Chapter 18 : Foolproof
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Keeping my mouth shut for the rest of the week, pretending like nothing happened between us and that I have nothing important to say to him is the hardest thing I have ever had to do so far, but I managed it. Well, I managed to keep my mouth shut. But Louis knew I had something to say, I could tell. He was careful with his words, hesitant at some points, but he never actually asked what was up. Does he think the worst anyway? I sincerely hope not. How can he after what he heard me say in my room. I all but said 'I love you' that night. I'm not sure I do, not now anyway, but I know I could do eventually. It's not hard to love Louis.
If he does think the worst, I wonder what he'll say once he knows my big speech is really a date. During all my practices (I am that sad) and my freaking out (of course I'm nervous, I've never asked a person out before), it didn't take me long to realize that as long as there is a 'yes' in there, I don't really care what he says to me. Anything else I can take, just not a 'no'. I don't think I could handle a 'no'.
Although that's a scary 'what if?', I'm actually not worried he'll say that to me. After everything we've ever said, everything's he's done, I know he won't say no. I'm worried I'll mess it up and embarrass myself. Who knew that would be the scariest part?
"Stop it, Ciaran, it'll be fine," I whisper to myself.
"Are you okay?"
I jump up and move to my right, sitting on top of the arm rest instead. "Simon, hello. I didn't know anyone else was in here."
"I got here just in time to hear you whispering to yourself," he answers me, his voice laced with concern. There's no humor hidden away at all, like there would be with Jack. I must look as scared as I feel. "Are you okay?" he repeats.
"I'm fine," I answer, my own tone a clear dismissal. But then, in a moment of what I can only say is insanity, I call him back. I really hope I don't regret this. "Simon, you have a girlfriend." I try so hard not to roll my eyes at my own words. Of course he has a girlfriend, idiot. "How did you ask her out?"
"She asked me," he says immediately.
Of course she did. Well, at least he's not ashamed of it. Some guys like when a girl makes the first move, showing they can be confident. My cousin is not one of them. He's old fashioned, likes to ask not he asked. good for Simon. Stop rambling. "So, how did she ask you?"
"She pulled me aside, asked if we could talk somewhere private, and just asked me."
I think about it. It's quick, simple, straight to the point. It makes asking someone out seem so easy. I bite my bottom lip, trying to see myself do the same thing. "Yeah, I could do that," I mutter.
"You're finally asking Louis out then." Is he smirking at me? He sounds way too smug. "It took you long enough."
I glare. "You can leave now."
"I just came to get my wallet for Hogsmeade, then I'll be gone," he laughs and I hear him run up the stairs. He's back a few minutes later and at the door. "Good luck. Oh, and I see Louis turning the corner. Should I wait for him and hold the door open? Or do you want the distraction of giving the password to give you a few extra minutes?"
"The second one," I call out on my way up the stairs. I hear a muttered 'I thought so' and the common room door shuts just as I get to my dorm. I try not to pace the room and lean against my bedside table, fully aware that it's the exact same place I was standing the other day when I assumed I was alone and whispered my fear. I go through what I want to say in my head and I continue to look ahead when the door opens. "Hey, Louis."
"CJ. You didn't stay after your lesson with Abby yesterday."
I shake my head. "No, I had things to do here."
"What kind of things?"
Figuring out how to ask you on a date. "Nothing important, just something I had to go through with Simon." I shrug. "All sorted now."
"Oh. Okay." He seems to buy it, he most likely did see Simon walk past him after all and, unless Simon had been with him in the library, he wouldn't know when we talked. We could easily have spoke yesterday and solved the problem today. "I'm glad you've sorted it out. Is it something you've been wanting to sort out for a while? You've been acting kind of weird since we, er, talked in here the other day."
There it is. I knew he'd bring it up eventually. "Kind of. How's Kyle?"
"Good," he replies slowly, suspiciously. I almost laugh, but manage just to smile. "What?"
"Why are you so suspicious?"
"Not once have you mentioned Kyle since I did what I did. Why now?" I shrug again. I just need to know he's nothing but a friend, that it's mutual. Louis may not feel anything, but Kyle did admit that he liked him last year. He'll figure it out eventually. "Kyle is -" he hesitates. "Shit, I promised. You can't say anything."
"Scouts honor." I even raise my three fingers in salute.
"Kyle is very happy with his boyfriend," he says at last.
My eyes widen and I stand up straighter. Well, this is news. "Who?" I sound a little too excited. Strange, I don't usually care for information about others.
"So that is what you wanted to hear," he scoffs.
"I do now. I promise not to say a word. You know I won't."
"Your friend, the Head Boy."
"The very same. No one knows about Luka's sexuality, his parents are old fashioned to put it nicely. They're waiting until after graduation." He explains it all to me. They've been together since Christmas in Sixth Year. Kyle had no desire to be a part of the 'Pureblood social club', but had finally said yes to accompanying his parents to one of their parties. A party which Luka's mother hosted. They were both hiding upstairs, stayed together the whole night talking. Then they continued to see each other. Luka considers Louis a close friend and it goes both ways apparently; he told him everything.
