-Chapter twenty two-
“Where did you disappear to?” I asked as Ana wandered down the stairs in a daze. “I’ve been looking for you.”
She pointed vaguely over her shoulder. “My aunt and Nat.”
“Okay. Well I wanted to give you this before you run away again.” I said presenting a small lumpy present. I had had it in my pocket all evening. It had taken me forever to find and now I just hoped she liked it.
“What's this?” she asked dumbly staring like it would bite if she dared reach her hand out.
“A Christmas present?”
“You already gave me my present.”
“Yes, my sketch?” She replied.
I immediately argued the point. “Who says it’s your sketch? I drew it so that makes it – would you just take the present?”
She took the small parcel from my hand. “I loved the sketch by the way.” she said quietly, just staring at the present. It was like she really didn’t want it.
“You are infuriating you know that?”
“What?” She looked back down at her hand. “Oh... open it?”
“That’s what one usually does with presents.”
Ana gave it a small shake, bringing it up close to her ear as if listening closely. “You know I think this small present may beginning to feel a negative vibe. No longer is it a present of kindness. It can feel the hostility – “
“Do I have to take it away from you?”
She shook he head slowly. “I’ll open it.”
“Praise the lord.”
Whether it was just to annoy me further or not, she picked at the sticky tape edge. I turned away as if to leave.
“Okay, okay.” She called out, light laughter in her voice; She pulled the velvet bag from the paper and paused, taking a second to look at me again.
“You are killing me you know that?”
“Sorry.” She said quietly. She tipped the bag and the gold bracelet tumbled into her hand. Attached to it were two small charms that I had painstakingly chosen... well the first one was easy, the second not so and third as it came with a story I had to share much more difficult.
Watching her stare at the pile of gold I plucked the bracelet from her palm. “I know how sentimental you can be.” I said as I held it out, waiting for her to offer a wrist. “You can add to it with every special occasion.”
My hands were shaking. I hoped she couldn’t see.
“I am not sentimental.” She said quietly turning it in the light.
Relief. I knew that in Ana terms arguing was as good, if not better than a thankyou. I grinned. “A simple thankyou would once again suffice.”
Her arm was still suspended in midair as she looked up at me, her head cocked to one side. “Why are we friends?”
Not what I was expecting. “I’m sorry?” Is shocked the right word? No, it was definitely shock.
She shrugged “It’s just a question. I want to know why are we friends.”
I really thought I was joking. I shook my head. “Gosh Ana, fishing for compliments are we? Because my life would be positively empty without you around.”
“And you say I make a joke of everything.” She said whiney voice. My eyes bulged. Like literally.
“You’re being serious. You want me to tell you why we are friends?”
Bewilderment followed. At least shocked was gone. “Where did all this come from?”
“Where did this come from?” she asked holding up her hand. “And please don’t say a jewellers.”
“Ana – “ I trailed off shaking his head. I didn’t know what to say. “I don’t know what to say. I don’t know.”
She nodded like it was the answer she expected. “Well then that’s all needed to hear. Now if you will excuse me.” She said turning to leave but I stopped her by grabbing my arm. I couldn’t let her leave again not without knowing what was going on. I tried to explain what I was thinking.
“You are one fascinating girl, you know that?” I said in bewilderment.
“That doesn’t say why we are friends though! I think the process of making cheese is fascinating!”
“Are you comparing yourself to cheese?”
“No you are!”
“You aren’t making any sense.”
“Did you know the sea-maid refused to kill the prince even to save herself?”
“No I didn’t.” I said, puzzled by her strange and seemingly random thoughts.
“Neither did I until today. I always just thought she died but she didn’t.”
I didn’t say anything for a moment and neither did Ana. She just stared at me. “Are you trying to tell me you don’t like the bracelet?”
“No, I love it.” She said with a sigh, turning it around her wrist again. “Thankyou.” She fingered the charmed. Only two of the three were attached. An ‘A’ and a tiny glittery tiara.
