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Tobias Winchester

In the eye of a hurricane

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Tobias Winchester

It had been days; longer than Toby would have liked, more than he thought was acceptable, another black mark next to his name. 

 

His conversation with Kaelyn had taken it out of him. He was exhausted, feeling as if he had been pushed through a grinder and spat out on the other side. Everything seemed to weigh on him: Kaelyn's decision that they couldn't be friends any longer; her constant desire to get back together; the pressure of worrying whether he'd made the right decision; her reveal that Silas was mad at him; Irene's reaction to finding out that he liked her; her order for him to get over his feelings. It felt as if there was no way out. 

 

Of all the situations, the one with Silas was the one he was most confused by, the one he didn't fully understand. Toby knew where he stood with Kaelyn and Irene but with Silas... he'd thought things were fine between them, but what Kaelyn had told him made it seem as if they were very far from it. 

 

Toby had intended to talk to Silas the night of his talk with Kaelyn but when he'd got back to the Ravenclaw dorm, Silas was already asleep. In the morning he was up early for a run, and then the next few days had followed a similar pattern. There just didn't seem to be any moments when they were alone and able to talk, not when they were moving from one class to another surrounded by their peers, or at quidditch practice surrounded by the rest of the team, or even in the Ravenclaw tower, because whenever Toby was there Silas wasn't and whenever Silas presumably was, Toby was in the wing helping out as an assistant. Even their Prefect patrols didn't line up, not until the following week. 

 

Toby felt a mixture of things as he approached Silas by the lake, dread and anticipation curling in on themselves in his stomach. He took a breath to steel himself before he stepped up next to Silas and, without looking at him, said, "Kae said you're mad at me."

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Silas Harding-Clarke

It was always colder by the lake, especially in the evening. Silas was wearing a thin sweatshirt even though the end of the school year was drawing closer and most people were spending their days outside in the sunshine wherever possible. Somehow he'd mercifully avoided having to do any prefect patrolling with the people that had been stressing him out, until that evening, when he'd checked the list and seen that the normally welcome pairing with Tobias (which usually became a discussion on magical theory or a debate on ethics) was scheduled for that night on the grounds.

 

Truthfully, it was best that they'd kept passing one another like ships in the night after he'd found out about Irene, because it had given Silas time to cool off. His initial anger and disbelief from his conversation with Kaelyn had subsided considerably, and he was prepared to forget everything or bury it, the way that he did with everything else.

 

So it was with some surprise that he turned to his roommate when Tobias arrived and said, "you're mad at me."

 

Silas drew a long breath and then began walking, expecting Tobias to fall into step with him. "I was, but not really, anymore," he admitted. "When I heard that you asked Irene out, I just felt like... I don't know. Like I'd been punched in the throat. I loved that girl." I still love her, some part of him insisted, but he knew that he felt it in a different way now, and he didn't feel like saying it aloud, knowing it would just complicate everything. "I figured you'd at least have the decency to give me a head's up before trying to get with the first girl I ever loved."

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Tobias Winchester

 Was, but not really any more? Toby wondered what had caused the change. Kaelyn had been pretty convinced that Silas was extremely mad with him.

 

Over the last few days Toby had been trying to work out why, and then Silas revealed it, with a word Toby had nevertheless heard him use before. Loved. I loved that girl. Oh. In that context, Toby could understand why Silas was mad at him and why he had been angry that Toby had asked out Irene. Your best mate and your ex - who apparently you loved - couldn't be easy to swallow.

 

Toby knew what it was like to love. He'd loved Kaelyn - still did - and all he had suceeded in doing was hurting her. It had been a week and she hadn't talked to him, had avoided looking at him in class. There was a big gap in his life and it was Kaelyn-shaped and he could only blame himself for it.

 

He exhaled slowly, still not looking at Silas. "Sorry." The word was surprisingly easy to say, easier than he'd thought it would be. He let it hang there between them, genuine, before continuing. "In my defence, I didn't actually plan it and wasn't intending to do it, but you know, I did, so." Another breath, more silence. "But love, hey? That's a big word. Never heard you say that before."

 

 

Edited by Tobias Winchester

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Silas Harding-Clarke

"Sorry," Toby said, and Silas was surprised. Usually Silas was the one apologizing--for being too distant, or unavailable, or whatever else. Tobias didn't usually apologize. Silas shot a look at his friend in the dark to see whether he could discern if the apology was sincere. It didn't seem to have anything hanging on it, no resentment, no defensiveness (though he did try to defend himself soon after, it seemed hollow even to Silas).

