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 Business Proposal of a Different Sort (Sethina)

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PostSubject: Business Proposal of a Different Sort (Sethina)   Thu Apr 21, 2016 3:49 am

There had been so much talk and gossip going around both the Pureblood world and Uni life that Serafina was not quite sure how she was ever going to keep up, but found a way to, nevertheless. It was important to have an ear in everything that was going on around her, lest she be caught off guard by something; and Serafina definitely did not like being surprised. If something was coming her way, she wanted to know about it before hand.

That was why when her parents wrote to her telling her of yet another prospect, she simply rolled her eyes (for she was in the privacy of her own room, and nobody was around to catch her doing this most unladylike gesture). She had a lot of planning to do if she were to get them off her back so that she might enjoy her Uni life.

Slowly, over a period of a few days, a plan was formulated - there was only just one problem. It meant involving a particular male whom she did not care for nor have a want to see. However, it was the only thing that would work, and Serafina was not so blinded by emotions of dislike to push away the only thing that would mean freedom; after all, everything came with a price, and she was willing to pay this small fee in order to obtain this.

Walking into the grounds of the University, she took a short walk, knowing by now the favourite haunts of people she knew - including one Seth Corbett. Finding him without a problem, she made sure he was alone before walking up to him, posture straight and making sure he knew she meant business - not the rude kind, but rather, one that said she wasn't messing around and that she had a purpose in seeing him so suddenly, and that it was not to play games.

"Corbett," she greeted, tone polite - far too polite, but it was necessary. "I have a proposition, if you would be willing to hear me out. It's one I believe will benefit the both of us."
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PostSubject: Re: Business Proposal of a Different Sort (Sethina)   Thu Apr 21, 2016 11:19 am

It was a rare hour of leisure time Seth had on his hands between classes and he determined to spend it in the best way possible. The University had a nice outdoor-yet-indoor area set up with tables and chairs and a small food concession stand nearby. It was the place he and his group of friends frequented the most to regale each other with stories of their many conquests.

Lately, the workload and assignments had increased in intensity and it felt good to be able to laugh and jest with his male buddies. But his studies wasn't the only thing weighing heavily on his shoulders. He'd turned twenty-three a month ago and the very (un)savory birthday present he got from his parents was a prospective female bride and about a whole life's worth of lecturing to get married. Ugh. There was no escaping the ultimate doom since he was, after all, the only son and had to carry on the family name but he wanted to put if off for as long as possible.

He pushed aside the thought as his friends lifted their glasses of alcohol and cheered to Jimmy's successful one-night-stand. He lifted his glass and joined them before downing half of it in one go and keeping the smile on his face as Peter told the gang about his night. Although Seth usually enjoyed talking and hanging out with his friends, this time, his mind and mood wasn't present with them. Until Peter suddenly stopped talking and leaned in closer.

"Hey, guys. Princess at twelve o'clock," he whispered.

There was no need for Seth to turn around to see who Peter was speaking about. They'd all agreed on that particular nickname for Serafina. He rolled his eyes. Just another thorn in his side he needed to deal with.

He glanced behind and saw her. Although everything in him screamed not to interact with her at all, he couldn't help but get the feeling she wanted to speak to him about something serious. He emptied his drink and put the glass down with a soft thud.

"See you around, guys," Seth said jovially to his buddies. "I got me some fish to catch." He winked and his friends cheered him on.

He walked away from them, rounding a corner and going even further so they had no chance of seeing him or eavesdropping before stopping to speak with the witch.

"Richardson," he returned the greeting coolly. She was far too polite for his liking and he decided to rile her up a little. "Does this proposition of yours include a comfortable surface to lie on and perhaps some...scandalous activities?" He raised one eyebrow and tried to contain the corner of his lip that threatened to lift in a smirk.


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PostSubject: Re: Business Proposal of a Different Sort (Sethina)   Fri Apr 22, 2016 2:10 am

The sun was shining above, sending wave upon wave of heat down upon those below, and there were no clouds to offer any kind of protection, but to say that the atmosphere was chilly would be an understatement - it was downright frigit. I would have worn something warmer if I had known, she thought dryly to herself, although in truth it was one of her newest purchases, and she found it was rather comfortable to wear in the Summer weather.

"Such crass words you speak, Corbett, and even worse suggestions!" she replied smoothly, no hesitation in her tone or body posture; her expression was still pleasant politeness. "Sunbathing is hardly scandalous," she added, allowing her tone to hint at sarcasm but not succumbing to the temptation of such improper tones.

