If she could say one thing with certainty, it was that Saralyn was glad to be out of school. It hadn't been very long yet, but she could see the differences. The main one being perhaps that she had now moved out of home, having a space that was entirely her own did wonders. She didn't feel quite so trapped. She'd also cut her hair, which was also taking a little getting used to after years of it being so long, but she liked it.
She was lucky, perhaps. That she had the means to do that. And that she knew what she wanted to do with her life, and it was something that her parents approved of. There was no danger on that front from going into a job in the ministry, and working with potions was something that she certainly enjoyed.
The danger however seemed to be coming from some other front. The papers talked about it constantly, the purebloods disappearing. And she would have been lying if she didn't admit that it concerned her. And maybe it was a futile attempt to protect her life, and maybe it would be useless, but she decided to pick up duelling.
Considering Saralyn never did anything by halves, and her competitive nature rose in all sorts of situations, she signed herself up for a duelling tournament. Currently she was standing to the side of the arena, watching the duel that was going on before hers.
Tristan's life had become a spiraling rollercoaster of impending "who even knows, man" since he had walked away from Hogwarts. What had started as a slow, tender step toward freedom became a sudden thrust into the real world: his parents had made a terrible misstep, and now he was fending for himself.
His work with the Historical Society and his job at Phantasie were both great opportunities, but Tristan wanted more. For one, he wanted money to move out of the rinky dink apartment he had managed to secure. For two, he wanted the thrill of competition in all of its many forms. His latest intrigue had led him to signing up for dueling competitions, and Tristan, who had started out as a ball of nerves, was slowly becoming more confident in his own shoes.
Arriving at the destination for today's tournament, wand tucked into his khaki shorts, a white tee-shirt with some silly Shakespeare reference, and a nervous smile, Tristan hesitated before entering building that would lead him to the arena. He arrived at the sidelines, hands stashed into his shorts, and looked around at the crowds gathered. It wasn't too crowded, fortunately for his nerves, and he wondered how many of the people were there to watch and how many--
--hold on, was that--yes, he was sure of it. She had cut her hair, but that was definitely Saralyn Adelhard, here for a dueling competition of all things! Something like a mixture of dread, excitement, and curiosity swept through him, and he decided to approach her, either to psych her out or ease his own nerves (or both), he was unsure.
As the man approached, he kept his eyes on the duel, not wanting to bring any attention to them. "It suits you," he said casually. "The hair, I mean. It's about as long as your ambitions."
Watching the duel, Saralyn tried to take notes of their tactics, just in case she had to verse one of them later. It certainly wouldn't hurt to have sussed them out a little bit before she got on the field. Hearing a voice, she turned. Oh for Merlin's sake. What was he doing here? Out of all the places... She glanced at his shirt, but the words on them didn't mean anything to her. Probably some muggle thing.
What at had first seemed like a compliment turned into something else, and she narrowed her eyes at him. "Out of all the things to insult, my ambition is both pointless and wrong." Surely he wasn't idiotic enough to have missed that in school, ambition was certainly one of her driving points. "Are you just here to ruin my day, or are you going to present a good example of how not to duel?"
As bitter as always, Saralyn's snide remarks did not disappoint. Tristan relaxed a little, removing his hands from his pockets and putting them behind his head instead.
"That depends: am I supposed to duel like you?" he returned, his eyes following a particularly unfortunate jinx as it flew toward the slower of the two duelists. If he was a gambling man, he knew where his money would have been there.
"Are you going to give your best impression of a grouchy board?"
As annoying as he was, she did have to stop her lip from quirking. She could appreciate a good comeback, even if it was only in her head, and not said aloud. "If you were duelling like me, you'd be winning. A rare thing for you, I know."
"I thought that's what I was doing already. Get with the program," the jinx landed. Rather unfortunately for the person who had been hit.
"I reckon if I did anything like you, winning would be rare for me," Tristan said cheekily. Saralyn's next comment took him off guard.
Quite suddenly, he laughed aloud and looked at Saralyn. "You're something else, Saralyn, like a goblin climbed out of a cupboard and tried to impersonate a boggart, only you're a bit less talented. What are you up to these days?"