She looked back up at me and I pre-empted the question. “They were out of say no to fairytale plaques so this...” I paused to shrug. “For the day you realise you want to be the fairytale princess. You will always have it there.”
She laughed bitterly; I could have sworn she was close to tears. “Somebody gives me jewellery I actually like and I start yelling. I’m sorry.”
I looked down at my hands then back up at her. “Ana – “ I said at the same time her mother stepped up besides us.
Ana looked back at me then to her mother in confusion, like she wasn’t quite sure what was happening. I quickly closed my mouth. I couldn’t be sure what was planning to follow that tiny plaintive ’Ana’ that had escaped.
“Sorry Honey.” She said gently touching her arm. “Ida wants to say hi.”
She nodded and turned to leave, and then she turned back. “Oh. Sirius this is my mother, Mother this is Sirius Black.” she looked up at me and cocked her head to the side. “A friend from school.”
My eyes were still on Ana as I extended my hand to her mother.
She nodded as she shook my hand. “Sirius Black?” She repeated. “I remember you. The last minute invite. Are you here with the Potters again?” She asked, looking around. “I must talk to them.”
“No, I invited him actually.” Ana responded looking between us. “What are you talking about?”
“Is that how you met?” She asked ignoring Ana’s question.
Ana’s eyes widened. “In a way, yes.” I managed to croak out.
“Oh, that’s lovely. I always though Ana had a horrible time but I am glad to hear she had a friend to talk to.”
I had yet to look away from Ana. I could almost see the wheels in her head turning this information over. “It was her birthday.” I said more to her than to her mother.
Ana nodded slowly, without meeting my eyes. “Excuse me.” she whispered, turning to flee.
“Ana!” I moved to stop her but her mother stopped me instead.
“No, it wasn’t.” she disagreed, looking confused.
“August 25th, it was.” I insisted before chasing after Ana, leaving her mother to finally fret that she had missed her only daughters sixteenth birthday. I couldn’t care, there was one place that Ana would run to and that’s where I needed to be.
If I had wanted to hide from Sirius the creek probably wasn’t the smartest place to go. But I didn’t want to hide exactly I just needed a head start to process this one. It was too wet to sit on my favourite rock so there I stood, facing the still creek stupidly wondering why tonight I could see the waters edge. I guess we wouldn’t be laughing into the darkness tonight.
Was I making the right deduction here? Anyone? No?
Sirius couldn’t be the same person I met that night. It didn’t seem possible.
Nat had only said knew who he was, she hadn’t said he knew who he was and there he had stood infront of my mother claiming to have met me on my birthday. I only met one person on my birthday and I guess I just found it out was Sirius Black. Or my Mr midnight, Cinderella man and any other lame name Nat had christened him with.
So Sirius had just become my Mr midnight. No big deal. My too good to be true wannabe fairytale perfect illusion of mystery man did in fact exist after all. No big deal at all.
I was almost mad that I didn’t put two and two together sooner. That he hadn’t told me. That Nat hadn’t told me when she found out, however she had in the first place. Argh. I felt so stupid! Poor little Ana, always the last to know. So clueless in the game of life.
I could hear the crunching of snow behind me. I stood still not daring to turn around. It was only true if he came out here looking for me. If it was anyone else...
“I had a feeling you would be out here again. Very predictable.” He said. I was not sure if I felt relieved or not to recognise the voice.
“Don’t tease me.” I managed to choke out. I wrapped my arms tightly around my waist both as protection from the cold and whatever Sirius was going to say.
“You must be freezing out here. Come back inside so we can talk.”
As he said that I shivered. “It’s not so bad.” I lied. Shaking his head at my stupidity he stepped forward, placing his jacket around my shoulders.
I pulled it closer. “Predictable.” I joked feebly.
“Well if you insist on being out here.” There was a pause. “Are you mad?”
