We set the bar high
Wed Jun 6, 2018 02:25

Danny didn’t laugh. Oh.

Holland knew from the boggarts that they didn’t have a monopoly on insecurity in the relationship. They had their share, but they were working to address those issues. Over the last sixish months, Holland and Danny had talked the societal factors—how they would deal with those, both individually and as a couple—to death, to Inferius status, and then back to death. When the subject came up as a problem in Holland’s mind, it followed a predictable course. They had their concerns that Danny might decide he’d rather claim his inheritance than risk his place in his family, but Holland had several tools with which they could counter that internal argument. There was, for example, the evidence of Danny’s words and actions, all of which suggested a willingness to buck tradition. When they felt less optimistic, Holland reminded themself that they couldn’t make the choice for him, and that the potential for getting hurt was part of life.

There was also Holland’s dysphoria and related body negativity—not limited to the context of this relationship, but present and capable of compounding their self-consciousness regardless. That could sneak up on Holland without warning, never at a convenient time. As good as they were at debating, Holland hadn’t figured out a way to talk their brain and body into resolving their differences, or to argue their amygdala out of hitting the panic button when it was reminded of the discord. Sometimes they also felt self-conscious about feeling self-conscious, which produced a frustrating and unproductive positive feedback loop.

However, both the social and the physical issues were easier to handle recently, even if neither were entirely gone. Good communication helped. Despite what Holland’s boggart had said, Danny had made it abundantly clear that he wanted them, all strings attached. Holland had thought they’d done the same for him.

Seeing the boggart turn into them being cruel to the people they cared about, first for Danny and then for Marissa—Professor Embers must think something was wrong with the seventh years now, what with them all being afraid of each other—hadn’t been a positive experience for Holland. Still, they identified some positive outcomes of that Defense Against the Dark Arts class, not counting the immediate aftermath. When they’d gotten the opportunity, Holland and Danny had discussed their boggarts, and had a frank conversation about related concerns. It was good to know that the things he’d said in the past bothered Danny: feeling regret was yet more proof that he had changed. Barring a dramatic reversion to the arrogant, entitled child he’d been when they met, there was no way Holland would say the things their boggart had about him. They thought that reminding Danny he wasn’t the person he was six years ago would be enough to address the fear of loss suggested by the boggart.

It wasn’t that easy, Holland realized now; there was more than one reason that someone—that they—might end a relationship, and Danny knew that. He might be cocky, but he was also worried about them leaving him. It would be sweet if they didn’t feel guilty for reminding him of that. Holland got up and moved around the table to take the seat beside Danny, rather than across from him. “Sorry,” they said sincerely. “I thought you were kidding. I didn’t mean it.”

Holland looked down at their plate and stabbed their salad, trying to get chicken, lettuce, tomato, and cucumber in a single forkful. “You’ve set the bar astronomically high for anyone else I might meet,” they pointed out, glancing at their boyfriend again. This was by far the longest and most serious relationship Holland had ever had, so they didn’t have comparable experiences to judge it against, but they had never liked anyone this way as much as they liked Danny. The bar was higher than it had ever been. “I don’t think you have anything to worry about.”

  • We gave it our best - Danny, Tue Jun 5 16:39
    Holland agreed that this opportunity at Cirrus would be ‘a lot’ to deal with, but they also said he could do it. Danny felt soothed by the comment: they might not approve of him taking the position,... more
    • We set the bar high - Holland, Wed Jun 6 02:25
      • Astronomically high - Danny, Thu Jun 7 16:33
        When Holland moved to sit near him, Danny at first felt foolish that he’d let his idle concerns become known to them. Worrying about them meeting someone else wouldn’t help: nothing that Danny did... more
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