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Behind the Mask by onestop_hpfan18
Chapter 18 : The Decision
 
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Disclaimer:  I do not own Harry Potter.




Chapter 18

The Decision




 


The Gryffindor common room was a bustle of activity and loud noises that evening as the Gryffindors celebrated their victory over Ravenclaw with the Quidditch Cup sitting on the table in front of the grate in which a fire was crackling merrily upward in swirls.  The only person who seemed to be in a downward spiral was a very unhappy Gryffindor, whom was sitting alone in the shadows of the table in the corner.

 This particular Gryffindor happened to be running his fingers continuously through his golden hair, occasionally giving a good yank as to emphasize just how frustrated he was at the moment.  All he wanted to do was go up to his dorm to escape all of the joy, but he knew that James and Fred would only pull him back down as they had already dragged him into the centre of a throng of fellow Gryffindors with the rest of the team a couple of times already.  He took another swig from the Firewhiskey he held, feeling it burn his throat all the way down into his stomach, causing him to feel warm from his head and all the way down to his toes.

 He was in the process of setting the bottle back down on the wooden surface of the table when Evelyn York, Marisol’s best friend sat down next to him.  He was in no mood for company however he did not much fancy telling that to Evelyn as he didn’t want to hurt her feelings.  He may have been in a crappy mood, but it would not excuse any rude behaviour he aimed toward anyone, and it would not make him feel any better to be mean to a nice girl like Evelyn.  If anything, it would make him feel worse, in all actuality.

 “Hi Holden,” Evelyn said.  “Couldn’t help but notice how down you were looking for someone who should be jumping up and down at winning the Quidditch Cup.  Do you want to talk about it?”

 “Not really, Evelyn,” Holden replied, hoping she’d get the message no matter how subtle it had been and leave him to his pitiful sorrows.

 However, she did not and instead silently sat there, waiting for him to talk.  Not knowing why, Holden suddenly started to explain the girl dilemma he was currently trapped in at the moment to Evelyn and it seemed like she was listening to what he had to say as she kept her eyes on his.  It felt surprisingly good to being able to get all of these torturing thoughts off of his mind, like a blanket being lifted off of him making him feel lighter and free than he had in the last few weeks.

 When he had finished spewing out his pitiful woo of crappy luck in dating, Holden looked up to find Evelyn still listening to him intently with her head cocked to the side before he said anything else.  “So, what do you think?  Am I really messed up or what?”

 “No, not at all,” Evelyn said, trying and failing to reassure him, but trying nonetheless.  “I think you should step back and think of this reasonably in the manner of which girl you like more and enjoy spending time with.  So, who is the lucky girl who wins your attention?”

 “I dunno.”

 “No, wrong answer,” Evelyn told him firmly.  “You do know.  That’s not an acceptable answer.  Now, really, who do you like more?”

 “Lauren, I suppose,” Holden mumbled as he ran his fingers through his golden hair for the umpteenth time.  “But I don’t want to completely ignore these feelings I may have for Alyssa, either.  What would you do if you were in my shoes?”

 “I have no clue,” Evelyn replied, causing Holden to slump down further in the armchair with a huge sigh of a tortured soul.  “However, if you’re really this torn up over deciding, then maybe neither girl is a right fit for you.  Have you thought about that?”

 “No, not really,” Holden said glumly.

 Evelyn sighed dramatically.  “Well, maybe you should think about it.”

  “But what if one of them is the one for me,” Holden said.  “If I end it with both of them then I’ll always keep that thought with me.”

 “No you won’t,” Evelyn said, albeit sharply with a hint of annoyance in her tone of voice.  “And the reason why is because once a new girl that strikes your fancy comes along you’ll forget all about Alyssa and Lauren.”  She sounded bitter to Holden, almost like she was talking more from her own experience with boys than telling him he won’t remember either of the girls as time progressed.

 “But the thing is I don’t think I ever will forget them.”

 Evelyn rolled her eyes, standing up from where she had been sitting across from Holden.  “Then what are you doing moping around for when you have a decision to make, not to mention it’s almost summer break which means you won’t see either one of the girls until we return for our final year.”