 

"Never heard you say that before."

 

Silas made a soft sound and smiled, perhaps ruefully, in the dark. "I haven't ever said it before, I don't think," he admitted. "I don't think I knew it, at the time. But looking back, with some distance, and.. well, even now, I guess. I care about her so much. I mean, you saw how it was, when her mum died. I wanted to do anything to support her." 

 

He recalled their conversation about finding "the one" and being uncertain how you would ever know. Silas was still uncertain, but he knew he cared about Irene and that she was an incredibly important friend to him. "I guess it's like you and Kae, like... the love and devotion is still there, but it doesn't feel like the right time. Like she wanted something from me that I either--I dunno, had no idea what it was or couldn't give it."

 

He elbowed Toby. "Also, you didn't plan it?? The arse does that mean. You just decided she was cute right then and there and decided to throw down?"

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Tobias Winchester

If he hadn't said it before, did that mean he hadn't said it to Irene? Toby wondered how different things would be if Silas had. Did Irene know that Silas thought he loved her? Was she unaware? If she didn't know, would she do anything about it if she found out? What a mess. 

 

"I mean, you saw how it was, when her mum died. I wanted to do anything to support her." 

 

"Yeah," said Toby, who had done the same. 

 

He and Silas had never really talked about his time with Irene, not after the initial break up when Silas had been angry because he'd done what he thought was the right thing by going into Hogsmeade to save Addison and Irene had been hurt by it. They'd kind of avoided the topic after then, as Silas liked to keep his feelings to himself. It was weird, now, that he was opening up, actually. This was probably more than he'd told Toby before ever. 

 

Toby scrunched his nose up when Silas elbowed and ribbed him for how he'd asked Irene out. 

 

"Yeah, that wasn't my finest hour. Kae's already chewed me out for it. Irene wanted to win the duel in the tournament, asked what I wanted in exchange for throwing the duel. So I asked, I guess, figuring that she wasn't going to say yes and it didn't matter, then she said yes but it didn't matter anyway because she only wanted me to throw the duel. I hate the tournament." 

 

He turned his head away from Silas in the dark, looking out across the lake. The last time he remembered being here, he'd been skipping stones and Kaelyn had come to find him. He'd felt awful then too but for different reasons; he'd had a patrol with Luke and the other boy had torn into him, ripping him to shreds and Toby had needed some space to clear his head. That was the first time Kaelyn had told him that she loved him - and Toby had told her that she shouldn't. 

 

But she had, and now she was miserable, and maybe Luke had been right all along. 

 

"And before you say anything, I know Irene didn't mean it because she told me," he said, still not looking at Silas. "She told me to just... not like her." Like it was that easy. "Get over my feelings. Which is why I haven't told you. What's there to tell? It's not exactly fun to talk about."

Edited by Tobias Winchester

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Silas Harding-Clarke

"Kae's already chewed me out for it."

 

Silas was quiet. It was clear that Kaelyn was not over Tobias, but seeing as he'd already talked to Toby after their breakup about the reasons that it had probably been the right decision, he didn't think he had anything to say that would be helpful in that regard. But hearing the details about how the incident occurred were surprising to him. To win a tournament duel, Irene had asked Toby to throw the match? And presumably the only reason she'd agreed to date him was for that purpose?

 

"That's cold," he wanted to say, but Toby cut him off.

 

"And before you say anything, I know Irene didn't mean it because she told me,"

 

"Huh?" He frowned a little to himself as Toby explained. Why would Irene tell him to just get over it? After their conversation in the bathroom, he was more confused than ever about what Irene wanted. "Well, I mean.. I'm not sure it's any consolation, but... I wouldn't be angry. Like, I guess it would be weird, since I'm close to both of you, and she and I were a thing once so like, I wouldn't want to hear any... particulars" sexy stuff "But if she's worried about what I would think or that it would make everyone feel weird... then... don't."

 

He shook his head at himself. "Don't worry, I mean. Like, I have no claim to her anymore. She should date whoever she wants. You should, too."

