Chapter 2 : Blind Dates and Blown Chances
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“It’s a surprise,” Lucy said excitedly, giving me a gigantic shove from behind and making me stumble forward. Rose and Olivia, who were standing in front of me, pulling on my arms, took advantage of my lack of balance and pulled me down the stairs while Nancy tried to control her laughter behind us. I really wasn’t sure why she was here – she wasn’t exactly one of our friends, but I guess she knew my secret, so I couldn’t really tell her not to come.
“I hate surprises,” I reminded them.
“Yes, but you love us, don’t you?” Rose asked, batting her eyelashes at me in a fake flirtatious way.
I wanted to tell her that no, I didn’t really love them and that even if I did I wouldn’t go along with whatever their surprise was, but then that would be lying. Because really, if I had to admit it, I was the biggest push-over in the entirety of the world. And I really did love my friends. The combination of the two, I’m afraid, just made my playing along all the more inevitable.
“Yes, I love you,” I sighed.
“Then you should trust us that we would never do anything to you that was too horrible,” Olivia said brightly.
I heard Nancy snort indignantly. I would have seconded that snort, but my mum had taught me that snorting was unladylike, so I always did my best not to.
“That’s a comforting thought,” I replied.
We finally made it down to the entrance hall and we paused around the corner from going outside. Lucy and Olivia herded me into a corner and began to fix my makeup and adjust my hair, while Rose tugged at the long sweater that I had borrowed from Olivia and smoothed out a crease in my also borrowed pair of jeans. Even Nancy got a hand on me, straightening my collar and plucking a stray piece of hair off of my shoulder.
“Is this really necessary?” I asked, feeling hot around the collar as people began to stare at all of the commotion they were making.
“Yes, it is,” Olivia said brusquely, pulling down my eyelid and applying another layer of eye shadow. “If you want to look nice for your date today- OUCH!”
“Olivia!” Rose cried, glaring at her best friend who she had just elbowed rather hard in the ribcage. “You weren’t supposed to tell her!”
“Wait,” I said, my brain not keeping up to speed with the rest of their conversation. “You lot set me up on a blind date?”
“Yep,” Lucy said, bouncing on the balls of her feet, her strawberry blonde curls bouncing happily under her red hat. “You should be thanking us really. The bloke we got is a total babe!”
“It is not one of James’s friends, is it?” I asked nervously, turning red instantly. James and his friends had…reputations, to say the least.
“No, it is not any Gryffindor,” Nancy told me.
“Wait, you know?” Olivia turned to her, for once acknowledging Nancy’s existence.
“I do live in your dorm,” Nancy replied icily. “And the three of you don’t exactly discuss your oh-so-dastardly plot quietly.”
“Right…” Olivia said skeptically, letting the syllable hang heavily in the air before turning back to me. I saw her caramel colored eyes give me a quick once over and she smoothed a super straightened strand of my hair once more. “It’s perfect.”
“I don’t look anything like myself,” I said, a hysterical edge to my voice.
“You don’t know that,” Rose replied. “You haven’t even seen yourself.”
“I don’t feel like myself,” I cried. “I would never wear these sorts of clothes. I don’t really wear makeup! If I had my choice today I’d be sitting up in the common room, reading a book and working on a bit of homework – not going to Hogsmeade with some bloke I don’t even know.”
“Ah, but that is the beauty of it, my dear,” Olivia said, slinging her arm around my shoulders and steering me towards the courtyard. “You don’t have a choice in the matter.”
I heard the other three following behind me and I knew I didn’t stand a chance. I’d just have to go through with this stupid date and hope that I didn’t embarrass myself too badly along the way.
“Don’t worry about it, Daphs,” Lucy assured me. “You’ll have fun. Just be yourself.”
“Go get ‘em, tiger,” Rose encouraged, giving me a pat on the butt and pushing me forward. I stumbled forward and turned around to glare at my friend. She just chuckled and waved and I stuck my tongue out at her before slowly walking forward.
Outside of the castle it was freezing cold and everywhere white, having just snowed the other night. I noticed that it was still snowing now and I pushed my fingers deeper into my mittens. My teeth chattered and I glanced anxiously around the courtyard. Even over the sounds of the second year snowball fight I could hear my heart pounding erratically in my chest and my breathing was coming in irregular bursts.
There were plenty of people milling about the place, but most of them were in small groups of two or three. No one was standing around by themselves, looking around for a person they’d never met before. I was beginning to feel frantic when I spotted a lone bloke leaning against a pillar across the courtyard, his hands shoved deep within the pockets of his brown jacket and looking around as if waiting for someone.
