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Felicia Harding

[1838/1839][EN] Contaminated

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Friday the 22nd of March 1839 - in the afternoon - Eric's house in Hogsmeade

 

Felicia and Eric were both rather well equipped at pretending nothing was wrong. The conversation they had had about Thomas Silvershore hadn't ended happily for either one of them, but the morning after that they hadn't brought it up. Instead, they had had a good breakfast, talking about all sorts of things that weren't very important, but offered some sort of peace flag, without having to go through the discussion again. And since then, that had been the way their lives was run. They understood there was a problem, but also understood that talking about it wouldn't help, and so... they simply hadn't.

 

And it had all been well enough.

 

Until Felicia came home (accidentally) a little earlier than she had told Eric she would be, and found him rifling through a package she had ordered, which had apparently been delivered while she was out. She stared at it for a second, in the door opening, and then gently stepped inside, putting aside her stuff. "Do you always do that?" she asked, coldly. Her scarf slipped through her fingers and spilled on the floor, but she just kicked it aside. "What did you think you would find?" 

 

Poison, perhaps? 

 


 

Private! 

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Yes, Eric wasn’t used to the idea of talking about his issues. The stupid thing was that it had been easier to talk to Felicia when they hadn’t been married (for all points and purposes, anyway, of course, they still were not married now and never legally would be). When there hadn’t been all these expectations on her part. And maybe on his. Maybe he also had expectations of a wife, of the mother of his children, that he hadn’t had of Felicia, his unwilling pupil, then irresistible affair. Maybe he was being old-fashioned in not wanting to discuss things with her, in expecting her to take his word for it, to accept his solutions as the best or at least as her own. As the ones they’d take. He definitely had expected that of Vasilisa, even if she never had, and that was the pattern in his parents’ marriage. And he did, sometimes, think that… that it would be so easy.

 

But he didn’t think it was the core problem, not now. The simple fact of the matter was that, the more he had come to love Felicia, the more difficult it had become to accept that sometimes that was going to hurt… Hurt both of them. That she didn’t think of things the same way. That she didn’t love the people he loved. That there was no way out.


And so they didn’t talk about it. And he was fine not talking about things – he missed it, but he barely could miss it as he was used to nothing else – but with Felicia, of course, at some point in time it would explode. And the point was now, because he was looking through a package of hers. By accident, by the way. He’d been expecting a package too and it was addressed in a shoddy hand. “I thought it was my case notes. Please. If I want to know what mail you’re getting, I can find it in your mind easily enough and I don’t have to bother with re-sealing a package.”

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It could've been fine. Oh, they had been so close to everything being fine, to Eric just apologizing, explaining it was the wrong package, putting it away and coming to kiss her until she would forever forget that they had something they disagreed about. Although, no, perhaps the divide between them had already been too big, was already pulling the threads that connected them so closely apart. 

 

A part of her still wanted to forgive him. He technically hadn't done anything wrong, had he? Packages could simply be mixed and there hadn't been anything inside that he couldn't see, but... Well, the Eric that she wanted to forgive, wasn't the same Eric that had just reminded her that she wouldn't be able to keep secrets from him. She flicked a wand so the package would tear itself from his hand, and safely in hers, she put it down. "You truly believe I wouldn't be able to keep secrets from you?" she asked, not raising her voice one degree. "If I really wanted to." It wouldn't be impossible, she just hadn't seen the point in trying so far. Why would she? She and Eric loved each other. 

 

Trusted each other.

 

"But you're welcome to try," she told him. Challenged him, even. 

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Yeah, he should have apologised. Yeah, duly noted. Of course he should have. Opening your wife’s (ish) mail was just a mistake, it could happen to anyone, it wasn’t a big deal... well, maybe to Felicia right now it was a big deal and maybe vice versa he would find it a big deal but it shouldn’t be. It wasn’t normal to be so concerned about this. And they could have brushed this off, they could brush everything off, and it would have been simple. “Sorry,” he therefore said, although now of course it was too late by a long shot, and he presented her with the package. “The label just got really blurry.” As she could see with her own eyes and he certainly had not been the cause of. This was Scotland. It rained all the time. Writing on parcels wasn’t typically going to last. That was why Eric usually sealed them with liquid-resistant spells. He couldn’t help it that Felicia’s whomever it was hadn’t taken the precaution. 

