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Behind the Mask by onestop_hpfan18
Chapter 11 : Lost in Thoughts
 
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Disclaimer:  I don't own Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling does.  All I own is the plot and any original characters that you do not recognize.







Magnificent chapter image made by obviously394 @ tda!

Chapter Eleven
Lost in Thoughts









Holden could not concentrate on anything but that note all day Sunday. He spent most of the day hiding out in the Gryffindor common room. Every now and again, James or somebody else would try to snap him out of his senses to drag him back to reality. It seemed that James had told all of the Potters-Weasleys, Marisol, and even Holden’s thirteen-year-old brother, Nathan Summers, because none of them would leave him alone to sort out all of his thoughts. And it was at that moment that his kid brother was pestering him.

“Are you going to meet with her or not?” Nathan asked with a look of curiosity shining in his dark green eyes; his light brown hair in messy spikes.

“I dunno,” Holden grumbled from where he sat slumped in a chair in the corner. “Should I? I should, shouldn’t I?”

Nathan’s brows shot up in befuddlement. “You’re asking me?”

“Well, your answer can’t be worse than my own answer,” Holden said as though it was obvious why he was asking his younger brother about what he should do. Or it was because he had run out of answers.

“I think you should at least go up there at eleven so that you at least know who she is,” Nathan said. “You don’t even have to show yourself to her if you don’t want to. Just show up, find out her identity, and leave if you want to.”

“I can’t just stand her up,” Holden said.

“Then I think you’ve already figured out what you’re going to do yourself,” Nathan started, “so why are you even asking me?”

“I dunno,” Holden blew out a frustrated sigh as he ran both hands through his golden mess of spikes. “Maybe I should talk to Lauren about this.”

“No, you shouldn’t,” Nathan said through a frown that had started to form on his still childish face. “She’ll only get upset.”

“Well, she’s going to end up upset either way she finds out about the Masquerade Girl,” Holden said. “I think it’d be better if she heard it from me that Masquerade Girl is starting to surface, and wants to meet, than from someone else later.”

“Suit yourself,” Nathan shrugged before he stood, gave a short wave of farewell, and headed out of the common room through the portrait hole to meet up with some friends.

Holden let out a sigh as he stood to stretch before he followed behind his brother. Though, Holden headed in a different direction once he was all the way through the portrait hole. He had no clue where he was going, but it would surely be better than sitting in the common room.

*~*

Marisol was sitting in the library with Lauren, Evelyn, and Melody. The girls were working on their essays—all for a different subject—and talking a bit about how their first Apparition lesson next weekend would go. Though, Marisol had other things on her mind since James had told her earlier that morning at breakfast that Holden had received another note. And the note had a meeting time and place on it.

She was anxious as to whether Holden would decide to meet up with Alyssa on Thursday night. It was not that Marisol did not want Holden to be happy, but rather that she did not want him to forget about Lauren because she knew that Lauren would be crushed if Holden broke up with her. And that wasn’t even all of what was on Marisol’s mind, either.

It seemed that that nosy-body, Natalie Chow, that ran the gossip column for the Hogwarts Report had somehow found out about the chance meeting. Marisol had heard Natalie Chow telling a couple of her equally nosy fellow Ravenclaw friends that she had overheard James and Holden talking in whispers on the way up from breakfast while walking to the library shortly ago. Marisol had no idea whether Chow would run a story like this by Molly before Thursday or after Thursday, though. It would make more sense to wait until after the meet-up since Holden was still unsure of whether he wanted to even find out the Masquerade Girl’s identity, but since when has Chow ever did anything in a reasonable, and smart, way?

“Do you think it hurts to Apparate?” Melody asked, successfully dragging Marisol out of her thoughts. Melody was Muggleborn so she did not have any experience with Side-Along-Apparation like a lot of the Purebloods and Half-Bloods at Hogwarts do.

“Nah, it doesn’t hurt,” Evelyn said. “It just feels like you’re being pushed through a tube from all sides. Which now that I mention it, is kind of uncomfortable,” Evelyn added on second thought.

Melody furrowed her brow at the idea of being squeezed from all sides.

“Don’t worry,” Lauren assured her. “The more you get used to the feeling, the less it actually bothers you. My parents only use Apparition to get to and from a place, and so I got used to Side-Along-Apparation growing up.”

It was then that Marisol noticed that Holden had just entered the library. She noticed him pause to look around before he spotted the girls and headed toward their table. Though, it seemed that Holden had tunnel vision since he was already making a beeline toward Lauren, whom was sitting in the chair on Marisol’s left, and seemed to not be paying the other girls the slightest bit of attention.

