Post by Grace Sørensen on Jul 23, 2020 12:11:55 GMT 2
It had been a week since Grace's studies at Durmstrang had commenced and she'd made a grand total of one true friend, one she knew would never ever judge or abandon her. He was the sweetest little boy she'd ever met and loyal to a T, snuggling up whenever he stumbled upon her all alone in the common room, cute little button nose nuzzling at her legs. It was so nice to have a companion at Durmstrang and even though she wanted to say that the boy was the only friend she'd ever need, she had to be honest with herself - there was only so much friendship a cat could provide her with and... it would be nice for her to talk to someone who actually, you know... spoke back every now and then.
But as Grace surveyed the common room, it appeared the chances of her talking to a human being were slim as everyone scattered around the room was either talking to one another or quite visibly snubbing her if she managed to catch their eye. With a small sigh, Grace contemplated resigning herself back to her dormitory to read in bed when suddenly, there was a familiar bop on her ankle.
"There you are," she said, lighting up as she laid eyes on her one and only friend. Moving to her knees on the carpet, a smile spread across Grace's lips. "I was wondering when you were. Probably... probably chasing some little mouse, weren't you? I don't exactly condone... well, murder, but I can make an exception for you because you're just so adorable, aren't you?"
As Grace spoke, her fingers petted the cat's delicate black fur and as he purred, nuzzling back against her hand, her smile only intensified. "Oh, you're just so..." As the sound of music played nearby, Grace's eyes darted up to locate the source, only to land on a very, very handsome boy with fetching blue eyes, "... cute." It took a second for her to realise that she was blatantly staring and eyes widening, panicked, she averted her gaze back downwards and said perhaps too loudly, "Aren't you, Switzerland? You're so... you're just... such a cute CAT."
The first week at Durmstrang hadn't even finished yet, and Mstislav had already gotten a letter from his father reminding him that he wasn't allowed to associate with the likes of mudbloods and blood traitors. With a heavy sigh, Mstislav had ripped apart the letter and tossed it into the cobblestone fireplace of his dorm room, wishing that he would be anyone else but Mstislav Vorel.
The contents of the letter had made the boy feel rather down, so he had taken his trusty magical radio and went to one of his favorite corners of the Griffin dorm building, spending an hour or so sitting in a recliner and listening to European wizard pop. It was fine, he supposed, though much of it lacked something he couldn't quite put his finger on.
After a while he started considering that, maybe, it wasn't the music that was lacking, but rather the strange absence of his companion -- his 2 year old cat, Albert. Usually Albert didn't stray too far from Mstislav in the evenings, always wanting to give all of his affection to his owner, but for the last week the cat had been more and more absent. Whenever it returned, it was fine, so whatever cat things it was doing weren't something Mstislav had to worry about, but, as cat owners often do, he wondered what his little friend got up to.
Growing tired of sitting around, the boy grabbed his radio, turned the volume down quite a bit so it wouldn't be a bother to the others and went to look for Albert. He didn't have to look far -- Albert was in the common room, being all lovely-dovey with... One of the muggleborns.
Had it been a few years earlier, Mstislav would have just picked up Albert and walked away without sparing the girl even so much as a glance, but, thank God, he had grown out of it. And... How can you just ignore someone who looks up at you, stares right into your eyes and calls you cute as their cheeks turn red?
An involuntary chuckle escaped his lips and purely out of habit Mstislav covered his smile with his hand before speaking to the girl in English, just like she had spoken to Albert.
"He's Czech, actually. Has he been hanging out with you this week? He's been more absent than usual," he said, turning off the radio and setting it down on the ground as he kneeled next to the duo, reaching to scratch Albert's chin.
"His name is Albert, and I'm Mstislav. And who would you be?"
Post by Grace Sørensen on Jul 23, 2020 14:05:51 GMT 2
Staring steadfastedly at her little friend Switzerland, as though he was going to be her saviour from... whatever awkward situation was going to occur, Grace grimaced as she heard the chuckle sound from above her. Here came the moment when this boy with loveliest blue eyes and sharpest cheekbones she'd ever seen decided to make fun of her. She could just hear it now: 'why do you think you're allowed to even look at me, you stupid mud -'
But before Grace could even finish that thought, of what this boy was about to say, she found herself being surprised as he started talking in a friendly tone about her cat. Oh. Was it... his cat? And was that his name? "His name is Check? As in... as in, like, check-mate? Like they... they say during chess?" she asked, blinking in surprise before glancing beside her as the boy joined her on the floor. It was a rather odd name for a cat, but she supposed that her naming him Switzerland wasn't much better. Who was she to judge?
