Optimism or foolishness?
Mon May 21, 2018 08:36

She was not sure what she had expected Caleb to say - perhaps an assurance that he would not consider jeopardising her reputation, or maybe more brazenly tempt her into risking propriety with details of this proposed date - but she was not prepared for him to deny understanding of her dilemma. She clearly had been correct to assume that Caleb could never comprehend her in the same way Connor and Nolan could, as here he was confessing that precise sentiment. It was disappointing, but not damning; she could teach Caleb about the importance of reputation, and what was deemed by society to be appropriate.

She was also disinclined to agree with his sentiment that she needed friends. While she certainly enjoyed the company of some people over others, Claudia’s experience was that friends could let you down. They could turn on you in an instant, a difference of opinion becoming an impassable chasm. The fourth year was glad of the friends she did have, she was not so bitter as to outrightly denounce friendship, but neither would she deny that her friends had caused a great deal of her troubles this term. Trusting a person only made you more vulnerable to them; Claudia did not know if she wanted to trust Caleb.

“My main purpose is to have fun with you,” the fifth year said, and if he had been aiming to encourage her then he’d been woefully off target. Logically she might concede that there were other semantic interpretations of that statement, but emotionally Claudia deplored the notion that she was the sort of girl a boy might have fun with. She recoiled at the suggestion, struggling to maintain a neutral expression even as a shiver crossed her flesh. Certainly she was not expecting a great deal from this arrangement - Caleb was not amongst her society, so there was no question of any relationship between them being serious or enduring - but if he lacked the basic respect to be capable of refraining from telling a girl his main purpose was to have fun with her, Claudia doubted she would feel comfortable in his company unchaperoned. It struck her that she didn’t know Caleb at all outside the paradigm of their friendship, and had no explicit knowledge of how he might expect girls on a date with him to behave.

His follow up offer that she might choose the activity did little to improve Claudia’s assessment of the situation. While in principle she approved of having an input on the activities in which she might engage, Caleb had already suggested Pearl Street so she had assumed he had some further plans in mind. She also objected to shouldering the responsibility of her own reputation; should that not also be partially his concern? Good Merlin this whole scenario was perplexing. Dating is confusing, she heard Marley’s voice in her head, and resolutely ignored it before she started crying again right here in the library.

Then Caleb moved towards her and touched her hand. Admittedly it was covered by her glove, but she had only recently placed it back atop the table, rather than beneath it, and she did not think she had given him any indication that physical contact was welcome, or appropriate. Again she recoiled, pulling her hands back in towards herself, safely away from his reach. He was still smiling, apparently oblivious to her discomfort.

“I think the way to completely avoid damage to my reputation would be to not accompany you without others present,” she said candidly. She wished Caleb hadn’t said those things, and had just told her a time and place to meet, so she could have continued to be quietly optimistic about the experience. What had, at first, sounded exciting and potentially enjoyable, now struck her as a situation to be avoided. “I am not convinced it would be a successful venture,” Claudia said quietly, eyes focused on an imperfection in the polished table top. “I am not the sort of girl to let boys have fun with her,” she whispered, memories of boys’ laughter at the Christmas Eve ball echoing around her head.

  • I'll cling to the hope! - Caleb, Sun May 20 16:24
    The blonde fifth-year did not know what to expect from his invitation. Yes, he wanted to ge to know Claudia better, without the interference of people around them. That just made things awkward and... more
    • Optimism or foolishness? - Claudia, Mon May 21 08:36
      • I think the latter - Caleb, Mon May 21 17:10
        The smile on his face faltered in an instant. He sighed and took a deep breath. He wasn't annoyed with Claudia, he was annoyed with himself. Caleb was nervous, really nervous and everything that had... more
        • We tried - Claudia, Tue May 22 14:31
          Despite her own discomfort, Claudia was able to recognize that Caleb, too, no longer looked so confident. She had objectively turned him down for a date, which was a premise anecdotally associated... more
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