Chapter 12 : Atop the Astronomy Tower
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Atop the Astronomy Tower
Alyssa woke up in a chipper mood on Thursday. She hummed no tune in particular as she changed into her Slytherin school uniform and robe. Neither of Alyssa’s friends was in as good a mood as she was in because it was too early to be cheerful. She could feel their annoyed expressions on her as she skipped out of the dormitory. Yes, she skipped as she headed down to the Great Hall for breakfast.
The reason why Alyssa was so cheerful was because she knew she was going to get what she wanted tonight. She knew that Holden was going to show up. She could feel it.
Alyssa had never been more confident in something that had yet to happen. Though, there was a part of her that was just waiting to hit snag. What if Holden didn’t show up tonight? It was very possible that Holden wanted nothing to do with her after all of the evading games that she had been playing. She could only hope that had only drawn Holden closer to discovering her identity.
When Alyssa arrived in the Great Hall it was to find all four house tables starting to fill up with students. She headed over toward the Slytherin table and sat down before grabbing a piece of toast and buttering it. Not long after she had finished the toast and was reaching for the jug of pumpkin juice to pour into a goblet than her two friends, Molly and Taylor sat down across the table from where she sat.
“So, today’s the day,” Molly said. “Are you nervous?”
Alyssa shook her head. “I know he’ll choose me over that Ravenclaw girl.”
“You mean Lauren,” Taylor corrected.
“No,” Alyssa said in short. “I’ll call her what I want to call her.”
“You’re too nice, Taylor,” Molly said as she tucked a strand of her dark hair behind her left ear. “And a pushover, come to think about it.”
“I am not a push over,” Taylor frowned as she crossed her arms in front of her. “I do what I want to do, and when I want to.”
Alyssa only laughed along with Molly as both of them knew that Taylor let others boss her around as they took advantage of that fact a lot of the time. “Sure, whatever you say, Tay,” Alyssa said.
When Alyssa and her friends had finished eating their breakfast, they stood and headed out of the Great Hall toward their first class that morning. Alyssa was back to thinking about whether Holden would show up that night or not. She still was pretty confident that he would show up, but that did not stop the negative thoughts from floating aimlessly into her mind, nonetheless. It was going to be a long day.
It seemed like the day had gone by exceedingly slow in Holden’s opinion. He was on his way down to dinner with James and Fred; the two cousins had finally put the drama of Fred dating James’s ex behind them and were as close as ever. And it was about time too since James had called Quidditch practice sessions to resume this week now that they were back in the running for the Quidditch Cup, which had cleared his mind for the most part while he was up in the air. Then the moment his feet were back on the ground he was back to thinking about whom the Masquerade Girl was and what he would do.
“So, have either of you finished that essay in Charms that’s due tomorrow?” Fred asked as the three boys entered the Great Hall.
“Almost,” James said. “I just have the conclusion left to write.”
“Mind if I take a look at it to get an idea of what to write?” Fred asked.
James raised his brow, and then shook his head no.
“Aw, come on,” Fred said before he looked toward Holden. “Have you finished?”
Holden nodded. “Yeah, but I’m not letting you copy off of me.”
“You guys are no help,” Fred said.
The guys sat down at the Gryffindor table and start piling their plates with food. James and Fred dug into their mounds of food, while Holden played with his instead of eating it. His friends noticed that Holden was not eating anything, and raised their brows simultaneously.
“Are you okay, Holden?” James asked.
Holden looked up at James in confusion for a second before his mind seemed to slowly process what James had said to him. “Oh, yeah, I’m fine.”
“Then why aren’t you eating anything?” James asked. “You never pass up a meal, even when you miss one you have to go down to the kitchens before the next scheduled mealtime.”
“I guess I just have a lot on my mind,” Holden said. “What with it being Thursday evening and all, you know the night that she said to meet her somewhere at eleven.” Holden had lowered his voice so that only James and Fred could hear him, though he still used precautions so that if they were overheard then other people would not know what they were talking about. The last thing that he wanted was for anyone to get wind of MG revealing her identity to him tonight and spreading it around so that the whole castle knew.
“So, does that mean you are going to meet her?” James asked him.
“I think I will,” Holden whispered. “But only so that I can tell her that I have a girl friend and that being friends would work better.”
“What if she’s hotter than Lauren is?” Fred asked. That statement received an eye roll from both James and Holden. “What?!”
“Why would it matter which girl is hotter when Holden has already explicitly stated that he is happy dating Lauren?” James asked his dimwitted cousin with sarcasm dripping out of his tone. “We’re not all as shallow as you are, you know.”
Fred only crossed his arms at that.
Holden rolled his eyes at both of his friends. “I think I’ll go up to the common room now since it doesn’t look like I’ll be getting my appetite back any time soon.” He stood up and walked toward the doors of the Great Hall.
While Holden was walking out of the Great Hall he noticed Lauren walking in with Melody. He paused to greet her. “Hey Lauren,” he let a true smile slip to the surface that actually looked like his heart was completely in it. Though, in reality it just felt natural to smile at Lauren even if he was feeling overloaded with thoughts at the moment.