Fixing a stony, emotionless gaze on him, Serafina let out a tiny laugh. “No, Corbett, I’m not here for anything of that sort.” Unlike you, I have standards, she said, mentally, but not aloud; this was not the time for that. Instead, she allowed a tiny smile to grace her lips for but a moment. “I’m here to make you an offer that would assist the both of us in the long run. I’m sure your holidays have been spent with your parents nagging at you to get a wife - don’t tell me otherwise, I have a younger brother.”

Pausing for a moment to recall the words she had planned - for she knew she couldn’t go into situations like this without having some sort of script to follow - Serafina didn’t allow him to comment just yet, instead continuing. “I’m in a similar position, as you can imagine. As for my offer - why don’t we give our parents what they want?” Not elaborating just yet, Serafina stopped here, waiting to see his reaction to this before delving into details. If he wasn’t interested, there was no point wasting her breath by going any further.
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PostSubject: Re: Business Proposal of a Different Sort (Sethina)   Fri Apr 22, 2016 9:26 am

Serafina's dress hadn't gone unnoticed to Seth. Indeed, it was one of the first things he'd observed when he saw her and it surprised him how much skin she was willing to show. He hadn't pegged her down to be the kind of girl to wear a dress as revealing as this. Sure he'd seen women wearing less - which suited him just fine - but on Serafina? He wasn't letting her get away that easy.

He grinned at her words. "Yes, Richardson. You should know by now that I'm not famous for making my words polite enough, especially in the present company," he replied. Of course, the opposite was true when he was in Pureblood society. He had to maintain a good family name after all, and was as polite and respectful as he could be when conversing with others. But Serafina somehow brought the worse out in him.

"It is, when it's coupled with other activities involving certain body parts coming in contact," he responded with a smirk. "And with a dress like that," he let his eyes lazily roam her body up and down before returning his gaze to her eyes. "Let's just say it is an invitation to do something belonging in the bedroom...or any place in private."

When he heard that she was here to make an offer that would benefit the both of them, Seth raised an eyebrow. As much ash he hated to admit it, her words were true. It had been one of the worst summers in his life with his parents repeating the same words to him over and over. Get a wife, carry on the family name and a bunch of other things revolving around the same topic. It was getting more and more difficult to get them off his back.

He waited until she was done speaking before replying. "Are you proposing to me, Serafina Kaylee Isabelle Richardson?" he asked with a grin. Of course, he didn't mean his words and said them in a teasing manner but he couldn't help but interpret her words that way.
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PostSubject: Re: Business Proposal of a Different Sort (Sethina)   Fri Apr 22, 2016 1:10 pm

A sly smile tugged at her lips at his retort, but she held it back, not allowing it the pleasure of showing. Instead, she let out a light laugh. "Well, what would our peers think about that?" she murmured, reminding him that she knew that he wasn't as arrogant as he made himself out to be; if he truly believed his words and what he was saying, he wouldn't switch behaviour when in the company of other Purebloods, which she very well knew he did.

"Did your tutors never teach you yoga?" she asked, lightly, purposely acting innocent - she knew what he was suggesting; anyone with half a brain would. It was, she found, a very good way to irritate people. "It's a good way to relax, you know. You should try it sometime - you seem rather tense."

Not bothering to glance down at her dress, she debated her options as he looked her up and down. She could taunt him - Like what you see, then, Corbett? - or she could hurl an insult his way - Self-control, Corbett, is a trait that even well-trained dogs can master; what does that make you? - but, in the end, she settled for neither; she was not here to play games, and as tempting and enticing as his opening was, Serafina had better things to do with her time at the moment. So, instead, she lifted her should very slightly in what was her version of a shrug, something a proper Pureblood wouldn't do, and yet was the only thing suitable in the current situation.

"Is there something wrong with fashion? A female can dress how she wishes. It is not an invitation, Corbett; it is a dress," she said, calmly and coolly, though there was the slightest edge at her last word, indicating that she wasn't in the mood for this conversation. It was only foolish men who thought that every time a woman showed the slightest skin it was for them, as if a woman couldn't dress for herself.

At his question, Serafina smiled. "Yes. As a matter of fact, I am, Corbett." She let a moment pass before she continued, trusting she now had his interest. "Like I said before, we give our parents what they want - or, at least, we let them think they have what they want. I am proposing that we fake a relationship." Holding up a hand to stop him from even thinking about speaking before she was done, Serafina paused momentarily to gather her thoughts before moving on.

