Chapter Seven – Disastrous Dates and Interrogations
In what obscure world did I think this was going to be a good idea? I mean really, a date? To begin with, I am in Seventh Year and I have never even been on a date before… I have no idea what to expect while Rob has probably been on a thousand dates and knows exactly what to do. Secondly, it had suddenly occurred to James that my two best friends were going on a date together and I would have no one to go to Hogsmeade with so he invited me along. I have no idea what is wrong with that boy but you do not invite another girl on your date. Alice ranted at me for a whole hour after he mentioned it in the library… She kept going on about how James wasn’t taking their ‘relationship’ seriously. Yes, they are in a ‘relationship’ now apparently. I wonder if James actually knows that.
Anyway, when I said I had other plans anyway, James casually asked me what they were and what did I do? I lied. I told him that Frankie and I were going to get some lunch at the Three Broomsticks. Of course, I did not really think through my little white lie before I said it because I know for a fact that Frankie is going on a date with Callum Jenkins – one of James’ best friends – and that Rob was probably going to mention to James that he was taking me on a date because, well, Rob was James’ other best friend. So really, the second James pulls his mind (and mouth) away from Alice, he will suddenly realise that I lied to him. Which means I am screwed because then he won’t trust me anymore and he will want to know why I lied to him and why I was going on a date with Rob and why I felt the need to lie about my date with Rob and why I was avoiding him a little at the moment and… Merlin, the list is endless.
And another problem? I have no idea what to wear. I mean, seriously, what do you wear on a date during summer in Scotland? Hell, what do you even wear on a date? Oh Merlin, why did you allow me to get myself into such a mess?
“Eloise… you need to calm down,” Alice mutters. “You’re just going for lunch with Frankie… It’s no biggy,” she frowns. Across the room, Frankie raises her eyebrow at me and I make her a pleading face to not tell Alice that she was in fact going out with Callum. To be honest, I am surprised Alice has not realised my lie. Because yes, I did lied to her too… Well, technically I lied to James and she just happened to be there (on his lap) and I never bothered to correct her.
“I know, I know,” I mutter quickly in response and Frankie shrugs and rolls her eyes at me. She of course, knows exactly who I am going on a date with. Because Callum told her. She practically cornered me and demanded an answer. When I told her I was indeed going on a date with Rob, she gave me this funny look before shrugging and walking off. Merlin knows what goes through that girl’s head.
“Come on, I said I would meet James at eleven and it is already three minutes past!” Alice whines and I have to refrain myself from snorting at her. After all, three minutes was nothing and James was always late anyway. Eventually, I decide on a pair on skinny jeans, a white sheer blouse over a white strappy top and my favourite pumps. I glance at Frankie who asses my outfit and gives me a discreet nod and a smile. “Right, let’s go,” Alice demands, pushing us both out the door.
When we get to the Entrance Hall, we spot James, Rob and Callum all waiting by the stair case. Alice runs at James, immediately latching her lips to his. I silently thank Merlin for the distraction (however painful it is to my own heart) because it means James doesn’t notice Rob greet me with a kiss on the cheek and a whispered: ‘You look beautiful’. I won’t try to deny my cheeks are a little warm.
I spot Frankie whispering in Callum’s ear and he nods, shooting me a smile. When Alice and James finally break apart, James turns to say hello and tries to ruffle my hair. I slap him away playfully, the warmth in my cheeks still present. Callum suggests we all walk down to Hogsmeade together and Frankie and I are quick to agree. She sends me a discreet wink and I am lead to believe Callum’s suggestion was really her idea. I mouth ‘thank you’.
The walk to Hogsmeade is pleasant enough. Alice drags James along by the hand and demands all his attention so I do not have to talk to him, Callum sucks Rob into a conversation about some muggle support and Frankie comes to chat with me.
“So tell me Eloise,” she murmurs, lowering her voice. “Why does our dear Alice think that you and I are going to lunch?”
“Ah…” I make a grimacing face. “Well James dumbly asked if I wanted to come to Hogsmeade with him and Alice and Alice went off on one so I told them I had other plans anyway and James asked with who and, well… I didn’t know if Rob had mentioned to James that we were, you know, and I didn’t want to upset anyone so I just said I was going for lunch with you…” It was at least half true. I thought it was only fair that Rob told James he was taking me on a, um, date but that was not the real reason I lied and I think Frankie knows it. I just hope to Merlin she doesn’t know what the real reason actually is. “But thanks for saving my ass with Alice earlier.”
“No problem,” she murmurs but I can tell her mind is far away.
“See you later guys,” Alice calls over her shoulder as she drags James away, leaving the four of us watching them in silence. After I few moments, I turn away from the retreating couples back to see that Callum’s arm has found its way around Frankie’s waist and they appear to being in silent conversation while Rob is staring at me in faint amusement.