Suddenly he looked up at me and smiled, and I couldn’t help but blush. I stood frozen to my spot and watched as he pushed away from the wall and sauntered over to me. Even from here, I could tell that there was a good nature about him.
When he was about a meter away I saw that what I had first thought was snow on his head was actually a layer of short, light blonde hair. He had bright blue eyes, and a handsome face, with gorgeous cheekbones that were lightly flushed from the cold.
“You must be Daphne,” he said. It took all of the willpower in my body not to let my jaw drop. He had a sexy, deep voice. “It’s nice to meet you. I’m Michael Brocious.”
“Nggh,” I muttered, too flustered to actually form an intelligible word. As soon as it was out of my mouth I felt like slapping myself in the face and I flushed bright red. I heard him laugh and I blushed even harder, looking down at the ground and digging my shoe into the snow.
“Are you nervous?” he asked, and I glanced up at him through my freshly cut and styled hair. “It’s okay if you are, I understand. I hate blind dates too.”
“Yeah, just a little bit,” I replied, deciding that I couldn’t be a ninny forever and looking up at him. “I’ve never exactly done this before.”
He smiled kindly and slipped his arm around my shoulders in a friendly way. “Yeah, well me either,” he said, grinning. “Well, at least I’ve never been on a blind date before.”
I smiled at him and we started walking towards the village in silence. I wasn’t really sure what to talk about. There was always the inevitable, “How about those Cannons?” but really, Rose and her dad were about the only two people on the planet that I knew liked them.
We’re about halfway to the village and neither of has said anything yet, and to be honest, if someone doesn’t say something soon, I might just go insane. It’s like that muggle expression that my mum always uses, even though she isn’t a muggleborn or a muggle – an elephant in the room. Our silence is like an elephant in the room, staring at me and begging for me to speak. Although we aren’t really in a room, so I don’t know how that would work, but you get the gist of it.
“So, uh, did you know that my father is the Herbology professor?” I try to say conversationally. For the second time today I want to hit myself in the face. Because really, could I have brought up a worse subject for a first date? Not only was I talking about a professor, I was talking about a professor that was also my father. Bright, Daphne, very bright.
“Really?” Michael asked with interest, obviously glad for something to talk about, even if it was the worst topic to ever have existed. “Professor Longbottom is your father? He’s like a war hero too, isn’t he?”
“Yep,” I replied, sounding a little bit flustered and a little bit proud at the same time. “My nerdy father cut off the head of Voldemort’s pet, right in front of him. Sometimes I have to wonder if that story is actually true. Cause my dad does not seem that brave.”
Michael laughed, and I found myself laughing too, more out of nerves than anything else.
“I think it’s cool that you have a heroic dad,” he said. “Does that mean you know Harry Potter too?”
“Sure,” I replied. “I see Harry a lot over the summer and at Christmas too. Mum, Dad, and I all go over to the Weasleys and have Christmas Eve dinner with them. Old family friends you know. War heroes apparently like to hang out together.”
“Interesting,” he said, glancing down at me as if appraising me for the first time. “You know you’re quite interesting Daphne. And pretty too. ”
“Oh no, not really,” I assured him, blushing bright red again and tugging down at the corners of my wool hat, which was really beginning to itch. “Thank you though.”
“You don’t see yourself very clearly, do you?” he asked.
“I see myself just fine. I mean, I think I know myself,” I replied, my voice not very confident though. I tried not to blush, but really that wasn’t a possibility today. I had no self confidence and was being thrown into a situation where you had to have a lot of confidence. I was bound to keep embarrassing myself all day.
It got really quiet again and we walked into the village, his arm still wrapped around my shoulders. I could tell that people were staring at us, and I just hid my face behind my hair, cursing the fact that my friends had managed to get me a date with a popular bloke instead of just an ordinary, invisible one.
“Do you mind if we pop into Honeydukes really quick?” Mike asked me, steering me in that direction anyway.
“Sure, I could do with some more Sugar Quills,” I replied.
“I love Sugar Quills,” he said, obviously trying very hard to keep up a conversation. “Do you like Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans? Those are my favorite.”
“Even the bogie flavored ones?” I joked.
“I’ve never had a bogie one,” he said contemplatively. “Do they really make that flavor?”
“I’ve had one before,” I said, shivering at the memory. “I never wanted to eat the jellybeans again.”
“We’ll see about that,” he chuckled, holding open the door for me. I nodded at him politely and ducked into the warm shop, relishing in the feeling of the heat against my frozen face.
We wandered about the shop, ogling the new products and just generally talking about the different types of candy. I learned that we both disliked Acid Pops and that Gummy Dark Marks were our favorite exam candy. He seemed like a relatively nice guy and for once that day I was glad that my friends had managed to set me up with him.
