"You're comparing a popular and wonderful gaming location to a garbage dump," Tristan said a bit defensively. "If you don't take your foot out of your mouth, I'll be convinced you should have become a contortionist instead of a Ministry Dog. I'm doing what I enjoy, and in case you're lost, I'm not writing home about anything. What do you write home about? 'Oh, Mum, Dad, the most wonderful thing happened: I completed my paperwork right as my shift ended!'"
Tristan snorted at his own joke and rolled his shoulders, hoping to loosen up a bit. At Saralyn's reaction, the young man turned with a grin and said, "What, are you up next too? Is this it--do I finally get to best you at something else?" He raised an eyebrow and laughed to himself, very amused.
"What's there to enjoy about selling things? You could enjoy the games without giving people fake pleasantries the whole time." It sounded both tiresome and boring. "I'm working with potions, unless you missed the whole of our schooling that's clearly something I enjoy. And it has the added benefit of actually progressing my career."
Looking at him her eyes narrowed. "You're dreaming, Kay." He hadnt beaten her in chess, he wasn't beating her here. Ignoring that they'd drawn in chess. "You didn't best me at anything before, keep being deluded."
"There's nothing fake about the pleasantries," Tristan replied impatiently. "Just because you have the happiness of a salted snail, it doesn't mean other people don't actually like being around people and helping them. You like chess, don't you? And other competitions, I take it. You're here, after all. Phantasie has those things. Competitions. They bring people together, there are winners, it's all great fun."
Saralyn's attitude was annoying, which was nothing new. He reminded himself of that, took a few deep breaths, and relaxed. This would go in his favor. "You didn't beat me before either," he pointed out. "Can't stalemate here, can we? Unless we knock each other out at the same time."
Saralyn rolled her eyes. "That's cute you think so." And also a little bit sad. Who actually enjoyed talking to strangers? She could get the appeal of talking to some people, but random people you were trying to sell things too? Not really. "I like chess, I like competitions, I like games. That doesn't mean I want to stand behind a counter and try convince boring people to buy things they don't care about."
"Just because we can't draw doesn't mean that you'll win," she regarded him for a moment. "Want to bet on it?" It was competition enough as it was, but why not throw something more into it. It'd make winning that much more satisfying.
"No one's asking you to do that, numbskull. I'm saying you'd like it there, as a visitor, not as an employee. I couldn't see you working there. They'd all be dead by the end of the first week, or you'd be dead because you upset everyone." Tristan rolled his eyes. Either was possible.
"A bet? Oh, boy, am I intrigued. What are the stakes?" Tristan faced Saralyn head on now, his hands behind his head and his face alight with excitement. "Lay it on me, Saralyn."
That was probably fair. "Or maybe I'd just kill myself about of sheer boredom," she muttered. It sounded like an incredibly dreary way to spend her life.
"If you win I'll come into your stupid shop," because that seemed to be something that he was angling to get her to do. Who knew why. But what did she want out of him? Saralyn eyed him for a moment. "If I win I want to know what's going on with your family." She didn't exactly care, but it was clearly a sore spot from his reaction before. Why not rub salt in a wound?
"You're the worst kind of person, you know? Seriously the worst." Tristan shook his head out of disapproval. His mood was significantly brighter when Saralyn told him what he'd get for winning, but her proposal made his heart sink. He didn't want to talk about that, least of all with her.
Not that it mattered, because he had no intention of losing.
"Yeah, all right, deal," Tristan agreed, lowering one of his hands for Saralyn to shake. "We're on, so let's get to it, yeah?"
"It's not," Tristan responded nonchalantly, although he was sure she knew that. With the deal struck by the shake of their hands, he drew out his wand and replaced one of the duelists. "You gave it your best, buddy," he said to the duelist as they passed one another, but as soon as Tristan was in position, he turned toward Saralyn and gave a customary bow.
"Are the duelists ready?" asked the referee. Tristan gave his nod of affirmation, not taking his eyes off Saralyn. He settled into his dueling stance and pointed his wand.
Tristan wasted no time in firing off a nonverbal spell, grateful for their nonverbal lessons in their sixth and seventh years and for the time he had taken to practice his spells after Hogwarts. His first spell had been a warm-up, a hex meant to make Saralyn's shrink. In addition to being comical, there was a chance it might disorient her if it hit, although he doubted that it would.
Duelling nonverbally did make everything more interesting. Less time to try and figure out how to block what was coming her way. There had definitely been use in the lessons that they had been taught at school.
Blocking his spell, she sent a stinging hex back at him. And on the duel continued.
Some undetermined amount of time later, with both of them landing a number of hits against the other, Saralyn found herself on the ground, with her wand out of reach. Fuck.
By the time Saralyn was on the floor, Tristan was bent over with his hands on his knees trying to catch his breath. What had been a challenging but fun duel ended in his favor, which meant that he had won Saralyn's bet.
Composing himself, he grinned to himself and approached Saralyn with his hand outstretched, hoping to help her up. His mind was full of shit talk and joy, but he kept it all to himself, not wanting to rub it in ger face.
Well, Tristan did want to rub it in her face, but he didn't want to be rude.
With a slight scowl, Saralyn eyed the outstretched hand, and very strongly considered ignoring it and getting herself to her feet. For Merlin's sake that had not ended the way that she had wanted it to. Or the way she had expected it to. "I hate you," she told him, taking the hand. "But well played." She kind of had to admit that now that he'd beaten her, didn't she? Confidence as she was in her skills, he had won.
Tristan didn't pull on her hand. Instead, he let her pull herself up, as he didn't want to pull too hard. Her hand felt oddly nice in his, but that was probably because he hadn't touched a lot of people lately.
"I hate you too! So when should I expect you at Phantasie? I have to be there when you go so I have the proof." Tristan smirked, his joy slowly seeping out.