Chapter 29 : As Told By Anders
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He’s a great guy, and he’s made Dominique really happy, but he needs to stop showing the rest of us up. See, the thing is, she doesn’t know him. Not like Eva knows me. He can get away with more stuff that way. Little things count more. And then there’s the fact that he’s already lined up to live with her next year. I’m not even sure if I’m ready to live with Eva yet. I mean, I want to eventually but I don’t feel like I have to do it right away. And then the whole Christmas thing… I got lucky at her last birthday. I have no idea what to get for her this year. Basically, I’m doomed.
This is why I am meeting with the one person I know who knows girls the best without actually being one. “Hugo! Over here!” I yelled before flagging him over to my table at Fortescue’s. I was running out of time. At least I had gotten Eva to stay behind at home for today so I didn’t have to worry about her popping up while I was shopping for her. The only thing was, that meant she was left behind with Lorcan, and things have just been awkward between the two of them lately.
He grinned at me as he took a seat. “I still can’t believe you’re actually asking me for help with this. Smooth Captain Anders? Come on, it’s Eva. You’ve only known her for how long?”
“Yeah, but she’s my girlfriend now. She’ll have expectations.”
I hit him lightly on the arm. “Shut it, Hugh. She’s not that simple, you know. And I don’t want to be a shitty boyfriend. Are you going to help me with this or not? Do you want to have to do extra laps when we get back to school?”
He grimaced at the idea. Hugo is probably the laziest person on the team after my brother, of course. We’ve been practicing for a few months now, and I still don’t understand what he’s doing on the team. He’s good, decent enough, but he has no motivation. He doesn’t care at all about Quidditch. Sometimes I want to kick him off the team for that, but I want to win. I don’t want to fail my team. I just… have Lorcan around bringing down the moral. “Yeah, I’ll help you. Not that you need any help. You know, she’s not dating you for presents, right?”
I nodded, thinking of the thing with that Adria girl from last year. Eva’s sensitive about what other people think about her relationship with me and Lorcan but… It’s not like that and she should know that. I’m not trying to buy her. I just want to get a decent gift for my girlfriend. “I know, but you can’t date someone without getting them something for Christmas. What should I get her? Jewelry?”
“Are we talking about the same person here? You know the only jewelry that Eva ever wears is that necklace from Lily. I mean, I guess if you get her something she really likes she might start wearing it all the time too, but you’re kind of gambling with jewelry.”
Life would be so much easier if she was a girly girl. Of course, she wouldn’t be Eva then. “Fine. Should I get her like…a jumper or something?” How had I managed to come up with a gift idea for her last birthday? It had been a bloody good one, too.
“A…jumper? You’re not serious, are you?” Hugo stared at me. “You are. Oh man, this is going to be a long day, isn’t it? Alright, I gave you a chance to work it out on your own. It’s time for me to step in. Girls like sentimental stuff, even Eva. Like what Lorcan got her for her birthday last year. Although your gift wasn’t bad either. Can you think of something from when you first met, or some other big moment that you could get her? And that she’d like.” He added quickly.
“I could get her a broom!” I blurted.
Hugo reached across the table to hit me back. “I said something that she’d like! She knows you’re a Quidditch freak. We all know that. But just because she’s your girlfriend doesn’t mean she has to be one too. Eva’s not going to want a broom.”
I shook my head. “No, it makes sense! You told me to be sentimental. It’s like the first time we snogged at my house. Lily and Dom shut us in a broom cupboard together.”
He let out a sigh. “Okay, that’s sort of sentimental, but we can still do better. How about something sentimental, small, and preferably not related to Quidditch? Hey, what’s happening with you two next year?”
Bugger. I should have known that these questions were going to start coming soon. Especially with the friends and family that we had. Weasleys are a very nosey people. “You had to ask me that, didn’t you, Hugh?” I rested my elbows on the table before raking my fingers through my hair. What was I going to do? “I don’t know. I mean, she’s great. We finally got together and everything’s been great. But I don’t know. I love her, mate, but I don’t feel like we have to get all serious right away. Eventually, yeah.” Everyone knows that Eva wants a perfect family. That’s what she deserves. “But we’re still kids practically.”
