Joe Umland and Tatiana Vorontsova
One of us is a foreigner, and the other's Canadian.
Thu Nov 30, 2017 22:03

Joe had noticed the girl before, of course. Perhaps it was a touch hypocritical for him to say so when he was a Teppenpaw and his House was not known for the sort of cutthroat competitiveness which cropped up with some regularity in Aladren or the sort of driving need for control which could motivate a Crotalus, but it was always a bit of a surprise to see Pecaris spending significant time, both in number of visits and length of those visits, in the library. A Pecari who appeared to be going out of her way to draw attention to her appearance (Joe couldn’t remember exactly, but he was pretty sure that even his pureblood yearmates had not bejewelled themselves to that extent when they were all first or perhaps tiny second years, anyway) was something he suspected most regulars in the library, other than fifth and seventh years driven into it against their wills, noticed.

As she was not his responsibility, however, Joe had never actually interacted with her in any way until one day when they found themselves in the same row. “Allo,” said the girl, looking directly up at him. “You can help me?”

Joe looked back at her in mild surprise. The request was not something he regarded as unusual from a first year – he did have a prefect’s badge on his robes – but her accent threw him. He was a foreigner himself, but a very English one; his accent was only a bit different from that of his province’s Montanan neighbors. As long as he remembered not to add ‘eh’ to anything and didn’t have to use certain vowel constructions (the former a much easier practice than the latter), he wasn’t necessarily detectable as a foreigner at all and didn’t really even think about being one very often. The girl, however, sounded very foreign – Eastern European, he was pretty sure, and it seemed oddly mismatched to her appearance. Even without the vaguely Art Nouveau-Art Deco transitional aquamarine jewelry, she looked rather dainty on sight and her voice and enunciation came as a surprise.

However, that was irrelevant. “Of course,” he said. “What do you need?”

“Book,” said the girl, pointing to a book above her head. “No stul here – green book….”

It took two or three tries for Joe to retrieve the correct book, but at last he did and the girl made an odd sort of little bow to him. “Thank you,” she said.

“You’re welcome,” said Joe.

“I am Tatiana.”

“I’m Joe,” said Joe.

Tatiana regarded him with an expression so solemn he found it almost humorous, though he knew he should not let on to her that he did so for fear of offending her. “You are…” she began, and then tapped her own shoulder roughly where he had his prefect’s badge.

“A prefect, yes,” said Joe.

“Pree-fect – does this mean the same as par-fect?”

For a moment, Joe was completely and utterly stumped by the nature of her question, and by his momentary assumption that her question stemmed from some assumption that he spoke Russian or Ukrainian or whatever, but then he sounded it out for himself. “No,” he said. “Not if you mean ‘perfect.’ That means something that’s…” It was hard to describe perfection without using the word ‘perfect’ or a bunch of fancy words he was highly confident someone who had to ask him the question she just had wouldn’t really know. “Exactly how it’s supposed to be,” he said. “We just try to be helpful.”

Tatiana scrutinized him for a moment longer, then nodded. “You do good job,” she said, and he got the distinct impression that she regarded her approval as significantly more important than it probably really was.

“Thank you,” said Joe.

“You’re welcome,” she said.

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