"Now, I know it's not our way to date around like people of ... lesser status are so prone to doing, so I'm not suggesting that. I'm suggesting we pretend that we're courting, spending time together in preparation for marriage which will take place after we're done with University." Finally allowing the slight smirk to show, she concluded, "And, when we're done with Uni, we simply part ways, claiming it would never work. We get freedom for two years, and our parents are satisfied that we're 'trying'."
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PostSubject: Re: Business Proposal of a Different Sort (Sethina)   Fri Apr 22, 2016 5:39 pm

He chuckled lightly as Serafina spoke of their peers. They worshiped her so much it made him sick. Every single time he was obligated to socialise with males of their kind it was always talk of Serafina, how beautiful she was, and how they hoped to make her their wife. What did they see in her, besides beauty, that made her so special, he had no idea. He found her really annoying though he loved the challenge she posed that the other females sorely lacked.

He shrugged casually at her question. "If you really must know, they think I'm rather brainless for not bowing down, kissing your feet - though I'm sure there are better parts of the body to kiss, impressing you and all that other stuff that goes along with wooing, and I quote them, 'a goddess such as yourself'," Seth responded with a roll of his eyes.

His eyebrows went up in surprise at the abrupt question. What did anything they were talking about have to do with yoga? He grinned before replying. "They certainly tried," he replied. Seth always found creative ways of playing truant in his classes. It wasn't that he didn't want to learn or wasn't interested. It was simply the fact that he learned it quickly and soon became bored.

He put on a smoldering look at her comment on him being tense. "Well, I know ways of relaxation and releasing tension that are much more pleasurable than yoga," he said, his voice husky and deep as he took a few steps closer to her. He wouldn't deny that she was as beautiful as she was annoying and with those yoga lessons she had, he was sure she would be rather...flexible.

"Oh, I'm not denying that females can dress any way they wish," he answered. "It is a dress yes but it is also very, how do I put it, attention catching and makes males think of other things."

He let her speak, not interrupting when she held up her hand and nodding thoughtfully at her words. She was smart, he'd give her that; she had brains to match her beauty. It was a refreshing change to see in a female. "It sounds like a very carefully thought out plan," he commented. "But it would mean having to present ourselves as a believable couple and that means no bickering. Think you have it in you to play the subservient woman and keep your sharp mouth closed for when we need to be seen together?"
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PostSubject: Re: Business Proposal of a Different Sort (Sethina)   Fri Apr 22, 2016 6:08 pm

She didn't miss the eye roll, and as unPureblood as it was, it drew a light chuckle from her. It was interesting to hear about her reputation from the lips of someone else, and although nothing she didn't already know, it was nice to know that she was having such an effect on the males. After all, she tried hard to give herself a name - and not just as a Richardson. Not bothering to comment on his suggestions - although making a mental note of the crass way Seth preferred to deal with topics - Serafina smiled, graceful as ever, as though she hadn't heard his rather crude statements. "How kind of them to say such flattering things," she commented, fake sincerity oozing out from every syllable.

His advances were, once again, crude, and Serafina was having none of it. It may have been attractive to some or a challenge to others, but to the oldest Richardson, it was off-putting and something she expected from wannabe Muggles, and not high standard Purebloods like Seth. "With the way you're talking, it's no wonder you're so tense, especially if what you're suggesting works so well in the sense of relaxation." Even as he stepped closer, she made no movement, instead watching him with a calm expression. "I give you the liberty of one reminder, Corbett, that I am training to be an auror. I've mastered wandless spells for arresting unsavoury characters, as well as all sorts of neat little ... tricks."

She smiled a warm smile, and put as much ice into her tone as she could without sounding fake. "So, if I were you, Seth, I would make sure that I didn't invade any private spaces, or I cannot guarantee the safety of your private spaces."

His comment about the dress made her want to roll her eyes. Instead, she kept the smile on her face. "That is not our problem. Let them think what they want to think," she said, but stopped there, not wanting to get into that topic for the time being - or ever, really, if it had to do with Seth.

Once again, his words drew a light laughter from her, this time, genuine. "Oh Seth, how naive you can be for one with such grandeur talk. Do you not already know my reputation? There would be nothing normal about it; look where we are standing, if you want proof." She made a show of glancing towards the University building, not-so-subtly reminding Seth that she had made it to University, something hardly any other Pureblood female had ever dared to do.