 

“I’m sure you could,” he said, measuredly, guardedly, not adding ‘because I’d let you’ although that was what he believed. He had taught her Occlumency, yes, and she had made good progress, but... he lived and breathed Occlumency. He was better. That was the truth. For now. “And there’s no need to overreact. It’s not as though I was snooping. Or have you got something to hide?”

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Yes, well, apparently the label had become blurry and she truly had had nothing to hide, so he probably would've put it down soon, if only she had been home later. But you couldn't build a relationship on 'ifs' now, could you? And right now, they weren't doing well. 

 

"Of course I don't have anything to hide," she bit at him, riffling through the package to see if anything was missing. It was just invites to an event for the Golden Rose she was organizing, nothing special and nothing was missing, and what on earth would Eric even do with an invite to something like this, but... Well, you could break something apart on the 'buts'. 

 

"I just don't like it when I feel like I can't be trusted," she muttered to herself. "Even though I'm the saner one." 

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Eric frowned and once again spoke words he knew he was going to regret, he knew he wanted to take back the instance they conceived to leave him, but of course by then it was well and truly far too late. “Well, maybe if you want me to trust you, don’t decide you’re going to kill my father whether I want you to or not? That’s the kind of thing that really puts distance in a marriage, you know.” He sighed, ran a hand through his hair. “Sorry. I didn’t mean that.” Oh, but you did. And it isn’t something you can let go, otherwise you wouldn’t have brought it up now. “Look… you know I find it very hard to trust… anyone. We both do. It’s not our style.” There were one two three too many scars on their psyche to trust. They had both grown up with parents who would have been ready to kill them if necessary. It wouldn’t work. “But I… you… I trust you more than anyone.” I love you more than anyone, but you’re not the only person I love.

 

And I want to save you more than anyone, but you’re not the only person I want to save.

 

“But this was just a mistake. It was nothing.”

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Technically Felicia knew that this would never be easy, that Eric had never even wanted the thought to cross her mind, that he hoped that he would somehow be able to have both of his families: the one with his parents, and the one with hers. And Felicia knew that he would do whatever he could to keep both ways, but his father had tried to kill her. Not even for anything he did, as a punishment to someone else! They had raised her, trained her, and then discarded her without even a second thought and the only thing that had saved her, was that Eric loved her. And the worst part was that that had a limit too. 

 

"Do you, though?" she asked, bitterly, almost folding her arms around her, but refusing to look that weak. "Trust me more than anyone?" At the very least, not more than himself. And she couldn't technically blame him for that, she trusted herself more than she trusted him at the moment, but... well, it was her life in the balance. And she didn't feel like Eric had her best interest at heart. "If it helps, I don't want to kill your father, Eric, but I want to live." And if Thomas Silvershore caught even the hint that she might still be alive, he would purge this entire earth to find her. She wouldn't be save, no matter what they would do. 

 

"You're not rational about this," she accused him plainly. 

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Eric frowned. “Yes, I do. Check if you want.” He barely needed to think about it. He loved her, he trusted her. There had been a time when he trusted her more than himself. Considered her a good deal better than himself. Eric, unlike Felicia, had a good and reasoned distrust of himself. He knew of his own flaws, he knew of his own limitations. He knew that with a life spent hiding the finer niceties of his mind from the audience that consisted of his father as well as others, sometimes those niceties would hide from him as well. To trick others, he had to trick himself, he had to believe what he was saying, to accentuate those details that he wanted to present, to ignore those shadows he needed to hide. His mind needed to be a place full of false mirrors. And it was. Which made him untrustworthy. And dangerous…

 

Felicia wasn’t there and thus he had trusted her. Would have trusted her. To be with him, to be someone he could trust. But now… you see, he still trusted her. To do what she thought was necessary. And that… well, he trusted himself to do that too. Doing what was necessary wasn’t necessarily a trustworthy qualification. “Really? Because you could have fooled me.” He didn’t believe her there. He was sure that she did want to kill his father. She was taking this whole thing so personally.

 

Yes, Eric, that’s common with murder attempts.

 

“You are alive. You are safe. He’s not got a clue. It’s irrational to go looking for trouble when everything is fine.”

