforms you on something, I know you'll go and make yourself crazy practicing until you're better at it than they are.  That's how you taught me to play Quidditch, anyway.  If I wasn't the fastest first year, I wasn't good enough."

He almost choked at her next words, recalling how almost the very same words had come out of Iska's mouth earlier that day.  Instead, he managed a little bit of laugh and fell back into the charmed floor.  He pulled his glasses from his face and slid them under Deja's bed where they'd be safe from both of them stumbling around in the morning.  "Yeah, so I've been told recently," he mumbled and then lifted his hand to his mouth, miming a zipper over his lips.  "You better not snore either, princess."

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Nadeja Kysely

Nadeja watched as Vadim charmed her floor, but she said nothing as her attention was focused more on the bedside table beside her head rather than her new roommate. He was twirling his wand around as he magicked the general area, so the girl felt confident he did not see her quick charms she placed on the items situated on the table beside her. It wasn’t often that people were in her room, not since she got that dreaded roommate to leave, so she wasn’t expecting the fact she would have to make quick work of hiding her most intimate possessions.

Closest to her sat the last picture she had of her parents, smiling and healthy and whole. Sometimes, her mind strayed to the fact they were buried deep in her family’s personal plot where the ground was cold and wrong. Thinking about that often sent her spiraling with a breathing pattern she was not able to control and a heart that beat much too fast. Nadeja tried not to think of them often like that because those thoughts led to the fact she was an orphan who was lost, who had nothing aside from a dusty bunk at a group home and something to prove to everyone who didn’t believe in her.

No, she could not let Vadim see that.

Sitting next to the picture of her parents was a picture of with @Lazuli von Klassen that Mama von Klassen had been very insistent upon. It was the summer she spent gripping his hand tightly on the beaches of Barbados while she watched the sunset. It was simultaneously the best and most terrifying summer of her life because she never knew what she would come home to. But for the first time in her life, she felt free and unconditionally loved.

Nadeja had been telling herself for weeks to use the redactor curse on that stupid photograph because she spent too much time focusing on the past and what used to be. If she let Vadim see the weaknesses she kept hidden in the only place she allowed herself to think about them, it would be admitting failure. She didn’t want to need anyone, and yet, there was still a tight feeling in her chest every time she thought that she was alone. Deja finished her spells just as Vadim finished his, and she quickly tucked the wand that had belonged to the women of her family into the pouch she kept it in on her nightstand.

It caught her off-guard when she realized that Vadim was sincere in his compliment. Not only was he sincere, but he also explained to her what his thought process was. There was a foreign feeling in Deja’s heart at his explanation. While she was proud of the fact he thought all of these things, there was something deeper there too; she was entirely self-motivated because she knew that if she didn’t believe in herself, no one else would. Except there Vadim laid on her floor as he flipped her whole world onto its side. For a moment, she was lost for words.

While her mouth was moving, her brain was not. She sat there with no words coming out until finally, something broke through the surface. “No, you weren’t,” she agreed as she chose to ignore the rest of his words. “But you are now. You have the quickest reflexes out of every Keeper at Durmstrang because I pushed you.” Nadeja paused for a moment as she considered her words. “But I appreciate that you think so as well. As long as the Goblet is fully functional, I think it will be fine.”

There was a slight variation in her words, a nervous buzz taking over the tone that was normally clear and confident. Her pale features were slightly flushed as she nestled down deeper into her bed covers. While Nadeja was confident about everything, for the first time in her life, she just wasn’t sure. She wanted to be right, but the situation allowed for no control.

Deja felt fortunate that the conversation was on something less severe, though her curiosity was peaked. “By who?” she hummed, sounding disinterested though she was thrown off that any of the others that Vadim normally hung around would say anything like that. She didn't fixate on it for long, but she made a mental note to observe more of Vadim's interactions in the coming weeks. 

“Me? Snore? Never.”

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Vadim Vankov

He noticed.  He noticed because noticing was what Vadim had become good at while he shadowed her and her friends like a prop in their little troupe.  Having perpetually played 'fly on the wall' to almost all of Deja's drama and been privy to a majority of her infamous snark, he knew that when she replied with an extended silence (though only by the briefest of heartbeats) that he'd struck a chord in her with what he'd said.  

Somewhere in the back of her mind, she'd doubted herself or the fairness of what they were engaged in or her ability to prove her worth.  He would likely never know which it was because Deja was not the type of person who casually engaged in secret-sharing, but the knowledge was enough and he hoped that what he'd said had some positive effect on her...that maybe it boosted the confidence that had taken a heavy blow in the last year or maybe it had provided her the support she felt she needed now that Laz was alienated from her.  Vadim opted not to address it, either way, because she would never admit it and her lying would make their situation even more uncomfortable than it had to be.

Instead,  he propped his head up in his palm and looked up at her.  This sort of thing—this sharing thing—it wasn't something he did.  Despite his easy-going nature and his quiet, kind disposition, Vadim did not allow many people deep into the darker parts of his life.  With the exception of @Casimir de Haven, nobody had ever been invited back to his home and the only reason Cas had ended up there was really their proximity to each other.  He didn't talk about his parents' divorce, their perpetual irresponsibility, his father's trips in and out of magic and muggle prisons alike, or that the only reason he behaved the way that he did was really just to spite them.  Deja had her secrets on her nightstand and Vadim had his in his heart—and they weighed it down like lead.  That was why, when she asked about who had said something like that, he answered her...

Because the secrets were so heavy anymore and the letters from his sister got more dire with each passing day, like she couldn't stand how they'd shifted all of their hopes and dreams to her instead of him and that he wasn't there to be the buffer between them the way that he usually was.

"Iskara," he admitted, chewing his bottom lip.  "She tried to warn me about you...like I don't know you already."  Like I don't know that the only reason we're this close is because you don't have Lazuli anymore.  He kept the thought to himself.  It didn't bother him the way that it should have.  He'd never really wanted Laz's role and he knew that he was ill-fit to take it over.  He was simply a placeholder, waiting for the real thing to storm back in and fill the void with chaos the way that he always did.

Still, despite them being friends-but-not-really, he felt like he owed her some further explanation.  After all, she was letting him sleep in her cabin.  "I called her a vile hag and told her to crawl back to her swamp.  Then I told her she was just a little girl trying to prove that she was the biggest dog in the fight because she has nothing else going for her."  He exhaled loudly and recalled the moments that followed.

He remembered the words exactly—could repeat them back and hear them in his head, spoken by  her voice, the same way he could feel her palm on his cheek again.  "She said, 'Courage looks good on you, Vadim' and then she got really close to me and touched my face.  It was...uncomfortably intimate."  To be fair, he had only tacked uncomfortably on there for Deja's benefit.  Realistically, uncomfortable was the wrong word.  It had been almost like she was going to kiss him and it was a fear of the unknown that had been uncomfortable but Deja didn't need those details because he really didn't want to be sent back to his own room.

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