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Tobias Winchester

Toby, who was used to doing whatever he wanted regardless of what other people thought, was surprised to hear Silas giving him what was, in essence, permission. He hadn't intended on getting it, but hearing Silas say it was fine made him realise that maybe he should have. People who cared what others thought and actually tried to act like decent human beings, they'd ask things like this, right? Especially if their best mate loved the girl they currently had feelings for. 

 

It made Toby feel guilty, that he hadn't even considered asking Silas if it was okay - not because he thought Silas was in control of Irene and had to give his permission, Irene could make her own bloody choices about who she wanted to date - but because Toby hadn't even considered his feelings during all of this. He'd just... figured Silas was over her. "It's been four years," he said. "I didn't really think about it. It seemed like ages ago when you two were, you know, so I guess it didn't cross my mind whether you'd be fine with it or not."

 

He hunched his shoulders, tucking his chin down for a bit more warmth in the cool night air. Summer was rapidly approaching but they were still in the Scottish highlands. He wished he'd brought his scarf, but he'd given it to Kaelyn months ago and then lost it, when she'd dumped all his things on his head outside the Ravenclaw common room. 

 

As for Irene... Toby had to prepare himself for saying the next words, "I'm pretty sure she's just waiting around for someone like you. You're a hard act to follow." All the girls fell for Silas, as they'd both discovered over summer last year, it was the brooding prince thing he had going on. "And it's nice you're saying it's fine and all, but it's not happening. 'Turn it off', I think were the words she used, then something about not breaking us." Two different conversations on two different days but in both situations the same meaning: Irene just wanted to be his friend. 

 

"She just wants to be friends so, you know, I'll get over it. It's fine."

Edited by Tobias Winchester

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Silas Harding-Clarke

Silas wasn't sure if he had expected a thank you, or what, but what Toby said wasn't what he expected or what he particularly wanted to hear.

 

"It's been four years. I didn't really think about it." 

 

Silas bristled visibly and stopped walking in his tracks. "Well, maybe four years since we broke up, and thanks for counting, because I haven't been, but certainly not four years since I stopped liking her." He hadn't just given up on Irene when she'd gotten mad at him, and their breakup had been painful for him because he'd felt torn between two important things: Irene and his pride. He'd refused to believe that the decision he'd made to save Addison's life (while having no reason to believe Irene was in immediate danger) was in some way correlated to him caring less about Irene. The gradual fade of his romantic feelings for Irene had come from believing that she could never trust him again, not because he had stopped caring for her.

He pursed his lips as Toby said maybe Irene was just waiting for another guy like Silas, and that it was nice he had permission, but that it didn't matter.
 "Well, cool, maybe you will get over it, but while we're on the subject: why do you think this stuff keeps happening? Kaelyn angry, Irene not interested. You just told me, to my face, that you didn't consider my feelings before doing what you impulsively decided to do. When are you going to figure out that all actions have consequences, and that they might hurt the people you love? And if you already have figured it out, when are you going to start caring and holding yourself accountable?"

 

Now he continued walking, briskly. "Jesus, Toby. Is it any wonder Irene is waiting around for someone else? Why put all her eggs in a basket knowing the person holding them likes to just swing the basket around upside down?"

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Tobias Winchester

Ah. Here came the anger. 

 

Toby had no idea when Silas had stopped liking Irene. Silas had never told him. The last person they'd talked about when it came to feelings was when Silas had told him about everything that had happened with Addison, and everything then had been about how he didn't like her anymore and she wasn't a person he would ever trust. An opinion which had, apparently, changed, if the carnival was anything to go by. 

 

He opened his mouth to say something, then closed it again when Silas suddenly went all in. 

 

Toby came to a halt, listening to Silas's words but unwilling to follow him along on the path they were walking. Silas sped up and Toby stayed where he was, watching. Did Silas seriously think he didn't care? Did he think that his actions didn't have consequences? Each word was a painful one to hear, like shards of broken glass, and Toby really didn't want to hear it from him, the person who was supposed to be his best mate. They were supposed to be past this, but apparently Silas had been harbouring some stuff for a while. This didn't sound like something recent, one event that had annoyed Silas, but several things which had pushed him over the edge. 

 

What could Toby say to defend himself? He had hurt other people, he knew that. He'd hurt Kae, he knew that too. What did Silas want from him?