When the boy asked if he'd been hanging out with her, Grace almost felt as if she had done something wrong when she admitted meekly, "Um... yes?" Because... what if this boy didn't want his cat hanging about someone like her? Quickly, Grace rushed to reassure him, "But I promise I was only good to him. I didn't give him anything bad to eat. Like... like... uh..." She hadn't fed Check at all, too concerned about his kitty cat diet and not wanting to accidentally give him something he couldn't consume, but regardless... she still racked her brain for something she wouldn't give him before blurting out, "Alcohol! I didn't give him alcohol. I mean, not that... I'd have any of that as it is, but I promise I didn't give him any, er... vodka or... or beer."
Fingers retreating from Check's fur, Grace tucked them into her lap instead, blinking yet again as the boy shared that Check's name was Albert. Wait, no, that was confusing. "His name is... Check Albert?" she asked, trying to clarify. Maybe the boy, Mstislav, meant that his cat had two names. "I'm Grace. Some people call me Gracie though - well, I mean, my bestemor and my brother do, but... they're... they're people..." Grace trailed off with a grimace because that was weird. She shouldn't have said that. "I'm... I'm nerv - new. I'm new. Hi. It's nice to meet you, Mstislav."
This girl was some bundle of nerves, fumbling over her own words to the point where Mstislav was chewing on his lip, trying not to burst out in laughter over her words. Not that there was anything funny about a person being nervous, but the things she said were so ridiculous that the boy couldn't help himself. I sure hope your family are people, he thought, his eyebrows rising briefly, what else could they be?
He watched her hands withdraw from the cat, as if she felt that she wasn't allowed to pet it anymore, which, of course, was complete nonsense. But Mstislav felt that he needed to take control over the situation before Grace lost all ability to make any coherent sentences at all.
"It's nice to meet you, Grace." He stated, looking right at her. "You're from... Bestemor, bestemor," he repeated the word a few times as if trying to taste it in his mouth, "Norwegian, right? I don't speak it, but it's hard to not pick up a thing or two living here."
"As for this little guy," he continued, petting the cat once more, "I mean he's Czech. Just like me. From Czechia. Česko. I'm glad you haven't given him any alcohol, even though we love our beer back home, it's no good for a cat." He continued, a gentle smile on his face. How did it come to her mind to mention giving the cat booze out of all things was beyond his understanding, but he could roll with it, all things considered.
"No need to worry about feeding him, I've got that covered, and Albert can take care of himself well enough. I was just wandering who was hogging all of his attention these days. I'd say he hasn't made a bad choice, have you, Albert?"
The cat was sitting in between them, washing its paws and ignoring Mstislav's words. Then again, he was just a cat. He didn't understand. And maybe that was for the best.
Post by Grace Sørensen on Jul 24, 2020 10:38:14 GMT 2
Mstislav addressing her directly, by name, had Grace's bright blue eyes flitting up to look at him once more and unlike she had previously, she didn't drop her gaze back down to the floor. It seemed safe to maintain eye contact now because his open facial expressions, his kind voice, all hinted that he wasn't about to start teasing her. He appeared to just want to talk though only Merlin knew why. It wasn't like she was particularly interesting. She was just the weirdo who'd been playing with his cat.
Grace nodded an affirmative at Mstislav's question, smiling softly. "Yes, it's Norwegian. It means grandmother. I speak Russian too, if it's easier for you than just plain English? I mean, not that there's anything wrong with your English, I just meant if you're more comfortable conversing in Russian..." Grace let her sentence trickled off, fingers moving to deftly tuck some blonde hair behind her ear. It wasn't that it was in her face, really, more so because she didn't know what she ought to do with her hands now that she was no longer petting Check.
Who, she found out seconds later, was not actually named Check but was Czech. As in Czechoslovanian. "Oh," she said dumbly, lips parting in surprise and her cheeks immediately scorching in embarrassment because... oh Merlin, she was so stupid. How did she not realise that was what he had meant? It should have been obvious. After all, who named their cat Check? "I wouldn't even know where to find any alcohol. I mean, it's not even like they'd be any in the castle. It's illegal to bring it here, or that's what the rule book says anyway, and I doubt anyone would risk detention over something like beer. Besides, what if it spilt whilst you were... were smuggling it in? Then all your clothes would smell of beer and... and beer smells awful."