When Holden had reached their table, he cleared his throat. “Uh, I need talk to you about something.” Holden was looking straight into Lauren’s eyes when he said those eight words that brought a frown and furrowed brows on Lauren’s face.

“Oh, yeah sure,” Lauren said after the first initial shock of Holden’s distress state had worn off. The guy looked like he had been wrung out and Marisol figured he must have been thinking about MG’s final note. Marisol watched as Lauren followed Holden out of the library—holding hands.

When the couple was out of sight, the girls immediately broke out into a whispered frenzy of what that was all about. Marisol had a feeling that she knew what Holden wanted to talk to Lauren about, though she hoped she was wrong. And that was that Holden might be breaking up with Lauren because he was about to meet with his mystery girl in a matter of days. And Holden probably thought that they would have impeccable chemistry like they apparently had that night when they talked in the Potters’ garden. Even though a relationship is not only based on how well you can talk to someone, but rather the friendship between two people.

“What do you think he’s going to tell her?” Evelyn asked.

Marisol shrugged. “Does it really matter?”

“Of course it doesn’t matter,” Melody said. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t still speculate what they’re going to talking about.”

“I guess,” Marisol sighed. “But that doesn’t mean we should because this is between them, not everyone else.”

“Mari is right,” Evelyn said.

Melody shrugged her shoulders as she went back to the essay that she was working on. “Okay, we’ll just wait for Lauren to tell us for herself, then.”

Marisol nodded in triumph of getting her friends to drop the subject before going back to writing her own essay.

*~*

What if he didn’t show up? Alyssa thought as she sat under the shade of a beech tree next to the lake by herself. What was I thinking when I wrote that last note?
Truth was Alyssa had not been thinking clearly. She had only been thinking how tired that she was getting from keeping her identity a secret to Holden. She wanted so bad to be Lauren; to be Holden’s girlfriend instead of Lauren. But the last thing that Alyssa wanted to do was break a couple up just to get what she wanted.

Alyssa had never ever not got what she wanted, and now that she wanted something that she could not have she did not know how to go about getting it in the right way. Was there a right way when it came to stealing a guy away from another girl? Alyssa should think not, but she wished there was because then she would not look like such a bitch if Holden did choose her over Lauren in the end.

And another thing, why would Holden choose Alyssa over Lauren? The two were obviously happy together, and it seemed that nothing could break them up. The one time that they had broke up earlier in the previous week they had got back together during the next lesson; when they skipped together to go who knows where. All that Alyssa knew was that one second she had heard a rumour about the pair of them breaking up, and then another during dinner that evening that they were back together.

Though, there was a part of herself—a minuscule sliver—that wished that Holden would choose her. She knew how wrong she was to being thinking this, but she did not care. All of the guys that Alyssa had dated in the past—which were only a few—had been the ones to end the relationship. Their excuses had been the same; and that Alyssa was too closed off and rude.

Alyssa supposed that she did have a tendency of blocking other people out, but that was only because she did not want to get hurt. And there was a reason why she did not want to get hurt, and it was because she had been hurt before in the past. Not by a boyfriend, but by her father.

No, not her mum’s husband, but her biological father. Alyssa’s father had walked out on her mother and her when she was only four with nothing so much as a good-bye. It was a few years later that Alyssa’s mum finally started to mend her own heart when she met up with an old school friend, Anthony Goldstein. And another few years when they tied the knot with marriage and soon after Anthony Goldstein adopted Alyssa. They were the perfect family, or that’s what Alyssa liked to believe when she was not thinking of how her life might be if her real father were still around.

The reason that her mother had given her for why her father had left when she had gotten older to understand the concept more was that he was a Muggle and that her mother had not told him about being a witch until Alyssa was four-years-old and showing her first signs of magic. It was after telling him that he had packed up his belongings and left in the middle of the night in an attempt to leave while Alyssa was asleep. That had not worked because Alyssa still remembers watching her father tossing bags into the trunk of his car before driving off from her bedroom window. It was then, at a young age, that Alyssa learned that you cannot always count on everyone, namely men, for what you wanted—the only person you could rely on was yourself.

That was why she was so closed off when it came to guys; and that was also why she only had a couple close friends to whom she told everything to—well, except about her birth father walking out on her mum and her. For all anyone except her family knew, her father was Anthony Goldstein because her last name was the same once the adoption became official.

Alyssa never tried to appear rude and snooty, but she never made an effort to go out of her way to make someone like her either. She grew up getting whatever she wanted, and what she wanted now was Holden Summers. And Alyssa was planning on getting what she wanted like she always did.

*~*

“So, what did you need to tell me?” Lauren asked once Holden had led her back up to the tower where the remembrance statue stood. Was this our spot now? Lauren could not help thinking.

