Chapter 29 : Doubt
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“So, I managed to talk to Talon alone last night, while Scorpius and Tybalt were still down in the common room,” Kenny stated, having finally caught up to me by lunchtime that same day.
“Yeah,” I asked, mildly curious. “What did he say?”
“Well, when I got him on the subject of Hogsmeade, he said he didn’t think he would be taking anyone.”
“So what did you say?” I prompted without pause.
“I slowly gave him a gentle nudge in your direction, saying something along the lines of ‘Hey, why don’t you ask Sirrah? She seems to have taken more of a liking to you recently.’ I wanted to sound whimsical, you know, like it was just a passing idea, so he wouldn’t be suspicious,” he said, stopping to look at me for approval.
I simply nodded for him to continue.
“I think I succeeded. He turned the idea down at first, thinking he didn’t stand a chance with you, but by the end of the night, I could tell he was seriously considering it.”
I smiled, knowing it was time to let him know it was a job done well.
“And clearly your little nudge in my direction is working,” I replied smugly. “Did you not see the way he fawned over me all morning? Not only did he walk me down to breakfast with our arms entangled, but he also walked me to class during which he carried my books, saved me a seat when I got held up, and let me share his ink when I discovered I’d forgotten my own,” I sighed, smiling. “He’s more chivalrous than I ever expected him to be.”
“It’s going to be hard, letting him down easy, isn’t it?” Kenny asked, giving me a meaningful look.
“If you think I’m beginning to have feelings for the boy, you’re wrong,” I quickly cut him off with a harsh glare. “But it has been nice having him around,” I added, slowing my walk. “If my plan goes the way I think it will go, he’s going to play his part perfectly.”
“Starting to feel guilty for using him?” Kenny questioned.
“I’ve never felt guilty a day in my life,” I retorted, holding my head high.
“Of course not,” Kenny let out a quiet chuckle. “But I have to say, it looks like you might be having second thoughts.”
“Don’t even insinuate such a thing! Second thoughts don’t exist in my plan,” I snapped, walking more briskly now. “Talon will ask me to Hogsmeade, and I will say yes. Potter will see us together and confront us, during which Talon will defend me honorably. The end result being that Potter will finally leave me alone. And, afterward, I will break things off with Talon. End of story. Whatever you may be thinking, I don’t want to hear it.”
I could not have doubters in my circle. This plan would go accordingly, and that was final. Nothing else would do.
It was barely even the weekend yet and I already had the entire date planned for next Saturday. I had sent an owl to Aberforth, an old friend of the family who still owned the Hog’s Head even though he no longer ran it. He finally replied, agreeing to close the bar for the afternoon so that my date and I could have a few hours together in private, and that he would let the guy running the bar, a man by the name of Jack, know about the situation. Sirrah wouldn’t arrive til noon, but I would show up early to set up the place and make it look a bit more suitable for a date.
As much as I wished we could have our date somewhere nicer—and, not to mention, cleaner—this was the only place we could go where we wouldn’t have to worry about seeing anyone we knew. The Three Broomsticks would be crowded with Hogwarts students as usual, and I refused to ever step foot into Madam Puddifoot’s Tea Shop. Plus, I’m pretty sure Sirrah would be even less inclined than I am to go there; she’d probably laugh me right out of Hogsmeade if I even tried to lead her in that direction.
The Hog’s Head was in the perfect position though. It was remote, being off the main road and near the end of town. It was also unappealing, being that it typically only hosted clientele of an unusual and rough sort, mostly people who’d prefer to keep to themselves. You certainly wouldn’t find any of these people in The Three Broomsticks either because they’d been banned from the nicer inn, or they’d be too suspicious looking and everyone would be staring at them, wondering who they were.
“Hey James, what are you doing?” I suddenly heard Shelley’s voice, bringing me back to the present where I was sitting at a table in the Gryffindor Common Room during a free period, finishing up a quick thank you letter to send to Aberforth. I looked up to see her leaning over me with her hands on the table.
“None of your business,” I replied curtly before returning my attention to the letter in front of me, no longer bothered to hide my annoyance at her presence.
“Oh, come on, James,” she tried again, as if it were all pleasantries between us. “No need to be rude. Who are you writing to?”
“Leave me alone!” I shouted in exacerbation, causing her to take just a small step back.
“Not until you tell me who she is,” she said in a song-song voice, crossing her arms. It was as if this whole thing was simply a game to her.