 “Don’t remind me,” Holden said through a huge sigh of doubt.  Of what exactly he was not sure, but it was possible the doubtfulness he was feeling came from the fear of being turned away when he pursued whichever girl he wanted to be with.  Jeez, it was like he was picking his bride rather than only a girlfriend.  Maybe he was better off remaining single for the rest of his time at Hogwarts since he only had one year left after summer.  He was over thinking all of this way too much, that was for sure.

 “Well, I’m going back down to my common room,” he heard Evelyn say as she turned to leave.  “Can you let Marisol know I left already?”

 “Sure,” he replied without much thought.

 Regardless of what he had said, Holden went up to the dorm shortly after Evelyn had went back to her own common room.  He was not in the mood for partying, despite winning the Quidditch Cup earlier that day.  It was only because of how hammered his friends were that he was now able to slip upstairs undetected by either of them.  The last vision he had of his mates was James making out with Marisol in a corner while Fred was making out with Jazzy.  He rolled his eyes at the familiarity of it all; both of his friends usually ended up in a make out session with a girl when they drank whether they were going out with that girl or not.  Though, to give James more credit, he did not cheat when he had a girlfriend and would seek out said girlfriend because he was able to keep the moral part of his mind intact.  While Fred had trouble with what was right and wrong when he had too much Firewhiskey in his system.

 It was not long before Holden was falling into a deep slumber once he had changed into his pajamas, despite the fact it was more of a restless sleep as he tossed around beneath the duvet with the canopy drapes closed around him.  He had fallen into a restless state of mind as he dreamed of Alyssa threatening to never speak to him again if he chose Lauren over her.

 In the dream, all Holden could do was beg for her to give him more time, even though Alyssa kept patronizing him for taking too long by saying tick tock tick tock tick before him.  It further emphasized how important it was for Holden to decide between two girls before everyone went home for summer hols.  But this was not making him like Alyssa anymore in fact it was making him despise her even though it was only a dream Alyssa he had conjured up in his own mind.  However, Alyssa had been pushing for an answer out of him in the past week even more incessantly than when she had first told him she was his Masquerade Girl.

 Holden was growing more restless in his dreamlike state as he tried to run away from Alyssa, only to come face to face with Lauren.  It was the sweet, innocent Lauren that he had ignored when Alyssa had revealed herself to him.  Holden felt more rotten as Lauren looked on him with disgust which was so un-Lauren like.  The Lauren he remembered was kind hearted, not anything like this form of her that was before him.

 Turning his head both ways to check for signs of Alyssa—he must have lost her, he then pulled Lauren into his arms and caught her lips as he kissed her deeply.  The sensation that overcame his mind at this point in the dream relaxed him and he felt more settled than he had yet.  But every good dream must come to an end and this one was no exception as Alyssa chose at that moment to remerge and start shouting at him for leading her on.  She called him a heartbreaker.

 *

 “Holden, wake up,” someone was shaking him out of his sleep, trying to get him to pull out of the dream.  “Come on, we’re going to be late for our last exam of the week.”

 If the shaking did not wake him up, it was that last sentence as Holden bolted straight up almost butting heads with James, who had obviously been the one to pull him back above the surface of the dream realm he had previously been trapped in.  Holden had been having that dream all that week, thus the reason for his insomnia as he threw himself into his studies with exams in full swing in the final week of the term.

 “Dreaming again?” James asked as he stepped back over to his own bed to double check he had everything he needed in his book bag before slinging it over his head to rest on the other shoulder.

 Holden rubbed his eyes as he got out of bed, his golden hair sticking up on end.  “Yeah, same one I’ve been having all week.”

 “I think you should really just choose already,” Fred said, standing beside the door as he turned the knob and pulled it open.  “It’s been a couple weeks already.  You should know who you want to be with by now, and if not then maybe neither of them are the right girl for you.  Especially since they are making you decide between the two of them.”

 “Well, that’s any girl, Fred,” James said.  “No girl wants their boyfriend seeing another girl on the side, whether they know about it or not.”

 “Still, he needs to decide already, neither will wait forever.”

 “I know this, Fred, thanks,” Holden grumbled, pulling on his uniform and school robe after removing his pajamas.  “And I think I finally know who I want to be with.”

 “You do?” both of his friends said in unison, looking from one to the other before glancing back at Holden before James asked, “who?”

