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Chapter 4 : Weaknesses and Non Dates
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Right now, Hugo wanted Connor McCarthy. He wasn't going to give it up just because the man was being difficult. He just needed a new tactic; flirting obviously wasn't the way to go. Even if he did occasionally get a smile, sometimes a chuckle. It wasn't enough; Hugo would just have to find another way.
He watched Connor every so often throughout breakfast, wondering how he'd spend the day. It was Saturday and seventh years were free to visit Hogsmeade during the weekend, whenever during that time, as long as they were back for the midnight curfew. Most went out, either to hang out with friends or go on dates at the posh restaurant that apparently used to be a little tea shop that made people cringe just walking past. Hugo wasn't this time; he found the trips dreadful when he had no purpose there, only going in the first place because Lily would drag him. She'd end up leaving him eventually, which meant he'd stop at Honeydukes before coming back to school alone. He'd made it clear before they arrived in the Great Hall that he would not be wasting an hour of his life in the village when he could be Connor.
But what if Connor decided he wanted to go out? Hugo had seen him there a few times, though not every weekend, so he crossed his fingers. If Connor did decide he wanted to go into the village, Hugo would just have to suck it up and follow.
He couldn't help but be amused by Connor's eye roll every time he looked up and saw Hugo watching, that it had taken him almost ten minutes to get used to being watched and actually eat somehow made it funnier. Hugo had thought he'd already be used to it after a week. No, Hugo remembered quickly, Connor should be used to having being stared at for a while now; Shane Jordan wasn't taking his eyes off Connor either, except to glare at Hugo.
Lily had warned Hugo too many times to count that he couldn't follow through with his want to break the guy's nose, just to give him something else to do, but he promised that he was capable of controlling himself.
Lily didn't need to know that.
Hugo left first - Connor had threatened to hurt him if he was followed again and while he wasn't afraid of the man, physically or magically, it felt like a negative start to their relationship - and waited around the corner, by the stairs. It didn't take long, Connor practically stuck to a schedule, and he soon saw the man walking past.
"My middle name is Matthew," he called out, surprising Connor for the first time. Hugo stepped forward, watching his eyes narrow ever so slightly, and hoped the plan he was definitely making up as he went along was good enough.
"I said -"
"Not to follow you," Hugo interrupted quickly, his voice steady and calm. "I didn't; I was already here, you walked past and I spoke. It's not the same."
Connor scoffed, hardly able to believe that Hugo had found a way around his threat. "Well, you're persistent, I'll give you that. And I don't care what your middle name is."
"Of course you don't," he agreed, catching up to Connor easily. He chose to ignore the sigh that came from the man's mouth. "You don't care because you don't know me, but by telling you, by getting to know each other, things might change. So, we'll go one at a time with the same topic."
"Why?" Connor demanded, his voice a little harsh. But Hugo didn't care about that, he cared about the way it seemed to make his accent stronger. "Why do you suddenly want to know me?"
"Because I kind of like you," Hugo answered, surprised to find that he was actually being honest. Connor wasn't like the others; he made Hugo think, made him work for what he wanted, and though he was wishing he could make some progress, he had to admit that it made Connor... desirable. Even if they only made it to his bed, it would be more than just a date, and that was what he was starting to want.
"I kind of like you," he repeated. "And I'd like to at least know you before we graduate, even if nothing happens. So, my middle name is Matthew."
"Sean Rhys," Connor finally answered, a hint of reluctance and more than a little suspicion in his voice, and continued to walk.
Hugo had no idea where they were going, but followed - it wasn't like they could really go anywhere, besides Hogsmeade, and he knew that wasn't it the moment they stepped outside and Connor turned. "They're nice. I like Sean. And Rhys is Welsh, right?"
"Yeah. It was my maternal grandfather's name. He died before I was born."
"Oh, I'm sorry." Connor just shrugged, so Hugo continued. "I play the guitar."
"I don't play any instruments."
It continued as they walked: Hugo loved thriller movies, Connor loved comedies; Hugo preferred cookie dough ice cream to Connor's rocky road; they both liked the color blue and agreed that Magpies Chaser Cody McIntyre deserved Witch Weekly's 'Hottest Wizard' award. The more they talked, the more Connor seemed to involve himself in the conversation, giving small explanations rather than monotone one word answers. He even smiled a couple of times, really smiled.
They'd been by the lake for over an hour - Connor had led him to a spot quite a distance away from the school - and Conner was beginning to think that Hugo had finally run out of things to talk about when he sat up to look at him properly. "I like tattoos," Hugo told him. "No, I love tattoos."
"Is that your turn on then?" Connor asked, smirking just a little. "Your weakness? You see a tattoo on a guy and just have to have him? I feel like it's time I point out that I don't have any."
For the first time in as long as Hugo could remember, he felt his cheeks go hot and prayed Connor wouldn't notice. But he did; his smirk grew wider.
"No," Hugo muttered, clearing his throat. "I like them on guys, sure, but I meant on me. I'm thinking of getting one."