"I would not have any need to act as anything other than myself; on the contrary, we need not differ from how we interact, except to perhaps add a few nicer sentences here and there when people are watching," she told him. He had been right about one thing - it had been very carefully thought about, and there were no loopholes as far as she could see.
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PostSubject: Re: Business Proposal of a Different Sort (Sethina)   Sat Apr 23, 2016 3:09 pm

He let his smirk show fully at her comment. He could tell she didn't mean it but those who didn't know her well enough would be none the wiser. She would make an excellent actress, Seth thought to himself. He made a noise of agreement in his throat before replying. "Yes, but pretty words are not always true and true words are not always pretty," he said. "Flattery will get you nowhere." It wasn't an insult of any kind but rather more of a musing comment.

In truth, bedding the oldest Richardson wasn't Seth's priority. Surprising, since he held a record - amongst his Muggle and Halfblood friends of course - for being very smooth and successful with the ladies, but true. It was just the fact that he'd never seen her with her feathers ruffled. Nothing ever perturbed her and every time he saw her, she always seemed to be so in control of herself. For once, he wanted to see her flustered a little. "Oh, yes," he murmured, taking another step closer. "What I'm suggesting works perfectly in the sense of relaxation. You just don't know it yet."

He burst into a full blown chuckle at her warning before letting his mirth settle down into a wide grin. He knew to take her words seriously; only a fool would think she was jesting. But she underestimated him. "Congratulations then, my dear, on obtaining such a useful skill set. But do keep in mind I'm used to working with all kinds of dragons and have also mastered, as you put it, neat little tricks. After all, the ones that put up a challenge are the ones most enjoyable to work with," he replied.

"Oh, I wouldn't worry about my private spaces, sweetheart," he responded smoothly. "I can protect myself fine against your neat little tricks. But rest assured knowing that I'm not going to invade your private spaces." Here, he let his eyes lazily glide down her body, purposely letting his gaze linger on the parts that would be considered 'private spaces'. "I'm too much of a gentleman to do something like that without permission."

He raised an eyebrow at her laughter and the words that followed but let her finish speaking before inserting his words. "Normal? Oh darling, I never said anything about normal. I said believable," he replied, not letting his gaze join hers in looking at the Uni building. He knew very well the reputation she had. It was one of the things that made her different from the rest of the females and one of the things that made her interesting to him.

"Hmm," Seth began, thinking it through thoughtfully. He thought they had to act quite a bit differently if this was going to work. No thinly veiled insults for one and no heavy sarcasm for another. Not to mention showing respect and being polite and civil and tolerating each other. No, they'd have to do more than tolerate each other. Some affection of some sort would be expected. None of the public displays of affection Muggles were so fond of but something to make their parents believe in them enough to stop the nagging. He didn't voice any of this out though, preferring to think it though his head first.

"I have a few questions," he said instead, his tone serious now. "It may sound trivial and stupid to you but I value clarity before making any decisions. This would only stop their nagging for two years and after that, the inevitable marriage takes place. You would be willing to tolerate my presence and put up with all the charade for two whole years and at the end, marry some unlucky bastard? It would only be two years of freedom and just postponing the inevitable." He knew what her answer would be but he needed to hear it from her to be sure. If this was going to work, they would have to put their hundred percent into it.

As for him, he was willing to put the work in keeping the fake relationship for a mere two years of freedom. It wasn't a lot, but it was enough.
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PostSubject: Re: Business Proposal of a Different Sort (Sethina)   Sun Apr 24, 2016 10:44 am

What Seth was saying was true to a certain extent, but she had not lived this long by being naive, and she knew what he was saying had one very vital, very crucial flaw. "Yes, but this isn't a courtroom where the truth is what drives the law; I'm not certain where you are living, Seth, but I'm from the Pureblood world," she replied, an amused smile playing on her lips. "Talk is everything, and opinions rule the land. It's not so much what is true, but rather, what is believed, be it rumour or not. If my value is believed to be that high - why, that's as good as having it written in stone."

Even as he stepped forward, she made no movement, although on the tip of her lips was a spell, and in the forefront of her mind was another; one false movement and all she'd need to do was give a flick of her fingers and she'd send Seth flying. Non-verbal and wandless magic were good for those sort of things, and unless he knew exactly what she was going to be using, he wouldn't stand a chance.