 

Toby felt as if he had tried, since everything that had happened with Darcy, to do better. He'd forced himself to try and get over that part of himself, past the side that was terrified of werewolves. He'd written that letter to her and he'd done every patrol alone, had done all that he could when the other person couldn't stand the sight of him. He'd even managed to find common ground with Luke, had made up with him and even thrown a party in Jake's honour. He'd been nicer to Grace because Silas had asked him to, had started conversations with her and even met her in the forest that one time, had got a book out of the library for her and then... well, nothing. He'd even had a few conversations with Jake and set him up with Alayna. He'd been kind to Irene for an even longer time, since way before he liked her, had done things to make her happy and cheer her up even when Kaelyn was getting mad at him for it because he was giving flowers to another girl. 

 

He'd dated Kaelyn for a year, had been faithful and kind and the best boyfriend that he could be. He'd done everything he thought was right and treated her right and done stupid, cringe-worthy things in the name of love for her. Even their break up, he'd tried to make the right decision about it, had broken up with her because he had doubts and he wasn't sure if she was the one and all it had done was hurt her and made her upset and angry. 

 

Now here was Silas, angry too, because Toby hadn't realised he still had feelings for Irene and hadn't asked him if it was okay and it just felt like... like...

 

Toby didn't have a word for it. He didn't think there was a word. He just felt miserable and exhausted, with anger and disappointment coming at him from all sides. Who did he have to talk to about this? Kaelyn didn't want to be his friend any more, Silas was mad at him. A few moments ago Toby had felt as if they could talk, as if they were actually, finally, talking about things. Now he wasn't so sure. He couldn't talk to Irene, not about this. Luke and he were civil but they weren't friends. He felt as if Eloise knew him better than ever before, but she wouldn't sympathise. She would just tell him he was better off alone. Gary would tell him to man up. 

 

What could he say to Silas? Not a lot. 

 

So Toby stood and said nothing, crossing his arms and looking out over the lake.

Edited by Tobias Winchester

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Silas Harding-Clarke

Silas was probably thirty feet away already when he realized there were no footsteps in the grass alongside his, no defensive, angry words rising to bash up against the accusations that Silas had flung out like burning embers, no shameful silence and rustle of clothing. Toby was gone. Silas looked around and glanced at the ground, to see if maybe Toby had dropped dead from shock. Then he looked up and saw that the boy had stopped where they'd been when Silas had spoken, as though frozen in place by his words.

 

Sucking in a breath, Silas wheeled around. It would be easy to leave, to keep acting like this was nothing; they'd done it so many times before. But it was unlike Tobias to be at a loss for words... and if he truly wanted to be done with Silas, he would have left in the other direction instead of just standing still, in silence.

 

So Silas walked back and stood next to his friend, folding his own arms and facing the lake. "Listen, I'm sorry I snapped. It was just--the reason I was angry, I felt it was because you hadn't considered something that would have meant a lot to me. I would never, like, try to date Kaelyn now without asking if it was okay with you, first." He sighed. "And I'd gotten around it, calmed down, decided it wasn't that big a deal, and then you sort of just pressed that exact button of why I'd been miffed in the first place."

 

He turned away, idly poking the dirt with his toe, looking for smooth stones out of habit. "I shouldn't have brought other people into it. I can't speak for them. That wasn't fair."

 

 

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Tobias Winchester

Thoughts still a hurricane, Toby didn't notice Silas walking back in his direction. He made no acknowledgement at all when Silas stepped up next to him, not until Silas spoke, and then he startled, like he genuinely hadn't expected Silas to come back to talk to him. It drew him out of the torrent of his thoughts, though he wasn't able to latch onto what Silas was saying until, "...felt like it was because you hadn't considered something that would have meant a lot to me."

 

Which was true, Toby hadn't considered it. His own past relationships were so far gone that he didn't think about them and so it was easy to assume everyone else was the same. Why would Silas still have feelings for Irene and be upset if someone else dated them? Toby didn't feel the same way about Baby and Eloise. But now he knew that Silas loved - had loved? the tense was unclear - Irene, it made sense why he'd be upset over it. Toby wasn't sure how he was supposed to know that Silas had feelings and would be upset, however. Was this a thing people were just supposed to know?