“Hey,” Lauren said as she stopped in front of him, also with a smile on her face.
“So…,” Holden awkwardly said in a way that did not seem like him at all. “How’s it going?”
Lauren noticed this, but let it go for now. “Alright I guess, you?”
“Great,” Holden said with a bit too much excitement. “I’m just heading up to the Gryffindor tower to finish that one essay that has to be turned in tomorrow.”
“Charms?” Lauren asked with a raised eyebrow at Holden’s strange behaviour.
“Yep, that’s it!” Holden snapped his fingers before he gave Lauren a slight hug and started up the grand marble staircase. He called behind him, “I’ll see you later.”
Holden mentally kicked himself in the gut for the awkwardness that he had caused with Lauren just now. There was no reason to act like such an idiot in Lauren’s presence, even if he was thinking of going to the Astronomy tower tonight. He was Holden Summers, after all, and he was known to be able to keep his cool in the most awkward of situations. But why, oh why, did he have to lose his cool all of sudden with Lauren? Was it because he could not stand lying to her? Even though, technically he wasn’t lying, yet. Holden had no clue whether he would go meet up with Masquerade Girl tonight or not because he could not make up his mind.
On one hand, Holden really wanted to know the identity of the girl that he had talked to at the New Year’s party, but on the other hand he could care less. This was the girl that had evaded him ever since he first started that stupid search with James and Fred after returning back to Hogwarts in January. Did he really care to discover who she was after all the hiding that she had done? Holden should think not.
But that still did not change the fact that Holden would not forgive himself for passing up this chance to find out who Masquerade Girl was. If he did not go that night, then Holden would continue to wonder who she was and how he could have found out. But if Holden did go, what would happen if he found that his feelings for Masquerade Girl were stronger than what he felt for Lauren? He did not want to hurt Lauren because he cared very much for her.
Holden looked up at the portrait of the Fat Lady in bewilderment. He had not even realized that he had reached his destination. After thinking of what the password was exactly, Holden remembered and said it to the Fat Lady, “Purple Dragon.”
“Correct, my dear,” and she swung forward to admit him into the Gryffindor common room.
Holden stumbled through, still in a distracted state, and sat down on one of the squishy armchairs close to the fireplace. He hardly even registered that his brother had just come down from the third year boys’ dorms and sat in a chair on his left until he felt the piecing gaze that could only mean that someone was looking at him. When he finally did notice his brother, he rolled his eyes and said, “What?” in an annoyed tone.
“Nothing,” Nathan grinned. “I was only wondering if you came up with a decision yet.”
“Shut up,” was all that Holden muttered before going back to staring at the dancing flames in the grate.
“Touchy, touchy,” Nathan teased his older brother before getting up and going over to where his friends sat at a table in the one of the corners of the common room.
That only made Holden rolled his eyes once more before mentally cursing Nathan for being so dang annoying all of the time, and also for sticking his nose in Holden’s personal life too often to count. And it was with that last thought that Holden finally came to a final decision as to what he would do at eleven o’ clock.
It was a quarter ‘til eleven o’ clock in the evening, and still there was no sign of Holden as Alyssa stood atop the Astronomy tower. Alyssa was wearing her Slytherin school uniform, minus the school robe, but with an addition; the glittery blue mask that covered the top half of her face, leaving her nose and mouth visible. She figured that she would wait to reveal herself to Holden until he revealed his self to her. She wanted to make sure that Holden showed up.
So far things were not looking good for Alyssa, but there were still fifteen minutes left. Alyssa normally was not the type of girl to think optimistically; she was more of a pessimist. She liked to doubt herself a lot of the time, and doubt about what would happen in any occasion. But tonight Alyssa found herself wishing, more than anything, and hoping that Holden would show up. If he showed up then that might very well mean that he felt something with her, just like she felt with him.
Alyssa was so wrapped up in these thoughts that she did not even notice that someone was hiding on the opposite side of the pillar. And just who else was on top of the tower at such a late hour? It was none other than Natalie Chow. Natalie had somehow figured out about the meeting and wanted to get the dirt before writing about it in her gossip column for the school paper. And the best part, it would cause drama all over the castle; namely with Holden, Lauren, and Alyssa. Natalie loved drama.
And it was also why a certain sixth year guy did not want to step out of the shadows, because he had seen Chow lurking in the shadows.
Holden refused to step out and onto the tower from the spiral staircase that led up toward it. He had decided to meet up with Masquerade Girl, but not if it meant that the whole school would know about it from someone else other than him, or the Masquerade Girl. Also, Holden did not much fancy being the talk of the whole castle, even if he’d been the hot subject to talk about with him searching for Masquerade Girl ever since he arrived back to school after the winter holiday. He detested being talked about by other people, whether it was good or bad.
It was at that moment that Holden shook his head a bit to get all of the loose thoughts free so that he could think of what to do. While he ran through idea after idea in his head, Holden stared at who he could only assume was the Masquerade Girl for the shimmering dark blue mask that she was wearing over her face to prove that she was who she said she was. In fact, Holden was focusing more on the mask than he was on the colours of the girl’s school uniform, which were emerald green and silver; Slytherin colours.
