The we'll need to muzzle you
Tue Nov 21, 2017 14:54

The moment the words left her lips, Claudia stopped longing for the ground to swallow her up, and started wishing for instant death. Because even if she suddenly got transported somewhere calm and wonderful, she would still have to relive this moment over and over. She felt oddly numb, the only sound filling her ears was a rushing noise inside her own head, and she was unable to look away. It felt like an eternity for Ruben to react to those words that were supposed to have remained as thoughts. Safely unspoken in her mind, they would taunt her, make her feel disgusted with herself, but at least nobody else would know she had the ability to even think such heinous things. Anssi was a sweet person and Claudia would never hurt a billiwig, let alone a tolerable first year.

Eventually, inevitably, Ruben did react. Claudia supposed she ought to consider herself lucky that his instinct was to laugh at her. He teased her, which was most definitely better than him taking her threat to his brother seriously - that would certainly have put an immediate end to the conversation, and possibly to Claudia’s continued existence. Yet there was something that Claudia hated above all and everything else, and that was being laughed at. She was always sure that people were laughing at her, and there had definitely been some circumstances in recent history where the facts rendered her suspicions indisputable. It made her feel insignificant, her worth only as entertainment for others, which in turn made her melancholy and then furious with herself for continuing to care what other people thought about her. In the moment she felt rocked by humiliation at saying such words, only further compounded by the reaction they garnered. She wouldn’t cry. Not here. Instead, while her left hand was otherwise engaged holding her assignment, her right curled into a fist, her fingernails digging sharply into her palm while she simultaneously pushed her knuckles firmly into her thigh. The pain served as an adequate distraction: an anchor to ground her while she allowed Ruben’s words to wash over her like a peaceful tide.

She did notice that Ruben talked about fighting in a way that nobody ever had to her before, as though it were a way of solving problems, not a way of causing more. She and Danny had both always been brought up to avoid and abhor physical violence, which suited Claudia’s diminutive stature and nervous nature well, but she wasn’t necessarily convinced by the ideal. There was no denying it was uncouth to brawl, especially using one’s fists over one’s wand, no better than a Muggle, but there was something to be said in favour of fighting for one’s rights or ideals. There was a proverb about actions speaking louder than words that was poignant to her musings. That wasn’t to say that she would applaud mindless violence (and she rather suspected Ruben subscribed more to the latter school of thought than its reasoned counterpart) but neither could she condemn it outright. With particular regards to the incident in question, however, even though Dardanius had been stupid enough to provoke Ruben over something as inexplicably idiotic as Marissa Kendrick’s honor, that was by no conceivable means excuse enough for a stabbing curse.

Then Ruben wasn’t laughing anymore. He didn’t seem to be especially angry, but he was definitely issuing death threats. Claudia knew she had paled. She wanted to console herself that she’d never stab Anssi, obviously (although that wasn’t what Ruben had called him, but that was definitely Ruben’s brother, so she assumed it was some variation or nickname), but Ruben hadn’t made his threat based on a stabbing: he’s said if she touched Anssi. She couldn’t guarantee never ever to touch him - they shared classes together, it was sometimes inevitable for students to make physical contact. Claudia knew this for a fact, because she loathed those occasions, and was aware they happened all too frequently for her preferences. She was also, however, dimly aware that there was no way Ruben could actually enforce this: he wouldn’t know if Claudia did anything at all to Anssi unless the first year told his brother. And even then, Ruben wouldn’t really do anything to Claudia… would he? He was notorious for physically attacking the upper years, but Claudia was all of thirteen years old and about half his size. He was definitely just trying to scare her. He would probably be pleased to know that it was working.

Claudia took two small steps backwards, her knuckles on both hands white as her face. It was fair of Ruben to defend his brother, she supposed, but she hadn’t ever been spoken to like that before. To be laughed at then threatened in the same minute by someone who already had the power to make her feel physically ill was not an enjoyable experience. Terror born of nervousness, or anxiety, or discomfort, was not an unfamiliar concept to the third year, but being genuinely frightened was new. She thought she might be sick. Yet even so, as her nails cut her palms and her knuckles bruised her legs, she allowed a small bubble of anger to swell. Despite her fear of judgment and high levels of self-doubt, paradoxically she had exceptional self-esteem. She was worth more than this; she was Claudia Dubois and would not be threatened or talked down to by such a disgraceful excuse for a wizard.

She wanted desperately to retort, to make some witty reply or other, but her chest felt unusually restricted and the edges of her vision her started to blur. She took another step backwards, and felt the room sway alarmingly. She closed her eyes for one moment, and took a steadying breath. It was okay, she tried to convince herself, all she needed to do was get out of there. She had collected her essay, that was all that was required of her, and now she could just leave. There was no need for any further interaction. It was okay. Claudia exhaled, and opened her eyes. “All is not good between us,” she said, quietly, with no emotion. Then with a great effort she turned her back on him. If she could make it out of the theater before she passed out that would probably be the more desirable chronology of events.

  • I don't "bark". I bite. - Ruben, Sun Nov 19 23:01
    To Ruben’s knowledge, he was the only one signed up to do basically a fight demo for the school talent show. That was a bit weird. Like, he was obviously far superior in terms of martial arts and his ... more
    • The we'll need to muzzle you - Claudia, Tue Nov 21 14:54
      • I'd like to see you try - Ruben, Tue Nov 21 23:08
        He was surprised to observe how quickly the colour left Claudia’s face, though also not surprised at all, considering how their interaction so far had gone. Good Lord, was the girl really this easily ... more
        • I have minions - Claudia, Wed Nov 22 08:18
          He’d said his part, why couldn’t he just let her leave? Claudia managed to take a few unsteady steps towards the exit. She had all the physiological symptoms that signalled fainting was imminent: her ... more
          • I'll take all of them on! - Ruben, Wed Nov 22 22:46
            Or apparently not, because the kid shouted out an answer to a question he hadn’t asked and then collapsed. Ruben had been facing her as she walked off, because that was the polite thing to do, much... more
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