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 See You There (Ariel)

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PostSubject: See You There (Ariel)   Thu Nov 05, 2015 6:50 pm

VILDEEEEEEEEEEEE:
 

Hunter could honestly say that he was completely baffled. And irritated. And concerned. Because, while what had happened with Ariel at the ball had been beyond strange, Hunter hadn’t really thought that it would penetrate into the weeks to follow. But it did, because Ariel was ignoring him. He’d sent her half a dozen letters, none of which she answered. All of which he was sure that she’d gotten. And none of it made any fucking sense, because as far as Hunter could tell, nothing had happened. This wasn’t just about him being late – Ariel wasn’t that petty. It wasn’t as though they’d never argued in the past. And she’d never pushed him out like this before, and it left him feeling both angry and helpless. And more than once, he’d berated himself for doing it to her back in school. But, though it wasn’t really fair of him to think so, pushing people out was expected of him. Ariel was usually so open, and he was torn between feeling slighted by it and being worried about her.

So after too many unanswered letters, Hunter had finally had enough. I’ll be in Hogsmeade. See you there, his last letter had said, not giving her any choice in the matter. Of course, she could still not show up – he’d be surprised if she didn’t, but considering how weird she’d been acting, he wasn’t putting it past her. He’d move on to plan B, if it came to that. But for now, he’d wait. He’d apparated into Hogsmeade a bit earlier than noon, and his eyes were instantly drawn to the castle. Hopefully, Ariel wasn’t still inside it. The cold November air bit against his face as he made his way along the streets, but it didn’t bother him. Hunter had never minded the cold, and he didn’t bother wearing a coat. In the end, Hunter wound up waiting in the part of Hogsmeade that overlooked the Shrieking Shack – Ariel wouldn’t be able to miss him, walking from the castle. Taking a deep breath of the icy air and blowing it out, Hunter leaned his elbows on top of the fence, looking down at the shack. He and Ariel had had some of their best times there, and their worst. It was full of memories – full of all the times they’d laughed, and grieved, and just enjoyed being together. And right now, they left a bitter taste in his mouth, because he wasn’t sure what Ariel was trying to pull, pushing him away. As though he’d just comply.

But when he turned to glance at the path to the castle, and saw her walking toward him, the bitterness melted away. He instantly tried to meet her eyes, to deduce whether or not she was alright. ”Hey,” he breathed, when she was close enough to hear him. He would’ve normally met her halfway and wrapped his arms around her in greeting, but he had a feeling that right now, it wasn’t the best idea. So he just waited for her to join him, his gaze a bit searching, but not cold. ”I was fully intending to sneak in through the shack if I had to, you know, so it’s a good thing you showed,” he told her, the corner of his mouth turning upward in hopes to bring some normalcy back after the last time he’d seen her. Even though his words weren’t the slightest bit joking. If she hadn’t come to him, he would’ve gotten to her, one way or another. And now, beating around the bush hardly seemed like something that either of them would benefit from – he and Ariel didn’t pretend that things were okay when they weren’t, and he wasn’t about to start now. So he let his next words slip out without trying to delay them – the same thing he asked in every letter that she hadn’t answered. The only thing that actually mattered. ”Are you okay?”

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PostSubject: Re: See You There (Ariel)   Wed Nov 11, 2015 9:51 pm

Okay. So. Today was the day. Ariel had barely slept at all that night. She had been tossing and turning, getting up and walking about, stressing herself out, before finally winding up in the common room in front of the fire there where she'd contemplated the many possible (and impossible) outcomes of her conversation with Hunter. She'd considered what kind of emotions he'd react with, and she'd concluded that the worst that could happen wasn't what she'd been doing to him for the past few weeks, and at least then it would be deserved, and it wasn't anger. But if he didn't reciprocate her own feelings, but he said that they'd deal with it somehow, and then started acting weird around her. That's what would destroy her. So she sincerely hoped this was not what was going to happen.

But the day had come, and Ariel was up in the dormitory, in front of her closet. Because suddenly, she cared what she wore. Hunter wasn't going to care, so why did she? She could show up in a ballgown and yeah, he'd think that be weird, but he wouldn't care. Other than wondering if she'd gone completely bonkers. She could show up in sweatpants, and he'd not care, cause how many times had he not seen her wearing sweatpants? It didn't matter. But she felt so selfconscious that nothing was easy. She felt as if she was going to be sick, she was stressing out, and she knew that her face was white, and she was spending time maintaining her hair to look normal, because nothing could be off. Not today. But when she looked at her watch, she knew she had to pick something soon, and go meet her best friend.