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Irrational! Oh yes, of course it was irrational to assume that one day, your father-in-law would wonder if he could truly trust his son, do some digging, notice that something was amiss and come back wands blazing! Of course it was, because Thomas Silvershore was an utterly trustworthy man, who would never do something cruel towards anyone, ever! Who didn't invade his son's privacy as a child, who was trusting, who was... Ugh, she wasn't even supposed to be thinking of these arguments! Eric was supposed to understand, because he had taught her these things as far as she hadn't known them yet.

 

"Are you really certain that your father will never wonder if you might be hiding something from him?" she asked, coldly. "That he's not going to investigate? Dive into your memories, into mine, into the children's.. That he's not going to have a look in the basement? Not notice anything out of place? Ever?" See, maybe it was possible, but was it really worth living if you had to constantly look over your shoulder? Be afraid of every single little mistake? Why not take him out? 

 

"But nooo, I'm irrational," she murmured. "Or petty, or whatever you're holding against me now." 

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“Of course he wonders, he always wonders,” Eric said curtly, as, tired of this discussion, he walked into the living room, hesitated, poured them both a glass of wine, because if he was to stop those small gestures that cost him no effort at all he didn’t want to know what that implied, to her or to himself, and had a sip without toasting – there was nothing to toast to. “But he doesn’t know. And he won’t know.” Because he wouldn’t find it in Eric’s mind and he had no reason whatsoever to look into Felicia’s. He’d picked Vasilisa for her vacuous character. He wouldn’t have any cause, nor any interest. Women always stayed in the back of the mind of the Silvershores. They meant a lot to them, but they meant very little in their own right. That was the sort of sexism that you could really use to your advantage. “The kids won’t know enough to understand, for now. Robert…” Yes, he would look into his mind, when the time came.


Which only meant that Eric would have to prepare his boy, before that time came. But he could do that. He would teach him every trick in the book.

 

He was still wondering whether to do the same for his daughter, actually. He was quite the sexist himself. But unwilling to leave the girl undefended.

 

“Holding against you? You’re the one that freaked out about a little mishap.”

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Of course not! Of course his father would be perfectly rational, because weren't all fucking Silvershores completely and terribly rational all the time? That's why they started their murder-y and espionage business, that's why they kept having affairs, that's why she was currently standing here, playing the part of his wife while the actual wife was down in the basement! Absolutely fantastic results, all reached because they were just so amazingly rational.

 

Felicia was sick and tired of Eric assuming that the rest of his family was perfect and would never do anything unexpected, so she sullenly accepted the glass and took some too big sips of wine, while steaming over the rest of the conversation. Why couldn't he just look at it from her point of view? Why was her opinion immediately waved away when she brought it up? And why did he refuse to acknowledge that this fight was part of a bigger problem and not one little mishap? 

 

"Oh, I'm sorry," she said, with all the sarcasm she could muster, "is having a wife capable of independent thought bothersome to you? Oh, no worries, my dear, how about I only fill my mind with the latest gossip while we wait for our inevitable doom?" She drowned the rest of her glass in one go. "From now on. I'll only think of dresses and shopping and charity balls!" 

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See, that was the part where the conversation could have calmed down, again, but again, most disastrously failed to do so. “What?” Eric asked, perplexed and affronted. “Where the hell do you get that from?” Because while he was a sexist, (although not always able to self-reflect on this sufficiently perhaps) he rarely acted in that manner towards Felicia, as far as he was concerned. He usually let her do most things she wanted. He sent her out and took her along on dangerous trips. When he told her something was too dangerous, he didn’t mean it was too dangerous for a girl, he meant it was too dangerous for anyone but him. He had fair and equal discussions with her, for the most part and he was training her in Occlumency just as he was training her in everything. “If I liked that, I’d have liked Lissa!” What utter bullshit was this?

 

Not entirely true. Lissa’s blackmail of him had been a completely independent thought. She had not been incapable of that in the slightest. She’d just been an admittedly somewhat superficial unpleasant person.

 

“Have whatever thoughts you want, just don’t murder any of my family members. That’s mainly what I object to. Is that such a difficult concept to grasp?” He had another angry sip. "And before you start, it's not at all the same as when I took out your mother. That was for you."

Edited by Eric Silvershore

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