"That's because you don't have what it takes to pull things off the way that I do." Walking the line between her attitude and achieving things was a tricky one. But then, she'd somehow managed to get the teachers at Hogwarts to give her both a prefect, and a head girl badge, so maybe she succeeded. Even if those badges meant little anymore.
"Cross your fingers and hope the person's boggart is a goblin," she murmured though squinted at him. It was a strange metaphor. And still insulting. "Seems like something you'd be scared of."
"I got a job in the Department of Magical Potions and Elixirs in the ministry," she answered. "Yourself?" What had he decided to do, with the world of choices available to him was the question.
"I guess I just have a bit too much self-respect to pull things off the way you do." Tristan shrugged and looked back at the duelists. One of them was weakening, but the fight wasn't over. "There are scarier things in life than goblins, though they're pretty frightening with their magic. Maybe you could learn something from them.
"I work at Phantasie now. People actually enjoy life there, so you've probably never heard of it."
"And still it doesn't achieve you anything more than me. That must hurt." As he glanced at the duellists, her eyes followed the movement. Nearly over, she thought, but not quite yet. "Excuse me, being intimidating is something I've been told that I can do." Which did have some perks.
"The place in Hogsmeade, considering how much time I've spent there, I'd have to blind to not have noticed it." She couldn't say she'd been inside of it however, but that was another matter. "That's a job certainly, but I'm not sure I'd call it a career. I don't think you can mock me about my ambitions while you work in a game shop."
Saralyn rolled her eyes. "I don't think you could intimidate sick children if you tried."
"Or perhaps some of us just got grades that weren't mediocre so we can do more than sell games, and tell people to have good afternoons." Though her parents reputation would have helped her some certainly, Saralyn did put some stock in her own abilities. Not everything was built on the back of her name. He smile faded which was curious. "Something you're not pleased about either." Or he wasn't happy about something.
"I--" Tristan gasped, partly out of sincere shock and partly out of an intentionally melodramatic display. "My grades were perfectly fine, thank you very much. You're well aware that I worked my ass off and succeeded, thank--you--very--much, Saralyn Adelhard!"
The nerve of this girl! Honestly, why was he bothering now? She was a total brat, a spoiled rotten brat with a dark heart. It was kind of fun, sure, but was that enough?
"Haven't you heard?" The young man was glad he was watching the duel rather than making eye contact with Saralyn. "I'm on my own now." Maybe word hadn't gotten around as he'd feared it would. If that was the case, then maybe it was best he stop talking.
"I think that makes it worse," Saralyn said looking at him. "You got good grades and have done nothing with them. What's the point of achieving things if you let yourself sink into the mediocrity either way?" If you have the potential to do something. Why not rise to it?
"On your own?" she questioned, although she wasn't sure how she was meant to have heard anything about him. It wasn't as though the people she spent time with cared anything about him.
"Mediocrity? You call it mediocrity, but when was the last time you set foot in there? Maybe a week from never? Phantasie is fantastic, and I work there because I love it," Tristan defended. It hadn't been his first choice, for sure, but it had been a choice, and a happy one at that. He suspected that one day he would move on to a different job, but for now, it paid the bills and he got to play games in the process.
"On my own," he repeated. "No mummy or daddy to coddle me." No safety net. No one to rely on or ask for help. No one to send him gifts for his birthday or remind him to come see them for Christmas. In his pockets, Tristan's hands curled into fists. "Never mind that. Looks like someone's about to lose, and I've gotta get ready to go up there."
She didn't have to step foot in there to know it was mediocre. It was a shop. No matter how great he thought the shop was, it wasn't as though he was doing something. "I also don't need to walk into a garbage dump to know it's full of trash," she said with a shrug of her shoulders. "Maybe you find it fantastic, but what are you doing? It's not exactly something to write home about."
So what? He'd left home? Or was it something else. There was something in his demeanour that suggested it was something else, but she wasn't sure. At his talk of going up there, she frowned. "You have to be kidding," she said flatly. She didn't have to verse him, did she?