"Oh, honey, if it's relaxing for me during the whole thing, I would have to conclude you're incompetent," she replied gently and sweetly, as though talking to a child. "It should only be relaxing after." She gave a gentle click of her tongue, one that was more compassionate than unladylike. "And I sincerely doubt that you could guarantee relaxation on my behalf."

His retort made her raise an internal eyebrow. He was… comparing females to dragons? There was no doubt that his last statement had not been about the creatures he was studying, and Serafina found it somewhat irksome - not at what he had said, for it was true about males, too, but rather, at the way he was objectifying them. Once again, you prove to be no more different than all those others, she thought to herself. Are we truly no more than prizes to be obtained?

“And yet,” she replied verbally, a sweet smile on her face and words dripping with gentleness. “Who do they call when dragon trainers go rogue? When they turn away from what they’re called to do, or get in trouble and need rescuing?” She paused, as though actually thinking about it, then let out a soft, ah!, like one would when figuring out the answer. “But of course, how could I have forgotten? Aurors.”

As Seth looked her up and down, she made no comment or movement, instead allowing him the pleasure; he’d never get at it, and he was only working himself up by looking, so why should she be embarrassed? Besides, many people looked - some lucky ones got a dance - and one more was no big difference. “Enjoying what you see, Corbett?” she murmured, tone soft and alluring. “Like any piece of art, there’s a view only policy.”

When he finally - and not a moment too soon - switched to being serious, Serafina listened intently to everything he said, nodding when appropriate. She had already thought of all of this, and so she was already prepared for almost every question - except this. Why was he so bothered about her life and decisions? That was intriguing, and while it wasn’t what was expected, it didn’t fumble her for a moment; this was a question based not on careful planning but on her life principals, something ingrained in her that she always stood by. Answering it would not be difficult in the least.

In fact, it was probably easier than any of the questions she had thought he would ask, and so, with a light laugh, she shook her head. “I thought you knew my reputation?” she inquired, smirking slightly. “No, Seth. I’m suggesting this to get them off my back for the time being, because University is important to me and I wish to spend this time focusing completely on my course instead of having part of that time stolen away by their requests. In the end, when I am an auror, I have my work as an excuse to put off visitations. If not you, someone else; I am sure there are many willing to play the part if it means two years of being mine.”

She paused, again offered her version of a shrug, and added, “However, I recalled you being in a similar position - and you also happen to be someone my parents are pushing me towards in the first place. I have no doubts that your parents are doing the same with me. You simply fit the requirements, but make no mistake; you are not irreplaceable. This offer isn’t one that will bear repeating.”

Time was up for the Corbett heir; Serafina had quite simply run out of patience. If he did not accept or would rather play games, she was more than willing to walk away and find someone else.
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PostSubject: Re: Business Proposal of a Different Sort (Sethina)   Thu Apr 28, 2016 4:49 pm

Seth smirked inwardly at Serafina’s reply. She’d fallen into his trap and played right into his hands. She was smart, yes, witty, yes, but no woman had ever gotten the better of him before and he wasn’t about to let Serafina be the first to beat him in a battle of words and wits. He didn’t let his expression show any of this and instead let a slow smile grow on his face. “Then you should know, sweetheart, that people are very fickle and all these talk, these rumours, these beliefs, change as often as you change your clothes,” he replied. He had experience with this, not first hand, but through his sisters. They were always telling him of the different rumours floating around and it was never the same. “One day they’ll think you’re a goddess and the next, you could be lying in the dirt they fabricated and no one would give a fly’s wings about helping you. All it takes in one spark to start a forest fire.”


He scoffed at her response. This girl knew nothing. She was a virgin after all - at least, he assumed she was. “Oh please! I have a perfect record of satisfying every female I have a liaison with. I would tell you more but...I don’t peel and tell,” he winked at her. “The offer is open though, if you want to find out how well I can satisfy a woman’s needs.” He grinned as wiggled his eyebrows up and down. It wasn't a very sophisticated Pureblood thing to do - or say - but he couldn't care less.

Seth smiled condescendingly at her. “Darling, pride and snobbishness do not suit you well. But if you really have to go down that road, let me remind you that Aurors gone rogue pose a more dangerous threat to civilisation than Dragon-Trainers. The power gets to their head. And it is highly unlikely Dragon-Trainers need rescuing. We’re equipped with all the necessary skills to save our own asses,” he replied.

