Thu Mar 7, 2019 07:51

Connor didn’t say anything for a long while. Claudia could not confess to being surprised by this reaction, typical of someone who had just received shocking news, however she was unsure how to compose herself in the interim. Should she make further explanation or reassurance, or wait in silence for her friend to unravel her revelations? Should she leave Connor in peace to process this dilemma, or remain on hand for further discussion? Claudia opted for the latter in both scenarios, sitting silently with her hands clasped together in her lap so tightly that her knuckles looked devoid of pigment, silently biting on the inside of her lip in an attempt to replace panic with pain.

The longer her companion was silent, the more perplexed Claudia became. She had rarely delivered upsetting news to Connor before - They had quarreled on more than one prior occasion, and many years ago Claudia had cause to ask Connor if he had many any romantic promises to Marley (the idea now seemed even more laughable than it had at the time) - the most significant occasion also being about Dade, when he had attacked Claudia when they’d both left that wretched Defense class. Connor had become angry then, although had curbed his temper admirably to lessen her own discomfort. She worried that she might have angered him again. She was most certainly not afraid of her friend, firstly because she did not consider for a moment that he would hurt her in any way, and secondly because if he ever did cause her harm it might very well be the last thing he ever did, but it was never an ideal situation to be in close proximity to an angry person, especially when one was responsible for delivering the information that caused the upset (and for concealing that information for a considerably longer time than owned).

When he spoke and his voice was devoid of fury, at least for the time being, Claudia was relieved. “I would not expect you to know what to do,” she offered softly. Admitting a lack of plan was occasionally akin to admitting a fault, but not in this circumstance: it was absurd that Connor would know how to react to the information that his brother was not the person he believed him to be. Although, she considered, Connor had hardly any information about his younger sibling, if he only knew what Claudia had provided.

To retain what little control she had somehow managed to gain on the situation, she took advantage of his stunned silence to elaborate, “While I’ve been in my room, I remembered that the staircases sometimes malfunction for Dade, dropping him in the Headmaster’s office when he ascends to the boys’ corridor - it made me concerned that he might be able to climb the girl’s staircases without incident,” Claudia recounted. “I know he has been spending a lot of time with Holland this summer,” she added, which she did not actually know for certain, but she could confidently conject, as they resided in the same property. Only after she’d spoken did she consider that might sound as though she were blaming Holland for Dakota’s transition, and really she didn’t want to make anything worse than it was already between Holland and herself, so she quickly added, “I can only suppose he was asking their advice about … things.” Whatever those things might be, Claudia was forbidden by conversation etiquette to speak them before Connor.

Claudia pitied Connor in this moment. It had been crushing to learn that Dardanius was foolish enough to start dating Holland, and the rejection from society circles that she had predicted was inflicted on her by mere association with Holland. It was so much worse for Connor to learn this information about his own sibling, and to know that Dade’s disgrace would be shared by Connor and his father (and potentially his step-sister, too). She wished she had some words of comfort to offer him, bu she would not patronise him in this vulnerable state. “Is there anything you suggest?” Connor asked, sounding sufficiently helpless that Claudia was moved to touch her hand against his, a feather-light pressure, to offer whatever limited comfort she was able.

It perhaps should have crossed Claudia’s consciousness that she ought not to take advantage of Connor while stripped of his usual defenses, but he had just granted her permission to continue bending this occurrence to her will. She could suggest that Connor confront Dade immediately, denouncing his actions as vulgar perversion, and write to his father to have Dade pulled from the school. It was a very tempting solution to Claudia’s concern of personal safety at school, and she believed that Danny would keep her safe from Rose… but possibly not from Holland. If they learned about her involvement it would be difficult to continue any pretense of tolerance, even for Danny’s sake. She could suggest that Connor accept Dakota’s transition with grace and dignity, and that acknowledging his sibling’s uniqueness now would prevent any potential damage to reputation later down the line; if Dakota and Rose continued to reside in Boston away from the rest of the Farnon family, Connor could continue without them relatively unencumbered. Of course, Dakota had ignored Claudia’s offer of a truce, so she did not feel inclined to let her off so easily.

“After Dade attacked me out of nowhere, he also eschewed his friendship with Remington for no discernible reason,” Claudia reminded Connor, “and failed his examinations. This seems to be more unpredictable, inexplicable behavior. I hope you can forgive me for mentioning this, please believe I don’t mean to insult your family,” she lied, “but I think Dade might be quite disturbed. It is possible he might benefit from some medical intervention before he hurts himself or anyone else.”

  • So far so good - Connor, Thu Mar 7 06:15
    One of the many things about Claudia that made her such a good person was how she trusted that others would be good people as well. Connor flushed the tiniest bit when she said she was sure he hadn’t ... more
    • Diversion - Claudia, Thu Mar 7 07:51
      • Pulling out the big guns - Connor, Fri Mar 8 13:41
        Although this entire ordeal was extremely distressing, Connor was distracted for a moment by the touch of Claudia’s hand against his. Last term they had kissed in the commonroom, not talked about how ... more
        • Who needs guns? - Claudia, Fri Mar 8 15:02
          Having a conscience was entirely irksome when Claudia was trying to look out for herself. She had successfully managed to avoid admitting her lies - or omissions of truth, which she knew were... more
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