It was early in the term yet, and that was necessary. Leonor and Jeremy generally spent a fair amount of time together and Leonor suspected she wasn't the only one without other social options. Not that that was her fault; Mara and them just couldn't understand what she was dealing with and other people were far less worthy of a chance to try anyway. Jeremy wasn't like them because he kind of did understand, but it had become painfully clear in Leonor's most recent forays into a proper De Matteo education that this wasn't going to work. It had vaguely crossed her mind to ask Jeremy to come visit her over the winter break, but it just wouldn't work and after all was said and done, she was glad it hadn't. It was for both of their best interests. And if this was coming up so clearly a whole year into whatever sort of relationship this was, then what was she supposed to do five years in? Or ten years in? Would it even get that far? She couldn't risk finding out what the answer was the hard way, so she wasn't going to let it get that far. Besides, she and Felipe were on the same team again, mostly by default and again as a result of her continuing education into the De Matteo ways, so annoying him by dating his roommate was far less advantageous than it had once been.
Her preferred method would have been to not handle it at all - it was, after all, how she dealt with most of her problems - but that had proven wildly ineffective and simply wasn't how a De Matteo was supposed to behave. She'd never cared that much about how a De Matteo was supposed to behave because heiresses were supposed to be able to behave however they wanted, but she should probably start caring. Today was the day.
If caring always looked like this, then she was really sick of caring.
She found Jeremy sitting by himself, which made sense because it was cold out in January but this is where they tended to meet before heading to the Pitch for Jeremy to practice, and approached with an unfamiliar hitch in her chest. "Hey," she said, greeting him from a greater distance than she might normally have done; for all that their relationship lacked real emotional intimacy, physical intimacy was much easier and she would have been happy to kiss him if such thoughts didn't make her outright queasy in the moment. "I can't go with you to the Pitch today," she said, hoping she didn't throw up. Her head was pounding. This was supposed to be easy. This was a political move and those were supposed to be easy. Swift. Decisive. Angry. "I've decided it's best that we stop seeing each other." Her voice, like the brittle tendrils of a heartbeat that had almost perked up when she'd seen him sitting there, was icy.
22Leonor De MatteoIt's for the best [Jeremy]147115
Jeremy made his way through the corridors, a box of chocolates crammed in his pocket. He had debated long and hard over whether to get anything for Leonor. Although his family was well off, they did interfere with and control his own spending, and he needed his allowance and his Christmas money for the few things he had wanted but not got, like the rare players for this season's Quidditch collectible cards. He also didn't get to spend that much time shopping unaccompanied, so he would for sure have had to answer awkward questions. Anyway, it wasn't like Leonor was his real girlfriend, so he shouldn't have to do stupid things like buy her chocolates.
He'd still brought her some though. Just in case. He had been raised with the understanding that women were irrational creatures, and your best hope was to continue pacifying them with nice stuff, so he'd swiped one of the many boxes of chocolates the family had been sent by business contacts of Uncle Alexander or coffee morning ladies of Aunt Avery. He hoped they wouldn't melt in his pocket but there was no way he was walking through school carrying a box of chocolates for a girl.
He still wasn't sure where or how to channel all his feelings about what had happened with Nathaniel, so he planned on channelling them into Leonor, or at least using the stimulation she provided to block them out. That was something she was remarkably effective for. Again, he had been given to understand that women caused more headaches than they cured, so it seemed worthwhile making the most of it while it lasted.
He hadn't arranged to meet her, but it was a time that they usually hung out, so he loitered on his way to the pitch, hoping she might join him. And sure enough, there she was. Perfect!
A frown crossed his face as she said she couldn't come to the pitch. He couldn’t imagine she had anything important to do, which meant she was just being difficult.
It got worse.
She didn’t want to do this anymore? Why the heck not, and also what gave her the right to decide that?
“Did Felipe make you say that?” he asked, frowning. “Cos, if he wants to pick a fight about this, I’m more than ready. I won last time,” he reminded her.
Leonor frowned, partly because she didn't appreciate the thought that anyone but herself would have done the deciding here and partly because he was actually surprisingly close. "No," she said, "Felipe doesn't make me do anything," she replied hotly. She wasn't exactly sure whether getting his arm broken or getting in trouble counted as winning, which meant . . . well, he didn't mean her did he? Merlin, if he meant her, then what was she supposed to do?
Nothing. She was supposed to do nothing. She was supposed to end this and walk away because that was what was best for everyone. It was ironic in so many ways that now that she almost maybe even liked Jeremy - she wasn't going to use words like "cared about" - was when she needed to end things, and that she had to end this thing she'd gotten into selfishly for altruistic reasons because of her selfish family. The whole thing was crap and for a moment, Leonor wanted to take it all back. She wanted to go to the Pitch and hang out and make out and just keep pretending everything was fine because that was the best way to ensure they actually became fine.
She wondered for a moment what Jeremy would do if she just told him everything but that would mean admitting everything and she definitely wasn't about to do that. That was not what politicians and leaders did; they played their cards close to their chest, kept their hearts and sleeves tucked neatly, and made decisions for the best of everyone else, no matter what they really felt. This just felt like it sucked.
"I decided on my own," she said, aiming for a defiant tone, although it even sounded a little weak and sad to her own ears. And it was true, even if she hated it.