I'd say he hasn't made a bad choice had Grace startling in surprise, a small pleased smile starting to spread onto her lips before she quickly smothered it. It was a nice thing for Mstislav to say, even if he was just doing so to be polite. "I've never had a cat - not that I think he's my cat now, or... but it's been nice having him around. I liked it. He's... he's a sweet little thing," she said.
A second later, she was caught off guard with the question posed to her, although she supposed she shouldn't have been because it was only logical that Mstislav wanted to know why she'd decided to call his cat Switzerland of all things. Briefly, Grace contemplated telling a white lie and saying, 'oh he just reminds me of Swiss cheese,' but that was ridiculous because Albert was a black cat with zero holes in him and he didn't even faintly resemble Swiss cheese. "A lot of people here haven't really wanted to talk to me, I guess... well, because I look like... uh, me, and I'm a muggleborn, but Albert doesn't have the same opinions as them. He doesn't care, so... so he's neutral. Like Switzerland."
Mstislav caught himself thinking that it was very nice to see Grace smile instead of looking like a scared little mouse. His eyes followed her fingers, watching as he tucked her hair behind her ear even though there was no actual need for that strand to be moved. But the movement did bring his attention to the structure of her jaw, which Mstislav could always appreciate. Sure, there were plenty of pretty girls at Durmstrang, but in all these years he'd never felt any of that interest his dorm mates always talked about. But Grace? Her face certainly stirred up something at the back of his mind, though Mstislav wasn't sure what exactly.
"English is fine," he answered, "I get plenty of Russian practice here. English? Not nearly as much as would be good for my language skills."
The way Grace spoke about alcohol and abiding the rules, all prim and proper and oh so scared to get in trouble was downright cute, considering how things were at Durmstrang. Kalevi, one of his dorm mates, never drank anything less than vodka, and he always had some stashed.
"Oh, Grace, not many here bother with something as light as beer," he said, changing his position to sit with his legs criss-cross rather than on his knees, "If there is a want, there is a way. And not like the teachers don't know -- most of them don't really waste their time trying to fight against it unless they catch someone, uh, red-handed, was it? But... But you're right. Beer does smell awful. Don't let any Czechs know I said that, though." He finished with a conspiratory wink and a light chuckle.
The explanation of Switzerland wiped the smile off Mstislav's face, replacing it with a somber expression. She was right. If his father would know that he was speaking to a muggleborn, if he'd ever even know that he dared approach her for something else besides damning her and her entire family... It wouldn't be pretty. But she didn't need to know that.
"I see. People can be cruel. I..." his voice trailed off as he glanced at his cat, his father's voice echoing old prejudices in his head, "I don't share those opinions. Guess you can call us both Switzerland, then?"
Post by Grace Sørensen on Jul 24, 2020 13:05:38 GMT 2
From the snippets of conversation Grace had overheard in the last week when passing by groups of people, she'd gathered that most people here tended to speak in German or Russian to one another. With a curious tilt of her head, Grace asked Mstislav, "Do you speak German too?" Perhaps if he did and he decided he still wanted to speak to her after this conversation, he could give her a hand when it came to the language. Whilst she could somewhat understand it when it was written, her attempts at actually speaking German were abysmal and Merlin knew she could barely decipher what people were saying to her when they spoke the language at a million miles per hour.
The news that people actually did bother with smuggling alcohol into the castle had Grace blinking in surprise because weren't those people afraid to get caught and face the consequences? But as Mstislav explained that the professors tended to turn a blind eye to it, it dawned on her that maybe the 'consequences' were rarely ever put into action. "Do people do lots of... uh, naughty stuff like that here then?" she asked, eyebrows furrowing. "They didn't at Koldovstoretz." Or if they did, then she certainly wasn't privvy to it.
When Mstislav swore her to secrecy about him not liking the smell of beer then followed it with a wink of all things, Grace ducked her head instinctively, warmth blossoming in her stomach. It was strange - she'd never though that someone closing just one eyelid was particularly alluring before, but for some reason the action coming from Mstislav was. Realising that she needed to say something, Grace tried her best at a joke, "The only other Czech I know is Albert and I don't think he feels strongly enough beer to be offended."