“You didn’t tell them we were going on a date did you?” he asks and I can tell the ‘them’ he is referring to just walked off hand in hand.
“I thought you might want to tell him…” I shrug, hoping he does not mind that much. He just sighs and shakes his head before reaching out to take my hand. I almost pull away. Almost. And then I remember why I am here in the first place and that is get to try and move on from the guy who is currently dating my other best friend. We wave goodbye to Callum and Frankie but I don’t think they notice before heading down the main street. It is oddly comfortable between Rob and I and my fears of an awkward date slip away quickly.
We chatter and laugh as we browse through Honeydukes and Zonkos, talking about everything and nothing and I surprise myself by having a good time. Yet somehow, it doesn’t really feel like a date. I feel like I am just having fun with a friend. So really, I should have seen it coming.
“Come on,” Rob grins, taking my hand again. “Let’s get some coffee.” We wander back out onto the main street and, to my confusion, he leads me past the Three Broomsticks and up towards a shop I have never set foot in my entire life. Madam Puddifoot's.
Not wanting to sound rude, I simply follow him in without a word. We are greeted by the most horrendous tinkling tune and my eyes are mortally offended by an ambush of frills and lace. The small tea shop was littered with small round tables and lace covered chairs; lacy napkins in varying shades of pale pink were spread across the tables and occupying the fragile looking chairs were couple after couple of loved up school students. This was the last place I wanted to drink coffee.
“Hello dears,” smiled a stout woman as she navigated her way between the tables towards us, levitating a train of china tea cups. Pink rimmed china tea cups. “Just follow me sweethearts, there’s a table just over here, make yourselves comfortable and I’ll send a menu over to you,” she smiled again. It was a sickening smile.
Rob look around and I could see he regretted his decision to come here. It was a horrific place. Merlin knows how she has managed to keep it open for so long.
“I’ve heard they do good chocolate cake,” he shrugs awkwardly at me. I laugh lightly and he relaxes.
“Come on then, I supposes there’s no harm in trying it,” I smile and lead the way to the table the woman had indicated. “This chocolate cake better be amazing,” I tease and he blushes slightly. We both order the chocolate cake and she frowns when we opt for coffee over her ‘delightful and world famous tea’.
“I’m sorry,” Rob mutters. “My brother said that girls like coming here, I had no idea it would be so…”
“Frilly?” I supply.
“Yeah,” he laughs.
“Don’t worry,” I shrug. “It can’t be that bad, the cake looks good after all,” I gesture to where a nearby couple are demolishing rather large helpings of the chocolate cake. “Hold on… Isn’t your brother in his Fifth Year?”
“Uh, yeah,” Rob confesses. “Look, clearly, I don’t take girls on date very often,” he explains. “And Ned was just like ‘take her to Puddifoots’, girls love it there’; I think he might have been having me on,” Rob frowns, no doubt plotting revenge on his brother.
“I’m not sure…” I look around. “They certainly look like they like it here, maybe you just picked the wrong girl,” I tease again just as our coffee and cake arrives. We both tuck in and let our thoughts drift. Mine drift straight to my two best friends and I wonder in James has every taken Alice here. Or rather, if Alice has ever taken James here, as she appears to be the boss in their ‘relationship’.
We continue to chat over the sound of snogging couple and Rob’s manages to entwine our fingers again without me even noticing. Once again, I find myself wondering if it is actually possible, maybe I could really get over James. Maybe I could fall from Rob. He was a nice, genuine guy and I liked spending time with him. And he asked me on a date so he must like me a bit too… Unless he has ulterior motives. Like I did in accepting his offer. Now I am just becoming paranoid.
“Eloise…” Rob murmurs, leaning closer to me so that I can hear him. “I know this hasn’t been the perfect date,” he cringes as he gestures around the room. “But I’ve had a really good time with you,” he smiles. “I just… Well, I was wondering if…” I honestly do know what comes over me but I find myself leaning closer to him so that our faces are only centimetres apart. Rob stops talking and his eyes flicker down to my lips before swiftly returning to my own.
My pulse begins to quicken, from nerves or something else I am not sure. His free hand reaches up to stroke my cheek before creeping around the back of neck in order to pull me just that little bit closer. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I register the couple next to us get up to leave. I can feel Rob’s breath on my face now and there is a questioning look in his eyes… Just as I am about to reply to that question, something yanks us apart.
“What the fuck do you think you are doing, you wanker!” a male voice screams, seconds before a fist comes flying at Rob’s face. Rob manages to dodge out of the way but the second attempt lands straight on his jaw, sending him flying backwards in his chair. I look up in horror to see James grabbing Rob’s robes and hoisting him back off the floor so he can get another go at his face.
“James!” I gasp. “James! Let go of him!”