“Seriously?” I stopped abruptly and looked up at her. I was fed up. I’d had enough of Shelley and her incessant nagging. “Why do you think that after all this time, I would tell you?”
“Because you’ve given in?” she proposed, clearly she was expecting me to finally tell her who my date was for Hogsmeade.
“Heck, at this moment, I wouldn’t tell you who she was if you were holding a knife to my throat just because I’d be afraid that if I did tell you who I’m meeting at Hogsmeade, you’d turn that knife on her.”
“Do you really think I’m that crazy?” she questioned.
“Well, no sane person would have spent every second of the last two days trying to find out who my date is.”
“I just don’t understand why you feel the need to keep it a secret from everyone,” she stated, managing to actually sound the tiniest bit rational for once. “Do your best mates even know about this mystery girl?”
As someone who had no idea about my situation—i.e. having feelings for a Slytherin—she did have a point. But what excuse could I give? Certainly not the truth.
“I’ll tell them when I’m ready,” I finally said as I scrounged for a good explanation. “Right now, I’m really just on a trial basis with this girl,” I finally said. “I don’t even know if something will actually come of it, and I don’t want to make a big deal out of it unless I know it’s for sure.”
After taking a moment to contemplate this she finally nodded, seeming to accept my reasoning. I suppose it technically wasn’t a lie, considering I had no idea what it meant that Sirrah had finally said yes. I wanted to believe that she had, at long last, given in to the chemistry between us, but I had to admit that Leighton’s doubts were finally starting to get to me now that the date was planned.
“Fine,” Shelley finally replied. “I’ll leave you alone then.”
I was surprised at this, not just at how quickly she had given in, but at the sad look on her face. She almost looked normal again, and not like the crazy person she’d recently become. It was the same look she had given me when we broke up last year; sad but accepting. Maybe she had really given up. Maybe she’d finally move on and let me go my own way.
It was Friday afternoon and classes were finally over. I had every intention of getting all my homework done after dinner so that I could focus the entire weekend on making dresses for the upcoming ball.
I was so excited for the chance to do some real business that new ideas were constantly flowing through my brain. I often found myself zoning out during the professors’ lectures and doodling new designs in class instead. It was amazing I was still managing to stay on top of my studies, but I’ll admit I got a lot of help from Leighton who was always willing to let me borrow her notes.
Just as I was leaving my last class of the day, Talon caught up to me and quickly pulled me away from the crowd.
“Hey, Talon,” I said, surprised. “What’s up?” He remained quiet; he appeared to be waiting for everyone else to clear out of the corridor first.
For the past two days, he had been nothing but the perfect gentlemen. He was always there to walk me to meals and classes. Even if we weren’t headed to the same class, he’d still walk me to mine and carry my books for me before heading off to his own class.
I had to admit it was sweet and endearing. I couldn’t help but feel a little bad for leading him on, even though I’d never admit it to anyone.
“I wanted to ask you something,” Talon confessed, looking serious, as we stood in the now empty corridor.
“Yes?” I asked, trying to sound clueless as to what it was he wanted to ask me when, in fact, I had a pretty good guess of what it could be.
He looked slightly nervous. “Are you going to Hogsmeade next weekend?”
“I was thinking about it,” I replied coolly, not wanting to sound too eager.
“Well, would you like to go with me?” he then asked.
I paused, continuing to play it cool; I didn’t want him to gain suspicion or think me desperate by agreeing too quickly. I looked him over, briefly, as if judging whether or not he’d be a suitable date and then glanced to the right upper corner of the corridor, as if I were considering the idea.
“Sure,” I said, finally returning my gaze to him and nodding. “I’d like that.”
“Great!” he replied, smiling. “I’ll meet you in the common room Saturday morning then. We can go to breakfast together and then make the walk to Hogsmeade.”
“Sounds perfect,” I smiled.
He nodded, grinning like a kid on Christmas, and we continued on our way to the Great Hall for dinner.
I know, I know. It's been ages! Well, months anyway. I've been having a lot of trouble writing lately, and this isn't the only story I've been working on. And I know it wasn't a very long chapter either, but look on the bright side! Next chapter means Hogsmeade Trip! Because it'd just be cruel for me to put anything else between now and that. Not to mention I'm all out of ideas. The story HAS to progress forward. Starting now. So, yeah.
Anyway, I do hope you enjoyed the chapter and feel free to leave all comments, questions, praise, and constructive criticism in the box below and click submit.
Thank you all for reading.
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