We got to the register and I put my armful of packages onto the counter, reaching into my coat pocket for my money purse.
“I’ve got it,” Mike said, grabbing my wrist to stop me from paying for my own candy.
“It’s really okay,” I replied meekly, not really sure what to do. No one had ever offered to pay for anything of mine before, except my parents.
“No, I’ve got it,” he smiled, handing the smirking man behind the counter a few gold coins and then taking my packages before I could object.
He grabbed my hand as we walked out of the shop and we wandered about without a purpose for a while, just sort of taking in the village and chatting conversationally about the different shop displays. I wanted to believe that I was becoming more at ease around him, but to be honest I still had butterflies in my stomach and overanalyzed every sentence before it came out of my mouth.
“Are you hungry?” he asked me at about one.
“A bit,” I replied. To be honest I was starving, but I had read in one of Lucy’s magazines that it was not attractive to stuff your face in front of a bloke, or to admit that you were hungry, so I had just kept that little bit of information to myself.
“Let’s go get lunch then.”
We walked into the Three Broomsticks, which was loud, stuffy, and overcrowded with all of the students who had decided to take refuge from the snow.
“I’ll go get us a table,” I shouted to him and he nodded, heading off in the direction of the bar to order us fish and chips and some butter beers.
I weaved through the crowds of students, suddenly sweating in my many layers, and was relieved when I finally found an empty table in the back. I sat down in one of the chairs and quickly undid my coat, letting it hang over the back of the chair. I dropped my head into my hands and massaged my temples. I hadn’t realized it before, but my head really, really hurt.
“Here you go,” Mike said from behind me and I instantly lifted my head up and smiled nervously. “One basket of fish and chips and a butter beer.”
“Thank you very much,” I said, taking my meal from him and setting it down in front of me. He set his down too and then took of f his jacket, revealing a dark blue sweater that really brought out his eyes. He sat down opposite me and began to dig in to his food.
I glanced around nervously and picked up a piece of battered fish daintily, trying to see how the other girls were eating. Normally I would have just taken a big bite. But Olivia had warned me specifically before I went that I was to eat like a girl, not a bloke, so I nibbled a bit of the batter off the end and then put it down and took a small sip of my butter beer.
“Aren’t you hungry?” Mike asked, glancing at my tiny bites.
“I’m eating,” I replied. “It’s just that, well, my friends told me that I shouldn’t eat fast or take big bites.”
Mike burst out laughing and I turned the reddest shade of red I’ve probably ever turned in my life.
“That’s the cutest thing I’ve ever heard,” he chuckled, swiping at his eyes which were streaming from laughing so hard. “If you’re hungry, Daphne, just eat. I’m not judging you on how big of a bite you take.”
I smiled and picked up my fish stick, ripping a big chunk off with my teeth and chewing it viciously. “Is this okay?”
“Perfect,” he said, mimicking my bite. We both laughed, and then I accidentally choked on my food and had a coughing fit. I was blushing furiously and laughing and he was laughing and I was sure that we were causing quite a scene. I reached out and took a big gulp of my drink and finally stopped choking.
“You gonna live?” he asked.
“Unless I die of embarrassment, I’m pretty sure I’ll be fine,” I replied easily.
I guess I hadn’t really realized it before, but we were both sort of leaning forwards in our chairs towards each other and he was smiling at me in this goofy way that I just wasn’t sure what it meant.
“Daphne,” he said quietly, reaching out and grabbing my hand that had been resting on the table next to my drink. Our lips were only inches apart, a fact I was cursing myself for not noticing earlier and I felt shivers run down my spine suddenly. This was it. I was about to get my first kiss.
There were butterflies in my stomach and suddenly I felt nauseous. What if I did it wrong? I obviously didn’t know what I was doing. And Mike seemed like the kind of guy who definitely did. What if he wanted to French kiss me? What did I do with my tongue? And really, the idea of another person’s tongue in my mouth kind of disgusted me.
I felt myself start to panic as his lips got closer and closer. What was I going to do? My eyes searched around the bar, looking for anything to distract him, but I just kept coming up blank. Suddenly, I knew what I had to do. I really wasn’t ready for this now. And to be honest, I wanted my first kiss to be special, not with some random bloke that I had just met. There was nothing wrong with waiting, was there?
I must have decided there was nothing wrong with it, because I found myself jerking my hand away from Mikes and scooting way back in my chair so that instead of a few centimeters between us there were a couple feet.
Mike opened his eyes and looked up at me curiously.
I never did hear the end of his question because I did the only thing a girl in my situation could do. I grabbed my coat and ran for the door.
A/N: Another chapter completed! What did you think? I'm really starting to grow fond of this story. Please, please review and tell me what you thought! Thanks for reading! :)
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