Chapter 7 : Just friends for now
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In all that time, he'd only thought of her a handful of times....okay, so that wasn't true. She was his best friend, of course he'd thought about her, especially in the beginning. Still....he hadn't thought of her much after that. Okay. So that was a lie, too. He'd thought about her four or five times a day almost every day since she'd left. Sometimes it was just fond memories of things they'd done while they were in school- like the time they had performed a charm that made all the teachers speak in Spanish for a week. Sometimes he had remembered the way she left and had hated her for it. And sometimes he had wondered what she was doing, who she was with. If she had a boyfriend.
Still, all of that was meaningless until he reminded himself that he had dreamed about Aisley, often, and the he had occasionally sat on his front porch and had one-way conversations with her when life was too hard to handle. Plus, there was the little fact that he'd had a crush on her in their fourth year, and the fact that he'd never really had a serious relationship with any girl other than Ellie, who he hadn't really been that serious about, because he measured every other girl up against Aisley, and they had all fallen short in some way or other.
It was just Cam's luck that he would finally realize, or rather admit, that he might have feelings for Aisley, feelings that went beyond friendship, when she started dating his older brother. And no matter how he felt, he couldn't steal his brother's girl.
Besides, it wasn't as if Aisley had ever shown any interest in him. And she never would, if her comments during his impromptu....proposal...were anything to go by. Merlin, he'd been a fool! I f only he'd realized that he'd never really gotten over that crush in fourth year. If only he'd said something. Maybe he wouldn't have been alone, hiding in his attic, if he hadn't been so stupid. In any case, there was no use in feeling sorry for himself; he just couldn't seem to stop it. All of a sudden, there was a knock and the sound of a door opening.
"Cam?" came Aisley's voice, soft, full of concern. He turned, but couldnt' quite see her face. It was probably just as well.
"Yeah, I'm here." he answered. There was an awkward pause as Aisley moved to sit down next to him. "So..." He searched desperately for something to say. "Um...did you and James have a good time?" Cameron winced; it was not a topic of conversation he cared to explore, but he had been stupid enough to initiate it, so he might as well finish it.
"...Yes..." Aisley replied hesitantly. "We did. He took me to San Francisco. It was...nice."
"San Francisco?" Came asked.
"Yeah. Oh, dont' get me wrong, Cam, I had a wonderful time. Your...James is very entertaining, and very sweet. But I would have been happy just to go to the Leaky Cauldron."
Cameron smiled. Leave it to Aisley to prefer sitting on a barstool to candlelight and roses.
"So...you're going to see him again?" Cam asked quietly, afraid of the answer.
"Yeah.." Aisley answered. "We both want to...see where things lead."
"Oh." Cam said quietly. His mind was racing. "So...it isn't serious, then?"
"Cam, we've only been on one date. Of course it isn't serious, at least not yet, anyways."
Okay, so maybe he couldn't steal a girl his brother was dating seriously, but maybe he could try and steal one that he was just...having fun with. "Right. Um...so...if I were to, say, ask you to go out with me some time, like....on a date or something...what would you say?"
"I'd say no." Aisley replied, much more calmly than she felt.
"Why?" Cam asked in a whisper, not trusting his voice.
"Oh, Cam." Aisley said softly, putting her head on his shoulder. "Don't make me answer you, please." She was torn; she had come up there with the intent of lecturing him, maybe hurting his feelings the way he had hurt hers, but she really, really didn't want to cause him pain.
"Is it...is it because of what happened this morning? Or yesterday? Aisley, I swear to you, I wasn't...I guess that I was feeling like I needed to protect you. From my brothers, and everyone else. Because I know how they work; they string people along and then they hurt them." At Aisley's look of reproach, Cam shook his head. "On, not on purpose, but it would still happen. I just...I didn't want to see you get hurt, that's all. I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to- I just...I'm sorry."
"Cam." Aisley touched his face gently. "I know you're sorry; I'm sorry, too. And it's okay. I understand perfectly. And that isn't why I'd say no."
"It isn't? Then what?" Cam asked, bewildred.
"I don't want to hurt you, either." she replied. "You're my best friend, you know that. But...I'm afraid that the only reason you want me is because I'm unavailable. And I couldn't, wouldn't, risk our friendship for that."
Though he didn't even move a centimeter, Aisley could feel Cam withdraw from her emotionally.
"Cam...." she began hesitantly, reaching out for his hand.
"Not, it's okay, Aisley." he hurried to assure her, his fingers linking with hers. He tried to keep his voice light, but failed miserably. "I....I understand. You're probably right. It's best if we just stay friends."