Jeremy returned her frown with one of his own. Not that it was objectionable to hear her say that Felipe couldn't make her do anything, but he just didn't appreciate being spoken to like that. Or anything else about this. So, she had decided all by herself, had she? Who cared, when it wasn't what he wanted? He pushed down the voice that said of course this was happening, because this was what everyone did. She was supposed to be different.
Her tone might have given him a clue, but he had never been particular in tune to the finer points and subtleties of anyone else's emotions, least of all hers. All he knew was that she was trying to walk away from him, and that wasn't fair, she didn't just get to do that.
He'd brought her chocolates.
Obviously she wasn't getting them now. He hesitated, wondering whether to never tell her, whether to just walk away and not let her know. It was a wound to his pride that he had tried to care that much, but maybe he could make her feel bad before he went. Then this wouldn't be a total loss.
He pulled the small box out, decidedly not holding it out towards her.
Leonor resisted the sudden urge to stick her tongue out at Jeremy's returned frown. It wasn't the proper response, and it wasn't helpful, and she didn't generally want to stick her tongue out at him (at least not in this context), but it still seemed like it would have made her feel better. Her own expression changed into surprise and something caught in her throat when he revealed a box of chocolates though. He wasn't offering her any - which was fair - but it was clear he hadn't brought them for his own enjoyment. She wasn't sure if his question was his way of ignoring her, denying her, rejecting her, or something else. Discussing their feelings didn't seem like Jeremy's way of doing things (which was one of her favorite things about him honestly) but ignoring the facts outright also was a bit out of character in her opinion.
"Cherry," she answered automatically, if a bit shortly, not looking at the box. She didn't want it now, she just wanted to be allowed to want it. In fact, she wanted to get to decide that she was going to be doted on and given things and that that would be okay because she was an important person who deserved fancy things and she was a pretty girl who deserved a pretty boyfriend. Jeremy checked a lot of the right boxes for her. "Do you like me?" she asked, more surprised than she meant to let on. Throughout this whole thing, she hadn't considered that Jeremy might actually like her. That was not why people like them went out and it certainly wasn't the reason they'd started going out. This was stupid and not fair.
22Leonor De MatteoI don't want to tell you. 147105
Cherry… Cherry, cherry… which one was that? It would occur to Jeremy much later that he could have just opened the box and declared any of the chocolates to be that, rather than trying to fumble with the stupid little booklet and work it out and wondering what he’d do if there wasn’t one. It was a bit embarrassing really, for someone whose most prided move was faking that he’d seen something, that he hadn’t thought of that.
“No. Not any more,” he answered her question, unintentionally revealing perhaps more than he meant to because the implication of that was that he had, once. “There! Cherry!” he declared finding it. He locked eyes, staring at her pointedly as he crammed the chocolate into his own mouth “You don’t get it,” he said through a mouth of sickly syrup. “You don’t get any of them!” he declared, stuffing another one in his face. He sort of wanted to eat the whole box in front of her but the two already in his mouth were cloying and hard to swallow. He tipped the rest onto the ground stomping on each one so that it smashed, before throwing the box down too. Not exactly at her but with an obvious flare of temper.
“And you can’t break up with me because I’m breaking up with you. So there,” he stated. He tried to take her face in for just a second, searching for the satisfaction of successfuly causing damage, but he didn’t want to give her a chance to argue back, so he only looked for a fraction of a second before turning and striding towards the pitch. Without her.
13Jeremy MordueGood, cos I don't want to hear it144305
Jeremy had liked her once. Now that it was safe to admit it to herself, she'd even liked him. And her whole stupid family and her whole stupid life had ruined the whole thing. Deep, unbridled anger roared in her chest and she wanted to scream. Jeremy's next action drew her out of it though because she was too surprised to be angry for a moment and she stepped back automatically as he made a show of stuffing his face and then smashing the chocolates on the ground. She couldn't even quite be sad about it although she would be later. Right now, she was just shocked, and a little disgusted by such a pathetic display. Boyfriends, or ex-boyfriends, weren't supposed to have temper tantrums.
It wasn't any real surprise that neither of them were the most mature people she'd ever met, Leonor certainly had spent her life so far being well aware that Felipe was the more mature of the two of them even not accounting for his advanced age, but it was still a bit gross to see that play out so blatantly. You were supposed to at least act mature where other people could see it. You weren't supposed to let your emotions get the best of you. When they did, bad things happened. Like this.
It wasn't funny. It was definitely not funny. Anger was still rolling under Leonor's skin and the urge to cry was close behind it, making her whole face feel like it was prickling. There was Jeremy, obviously upset and smashing to bits a gift he'd meant to give her because he'd liked her once. But now he didn't and somehow . . . watching her nearly grown classmate throw a tantrum and then skulk off, all Leonor could think was how funny it was.
Because of course this was how it all turned out for her. Of course her family brought her to this point, both in terms of being with Jeremy and in terms of ending it. But no, of course, he was the one ending it. And when he looked at her for a moment, she couldn't help herself. She put a hand up to her face to cover her grin, but she couldn't help the laughter that came out. And when Jeremy turned to walk away, he was followed by peals of laughter, because it wasn't funny, but all she could do was laugh.