Well, at least now I know Kyle won't ever be getting involved with Louis. I feel so much better now. Asking him out actually feels a little easier.
...No, it doesn't. I still think I'm gonna mess it up.
"I am sorry for making you jealous, but I needed to know and Kyle was the only person I was sure could get a reaction. Because of what he said last year," he says softly. "And that isn't what he meant either. He does like me, but like a friend or a brother. But no one asked him to specify, they just assumed. I've been friends with both of them since first year, it'd be weird if he liked me that way. Luka would not handle it well," he laughs softly. "Are we okay now?"
"We were always okay," I say honestly, smiling in what I hope is reassurance.
"Then why are you being so weird?" he whines. I hear him move closer, but he's still not close enough to touch me. Or if he is, he's not. "It's so hard trying to figure you out."
"Yeah, that's what my therapist said," I mutter.
"You're in therapy?"
"Was," I correct. "Before I started here. We're not talking about that." I put my finger on my lips as soon as I've spoken, so he knows not to talk. Lowering my hand slowly, I take a deep breath. "So, your detentions are over now and it's Saturday and whether you go to Hogsmeade or stay in school, Seventh Years have a midnight curfew."
"We do," he murmurs. "We don't usually do anything, though."
Ha! He said usually. Is he figuring it out? "Right. Well, there's that newish restaurant in the village that was a cafe and we could go... Tonight. To, you know, eat and talk and stuff."
"Are you asking me out, Mr. James?" he asks, chuckling. He sounds pleasantly surprised, so I'm going to allow the laughter.
"Not well," I admit, frowning. But then I join in with the laughter.
"So, all this time you've been acting weird, it's because you've been planning to ask me out."
I nod. "Obviously I'm nervous."
"I wouldn't know. I've only seen you nervous once before and you weren't so bad. I didn't recognize the signs," he tells me.
I know what he's talking about; the almost kiss on New Years. I didn't seem as nervous then compared to now. "That was different. That was a 'This is special, get it right' kind of nervous. This is the 'Idiot, why didn't you do this in September, now really get it right' kind."
"Why didn't you ask me out in September?" Louis asks curiously.
"I didn't like you enough."
"What about October?"
"You have issues with commitment, you said so yourself. I needed to know I wouldn't get hurt in the end," I say honestly, quietly. I continue down the honesty path. Maybe he should know what he'll be getting himself into with me. "Truth is I'm still not sure. But I'm willing to try. I really like you. And you know that; I know you heard me."
"I did. It made me hate what I did even more. And I feel the same." I raise my head quickly and he's right in front of me, his finger curled under my chin so we're face-to-face. "I don't want you falling in love with someone else either. I decided I won't give you the chance. I want that chance." He kisses the corner of my mouth, his hand in my hair. "I'm going to go get ready for tonight. You'd think that after waiting so long for you to ask me, I'd be more organized. I'll be here at seven," he finishes once he's at the door.
Then he's gone.
I move to my bed and collapse on top. I bury my face into my sheets for a moment, then turn onto my back "That wasn't so bad."
I finish the homework Abby set for me yesterday, working slowly because there isn't much this time, and I'm back to lying on top of my bed when Jack gets to the dorm just after six. "Hey," he says quietly when he comes in and I hear him jump onto his bed. "I saw Simon on his way out this afternoon. Did you ask Louis out?"
"Yeah, he'll be here at seven, so I'm getting ready soon," I tell him. "We're going to Ellie's."
"I hope you can get in, it's gotten very popular since it was refurbished two years ago. People from all over the country actually travel to eat there. You have to make reservations."
"We'll get in," I smirk. "What are you doing tonight?"
"Hide in the kitchen, hide in my room. You know, the usual," Jack murmurs sadly. I shake my head and narrow my eyes when I sit up. One moment he's in his bed, the next he's leaning against mine. "Don't look at me like that. You don't know."
"What happened at the house at New Year?" I ask hesitantly, getting up and balancing myself on my knees. This could go either way. Question is, will he tell me?
Yes, he will.
"Lucy and I were kind of in a relationship," he starts. "It started at Halloween. We -"
"You had sex, you can say it," I grin. "It's not a crime." He stammers, doesn't know what to say. "Oh, come on, Jack. Where did he go? Oh, where did she go? Disappearing together, what on earth could they be doing?" I say dramatically.
"Okay, I get it," Jack laughs and it sounds real for the first time in days. He pushes my shoulder, knocks me down onto the bed. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you we were sort of seeing each other. I wanted to."
"That's not important, it's your private life. Why do you keep speaking in the past tense?"