"Maybe it's not, but there is something," Connor teased, nudging him in the leg with his foot. The touch was brief, barely a second, but Hugo knew he'd replay the moment over and over in his head. It was the closest Connor had ever come to him - now there was progress, he liked to think. "There is something in this world that makes Hugo Weasley's heart race and his head go cloudy and his body react oh-so-physically."
"Do you know that this is the longest conversation we've ever had?" Hugo pointed out, trying to make his voice as steady as it had been before; Connor was not supposed to be doing this, it shouldn't be happening, but now that it was, Hugo hoped the man would understand what his words meant, so that he wouldn't have to say it.
More than that, he prayed he wouldn't have to say it.
He thought it would be even better if Connor just took it as a change of subject.
"So?" he shrugged. "What's me talking got to do with your turn - oh. Oh, you gotta love the Irish." Hugo groaned and fell back down onto the grass; maybe he was dreaming.
I mean, Connor is touching me and talking to me? That just doesn't happen. It must be a dream.
But everything felt horribly real.
"I have spent all week trying to figure out why you would suddenly be so interested in me," Connor continued and Hugo was sure his accent was stronger than before. "But now this makes a little sense. Just a little because I've barely spoken to you, but talking has been what you've been trying to get me to do. Why now, though? That's what gets me."
"Can't you just accept that I kind of like you and that your accent has little to do with it because I'd barely heard you speak?" Hugo asked quietly, so not to sound like he was pleading.
"No, you still knew I was Irish," he replied. He pulled a face. "It's not because that dick Mickey Finnigan has gone, is it?"
"It has nothing to do with him," Hugo said sharply, surprising Connor for the second time that day - it was clear how angry he was.
The tension in the air was palpable and once he was calm, Hugo started to fear that his outburst, maybe even the entire conversation, has been a step backwards. Or a few. But Connor actually smiled again. "I'm glad," he said softly. "After an admittedly nice morning, hearing that would have sucked. I like tattoos, too," he added, continuing their conversation.
Hugo grinned almost wickedly. "The Irish accent is my weakness."
Connor leant further back into the tree, his neck craned so that he was looking up at the sky. "I'm starting to think that persistence is mine."
The thought that came to Hugo's mind when Connor suggested that they have lunch in the kitchens was that the man didn't want people to see him with someone who had a reputation as big as Hugo's - which he'd assured Connor was not completely true, especially the one's about him in school since there was barely a handful of guys who batted for his or both teams in Hogwarts - but when the house elves greeted him like an old friend, Hugo understood that this was just a normal weekend occurance. One that Hugo was surprised, and secretly glad, he'd been invited to.
"It isn't hard to believe that people are making things up completely," Connor conceded between bites of his chicken salad sandwich. "Rumors spread way too easily here."
"As someone on the receiving end of most of them, I have to agree," Hugo replied. "Although, the one about me and the Witch Weekly model is my favorite."
"Because that one's true," he winked. "We went out last summer. He was fun. Was Shane fun?"
"I never had fun with Shane," Connor said, making sure he got the insinuation. Hugo smiled; he wasn't surprised at all, given Connor's apparent hatred of being touched. "Actually, Shane was no fun at all."
"Is that why you dumped him?"
"Among other things," he said vaguely.
Conversation took a simpler turn after that; they talked about their Charms homework, comparing bits of their essays, what they had and hadn't put in, and concluded that they both had to get Exceeds Expectations at least, though Hugo knew his essay was Outstanding. He wouldn't have handed it in otherwise. It wasn't as boring as he'd thought it would be, Connor's comments making him laugh on more than one occasion.
"What are you doing tomorrow?" Hugo asked when he saw that Connor had finished.
"Leaving me now?"
Hugo shook his head, smiling. "Not if you want to come with me to the library, there's extra reading I want to do. But if you don't, what are you doing tomorrow?"
"Absolutely nothing," Connor replied warily.
"Cool because I was thinking that maybe we could go out."
"I just knew you'd ask me out eventually," he sighed. "Look, Hugo -"
"It doesn't have to be a date," Hugo told him quickly, hoping it would be enough to reassure Connor if he really didn't want it, but left him a little hopeful that it could be a date, at least one day. "It's just two new friends - I hope we're friends, or almost friends, anyway - hanging out. My cousin and other friend might even join us, but they're kind of going out, so, if they do, they'll ditch us quickly."
The silence between them stretched to the point where it was almost uncomfortable. Hugo was sure he could see Connor's mind turning, weighing up his options, the pros and cons of spending the day with Hugo outside of school, where people could see them. People would talk, rumors would spread - it was a big decision.
"Just friends?" he finally asked. Hugo nodded and Connor hesitantly copied. "Alright. We can go out. But it's not a date."
"Definitely not. You can even put a little distance between us while we walk," Hugo joked.
"Yeah, we can talk about that in the library; I want to make a start on my Arithmancy work." He held open the door, waiting for Hugo to move. "After you."
Hugo grinned, liking how the day had turned out. Progress. Yeah, it was definitely progress.
A/N: Hey, guys. Sorry it's been so long. I plan more of this story every day, but my want to write comes and goes. I'm not sure why that is. I hope you enjoyed this chapter, please let me know what you think. :)
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