The smile that disappeared from Mstislav's face had Grace's teeth gnawing into her bottom lip in an instance because perhaps up until this moment, he had miraculously missed the fact that she was a muggleborn and he was about to start spewing hatred in her direction. Vaguely, Grace wondered whether she should be reaching for her wand as silence sat between them until finally,Mstislav came out with the words 'guess you can call us both Switzerland.'
"So... you don't hate me then?" she asked, voice coming out far more vulnerable then she intended it to as she released her red-bitten lip from the captive hold of her teeth. "I mean, if you do, that's okay. You're allowed to, and I can always just... go away if you'd like."
"German, too, yes. Obviously, Czech is my first language, and I'm more comfortable with Russian than German or English, but my French is..." he grimaced, remembering the one tutor who he couldn't stand as a kid, "My French is downright terrible." Not that he ever needed it up North, and he reckoned that he'd get by in life with the array of languages he already knew.
Graces choice of words made Mstislav stifle a laugh yet again. Naughty things, he thought, she's got the innocence of a first year. "Certainly. Was the staff at Koldovstoretz very strict and thorough? I've heard Russia can be very militarized and disciplined, though the same has been said about Durmstrang for ages, and yet rules get broken all the time here. I think it is a given if we're all stuck in the mountains for 9 months at a time. People get bored."
"Yes, Albert here doesn't care for beer, he'd rather order milk at the bar any day," Mstislav responded to Grace's joke, petting the cat one more and smiling as his buddy let out a few loud purrs as if agreeing with the boys statement.
"Why should I hate you?" he asked her, looking into her eyes. There was fear there, and he hoped it wasn't fear of him, specifically, though he couldn't blame for it. "You've done nothing wrong. " No matter what my parents would have me believe.
Post by Grace Sørensen on Jul 25, 2020 12:48:37 GMT 2
As Mstislav rattled off all the different languages he spoke, Grace nodded, a little impressed because... that was at least five he knew. "You must have a very talented tongue," she told him earnestly, completely oblivious to the double entrendre the words held. "I mean, mine isn't nearly that good. You must have had a lot of practice to master all these languages, right?"
Contemplatively, Grace hummed at the question posed to her. "I guess they could be strict sometimes? If you broke the rules and all which... well, I didn't really ever break them. But once this boy in my class spoke out of turn and stood up on a desk and stuff and he got detention for a month." She'd thought the punishment had fit the crime, but she'd overheard a few people beside her murmur that a month-long detention was 'overkill.'
Why should I hate you? The question wasn't nearly as simple as it sounded and Grace could easily list a thousand reasons why he should... why she hated herself. But she didn't want to go so far into that deep, dark place in her brain and she went to shrug before catching her shoulders mid-action. That was rude. "I... it's kind of, like... I mean, I'm everything that Durmstrang has hated for centuries," she told him quietly. "I'm a muggleborn. I'm poor. I... I'm bad at magic. I - aren't you afraid that by talking to me, your friends won't like you anymore? I don't... I don't think they'd exactly approve of you associating with someone like me."
Mstislav was glad he wasn't eating or drinking during this conversation, because hearing Grace suggest he had a very talented tongue made his breath get stuck in his throat, rendering him frozen for a moment, while his cheeks caught on fire. She said it so simply, so innocently that Mstislav couldn't decide if she didn't know what she'd just implied, or that this girl was a tremendously good actor. He scratched the back of his head, not being sure what to answer. He hadn't ever kissed anyone and it wasn't like him to be overconfident and cocky.
"I guess it-- It comes with practice?" he answered, "I wouldn't consider myself talented at anything, it's more hard work, if, if it's anything at all."
He was glad to have the conversation turn to more serious topics, listening to Grace speak about her old school. A month of detention sounded harsh, but from the crumbs she was giving him he gathered that whatever this boy had declared while standing on top of a desk must have riled the staff the wrong way.
"If they sort people by their blood and their financial means, they're no friends of mine." Mstislav said, his voice becoming quiet. In truth, Mstislav had very few people he'd truly call friends. Being a Vorel attracted its fair share of bootlickers from other Czech families -- they used to flock about him like moths until his coldness had put them off, and then there were other purebloods that only hung out with their kind -- Mstislav didn't enjoy their company even one bit.