After standing in the same spot for several minutes, Holden decided he would go back down and wait in an empty classroom for the girl to come down so that their meeting wouldn’t be spied on by the gossip columnist of the Hogwarts Report. He would pull the girl into the classroom when she walked by, and then he would finally discover her identity.
Holden kept the door cracked only a fraction so that he would be sure that he would grab Masquerade Girl when she descended the stairs from the Astronomy Tower, instead of the Gossip Columnist. The last thing he wanted was to be interrogated by Natalie Chow tonight. He did not have to wait too long in the deserted classroom, and was quite glad that Chow was the first to descend and walk past his hiding place so that he would not have to worry about the gossiper catching sight of Holden as he snatched the Masquerade Girl into the confinement of the classroom. And a few seconds after Chow had disappeared around a corroder, the girl in the shimmering blue mask and Slytherin school uniform descended the stairs.
When Holden opened the door more, he reached out and grabbed a gentle, but firm, grip of the girl’s upper arms and pulled her into the classroom just before shutting it silently behind him. He then tapped it with his wand and muttered a spell to keep out anyone who may be creeping around the castle in the dead of night. Once that was done, Holden turned on his heel to face the girl that was staring at him with her arms crossed.
“I thought you had stood me up,” the girl glared behind the glittery blue mask.
“Heh, I thought about it, but decided against it as my curiosity to find out who exactly you are got the best of me,” Holden said as he started to walk over to where the girl had backed herself over to the farthest side of the classroom. “But I surely didn’t want that noisy Chow, who I noticed hiding behind a pillar on top of the tower, to catch us together. Somehow she must have got wind of our meeting tonight.”
“Oh,” the girl said, suddenly ashamed of how she had spoken to Holden. “I didn’t notice…” She let her voice trail off as Holden advanced closer to where she stood rooted the spot.
“Yeah,” Holden said as he stopped just in front of the girl. He then reached up to remove the mask from her face with both his hands, but was momentarily paused by the response that came forth from the girl’s mouth.
“Wait,” the girl stepped back before saying anything else. “You have to promise you won’t hate me when you find out who I am.”
“Why would I hate you?” Holden asked in bewilderment.
“Just promise,” the girl persisted.
“Fine, I promise that I won’t hate you,” Holden said as he fought the urge to roll his eyes.
“Okay,” the girl breathed a sort of sigh of relief. “I’m ready to reveal myself.” But she made no move to remove her mask.
Instead of waiting, Holden decided it would be quicker if he removed the shimmering mask that he had not forgotten. His fingers brushed along the edges of the small mask as he pushed it upward to rest on the top of the girl’s long blond curls. It took Holden a few minutes to realize who he was looking at as he stared into the girl’s blue eyes.
“Alyssa Goldstein, the one and only, and,” Alyssa said in a voice just above a whisper as she let a smile spread her lips upward, “Slytherin sixth year.”
“Didn’t you spread those rumors about Marisol only dating James for his popularity and fame at the beginning of the year?” Holden questioned Alyssa with a raise of his brow.
“Uh, yeah,” Alyssa said with more confidence than shame on her pretty face. “Didn’t I tell you not to hate me before you found out my identity?”
“Yeah, you did, but I didn’t know that you were the one who spread those rumors about my best friend and his girlfriend.”
“What does it really matter?” Alyssa asked with a simple shrug of her shoulders. “Let’s leave what happened in the past in the past.”
Holden shook his head and started to backtrack toward the door out of the classroom. “No, I need to go.”
“Holden…,” Alyssa tried to call back, but Holden was already opening up the door before she had even taken the first few steps to go after him.
Holden shut the door once he had escaped the secluded classroom that Alyssa Goldstein was still in. He could not believe his luck. Of all the girls that Masquerade Girl could be, she had to be the one girl that was disliked by many Gryffindors. And yet, Holden still felt a small twinge of something in his stomach; it was as if he still felt something toward Alyssa that he had felt on New Year’s Eve night, however small, it was still there.
Why couldn’t it have been someone else? Anyone else who isn’t Alyssa Goldstein, and why do I still feel attraction knowing that it’s Alyssa?
These thoughts ran through Holden’s mind as he trudged his way through hallways and staircases back to Gryffindor tower. In fact, he was still thinking so intensely that he almost ran straight into the portrait of the Fat Lady, and would have done so if the Fat Lady had not made an appallingly loud screech at almost being run into; as if it would actually hurt her to be run into. Holden told her the password before entering the common room and quietly making his way up the sixth year boys’ dorm on the left to go to bed. Even though Holden doubted he would be able to get any sleep tonight as it was bound to be a long, restless night before the sun chose to rise and shine in the morning.
Author Notes: So, what'd you think? Love it, like it, or hate it? Either way, I want to know so please leave a review in that little box down there at the bottom.
This chapter is now beta'd as of 2009.04.28.
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