As expected, she did not give much of a reaction under his scrutiny. No blush, no tensing up, no flinching. Nothing. It didn’t mean he couldn’t admire her body though, and a very nice body it was. He didn’t bother answering the question and instead put on a thoughtful look. “And as with every piece of art, it can be bought with a price,” he responded with a cheerful grin. “But I’m guessing yours is priceless?”

“Yes, I do know your reputation but I want to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth - not that your mouth resembles that of a horse’s mouth.,” he said. To Seth, reputation was just another name for people’s opinion and perspective of you and since it was just an opinion, it held no substance. He preferred going straight to the source. But as Serafina spoke, Seth felt his surprise growing. She talked as if she planned to never get married and though known for her...unusualness, Seth hadn’t thought she would take it to that extreme. She was planning on using her work to get out of visitations for Merlin’s sake! Was she really that averse to marriage? But it wasn’t in his place to pry though he was sorely tempted to do so.

“Yes, yes, yes,” he waved away her words as if swatting off an annoying fly. “If I take you up on your offer, I’m assuming it comes with an agreement on fidelity?” He didn’t have to elaborate whose fidelity was in question but though Serafina might not think so, he could be very very discreet when it came to liaisons. How boring it must be to stick to one person all the time! There was none of the excitement of getting to know a new partner - one reasons why he wanted to put off marriage as long as possible.
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PostSubject: Re: Business Proposal of a Different Sort (Sethina)   Sat Apr 30, 2016 3:44 am

His words were true, yes, but that was why Serafina had worked so hard all those years. She knew what it took to start rumours - in fact, she had a hand in starting many herself, be for others or her own person - and what it took to keep them away. It was easy, once you knew how, to make yourself (if she were to follow his words) 'fireproof'; or, at the very least, fire retardant. And she had worked far too long and far too hard to allow any stupid rumour destroy her. No, Serafina was better than that, smarter than that, and thought too far ahead for anything of that sort to be something that worried her.

"People are as fickle as you let them be," she replied, calmly. The way he had spoken was almost as if he thought his words would scare her, as though he was giving her a revelation that was terrifying or new to her beliefs, and she was amused, to say the least. "Rumours are not clothes in themselves, Corbett," she explained, bringing herself down to his level of analogies. It was a crude one, but she pushed that aside for now. "Clothes are things you wear. Why wouldn't you change it on a daily basis? It's the style that one has to look out for, not the material themselves. Yes, what people say change on a daily basis, as you have pointed out, but they always fit the same style, and that is all that matters." Again, she smiled. "I can assure you, changing style is not easy."

His offer was crude, and she raised an eyebrow. "I've been pleased by men far beyond anything you claim to be capable of," she replied bluntly, although this wasn't particularly true. She was waiting, saving herself for if she got married, not because she found significance in that, but simply because she did not want to become a trophy for any male.

His comment about her kind made her laugh. "Exactly, Corbett. We are more dangerous. Who do they call when one of us goes rogue? Surely not dragon trainers; no, we ourselves deal with it. That means we are trained to not just deal with others, but our own selves. See, Seth, that means all I need is to get word to my friends that I've been threatened by a dragon trainer or harassed in any form, and there goes your chances of every finishing University." Her words were not meant as a warning, and her tone, matter-of-fact; she was not threatening him, merely stating what she knew to be true.

"Everyone has a price," she replied, shaking her head at his comment. "Some are higher than others, and some are more complex than others. I know my worth, and I refuse to allow myself to be bought by anything less."

She ignored the comment about horses. Seth was toying with her, trying to bait her, and she was not in the mood to be baited. Besides, she wasn't going to waste this opportunity when she was so close to getting what she wanted. No, an exchange of banter would be a waste of time in this case.

The question was not one she hadn't thought about previously, and she smiled slyly. "What people don't know will not hurt them," she replied. "If you take me up on my offer, we will parade ourselves as engaged. We will visit venues and test cakes. We will go to tailors of wedding dresses and tuxes, and we will go on the ocassional date. All this, of course, will be the bare minimum; perhaps once a month or so, if you can manage that."

She paused, surreptitiously glanced around to ensure nobody was listening. "As for the question of fidility, I don't expect you to remain mutually exclusive to someone you are not actually going to marry. Discretion here is the key, and I do not mean on your behalf, for I am sure your training is sufficient." Fixing him with a knowing look, she concluded, "Do you understand what I'm saying, Seth?"
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