(1941-01-08) Mixed Signals
Details for Mixed Signals
Summary: Mateo Confronts Erica for her sudden halt in communication after he sent a letter to her asking her out over vacation.
Date: January 8th, 1941
Location: Hogwarts - Hufflepuff Common Room

Hufflepuff Common Room

It is a winter afternoon. The weather is cold and fair.

The Hufflepuff House common room is a cosy and welcoming place. The large, earthy room is built in a circle, and rests almost entirely below ground. Near the ceiling, about nine feet up, are round windows set at exterior ground level so the grass and plants outside can be seen, with the Hogwarts Greenhouse just beyond. The outdoors makes its way indoors as many nooks, shelves and other surfaces house potted plants. Alternating rows of yellow and black bricks make up the circular walls, giving the chamber a striped appearance.

The room's entrance is a round tunnel extending from the cask lid door. Gold bricks with black mortar circle the doors that lead into the Girls and Boys Dormitories, the Head of House Chambers, and the two rooms reserved for Head Boy and Head Girl when they are Hufflepuffs. Cosy black-and-yellow patterned sofas and chairs are mostly gathered about the elliptical fireplace. Above the hearth is a portrait of Helga Hufflepuff toasting her students with a two-handled golden cup. The frame is highly polished honey-colored wood carved with a plethora of dancing, playful badgers. The dancing badger carved wood theme continues on over to a curved buffet table the Hogwarts House-elves keep stocked with enough drinks, snacks and treats that could stuff an elephant.

Midafternoon break at Hogwarts has the Common Room seeing a few students milling about, mostly lounging about on chairs or sitting at the tables doing homework. One group is over tucked away in a corner playing wizard's chess. Mateo is seated in a low chair beneath one of the windows that offers a view of the greenhouses. He has a book titled, "Ill Omens and How to Recognize Them - Are You on the Right Path," open on his lap and his eyes move to and fro across the pages, occasionally making a soundless ahh of understanding.

Erica has a habit that some find a bit annoying. She tends to tidy and clean the already rather spotless and pristine Common Room. From the girls dorm she comes with her a fifth hand leather doctors bag that she has glued felt stars and sparkles about the surfaces. In the center of the largest space on the bag is the sign,

'Stainwright Cleaning'
Gets any Stain out Right!

With that bag in tow she puts it on a table and pulls out a small ladder from it. In a quick and practiced fashion like a magician unfurling something grand she sets up the ladder besides some shelves. A few bottles and tins are then pulled out of the bag. Carefully she mixes a few of the potions in the bottles and screws on a perfume spray top with the air bulb deispenser.

Mateo glances up at the entrance of Erica the house elf. His eyebrows lift up in interest, though he says nothing for a while. He looks back down to his book and continues to read, glancing up occasionally to mark her progress around the room and when she is close enough he says quietly, "You didn't send an owl back…"

Erica is up on the ladder a few feet dusting a shelf and plucking some wilting flowers from one of the house plants. So it is she rather has no were to go when she is approached. A fine tactic to get the squirrelly girl who has been doing her best to avoid Mateo to finally answer for the long silence. "Wot? Oh! Right, yes, I'm sorry, Madera came down with a terrible cold. Have you ever seen an owl sneeze? It's like, HOOTIECHOO!" She imitates an owl with her eyes going really bugged out and wide like they could almost pop right out with pursed up lips trying to make them a beak like as she can.

Staring at her blankly, Mateo's features don't break into a smile at all as he looks at Erica. "I don't believe you," he says shortly, a tinge of anger and maybe a smidge of hurt creeping into his voice. "It's fine, I can take a hint," he adds, snapping his book closed. The Prefect pushes himself to his feet and begins to cross the room toward the exit of the Common Room.

Erica bites on he lip and her whole face crinkles, when she has room she descends on the ladder and does her best to quickly close the distance. "Mateo, I'm sorry…I - I just don't know what to do and I was trying to be cute so you wouldn't get mad. Please? I am sorry." She reaches out to try to give the tiniest of plucks to his sleeve tin a tug to try to get him to slow down and turn around.

Mateo turns back to face her. He seems about to respond angrily and then glances around the room at the other students. Getting a hold of himself he says, "Then why didn't you write me back? I thought we had a good day together? Did I think about it wrong?"

Erica tries to keep ahold of that little bit of his sleeve so she can try and guide him back over to the less populated area where she was cleaning. "I told you, I just don't know what to do. The amazing present and then what you said in the letter. I'm a bashful person Mateo, I made a fool out of myself last year. I ddon't want to make the same mistakes. I was also honestly pretty busy. Things get a bit crazy when it's the holidays at the Lot. Sales and such, I help out my dad a lot. And yes, he would get a bit Daddy if he thought you wanted to take me out in that kind of way. I didn't want to respond in a letter and I'm sorry I've been avoiding you. It's just a lot and I told you I'm bad about letter writing. Sorry Mateo, I really am sorry."

Mateo crosses his arms over his chest as he listens to what Erica has to say. He isn't unsympathetic, his anger does soften and fade from his features. "What do you mean you don't know what to do? What do you /want/ to do?"
Mateo gives you a cookie.

Erica seems more relieved and less rushed when it seems his anger is lessening. "I don't know, that's the whole point. I've never had anyone but my parents buy me something, and want to spend time with me. I don't know what I want or what I want to do about this. My brain is a jumble. So confused and just, I want to be friendly with you. You're very nice and generous and handsome. I just don't know if I'm ready for more than friendship. I didn't want to hurt your feelings, but I think I just made things worse. Like always."
You give Mateo a cookie.

Mateo shakes his head and says, "I just would have liked it if you had talked to me about it, instead of ignoring me and then avoiding me when we got back. And me asking to take you out isn't meaning you have to jump into being my…." he lowers his voice, "My girlfriend!" Mateo shakes his head and says, "I just think you are really cute and nice and that it might have been fun to hang out and get to know each other better."

Erica chews on the tip of her thumb looking guilty and anxious. "I know! I know. I'm sorry. That's all I can say. Again. I messed up. That's what I do. I'm not good at this, especially when I like the person."

Mateo raises his eyebrows in surprise and says, "Oh, so you like me now, eh?" He offers Erica half of a smile as he glances around the room and then back to the Hufflepuff girl opposite him. "Like what kind of like?"

Erica lets out a groan that begs for a quick end of her misery on display! "I just said. Don't make fun of me." She gives a little pout and makes to give his arm a little poke.

Mateo grins and catches Erica's hand as she reaches out to poke him and useds it to pull her a step closer to him so their shoulders bump. "Maybe I just like the idea that you do?"

Erica gives him a bump back, but perhaps it's a touch too hard by accident which has her grimacing apologetically again. "I think that's allowed." She smiles up at him. "Thank you for understanding. I'm very miserable at this, fair warning."

Mateo smiles and runs his hand from Erica's hand up her arm. He caresses the flesh of her forearm with a thumb and says, "That's alright. It's kind of cute. Just don't avoid me. If there is something on your mind, just say something to me about it." He pauses and then seems as if he is going to say more when suddenly there is a yell of pain from the stairwell to the boy's dormitory. Grimacing, Mateo says apologetically, "Duty calls, it seems." He lifts his hand from her forearm and kisses his fingertips and gently touches them to Erica's cheek before stepping around her and walking toward the stairs.

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