"Yeah." Aisley replied, her heart sinking a little bit. Had she just refused a date with Cameron?!?!? In her dreams, she'd imagined him asking her, sure, but never once in any of those scenarios did she imagine she'd refuse him! She tried to rationalize her decision, one that was looking more stupid by the moment.
'He just asked you because he knowsx he can't have you.' an inner voice reminded her. 'Besides, if you had said yes, he would have ended up breaking your heart all over again.'Cam was feeling rather forlorn. As Aisley continued to perform her self-analysis, he was busy with some thoughts of his own. He knew that Aisley was probably right in refusing to go out wiht him; hte reasons she'd given him made snese, even if they hurt. It was pointless to risk their friendship over something like his silly little crush- he'd gotten over it once before, he could do it again. They were completely unsuitable for each other. However, a voice in his head pointed out that they were rather unsuited for friendship as well, but that hadn't stopped them, had it?
'I'm afraid that Aisley is right that I only want her because I can't have her.' he thought, but that voice inside him disagreed. 'Sure. You're afraid that she'd right.' it said snidely. 'But be honest. You're absolutely terrified that she might be wrong.'
'Is this my conscious speaking or something?' Cam asked himself. Wait a minute. Rewind. Had he just been talking to himself? The answer was unfortunately 'yes.' What was even more unfortunate was that he answered back.
'Nope.' Cameron could practically see his inner self smirk. 'I'm just the smart one. You should listen to me more often.'
'Well, do me a favor, whatever you call yourself. Do me a favor and shut up.'"Cam?" As he finished up his argument with himself, Cameron heard Aisley speak. "Are you alright?"
"Hmm?" he answered distractedly. "Oh, yes, I'm fine." They both sat there for a minute, and Aisley rested her head against Cameron's shoulder.
"Hey, um.......can I ask you a question?" Cam asked quietly.
"Sure. What is it?"
"What is it?"
"Why didn't you come up here and start yelling at me? I know I deserved it."
"I came up here with specifically that purpose in mind." Aisley admitted with a small sigh.
"So...what changed you mind?"
"Well, first off, you looked so sad. And lonely. And alone."
"Lonely and alone are the same thing." Cam pointed out.
"No, they aren't, Cam. You can be lonely when you're alone. You can be alone when you're surrounded by crowds of people."
"Oh. Well, other than me being so 'forlorn', why didn't you scream at me?"
"Because you were so nice to me about James. Normally you would have either teased me mercilessly or gone after the guy with your Beater's bat. It was that and that fact that you apologized so sweetly."
"Was that supposed to be a hint? Are you trying to tell me that I overreact to your...boyfriends?" Cam asked, amused. For just a momente, things were back to being the way they were before Aisley had left town. For just a moment, he could handle being a friend, just a friend ot her, and there be no need to feel awkward, or strange, or....whatever.
"Nope, not a hint." Aisley replied smugly. "Just an observation."
"Right. An observation." Cam snorted. Aisley poked him in between his ribs, not- so - gently. She snickered when he winced.
"Be nice, pal." she advised. "Or I can still turn around and give you a taste of the screaming hysteria you deserve. And if that doesn't work...well then, I might just get a little teary-eyed."
"You wouldn't." Cam stated, but Aisley smiled. He couldn't help but shudder- tears were his major weakness, and Aisley knew it. Exploited it, even, when she needed to. "Actually, you would. So I'll save face now and stay on your good side." he amended with a laugh.
"Good plan." Aisley replied, laughing with him. The two sat there for another five minutes in companionable silence. They both felt...safe...sitting there, saying nothing, doing nothing. Much safter to sit and revel in the quiet that to speak. Speaking involved emotion- at least it always had for them- and from the conversations they'd had since aisley had returned, neither one of them was particularly able to handle their emotions, let alone control them.
"Oh, shit!" Aisley exclaimed suddenly, jumping up and near giving Cam a heart attack.
"What is it?" he asked.
"It's almost midnight!" Aisley sputtered.
"And I promised Rebecca I'd go to her Quidditch practice tomorrow."
"So, it starts at six in the morning."
"At the risk of repeating myself....so?"
"I'm a girl. I have to get ready. Which means I have to be up by four."
Cameron winced. "I suggest you go to sleep then, honey." Aisley rolled her eyes and got up. When she was halfway to the door, Cam spoke again.
"You forgot something, Ais."
"Goodnight." Cam replied pointedly. Aisley flushed.
"Oh. Right. Night then." she said, embarrassed.
"Uh huh. Have fun with your four-hour nap." Cam said wickedly.
A/N: So, that was the seventh chapter. How'd you like it? I certainly had fun writing it. So, all you readers out there.....I know you exist....go down to the bottom of the page and leave me a review! Those cookies I told you about? Yeah, I'll give you twice as many if you leave a review now!
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