He sighs and he sounds sad again. This is so unusual for Jack, it's a little scary. No girl has ever made him sad before. "I think whatever we had is over now. At the house that morning, I actually initiated 'The Talk'. I asked her what we were doing and where it was going. I told her that just sex wasn't enough anymore and that I thought about giving a real relationship a go. You know what she said to me?" I shake my head slowly, not liking where this is going. Damn them, I'm going to have to step in and fix it. They just have to be difficult, don't they? "She said that no one could ever believe we were friends, they'd never see us in a relationship, and that we'd never get past the fighting. We'd break up quickly. She laughed when she said that, but it was a kind of weird laugh. I asked her out, Ciaran, and she said no. I know by not talking to her, I'm kind of giving a perfect example of how right she might be, but I'm just not handling the rejection very well."
I answer him the only way I know how; with blunt humor. My hands wrapped around my bedpost, I pretend to bang my head against it, muttering about how I really do have to fix it, until he does start to laugh and asks me what the hell I'm doing. I get off the bed to stand by him. "It's like I have to spell it out for you, either that or bang your heads together. We know Lucy better than anyone, we could answer questions about her that even her sister would be surprised by. So think about everything you know about her and compare it to what she said to you."
"Okay," he answers slowly and it's quiet while he thinks. I hope he's really thinking because it's the only way he's going to get past this. He needs to hurry up, though; I've got a date to get ready for. "Lucy closes herself off to people, she could sit in a crowded room and hear nothing. But that's not always true; she does listen. And if people say something, she'll do the opposite because she doesn't want them to be right. She controls what's right." He grabs my sleeve tightly. "She said people won't see us together, we'd break up. Only nstead of doing the opposite and letting us try to prove they're not right, she's not even going try so that they never see if they're right."
"Why? You know why, you know her better than anyone."
He let's me go slowly, I think he's processing it. "Because she's scared of that being true. She's scared of breaking up. And I've been proving her right by not talking to her."
I clap my hands. "Well done, you're a big boy now. What are you going to do?"
"I'm not going to take no for answer," he calls, already leaving the room.
"Hey!" I yell. I beckon him back over with my finger, curling it in my direction three times. "You have all night to talk to Lucy. I have less than an hour to get ready. So, now I've helped you, you can help me." I point to the end of my bed, where my trunk is. "I don't know where my smart clothes are. Thank God I brought them, I never thought I'd ever need them."
"We're going lightening fast," he growls. "Armani?"
I scoff. "No, he's not that special tonight."
"I thought you were doing all this to prove he was that special to you?" he asks, very confused.
"He is, but not tonight. He tried to make me jealous, I'm punishing him," I explain. "Not that he knows this."
"Ralph Lauren it is," he mutters, going through my trunk quickly. "I'd thought Armani would have helped with the punishment, though. I was there when all the girls and a fair few guys saw you and said you looked sexy as hell. I actually didn't recognize you and had to agree," he admits, chuckling.
"Good to know. And no, I want to punish him, I don't want to hurt him. You're making showing off sound like bringing him to his knees and then kicking him while he's done. He's apologized enough, I'm not cruel. Have you found it?"
He drops what must be my clothes on the bed. "Yes, all folded and neat and clean and ready to be worn. Although I still think you should wear the Armani; it makes your ass look good. Which I happen to know because it was what your admirers were commenting on all night. I still hate you for that by the way," he says, walking away again. This time I don't stop him. I don't need to. "My butt is my asset, no one compared to me until you wore that. Your asset is your eyes, you're not supposed to have two."
"I thought it was always my butt," I smirk. "Who comments on my eyes?"
"Everyone. Louis. I won't tell you what he actually said. I could taste the cheese, I almost wondered if I was lactose intolerant," Jack jokes, back to his old self. See, because I helped.
I agree with his words about Louis, still a little shocked that my eyes are an asset. I've never thought about what other people could see when they saw me. I never thought people would comment on my eyes. Now I really want to know what they say. It's got to be good or Jack wouldn't tell me. "He's a sneaky bastard, your boyfriend, or your soon-to-be boyfriend, he knows it makes people uncomfortable and he uses it. He is perfect for you when you think about it. I fear what would happen if someone ever crossed both of you. Or you managed to rule the world. No one would be safe."
I choose to ignore the second part of his ramblings. I'd be an awesome ruler. "I know what he does and why when he's cheesy, I practically spend every waking moment with the guy. But sometimes he genuinely means it."
"Every waking moment?" Jack asks.
I shrug. "I know, right? I think he likes me. Who'd have thought," I laugh. "Go talk to Lucy."
"Yes, boss. Thank you."
"Anytime. Now go, before I make you get the Armani out, just to keep you here."
The door slams shut behind him. I thought so. My watch says it's half past six. With enough time to get a quick shower, I find my towel and make use of my time in the bathroom while my roommates aren't here.
Okay, never mind asking someone out being scary. We're not even out yet and my hands are shaking.
I really am going to embarrass myself, aren't I?
A/N: It must be nice having rich grandparents who like to spoil their youngest grandson. I don't actually know if anyone would prefer Armani to Ralph Lauren clothes, but Ciaran does. :P I guess that's just his preference.
I said Ciaran and Louis would get better and you'd know what happened between Jack and Lucy. Now they'll get better, too. :D
Next chapter: Date. Let me know what you think. I can't believe we're almost at 100 reviews... :O THANK YOU!
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