 

The sidestep to talking about Kaelyn was weird enough that Toby turned his head sharply to look at Silas. Did he want to date Kaelyn? Once upon a time Toby had thought that Silas had. Silas wasn't saying it now as if he did, but still. "I thought you liked Addison." Another thing Toby didn't know about. Did Silas? They'd certainly looked close at the carnival, but Silas hadn't mentioned anything about it. Maybe Toby was reading between the lines wrong, just as he had when assuming Silas was over Irene. "Do you like Addison? The last thing you told me, you were mad at her about the remembrall stuff."

 

Deflecting to talk about Addison was easier. He was more comfortable talking about Silas and Addison than he was about himself right now. Whatever words he'd use to describe how he currently felt, they would be ugly. He didn't want to drag up that dark mess and show it to the world, not when Silas already had such a low opinion of him for what he'd done. Admitting everything else, it would just make it worse. 

 

He looked away when Silas said it wasn't fair to bring other people into it. "You weren't wrong."

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Silas Harding-Clarke

"I thought you liked Addison."

 

Silas rolled his eyes in the dark, but the jerking head movement at his attempt at an analogy told him that he'd probably hit the mark. Tobias had really loved Kaelyn, and it wouldn't be cool if she fell in love with one of his friends. Particularly not one that Toby apparently thought was a hard act to follow.

 

"Do you like Addison? The last thing you told me, you were mad at her about the remembrall stuff."

 

The last thing Silas wanted to do was talk about Addison, especially because they had agreed to take things slowly and figure out their own issues before they attempted anything together, but he scuffed his toe further into the dirt and kicked a chunk of earth into the lake with a plop.

 

"You weren't wrong."

 

"Well, since we're not bringing other people into this, then, I'd rather not talk about Addison, but after the tournament, we were fine." It would be way too much work to explain that Silas had realized then that Addison loved him and would do anything for him, that he'd taken advantage of that fact while poisoned by a venomous devil bug, and spent the subsequent summer wracked with guilt over how easy it had been to manipulate her using information he'd always had, buried deep inside. And then she'd run away and sent him her wand and a letter that all but said if he'd only say the word, she'd come back.

 

And he said a lot of words, but not the ones she wanted, because he was Silas and he always choked in the end when it came to emotions.

 

"I have a lot to learn and figure out, and luckily for me, she's not in a rush," he said finally.

 

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Tobias Winchester

The tournament felt so long ago. Toby had almost completely forgotten about it. His team hadn't made it through the first round, unable to pull together and work as one with personalities that seemed to clash. The only bright side to the tournament for him had been meeting Hatty, and she'd ended up passed out by the end of it and he'd had to carry her to the hospital wing tent. That had been the start of his interest in healing magic, the clawing fear that he wasn't able to do something to help her when she needed it and the desperate desire to do more, be better. 

 

Silas and Addison had made it through to the end when all of the teams had been thrown together. Toby had gone to watch but he'd been distracted in the stands by Columbia and Irene from what he remembered. Columbia. Another mistake. Gary had punched him for that one. Maybe, thinking back on it, Toby should have been prepared for Silas's reaction to Irene, if that was how Gary had reacted after he'd kissed Columbia. 

 

So many missed signs and dropped subtext. 

 

Silas's words weren't a confirmation that things were right between him and Addison, but they were a step in the right direction. Toby found himself smiling and glanced over at Silas. "Well, I'm glad." There'd always been something about the two of them, he thought, for as long as he could remember. He'd tried talking to Addison about it several times, but she'd always been cagey on the subject, saying that she wasn't good enough a person to be Silas's friend. It had been a while since Toby had found time to catch up with her, most likely because he'd stopped going to the dueling chamber. She'd been invited to Irene's party at Jake's house but had ended up at Luke's house instead. Hadn't Silas arrived to the party holding Irene's hand? Another sign he'd missed. 

 

Still, Toby was genuinely glad Silas and Addison were working it out. "It's about time."

 

He hoped they were able to find some way to fit. They'd certainly had enough misunderstandings and bumps on the road. 

 

The mischievous part of him felt like sending some sort of message to Addison about it, something embarrassing and awful that she would most certainly hate, but considering Silas's whole point in this conversation was that Toby needed to think before he acted, he figured it would be a Very Terrible Idea and so he wouldn't. 

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Silas Harding-Clarke

"Well, I'm glad."

 

Silas paused a beat. "Me too," he said. He enjoyed spending time with her, just two kids having fun, without all the baggage of things that had come before. They seemed ages ago, like something he vaguely recalled from a previous lifetime. He wasn't in a hurry to dredge any of those feelings back up, so when Toby said it was about time, Silas just shrugged one shoulder, pushing out all the memories that threatened to flood in, all the parts of him that felt the need to explain why it had taken so long to get to this point.