The way down to Hogsmeade was heavy, because every step felt like she was walking to her doom. She had successfully squashed any hopes of how he felt about her, because it was ludicrous. Not because she wasn't a person that couldn't be loved, but because this was Hunter, and he'd probably given it as much thought as she had her future. Probably even less! And though the road usually felt arduous and long, this time around, she reached her destination much sooner than she'd wanted too. Typical. She wondered briefly where she would run into him, but just as she thought it, she figured it was logical. She could see the street just a small distance away, but before that, she saw the silhouette of Hunter, on the trail leading to the Shrieking Shack, as she only saw as right. She didn't notice how her own pace slowed a bit, but she did notice that her feet felt like lead and her heart started to beat faster. She was suddenly freezing, something that had nothing to do with the cold of November. But she was nearing him and it was time to face the music.

She stuffed her hands in her pockets just as he greeted her. She knew she had to look at him now. Just, right about now. LOOK UP AT HIM DAMN YOU. Ariel took a deep breath and lifted her chin. "Hi," she breathed back. She didn't doubt for even a second that he would've broken into the Shrieking Shack and to the grounds at Hogwarts to find her. Which had also been a factor as to why she knew she had to go meet him. He wouldn't quit, not really. He'd get her to quit on him, but he'd never quit on her. Her lips did twitch when he said it though. It was such a Hunter-eske way of speaking. She looked to the ruined house that housed the much more comfortable and fluffy furniture that Ariel had transfigurated, with much duress, wondering when her feelings had even started to develop. She looked back to him, wondering how she'd missed it. Because it was so clear to her now. Everything about Hunter made her happy, his hair, his eyes, the way he always -despite her ignoring him for weeks- tried to cheer her up. She didn't deserve that now.

And then he asked the unavoidable question. Problem was, she was okay. Really, she was. But all the emotions running through her were making her confused and stressed, not to even begin on the word nervous. What an awful word that was. One of the very few words that couldn't explain on its own what she felt like. Nervous just didn't suffice. "Look," she started, but couldn't really continue. She looked down on the ground in front of her, shuffling her feet. She took a deep breath and looked back up at him. "I'm really sorry, Hunter. For these last weeks. But... I don't know, I've just been so confused and stressed and the time I've been spending without you just made me realize how much I missed you, and it was stressing me out even more, because I couldn't really fathom it myself, and it was just too much!" For every word, she would grow more stressed, and her gaze kept shifting between the ground, the house and a couple of seconds looking directly at Hunter before looking away again. The ground, the house, Hunter, the ground, the house, Hunter. She stopped talking and shut her eyes. "And then, when you didn't show..." Her words drowned out again, and she didn't quite know how to continue. She looked up at him with a helpless look in her eyes, hoping he could help her, wondering if he'd understand, but she knew she had to say it. For herself, just as much as him.

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PostSubject: Re: See You There (Ariel)   Fri Nov 13, 2015 2:56 am

Hunter's eyes followed Ariel's frame as she finally reached him, but he frowned as he noticed that her eyes were trained resolutely on the ground, only lifting to meet his at the very last second. Though the air between them was admittedly much more at ease already than it had been the last time Hunter had seen her, Ariel was still acting strange. And for a moment, he began to worry that she'd shut down again like she had at the ball. With only one word each spoken between them, Hunter was already unsure about how to read her behavior - which was maddening. She was acting - well, Hunter wasn't exactly sure. Just not like Ariel. But then, he caught the twitch of her lips in response to what he'd said, and a slight grin broke onto his own face of it's own accord in return. "I saw that," he said, turning his gaze from her back to the shack. "And you know that I would've - as if you really thought you could shun me for two weeks and get away with it," he added, trying to keep the mood light. Because, despite how she'd told him to leave at the ball and then ignored him for weeks, he wasn't mad. Not really. Well, he was mad, at the ball, when it happened. But not now. It wasn't as though it was the first time they'd fought, and it wouldn't be the last - he just confused, and concerned, and wanted to be sure that Ariel was okay.

Hunter wasn't sure what he'd expected. Had he really thought she'd respond with a simple yes or no, and this whole bizarre situation would just miraculously make sense? Of course not, and it wasn't really a surprise when Ariel didn't answer straight away. Hunter waited silently, distracting himself from his insane curiosity by training his eyes on Ariel's face, trying to read her while she tossed around whatever it was she was contemplating in her head. And she was definitely contemplating something - he could tell. But that was all he could tell for sure. Because, though he felt fairly certain she wouldn't push him away this time - she'd shown up after all - he just couldn't understand. Ariel was usually so relaxed - like him, only more graceful. It wasn't that she was calm exactly, because she was plenty excitable when she wanted to be. But she was never this fidgety - ever. Literally, ever. He'd never seen her fuss so much, and her discomfort was so obvious and tangible that he could practically reach out and touch it. His mind instantly tried to surf through all of the possibilities, but came up with nothing helpful.

