A/N: Shall I leave you hanging after this?
When Elisabeth returned to school after missing for three days and a whole weekend, Richard knew as much about what happened at the Circus as Anita and anyone else did. Neither of the three people involved would talk about it once the initial shock over whatever had occurred had worn off and they had had time to rebuild their walls.
Not that Elisabeth talked at all, mind you. She sat at the very back of the class, not even bothering to pull out her books, arms wrapped around herself protectively, just staring into space. Richard had wondered whether it was wise for her to get involved while she was obviously struggling with many other things and he guessed he had his answer. Only that Asher and Damien were as affected as she was and that didn’t fit the idea of Asher messing up their date.
So, once more, he ordered Elisabeth to stay behind in hopes of getting her to speak. When the bell rang five minutes later however, she simply grabbed her unopened bag and made for the door. He had to go and physically block her path to keep her within the room.
She gave him a look that sparked briefly, fleetingly with defiance before returning to her seat at the very back of the room, as if to put as much distance between herself and her teacher as she could. Richard waited out the last stragglers before walking toward her. Then he thought better of it and stopped halfway between her and his desk, settling on a random chair instead.
“You going to tell me what’s up?”
She just looked
“It’s not going to go away, you know?”
She snorted. “Surprise, surprise. Spare me your wisdom. I’m not some random kid.” Her voice was cold and sharp. More so than he’d ever heard it. It was…
“Why are you angry at me
“What the hell do you want from me, Richard?” It was the first time she called him by his first name. Sadly, it didn’t sound very friendly. But there it was again, the echo of a conversation they had had months ago.
Expectations. And how much she hated them. “I told you, I don’t expect anything from you.”
She flung up her arms in the first gesture of anger he had ever seen from her. She was so controlled usually, “But you do,” she almost yelled. “You all do. I thought you didn’t but you do!”
The Ulfric felt utterly bewildered. What the green beans was the blonde talking about?
“I don’t understand, Elisabeth.”
She stood fluidly, as if trying to tower over him. A gesture that was completely lost as they were still almost the same height when he was sitting and she was standing. “Did you ever wonder why I’m here?”
He shrugged once he realized she expected an answer. “You told us you were sent…” He trailed off, not really comfortable talking about divine interference in a public place.
“That’s the how, not the why. Come on, try!” Sharp again, and angry. But the anger was receding already, fading as if she didn’t have the strength to keep it up.
“I don’t know.”
She laughed, harsh and quick. “You wished,” she snapped.
The look he gave was one of confusion.
“You all wished for something and congratulations, you got it. I’m the freaking girl in the box, unwrap me, instant wish-fulfilment. I’m here because you all couldn’t get your shit straight without help! I’m here because…” The anger left her fast and soundlessly and all that was left was exhaustion as she whispered, “I should have gotten my peace. I deserved it. I died….”
Richard knew nothing to say to that. Except one thing. “This is not like you.”
And it wasn’t. The woman he admired, the one he wanted to call a friend was strong. She didn’t give up. She didn’t let anything keep her down. But this woman, no, this girl, she snorted and asked coldly, “How would you know that? You don’t know me.”
Richard allowed the protest with an easy shrug. “Maybe not. But you keep talking about expectations and what people want from you, as if you had no choice in the matter.”
“Well, newsflash, I don’t.”
It was tempting to fall back into old patterns right there and simply stomp out of the room, leaving the stubborn blonde to deal with her own crap. She reminded him too much of Anita, standing there, all indignant rage. But he had made a promise to himself to try and be as good as he could be.
So he took a deep breath and asked, very calmly, “So you sulk? I have a question for you, Elisabeth. You talk about others’ expectations. But what about your own? What to you expect of yourself? Because I can’t imagine this is it.”