“That’s it! A promise ring!” Hugo exclaimed, hitting the table with his fist as he spoke. “You can get her a promise ring. That way she knows that you’re sticking around. It’s like a way of telling her all the things that you just said to me without actually having to say it all over again.”
I blinked. “A…promise ring? Real people actually get those for each other? I thought they were some sort of made up girl thing.”
“Then how do you know about them?” He retorted. “No, they’re real things. Eva might not be much of a jewelry girl, but I can promise you that she’ll wear this, no pun intended. She really likes you, mate. Probably loves you. You can’t go wrong with sentimentality and commitment.”
“Is that even a word? Sentimentality?” Hugh is just making stuff up now to try to sell his pitch to me, I’m sure of it. Kid should be a salesman when we get out of school.
He rolled his eyes. “Sure it is. Stop questioning me about everything. It’s not going to get you out of having to buy a present for Eva. And you’re getting her the ring. She’s going to love it, Anders. Trust me. You came to me for advice for a reason, so you’d better listen to it. And pay for my ice cream. We’ve got to get out of here. We’ve got some ring shopping to do.”
What was I doing here? There was no way talking Hugo out of this but I still wasn’t so sure about his plan. What if Eva laughed at me? This whole promise ring thing was definitely made up. She was going to get the ring and think I was crazy for buying it and for believing Hugo. Maybe he didn’t actually know as much about girls as I was giving him credit for. But who else did I have to turn to? Dominique would get all squealy over this shopping business, and then she’d tell her boyfriend and I’d feel even worse about how I compared to him. Lily would probably tell me to get Eva something inappropriate or weird. And all the rest of the Weasley or Potter women would be no better than Dominique, except for the fact that they weren’t dating Tobias. That would be weird.
“So… This one is pretty shiny.” I said, pointing to one of the rings on display.
Hugo shook his head. “Fine, I’ll pick one out for you. But… Anders, can I get something from you in return for helping you with this?”
He was one of my friends, and I had no problem with helping him, but the way that Hugo asked it made me slightly nervous. “Uh… I guess so. What is it?”
“Why’d you do it?”
“Why’d I do what, Hugh?”
“Why’d you ignore Eva last year?”
Hugo was definitely a Weasley. “I… I didn’t mean to when it all started. I mean, Quidditch started it all.” I said, continuing before he could accuse me of being obsessed again. I am, okay? Big deal. “Well, you probably know how James thought about giving me the captaincy after he graduated, and skipping Al. Even though Al made way more sense since it was his last year, he had been on the team for longer, and he was James’ brother. Al wasn’t my biggest fan for a while. But then James did give him the captaincy, and Al realized that I wasn’t the villain. I mean, I wanted him to get it just as much as he did. It just didn’t feel right for me to be captain that early. So Al took me under his wing, since we all knew then that he was going to give the spot to me the next year.” I ran a hand through my hair. “After that I just felt like I had to do a really good job as captain, you know? James thought highly enough of me that he almost gave the captaincy to one two years younger than his own brother, and Al spent all that time getting me prepared to take over. There was a lot of pressure to do well. I got way too caught up in trying to prove myself. Sort of forgot about everything else. And while I was busy, Lorcan came in, and he made her happy. He made her really happy, and I didn’t want to mess with that.” I had figured I could put my feelings for her aside in favor of making her happy. “But she liked me too and staying away from her was just hurting her more so… I had to do something.” And Lorcan had taken himself out of the running.
Something I still didn’t understand, since he had been really happy too, but I wasn’t going to question it because it had gotten me my girl. Everything had worked out perfectly in the end, right?
Author's Note: Eek! What'd you all think? An entire chapter from Anders' perspective! And... His present! How do you think that's going to go over with Eva? The Christmas chapters are some of my absolute favorites, and I think you'll all understand why soon. My muse seems to be on vacation, so I might run out of updates for the companions soon, but I've got another 9 chapters of WBP stored. Two more to write and then... It's over! We're getting so close, guys!