Holden shuffled his feet some while choosing to stuff his hands into his trouser pockets. He was more nervous about bringing up the notes that he had received from the Masquerade Girl to Lauren than he had originally thought he would be. Holden had thought that he would be able to show Lauren the notes and explain where they had came from with no trouble at all, but now that he was standing before her he found that he had been sadly mistaken; he was scared of her breaking up with him.

He knew how insecure Lauren was, and he did not want to make her even more insecure with the news of the MG trying to make contact with him. He cleared his throat—it had gotten quite dry—before he started to explain in the best way that he could without making it appear that he was interested in meeting the MG. Which he wasn’t—interested that is.

“Well, you see,” Holden started nervously. “I’ve been getting these notes from an unknown source as of recently that have been signed Masquerade Girl.” Holden took the notes out of his pocket to show to Lauren, whom took the notes out of his hands to examine for herself. “And the last note came just last night asking to meet up on the Astronomy tower at eleven o’clock this Thursday night.”

Lauren was speechless as she continued to stare at the notes that were now clutched in her hands with a fixed gaze; her brown eyes glassy. It was a several seconds before she looked back up at Holden, and another few before she said what was on her mind,

“Are you going to meet her?”

“I don’t know,” Holden mumbled as he ran his fingers through his golden hair, creating more spikes. “I don’t think so.”

“You do realize that if you go,” Lauren said, “that you’ll basically be saying that you don’t want to be with me anymore. And I would rather be dumped now instead of being cheated on before breaking up.”

“I don’t want to break things off with you, Lauren,” Holden said, suddenly regaining full use of his voice. “I like you too much to just give up on our relationship for a girl I don’t even know.”

“Then what’s the hesitation for?” Lauren inquired with her golden brow raised. “You obviously are curious about who she is still.”

“But I don’t want to be with her,” Holden replied. “I want to be with you, Lauren. I like you, not her.”

“You say that now,” Lauren muttered.

“And I’ll say it then, too,” Holden persisted. “She doesn’t matter to me as much as you do.”

“Are you sure about that?” Lauren said. “Because it seems to me that you still would like to find her.”

“No,” Holden correctly stated. “All I want to do is find out who she is, I don’t care so much about finding her, though.”

“Then, I’ll ask you this one more time,” Lauren said. “Are you going to meet up with her this Thursday night?”

Holden thought about it for a few seconds before he replied with his answer. “No.” He watched as Lauren let her defenses down as her shoulders drop a fraction of an inch and step closer toward him. Holden took her into his arms and the two of them stood like that for several minutes; both of their arms wrapped around each other in embrace as the sun setting below the horizon sent streaks of gold, pink, and purple in the sky above.

It was later that evening, after he walked Lauren to the Ravenclaw tower and returned back to his dorm in the Gryffindor tower that he thought about his answer to Lauren’s question. Did he really not want to meet up with Masquerade Girl? Or was he only saying ‘no’ to appease Lauren by letting her know that she had nothing to worry about? He did like Lauren, a lot, but there was still a part of him that wanted to meet MG; albeit small. Holden let out a groan, why was life so complicated?! Or perhaps, it really wasn’t and he was just making it that way. Maybe the right answer was the one that he had not said aloud, and that was the one that he should pursue further with.

Holden could go to the top of the Astronomy tower at eleven o’clock on Thursday night and tell MG that he had a girlfriend already. He could suggest being friends instead, or that might be pushing it a bit. Either way, he would tell MG that he liked his girlfriend too much to ruin things between her and then leave straight after. With any luck he won’t hurt her feelings as that was the last thing that he wanted to do. He hated to see girls cry.

After running over these same thoughts for several minutes, Holden heard the door to the dorm open as the rest of the guys thumped in and started to change into their pajamas for bed. Holden pulled the covers up over his head as he rolled over to his side and feigned being asleep so that the other guys would not talk to him. He did not feel like socializing tonight.

The following couple of days, Holden found it immensely difficult to pay attention in class as he struggled with what he should do about MG. He tried to hide his emotions, and it worked quite well. But James and Fred, who were slowly easing back into conversing, saw right through his act. And Holden had no other option but to talk to them about it all. Neither of the guys were much help. And by the time that Thursday morning dawn bright and early Holden grumbled about how he was not feeling well as he climbed out of bed to get dressed for classes. It was going to be a long day.



Author's Note:  So, whatcha think?  Loved it, hated it?  Either way, I want to hear what you guys thought about this chapter.  I enjoyed writing it, but I will enjoy reading your reviews even more ; )

This chapter is now beta'd as of 2009.04.28.


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