"I'll be fine, Grace. You should be worried about yourself at Durmstrang. You'll have to watch your own back, though."
Post by Grace Sørensen on Jul 26, 2020 8:12:41 GMT 2
The colour that suddenly blossomed in Mstislav's cheeks had Grace shifting where she sat up onto her knees, concerned. "Are you hot?" she asked, before flushing herself because... well, yes, he was, obviously but she more so meant, "Uh, I mean... temperature-wise. You look - you can take your clothes - um, your jumper off if it would help cool you down." Apparently Grace's capability to speak without sounding pervy had all of a sudden disappeared because now it sounded like she wanted to undress him in the middle of the common room which was not what she intended at all.
"Oh. Practice, right. It makes everything perfect," Grace said, still caught up in her bumbling from moments before, fingers reaching up to start fiddling with the scrunchie that fastened the ends of her braid. "I think you've got to have some talent in order to pick up all those languages though, so don't sell yourself short or - a lot of people struggle speaking more than one, let alone five, no matter how much they study."
The bluntness of what Mstislav said next, as he explained that he didn't want to be friends with people who held such prejudices, had Grace falling completely silent for a moment. "Not a lot of people seem to feel the way you do. A lot... a lot of people I've encountered, they don't want to lose the friends they have by associating with me," she told him honestly.
Grace's eyes snapped up, alarmed at the warning Mstislav gave her. She was always concerned about the people around her - growing up in a neighbourhood like hers, that wasn't always the safest, had taught her to keep an eye out. But being told to actively watch her own back, as if there were people lurking in dark corners and wanting to do horrible things to her, made her feeling like something much more sinister than being mugged could happen. "Do you... do you think some people here might do something bad to me?" she asked, lowering her voice just in case there were some eavesdroppers.
She just kept going with the innuendos, apparently none the wiser of what she had and kept implying. Telling him to take off his sweater with the most innocent tone in her voice... Mstislav couldn't think of another girl her age at Durmstrang who would be this oblivious. Not that it was a bad thing, per se, it just wasn't... Wasn't the usual. He brushed her concerns over his temperature with a wave of his hand and continued the conversation, which lead into colder waters.
It was no surprise, though, that his following words made Grace's blue eyes flare up anxiety and fear. "I would be surprised if it didn't happen," he said, his voice just as quiet, his tone resigned, "People from old pureblood families can be rotten to the core and think it is the way everyone should be."
He wondered what his own sisters thought of the situation with the muggleborns. It had been a while since he'd had a conversation with them that wasn't more than just sibling squabbling, and the thought of his sisters giving Grace grief for who she was made Mstislav feel a little nauseous.
"I think you should start by making friends with other muggleborns," he said, reaching to pet Albert who was now laying on the floor between them, seemingly pretending to be a long, black sausage rather than a cat, "There is power in numbers."
Post by Grace Sørensen on Jul 27, 2020 13:13:10 GMT 2
An unpleasant feeling gnawed at Grace's stomach as Mstislav, a boy who had been coming to Durmstrang for six or seven years, all but confirmed that yes, his peers would likely try something on her... and he knew these people better than most, didn't he? "I... I'm..." Grace didn't know what to say, it was like every single word she knew had gotten lodged in the back of her throat. After a long moment, all she could manage was, "Thank you."
Not for the first time, Grace wished that Anders had been born magical as well so he could be here by her side, so she could have someone she trusted explicitly to have her back. But that was a selfish wish, and Grace felt guilty for even thinking it. Anders had more important things to do back at home in the muggle world - he was looking after their bestemor, between working to keep their family float, and those two things mattered much more than she did.
"Perhaps I should," Grace agreed softly, nodding at Mstislav's advice. He had a point - power in numbers, after all. It was just a matter of figuring out who was new here and, not only that, who was approachable. She didn't want to try to strike up a conversation with somebody who wasn't interested, after all.
Lost in her own thoughts, Grace absentmindedly reached out to stroke Albert once more, telling Mstislav quietly, "I'm... I'm going to go to bed now, I think. Thank you... for the chat, and the advice. I - I really appreciate it. I'll, um, see you in class maybe." With that, Grace maneourvered her way towards the girls dormitories, her stomach still feeling awfully funny. She had a feeling that she wouldn't be getting much sleep tonight.