 

He didn't want to think anymore. He just wanted to feel whatever he wanted to feel and be allowed to feel that way instead of needing to pick it apart. He did enough of that to himself--he didn't need help. 

"So... if Kae told you I was angry... what else did she say?" He remembered her fairly sorry state in the Great Hall. "She, um... hasn't been looking so good, honestly."

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Tobias Winchester

Unfortunately, Toby's attempt at deflecting the conversation towards Addison had only lasted for a short while, as Silas turned it back around to Kaelyn. 

 

Toby sighed. "That you weren't happy and I'd hurt your feelings."

 

It was why he had come to talk to Silas tonight, even knowing that it might go badly and they could just end in a fight. Kaelyn wouldn't tell him something like that unless it was important, despite everything that had happened between them. He wasn't sure what else he could tell Silas, as Kaelyn pretty quickly dropped the topic once Toby mentioned Irene. 

 

Toby glanced across at Silas to see his expression, and realised that Silas hadn't been asking what Kae had said about him. "Oh, you mean..."

 

He looked away again, sifting through words as he bent down to sift through the rocks beneath their feet. The tempest had returned, words whipping around him, tugging at his skin. Kaelyn had said a lot. Did he feel comfortable sharing it all with Silas? Toby desperately wanted someone to talk to about it, but he and Silas weren't exactly in the habit of talking about their feelings. He selected four stones from the ground and then offered two to Silas, before drawing his arm back and flinging it across the lake. Two skips, almost a third, and then it sank beneath the surface. 

 

"She's not doing well," he admitted. "At all. She's miserable. I don't think she's sleeping much and she definitely isn't eating right. She doesn't smile as much as she should, either." He drew his arm back, preparing to throw the next stone. "Or laugh."

 

Kaelyn had always been sunlight, bright and golden. 

 

"She said she couldn't keep doing it anymore - being my friend, that is. It's too hard. She said it's better if we don't talk for a bit, so I guess we're not really friends, right now." I miss her. It had only been a week; it could be the rest of his life. He released the stone. 

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Silas Harding-Clarke

Silas accepted the stones Toby handed him, idly brushing flecks of dirt from them while the other boy spoke. Toby basically confirmed everything that Silas had both seen and assumed. He felt badly, for both of them. He didn't want Kaelyn to be unhappy, but he did think Tobias had done the right thing in breaking up with her if he wasn't really happy anymore. It wasn't fair to him, and it wasn't fair to Kaelyn, who would probably have suffered even more if Toby had stayed and gotten bored and resentful.

 

"She said she couldn't keep doing it anymore - being my friend, that is."

 

"Ah," Silas said softly. When Toby had first told him that he'd broken up with Kaelyn, after all was said and done, his chief concern was whether Toby would be able to handle it if things were.. different. Admittedly, he'd assumed it would be because Kaelyn found someone else to be enthralled with, but it was the same principle-- holding together their previous friendship became difficult with the new dynamic. Toby had said he'd be fine with it... but he clearly wasn't. Of course, this was not Kaelyn happy with someone new, a replacement, this was Kaelyn miserable with nobody, and only Toby could set it right... But to set it right would just be setting them up for failure later on.

 

"You're damned if you do, damned if you don't," Silas said finally, turning the stones over in his palm, knocking them against one another. "I'm sorry, mate. I really am." He paused and then switched one of the stones to his left hand and held it out to Tobias since his were used up. "I really think you did the right thing. For both of you. You shouldn't have to compromise your happiness and wellbeing for someone else. And she shouldn't want to be with you if that's the only way it will work."

 

Silas pulled back his arm and flung the stone across the glassy surface of the lake. It skipped into the fog.

 

"Maybe it would be best if she learns to live without you for a bit," he said quietly. "I think without distance, it'll be too easy to fall into old habits."

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Tobias Winchester

It was a relief, almost, to say it out loud and not immediately be condemned from it. All Toby felt he had heard since the start was how he had made the wrong decision or how he had hurt Kaelyn. He felt as if he was the one disliked for trying to do the right thing. He hadn't complained to anyone about how Kaelyn had made him feel with her constant need for attention since the break-up, the way she'd kept coming back for more. He hadn't told her to get lost or hurt her just to get her to stay away. He'd taken it all, all the hurt and the anger she had thrown at him, he'd taken it and accepted it and hoped they could both get through to the other side. 

