"I can't set my hopes too high." (3)
Just as I was preparing myself to see him go, he smiles at me reassuringly. “Hey, I didn’t mean to give you that impression. I’m just really, really an awkward person to talk to, so I’m sorry.”
What the hell is happening? All I kept hearing is me and him apologising to each other. I couldn’t help but laugh at how stupid this is. “Can we stop apologising to each other and converse like normal human beings?”
He laughs. “I thought not being normal was good. But I agree. It will be the last time I’m going to say this: I’m sorry for causing such uncomfortable tension between us. How do I make it up to you?”
I can’t believe this. This moment is my one time chance to be closer to the man I’ve always liked but never imagined to be speaking with him. I playfully rub my chin, teasing him as he laughs at what he sees. But, deep down, I’m screaming: “HOLY F*CKING SHITE!” I’m too ecstatic about what’s happening. I didn’t realise I’m taking too long for an answer.
“Hey, please be gentle with me.” He banters as he interrupts my train of thoughts.
Snapping out of my trance, I answered: “Since you cordially asked, you can start by saying hi to me at school. It really is embarrassing to me whenever you brush me off, you know.”
He bursts out laughing; this is the first time I saw him laugh like that. It’s so surreal. This isn’t what I expected him to be.
I didn’t know if he’s laughing at what I said or if he’s laughing at himself. “I’m really sorry if I was like that, but, sure.”
Just as I was about to reply, he interrupted me again, “I said that was the last time I’m going to say sorry, but I did it again. Sorry.” I facepalmed. He’s so cute. “I did it again. Please stop me.”
I can’t believe it! I’m talking to Nate. It’s funny how things escalate so quickly. One moment, I thought he was going to leave. But it’s like I didn’t have to do anything to make him stay. He made sure I didn’t do anything wrong with what just happened, and it’s comforting. With Nate being here gives me chills; I feel it from the crown of my head to the back of my heels underneath my pink jacket and jeans. And THEY’RE MULTIPLYING.
He continued our first awkward Harry Potter moment by asking, “So, which house do you think will you belong to?” The way he looks at me feels like he sees me in a different light now.
My breath got caught in my throat as I said, “Slytherin.”
“Yes, I’m certain. I belong in Slytherin,” I say confidently this time (which is legit, Pottermore.com said so).
He laughs. “But, you’re not evil.”
My eyebrows arched as I looked at my book. Yikes, of course, I completely forgot about its reputation. “Well, not all Slytherins are evil, you know,” I assure him. “We’re completely misunderstood.”
“Fine, you convince me already,” he says with his hands up like he’s giving up, and then he puts them down.
“How about you?” I asked, “Which of the four houses do you think you belong to?”
“I believe,” he says and sips on his drink, “that my colour would be black and yellow.”
“Huh, Hufflepuff,” I nod. “But, I think you’ll survive being a Ravenclaw,” I suggest. I raise my eyebrow at him, half-smiling. I don’t mean to look flirty or anything.
He snickers. “I don’t think I can solve every riddle the eagle knocker would ask just to get into the common room.”
So, I shake my head, smile at the ground and let out a gentle laugh. “That’s ridiculous! But, you know, I probably will sleep on the steps of the dorm if I am in Ravenclaw!”
“We’ll both be sleeping outside.”
“Together, we might solve it,” I suddenly said with a wink. Ugh, me and my impulsive mouth. But I commit to it. I stare intently at his stormy blue eyes, trying to see how Nate will react.
He just realised it, too, because I noticed the slight dilation of his eyes. “We’ll never know,” he shrugs and stares back at me deeply, I might add. His eyebrow arched. I had the urge to blink, but I didn’t dare.
We are becoming comfortable with each other, just a couple of nerds hanging out. I asked him his theories about how the book would play out. I ask him questions like which of the characters will stay alive or die; will Voldemort be finally defeated by Harry? Things like those. The way he replied to my questions made him get carried away, and then he realised he was speaking too much. He cleared his throat and resumed eating or drinking. I smile at him.
Reaching for my drink for one last sip, I ask, “Tell me,” and he listens intently, “what are you supposed to be doing right now if you’re not here drinking coffee with me?”
He broods. “Probably,” caressing his chin, and cracks a smile, not embarrassed anymore, “playing a video game or maybe reading. Actually, you know what, studying. What about you?”
I smile, “Same… except for the studying part.”
We both laughed, and our conversation went from awkward to discoveries. I didn’t know we had quite a lot in common (23-year-old-me-wise). We both like sports, especially baseball and basketball (but I prefer watching). We were both in the track team when we were still in middle school (I didn’t notice it, maybe because I quit the team before I got a crush on him). We both agree classic films are the best, and Nate loves to read books as much as I do. He says that he appreciates art but is not blessed with it. Our taste in music is different, though. He’s more into local indie bands while I love classical music, old-pop songs, rock bands and mainstream singers like Lana Del Rey, T Swift and DD Lovato (not to mention, One Direction).
We laugh and talk some more. After we finished our drinks, we ended up at an arcade place, and we played Left for Dead, completing some of the missions. One more thing I discovered, he’s not really into gore-stuff. But still, he played with me. And I think it’s sweet, or he’s just considerate. He even sacrificed himself for the last map. He’s so dramatic. We laugh our arses off! I had no clue what to think, and I don’t want to assume we have something special going on since this is just the first-ever we let ourselves be. No bollocks. No pretending. I know when I was fifteen, I would never be in a place like this nor show raw emotions to anyone at all (except to April, of course, and later to Ros as well).
Then we decided to prolong our time by having dinner together and enjoyed each other’s company. Ryan texted me saying how sorry he was for not coming, and he asked for a rain check. He explained what happened to him and told me his uncle needed someone to babysit his cousin. I accepted his apology with no hard feelings. I had a lot of fun with Nate anyway, and it’s good enough for me. Nate walks me home, and I feel the dread of our hanging out is coming to an end. He chuckles beside me. He is odd, but I don’t mind. It’s one of the qualities I like about him. It’s a shame the “date” had to end.
Awkwardly standing in front of our gate, Nate turns to me and says, “I had fun today.”
I nod. “Me too,” as I tuck my hair behind my ear.
He clears his throat. “We should do this again sometime.”
“That would be nice,” I smiled at his suggestion.
“Well, uh, good night.”
I don’t know what has gotten into me, but I tip my toes to kiss his cheek and run to my house. I could have just hugged him or shook his hand, but no, I had to do that! Stupid, stupid Mari! I look back to see how Nate reacts to the sudden act and see him touching his cheek where I planted the kiss. He looks up at me and smiles happily before walking away.
I couldn’t stop smiling on my way to our front door.