 All Holden did was shake his head to indicate that he was not about to tell anyone before he asked the girl for forgiveness for his utter pigheadedness in the last couple of weeks.  Besides, he had no way of knowing whether she would actually have him, especially with how out of it he had been since their last confrontation.  He had literally been a walking zombie in fact he was quite surprised he had been able to concentrate on his exams all week, though he supposed that was because he had studied so much to try to get both girls out of his mind.  To suffocate all the thoughts swimming around his head, weighing it down to the point he was astonished he could still keep it held high.

 *

 Holden was not able to contact with either until that evening before the feast and he purposely sought out Alyssa first to tell her he did not wish to be in a relationship with her.  He had expected her to be angry and yell at him like she had in his dream, but she was surprisingly understanding about it.  In fact, he felt sure there had to be some kind of catch as there was no way she could be okay with his answer since she had been the one to pressure Holden into choosing between both her and Lauren.

 “Are we still cool?” Holden asked, hesitantly.

 “Sure,” Alyssa said.  “I don’t see why we can’t still be friends.”

 “And you’re not upset at all?” Holden asked, still in disbelief because she had been the one adamant about being just friends in the first place.  Why on earth would she put him through all this agony of deciding if she was not going to flip her top when he didn’t choose her?  Girls were confusing, but Alyssa was more so as she never ceased to surprise him.

 “Well, maybe a little,” Alyssa replied.  “But I had a feeling you would choose her over me.  I mean, I’m not blind.  I can see how much you both feel about each other when together.”

 “Thanks for understanding,” Holden said, relieved that she was not yelling at him.  “I really appreciate you not getting mad at me.”

 When she had walked off and over to the Slytherin table, Holden looked around for Lauren, though she was nowhere to be seen.  He could see her friend Melody sitting by herself at the Ravenclaw table already, but no sign of Lauren.  Walking over to her friend, he asked Melody where Lauren was.  Her answer was that she did not know, only that Lauren had said she was going to make a stop somewhere before coming down to the feast tonight.

 Going with his gut instinct, Holden turned around and raced out of the Great Hall and across the hall up the grand marble staircase.  He did not stop until he had reached the seventh floor, and even then he made a mad dash for the spiral staircase that led up the memorial tower that honoured those who had fought and lost their lives in the final battle of Hogwarts.  He looked around and found her sitting on a stone bench near the low stone wall atop the tower.

 “Lauren!” he shouted, running over toward her as she looked up and over toward him. 

 “Holden, what are you doing here?” she asked, taken aback by his disheveled appearance.  “Are you alright?”

 Holden leaned over, pressing each of his hands on a knee as he caught his breath.  “I’m fine.  But I have to tell you something of greater importance than my current appearance.”

 Lauren stared on in utter disbelief, finding it hard in believing Holden was actually standing there in front of her at a complete loss of words after racing all the way up here by the looks of it.  She had no doubt in her mind when he said he had something important to tell her, only she hoped it was not bad news.  Like that he had finally decided he was going to start dating Alyssa as that would crush her heart even more than it already was.

 “I really like you, Lauren,” Holden said.  “In fact, I may even love you, but for now I’ll be content enough to know that you want to be with me to.  So I guess what I’m trying to say is will you forgive my idiocy and take me back, please.” 

 He held her gaze with an expression that had Lauren thinking of those sad puppy dogs on that commercial of the dogs locked up in kennels with no homes.  Needless to say, she was slowly but surely finding herself falling for Holden all over again.  Maybe there was truth the the statement of time making the heart grow fonder.  Or she could just be tired of her heart aching for Holden.

 “So, what’d you say?  Will you give me a second chance?” Holden asked.  “I promise never to stray again.”

 Lauren hesitated for a fraction of a minute before finally nodding her head yes. 

 It was all the answer Holden needed as he took Lauren up in his arms and captured her lips with his own as the sun lay down behind the mountains; and the rise of the moon steadily climbing further into the sky.




Author's Note:  And I finally finished this chapter. I hope you all enjoy and I'd love it if any of you reviewed, especially if it's constructive cricticism because I thrive best when people tell me whether they liked a story of mine and why they did or didn't. Thanks for reading! :)

 


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