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Please don't let me be misunderstood. In so many senses...
Wed Aug 22, 2018 09:32

Dorian was rather surprised by the parcel that appeared on his pillow a few days into term. It was far too early for any of his relatives to send his birthday presents, even though that occasion occured only a short way into the school year, and - had they been thus prepared - they probably would have given the book (there was no point pretending he didn’t know what it was) to him to bring with him. There was no reason why any of his friends would send him a birthday present early, or send it at all, given that they would all see him on the day.

He picked up the note. At first glance, it looked a little like Tatya’s hand but he somehow knew it wasn’t. When he reached the signature, that made sense. He passed his eyes over the note again, trying to work out where they differed, so that he would be able to better tell them at a glance in future. Katerina’s writing was, he found himself forced to admit, somewhat neater. He definitely did not allow himself to think that her French was also better and that she made more effort in sticking to it than her sister would have done, because that felt disloyal to Tatya’s considerable efforts over the last two years to make him feel at home. Once again, he was forced to conclude though that Tatya was just like Émilie, whose own writing was messier than his, a fact which was no longer excused by their ages, and who could not stick to a single language because she was too keen to get her thoughts out. Katerina was very much not like his younger sister in any of those literal senses, although he found something about her rather sweet and appealing nonetheless, and still felt very much moved to look after her.

He was relieved to know from the note that it was just a nicely presented library book, because a real gift from Katerina would have been rather strange at this stage. A real gift might have made him uncomfortable so early in their acquaintance but a thoughtfully chosen library book seemed like a sweet gesture, and he read nothing into it beyond kindness and an attempt at furthering their acquaintance - something he definitely was not adverse to.

He sat down, taking his time to compose a reply but finding he could not match anywhere near the level of proficiency she had shown in his language when trying to reply in hers. He was going to have to try harder…
Dear Katerina Andreyevna Vorontsova, the letter began in Russian. This had been enough of a challenge and he had thought he might fall at the first hurdle, as he had not felt at all confident at trying to write Katerina’s name according to his own interpretation of the sounds. Luckily, he had remembered that in the very early days of the Club of Tongues, Tatya had given him various people’s names as Cyrllic practise and he had dug out his first year notebook, finding the list of their friends (or her versions of their names, seeing as Jehan in particular just did not work in Cyrillic), the staff (Фокс-Рэналдс was, he thought, passable) and her siblings (his guess of ‘Катэрина’ with just the middle vowel altered by Tatya - ‘Катeрина’). He had their family names too, courtesy of Tatya.

Thank you. He struggled, because he needed the word ‘for’ and that was one of those tricky little words that changed so much depending on context and he wasn’t willing to hazard a guess, so he instead was forced to break of the sentence and begin again, aware that he sounded frustratingly juvenile. The book is nice. I will like read. He looked at the verb he had just written, pretty sure it wasn’t supposed to end like that… Writing in Cyrillic was also hand-and-mind-crampingly painful. He tended to focus on speaking with Tatya, and when he needed to write new words so that he would remember them, he would do so in the Roman alphabet, getting her to either the Cyrillic for reference or at least sound the letters out to him.

At the weekend, I will find a book. Give to you. He had thought about using 'send' but without being confident of 'to' he thought he might be in danger of implying that he would mail Katerina herself. And whilst he was sure she would derive his intended meaning from context, he had no wish to make himself appear so idiotic. If one could see the linguistic pitfalls that might occur in a sentence, that was at least something, and an advantage well worth utilising. 'And study Russian. I am sorry, my Russian bad.

Dorian Montoir
He copied his name out of the notebook, regretting that it was probably wiser to omit his middle name as Cyrillicised Chinese was a bit confusing and, without knowing that that was what one was attempting to read, it would probably confuse Katerina.

  • I'm just a soul whose intentions are good (for Dorian).Katerina Vorontsov, Tue Aug 14 17:43
    For as long as she could remember, Katya had accepted the idea that Tatya was cleverer than her as a fact without much in the way of dissent. In fact, if she was to be honest, she could even say she... more
    • Please don't let me be misunderstood. In so many senses... — Dorian, Wed Aug 22 09:32
      • No one in life can always be an angel.Katerina, Mon Sep 10 18:41
        Keeping her room tidy had always been easy enough – only half of it was even her own, and Nadezhda had always strictly supervised her and Tatiana as they had made their beds and organized their... more
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