“James!” another voice joins in my plea and I glance to my right to see Alice sitting at the table to over from us. The couple that had been occupying the table next to us must have been blocking their view of Rob and me. Alice gets up and trips as she tries to run around the obstructing table.
“James! Please let go! He didn’t do anything!” I beg.
“Jamsie, what are you doing?” Alice cries. “James, please stop…”
“James!” I shout as he throws Rob to the ground again and bend over to punch him in the face. My shout seems to finally get through his thick skull as he pauses and looks up at me. There is anger on his face. Pure and unrivalled anger. I have never seen him this angry before. “Let go of Rob,” I order and to my surprise, James lets go of Rob’s robes and shoves him roughly back to the floor before standing up, dusting his own robes and coming over to me. He grabs my arm without a word and drags me from the claustrophobic tea shop where the stout woman who greeted us is gaping open mouthed at the wreck in the middle of all the tables.
Outside, the wind had picked up and is now bitingly cold against my skin. James says nothing as he drags me down the street. People give us odd looks as we pass and one woman even looks as if she might say something to James. He doesn’t stop though. He just keeps walking.
“For Merlin’s sake James, what is the matter with you?” I finally snap. At last, he stops marching and turns to face me. The anger is still shining from his faces and he studies the expression on mine. I think it is one of shock and confusion. Definitely confusion.
“What is the matter with me, Eloise? How about I just saw the only person in the whole world that I thought I could trust and that I knew, getting it on with one of my bet mates in Madam Puddifoot's!” he shouts. People are definitely starting to stare at us now so this time, I grab his arm and drag him into an almost deserted alleyway, scaring off a couple of Fourth Years who looked like they were on their first date.
“I was not ‘getting it on’ with Rob,” I snap. “I was about to kiss him if that is what you mean but I was not ‘getting it on’ with him!” I seethe. What right does he have to judge me? “For Merlin’s sake James! Why the hell did you punch him?”
“Because he was trying it on with you!” he shouted in return.
“So? We were on a date, James… It’s what you do on dates.”
“You told me you were going to lunch with Frankie!” he bellows in fury.
“How dumb are you James? Of course Frankie was going to spend the day with Callum! And Rob asked me if I wanted to go on a date with him and I figured: why not? He’s a nice guy, he seems genuine… Why not give it a go?”
“Because- Because he’s- He’s-” he splutters.
“He’s what James?”
“Merlin, I don’t know! But Madam Puddifoot's? That’s not you Eloise! The girl I thought you were would never set foot in the place! I just don’t get it!”
“Yeah well there’s a lot you don’t know about me James!” I yell. “Like- Like-” Like I love you.
“Like what Eloise?”
“Never mind,” I mutter, turning my head away. I cannot believe I almost told him. I have kept it a secret for so long and I almost just threw that all away. What was I thinking?
“No Lou, like what?” James persists, reaching a hand out to rest on my crossed arms. Merlin he is standing so close. “Please, tell me Lou… I’m confused and I feel like I don’t know you anymore. Please tell me. You know you can trust me. We’re best friends right?” Yeah. Best friends. That is the problem James. I do not want to be best friends with you anymore. I want to be more than that. I am a fool for ever thinking I could get over James Sirius Potter. I am just as bad as the rest of them: pining for the emotionally unattainable James Potter.
“It’s nothing, really, I’m just worried about NEWTs,” I lie. When did lying to James become so easy? I look up at him and smile slightly. I am not sure if he fully believes my lie but he accepts it anyway. “Come on, let’s go back to the castle,” I suggest, shivering slightly. James immediately hands me his cloak. Chivalrous Gryffindor.
The castle is still relatively quiet when James and I get back. I tell him I have to finish my Herbology essay but I will see him at dinner, before almost running to the Hufflepuff common room. I am still shaken from how close I came to telling James how I really felt and I cannot help but wonder where I would be now if I had let those three words slip out. I love you. Merlin I am pathetic.
It does not take long before the door to the dorm slams open and Alice storms in. When she sees me, her eyes narrow.
“What the fuck was that about?” she snapped. “Can’t you just get that he is my boyfriend! You know the other day one of the Entwhistle twins from Ravenclaw grabbed my ass on the way to Transfiguration and James didn’t even notice. Did. Not. Even. Notice. So when Rob goes in to kiss you, James goes all protective and punches the daylight out of him! I mean what the fuck? He’s my boyfriend! He should be protective over me! Not over you – you’re just his friend!” she shouts. “Look here Eloise. Stay the fuck away from my boyfriend. Stay the fuck away from James,” she orders before marching back out and slamming the door behind her.
The second the door shuts, I burst into tears.
Please don't hate me... Let me know what you think instead. Angry with Alice? James? Rob? Mad with Eloise? Poor Madam Puddifoot, a fight in a tea shop, how shocking. Anyway, thank you for reading I hope you enjoyed some of it at least,
P.S. Isn't Rob beautiful?