Look. Hunter raised an eyebrow at her, because normally, when somebody started their explanation with look, it wasn't a good thing. He furrowed his brow as, already, Ariel struggled to continue, and she looked so distressed that he had to spend a moment convincing himself not to hug her. But he didn't want to interrupt her now that she'd started, and after a moment she continued. For some reason, Hunter had expected her explanation to actually - well, explain everything? But as she rushed into what sounded like an explanation but wasn't, Hunter only grew more confused and failed to understand how it made sense of anything. And on top of it, as Ariel spoke, she couldn't meet his eyes for more than a few seconds at a time, and he literally had no idea what any of it was supposed to mean. Holy shit Ariel, look at me. He was literally about to reach out and force her face toward him when, finally, she looked up at him and didn't look away, her voice trailing off.

And then, when you didn't show... He didn't have to understand exactly what was going through her mind for Ariel's last words to send a light wave of guilt rushing through him. Because all that he'd gotten out of everything she'd just said was that she missed him and he'd failed her. Was that really what all this was about? She just... missed him? That was it? "You flipped out at me at the ball,  and you've been ignoring my letters for weeks and allowing me to think you got swallowed whole by the giant squid or something, because you missed me too much?" Hunter asked, his voice not mocking, but laced with confusion and a hint of doubt. It wasn't that he didn't care that Ariel missed him - of course he did - it was just that he was sure that she had more to say, and getting hung up on this part wouldn't help reach whatever was left. Shifting his weight so that he could lean back against the railing more comfortably, Hunter could sense the exasperation in her own expression when she finally met his eyes. He just didn't know what he could to to alleviate whatever was still obviously running through her mind. "I've missed you too Ariel, you know that," he said lowly, his voice sincere, looking down and back up at her again as he tried to stuff the guilt into some back compartment of his head. "And I did show, just not on time. And you have no idea how bad I feel that I didn't make it sooner - but I couldn't, and I tried, and I'm not sure what else I could have said or done - you didn't let me say anything."

Hunter wasn't really sure what was stopping him from reaching out for her at this point. It made absolutely no sense that there was any distance between them at all right now. Maybe, it was because of how she'd reacted the last time he'd reached for her. Maybe, it was because somewhere in the back of his mind, his brain was already just beginning to put it all together. Maybe, if it was anyone but Ariel, he'd already understand. No, if it was anyone but Ariel, he would already understand. But it was Ariel, and the thought was so unbelievable that it didn't even break through into his consciousness. But for whatever reason, he felt like he shouldn't touch her. Not until he knew what was going on. But at the helpless look on her face, Hunter promptly told that instinct to fuck off. "Come here," he said softly, pushing off the railing, stepping toward her and sliding his arms around her shoulders. Mostly because he was at such a loss that he didn't know what else to do, and he still just couldn't understand why he shouldn't. "You aren't making any sense," he finally told her. "And you didn't answer my question, by the way - not really." Because, now, he was just more confused, and he still didn't know for sure that she was alright. Because there was still something that she wasn't telling him. He just didn't know what it was.

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PostSubject: Re: See You There (Ariel)   Mon Nov 23, 2015 3:56 pm

Of the mention of how he 'saw that', Ariel felt for a fleeting moment as if everything was perfectly normal, and why shouldn't it be? She had spent long enough yesterday trying to find an excuse that would satisfy Hunter, and she might've even come up with one that could work, if she sold it right. It was so tempting, to just lie and chase the whole thing away, because the truth was just so hard to deal with. But as soon as the thought once again drifted through her head, for possibly the billionth time, she shook it away. Every single time, she'd thought it was wrong, so why would the billionth and one time be more convincing than before? Besides, Hunter had a right to know. He should know. And she should tell him. Because as he said, she couldn't shun him for two weeks and get away with it. Now it was time to own up to the truth, both for her own sake and his.

She saw the flash of guilt in his eyes when she trailed off, but she didn't tell him not to feel guilty. She wanted to, but she couldn't. She'd hoped he would've understood what was going on, but it seemed as if Ariel would have no other choice but to say it aloud. Which was a good thing, it just didn't feel like it. She looked up at him when he started talking, but she didn't pay too much attention to the words. She heard what he was saying, but she mostly focused on his voice. He sounded confused. He knew there was more than her just missing him. Because even though she had hoped he'd understand, Ariel couldn't even begin to imagine that Hunter would feel the same way. It was almost impossible, which was why Ariel felt so bad for having to do tell him. It would ruin something, she knew it would. But she hoped it was worth it. Truly. Because she obviously couldn't not tell him!