 

But they hadn't. 

 

"You're damned if you do, damned if you don't."

 

"Yeah," said Toby, his shoulders slumping slightly. He wanted nothing more than to go and fight for Irene, to convince her that he was worth taking a chance on and spend the rest of the year making her feel special and wanted, but to do that meant hurting Kaelyn even more, and he already couldn't handle how upset she was. 

 

He took the stone from Silas, turning it over a few times in his palm. He looked up in genuine surprise when Silas said that he'd done the right thing. It was... lightening. He hadn't realised how much he'd wanted someone to say he'd done the right thing until now. He smiled a little, rueful. "Thanks. I - I needed that." 

 

He watched as Silas's stone skipped across the surface of the lake into the fog. "I have been trying to hold myself accountable for stuff, you know, and I do care about hurting people. I just... well, I guess Kae was the one I talked to about that sort of stuff. Just because I don't show it, because I don't look miserable all the time, doesn't mean I'm not hurting. I've - I've been trying to be better about stuff. Nicer. Trying not to be an arse. I'm just not very good at it."

 

He turned the stone over a few more times in his hand, running his thumb over the smooth surface. He agreed with Silas, it was why he had let Kaelyn walk out of the room that day, as much as it had hurt. She needed time and space and if she didn't get it, he felt as if they'd just keep going around in circles and hurting each other even more. As much as he missed her and felt her absence in his life every day, he knew it was the right thing, and he hadn't been lying when he'd said to her in the tower that they would find their way back to each other, if they were meant to. It was what he believed, he had to. 

 

"Yeah."

Edited by Tobias Winchester

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Silas Harding-Clarke

Silas understood more than anyone the almost insane need, at times, to be told that you had done right. Things done by heart sometimes suffered later after the review of the mind. He couldn't help but think of choosing to save Addison, and later realizing that his friends were right and that had been stupid and they all could've been killed. But it was still the right decision.

 

"Just keep telling yourself," he counseled. "If you didn't think it was really the right thing, if it was a cop out-- you'd know. It wouldn't hurt as bad but it wouldn't be great, either. But you did what you thought was the right thing, and it pretty much blows, and nobody is happy, including you-- then you know it was the right thing," Silas grinned on half of his mouth. The smile faded a bit to seriousness as Toby admitted that he had been trying to be more accountable for the consequences of actions done on a whim, and Silas nodded. "I don't think you would ever hurt Kaelyn on purpose, if there were any other options... It's just... You know that if you give in to her it'll only make it worse later."

 

Silas looked back toward the castle, where fewer lights were on in the towers than when they'd left. "I guess we should finish this round and get back," he said. "You ready?"

Edited by Silas Harding-Clarke

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Tobias Winchester

Doing the right thing meant no one was happy? Toby frowned. He didn't like the sound of that. 

 

It was good to hear Silas say that he'd made the right decision by not doing the easy thing and giving in. Toby had thought about it (sometimes, late at night, alone in his bed) but had stuck firm to his decision to stay apart from her after their breakup. He'd refused to give in and get back with her even after she'd cried and begged and pleaded and even, most recently, climbed into his lap and tried to kiss him. 

 

He glanced back at Silas when he asked if he was ready to get back, then looked past him up at the castle. There were few lights on now in the darkness, but he still felt some trepidation. 

 

"You ready?" Silas asked. 

 

"Not yet," said Toby, and bent again to pick up a few more stones. "You go back, if you want. I need some more time." With everything, it felt. 

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Silas Harding-Clarke

Silas stood against the breeze and watched the outline of Toby's face in the moonlight as the other boy looked up at the castle before saying he wasn't ready and needed more time. Silas could appreciate needing time alone with your thoughts. He nodded and dusted his hands off on the thighs of his pants, then stepped forward and hesitated, hand aloft,

 

After a second he put the hand on Toby's shoulder. "That's fine, I'll do a quick lap to secure the perimeter and then head up. Take as much time as you need."

 

Silas dropped his hand and took one more look at his friend's shape against the darkness of the lake and, shaking off a sudden chill, strode off to complete the patrol as quickly as possible.

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