“No.” I said. “Maybe a little. I feel stupid.” He was silent. My laughter was slightly bitter. “Thanks for disagreeing.”
I turned so we were facing each other, careful not to slip. Tonight I did not want to end up in the creek. “I was just so angry that night.”
“Now I am just embarrassed. I never talk like that.” He nodded. I think he knew that too by now. “Have you known from the start? Is that why you started talking to me that day?”
He shook his head. “That was pure coincidence. I told you why I spoke to you that day. I had no idea who you were until a couple of weeks ago. I hadn’t thought about enigma girl much at all actually.”
How very flattering.
“Then you quoted me.”
I did? When?
“Was it the best advice you ever got Ana?”
Oh. I remembered now. The day after the sugar fest when he was supposed to have helped me with my homework. I guess that didn’t matter too much now. “It depends.” I said simply.
“I will deny saying this but I was scared to tell you the truth. You were so set on finding this guy and I thought you would just be disappointed.”
“I’m not disappointed. I wouldn’t have been disappointed.”
“I didn’t know that though.”
“What changed then? You could have easily lied to my mother, said she was mistaken.”
“Something you said.”
“Something I said?” What did I say? When did I say?
He turned away from me, staring out at the cold creek, obviously thinking back. “If I recall, I believe I told you fate was rubbish to there to explain the unexplainable and destiny was for people who gave up too easily but I think I have had a change of heart.”
“Really?” I asked in surprise. He turned back to me and stepped up onto my rock. If I had said that there was barely enough room for two to sit on it, one could assume that standing we would have more room but one would be wrong.
“No matter how corny it sounds. I can't help but wonder if we were meant to meet.”
“Can't it have just been a coincidence?” I asked in a whisper. I hated the fact that he was in control and the fact that I couldn’t tell if he was teasing me. It was strange, part of me was saying he's just setting you up but at the same time the other part was screaming you know he wouldn’t do that. I didn’t know who to believe.
“It could have been. But its fate sounds nicer than a mere coincidence don’t you think? Then one day it can be said that fate bought us together.” I must have looked confused as reached over as if to touch my face. I turned my head and he dropped his hand. “Am I wrong?”
I shook my head. My arms were crossed stubbornly. “Are you still teasing me?”
He shrugged. “I was lead to believe you were kind of interested by that little speech inside. Tell me I am wrong.”
“Kind of interested?” I repeated. I told him before I was kind of interested in cheese. I was more than kind of interested. I looked away, for the fist time noticing the almost full moon. At least I had my reason for the pale light. I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened if there had been even a slither of a moon the night I met Sirius, or at least when I had met Mr midnight.
“I’m not teasing, Ana.” He said in such a sincere voice I looked up at him, forgetting the moon. Was I taking this completely the wrong way?
“What about you then?” I shot back. “Am I embarrassingly alone in being kind of interested?”
“Kind of interested isn’t doing what I am thinking justice. Kind of interested doesn’t do you justice.”
“Oh.” Was all I could manage to say.
“I meant to ask you out on a date.” He said in a whisper. This time when he reached his hand out I didn’t move away.
“I meant to say yes.” I whispered back. Like when I had hugged him earlier I boldly stepped closer. If it were possible to do so on my small, small rock. I stared up at him. “You know no one is going to believe this.”
“They don’t have to.”
“Are you sure you don’t want to say you were just teasing? I have been told I can be very annoying.”
“I knew that already.”
“I call it careful.”
“Not at all pleasant.”
“Keeps things interesting”
“I don’t smile.”
“Oh, but when you do...”
I smirked. He had an answer to everything. “Emotionally stunted.”
He grinned back at me. “Uncomplicated.” He said triumphantly. By now he was so close I was practically giddy. And I would never normally use that word.
Thinking I was finally going to stop talking he bent his head forward but I had just one more thing to say: “Oh, you’re gonna kiss me now? You really are predictable.”
His reply? “Shut up.”
And I did.
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