Chapter 13 : Look of Love
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And the tender look on his face
Look at the way he looks at her now
Isn’t that the look of love?
“Over here, Neville!” I call out as I lift myself onto my toes, calling to my sweetie over the surprisingly active bustle of the Welsh Herbologists Convention.
“You found them?” Neville hurries towards me, rubbing his hands together in buoyant anticipation, our hour-long quest through the convention tables coming to an end. “Oh no, Hannah.” Neville’s face falls as he sees the table I’ve led him to. "This is gurdyroot. I was looking for the goosegrass specialist.”
“Oh, whoops.” I try to make my most endearing smile through the blushing of my mortified cheeks. “Well, they shouldn’t make the names so similar for things that look alike!”
Neville tilts his head in genuine consideration, “Actually, neither of those things are really that -”
“Just let me have this one,” I blurt out, grabbing his hand and batting my eyes at him in entreaty.
Neville can’t help but laugh. “Of course, lovely. You can have this and every other ‘one’ you like.”
Now it is my turn to laugh, a delighted giggle as I swing our arms back and forth together. I can feel the warmth of his smile as he leans over to kiss my temple and we begin to weave our way through the crowd.
“We’ll stop by the Welcome Witch again before we leave - she should be able to point us the right direction.”
I peek a glance at Neville through the corner of my eye as he says this, a knowing grin forming on my lips. “You’ve sure made good use of her today, haven’t you?”
Neville’s face doesn’t change. “Sure, I stopped by a couple times. I found her very helpful.”
“Mm-hmm.” I nod in mock innocence. “Very helpful. And pretty.”
I watch Neville carefully, studying how his brow furrows and his pace gradually slows as he tries to puzzle through the meaning behind my words. Then, quite suddenly, he stops and turns to face me, dropping my hand.
“It’s nothing to be ashamed about,” I encourage him cheerfully. “It’s exciting to see you taking an interest in someone else.”
I watch the disconnect flare between Neville’s eyes and mouth as he struggles to find words, his typical adorable stutters lost under the sounds of the crowd. Then, instead, he takes my hand again and pulls us behind the closest booth. I become aware of the weight of my own breath before I realize that the sounds of the crowd have faded away, apparently under cover of a quieting charm.
“Hannah,” he says slowly, “I really appreciate what you’re trying to do, but it’s not necessary.”
“Of course, it’s no rush.” I squeeze his hand in sunny camaraderie. ”You don’t have to hurry into anything until you find someone with a good connection. But... from where I am standing, the way you look at her and the way she looks back does look a lot like that kind of connection.”
“Hannah,” he begins with a deep breath, “I love you. And I love the way that you love. All of the ways that you love - me and anyone else. But that’s not the way that I love. No matter how I look at anyone else, I don’t want any connection but the one I have with you.”
“Yeah, but - “ I halt mid-protest, unsure what I am even arguing. He loves me with such a full selfless devotion and it’s the last thing in the world I want to dispute. Some small part of my heart is disappointed that I can’t take him on a mirror of the sublime journey Susan has led me through. But now, looking up into the steadfast tenderness of his eyes, only one question seems to matter.
Our smiles grow as they lean into each other, and they do not fade for the rest of the night.
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