Hunter was absolutely right; she hadn't let him say anything. And now, she was letting him say everything, she was letting him misunderstand everything, she had officially made him think that this was his fault, which it obviously wasn't. Or was it? After all... Ariel felt her mood lighten in the slightest at that thought; of course it wasn't his fault that he was a brilliant guy. And then he pulled her to him and hugged her. Ariel had always enjoyed his hugs, but she'd never been able to pin her finger on why. But now, she noticed how warm his arms felt, how safe she felt, how his chest heaved so softly. It was amazing, the feeling filling her up, but it terrified her to the extent that she knew she'd stiffened. He talked to her, despite the fact that she knew he felt how different she was from normality. When he said she didn't answer his question, Ariel decided that this was it. This might be her last chance to hug Hunter as was halfway normal. So she relaxed and wrapped her own arms around his waist, holding on for just a few seconds. He'd understand that she needed to hug him for a bit. Sometimes she'd do this, and it was normal.

And then she pushed back and slipped softly out of his embrace. She couldn't tell him while hugging him, that'd be weird. "Okay, so, I'm gonna tell you what this is about. But it's going to be really hard for me, so please, don't interrupt me, and most importantly, do not freak out," she said softly, finally looking up at him. For some reason, the hug had helped her a great deal. Like always. Hunter didn't even know how much his strength meant to her. It was as good as everything. "First off, this isn't your fault. And I mean that!" she added hastily before he could say something about it, "You couldn't- I mean, you wouldn't have known, so it's really not your fault. I completely understand that you were late, I do, really. It was an amazing opportunity, so I don't want you to think that I'm so selfish that I don't even understand," she said softly, knowing she might be stalling at the moment. But what could she say? Really? Should she just say it? "I was angry at the masquerade, but it was because I was so confused, I just didn't ... understand, I guess. I didn't think it was possible, so I let it out on you, and I'm sorry." Now to explain why she'd been ignoring him. Suddenly, the strength she'd gotten from the hug seemed to diminish and it was hard to look in his eyes again. Because she was literally wearing her heart on her sleeve. Well... literally might be pushing it. But she was shaking, she knew she was.

"I didn't respond to your letters, because I needed to figure out why I was so angry with you. And I did, but then I had to accept why I was so angry with you, which took me quite a long time, as you might've noticed," she said softly, trying to smile at him, but once again, it vanished quickly. She needed to tell him, it wouldn't be so bad, would it? It would. Though her mind was telling her that what she was about to say would sound like the worst romantic cliché in the world, she just couldn't find another way to say it. And she had to say it. Was there a better way to say it anyway? Probably not. That's why it was a cliché. "Hunter, I..." Her eyes shifted to the ground, but when she continued, she shut her eyes both in embarrassment and because she was scared of what would happen next. "I'm falling in love with you."

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PostSubject: Re: See You There (Ariel)   Wed Nov 25, 2015 1:42 am

Hunter let out an audible sigh of frustration when Ariel stiffened at his touch, feeling a bit of irritation rise in his chest. He wasn't angry, but this entire situation was starting to make him tense and confused and was starting to ebb slightly at his temper. Was this how Ariel felt when he pushed her away? Because it was fucking miserable - truthfully, it was an entirely new thing for Hunter, this feeling that she was purposefully keeping him away, and he wasn't even sure where to place it in his emotions. All he knew was that, all of a sudden, he felt sorry for every time he'd done it to her. But then, finally, she seemed to give in and relaxed into him, and Hunter felt himself relax in turn, releasing a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. "Whatever it is, you know you can tell me," he mumbled against her hair, glad that for the moment, the tension between them seemed to have abated. Ariel clung to him for a few moments without saying anything, and Hunter let her, taking a deep breath in hopes to calm her a bit. When she pulled away, he loosened his grip on her, leaning back against the railing once more.

This was weird. The entire vibe he was getting from Ariel was just - strange. Foreign, maybe. Ariel wasn't a nervous person. He'd seen her upset, and angry, and happy and everything in between. But whatever she was apparently going to tell him now, if she ever got around to it - she was afraid to say it. Like she didn't trust him to react the right way once he'd heard it. What could Ariel possibly not trust him with? Had she done something she thought he'd judge her for? Hunter couldn't even begin to fathom what she could possibly do that would even make him consider judging Ariel. "Okay," he replied slowly when she stated the rules. Don't interrupt. Don't freak out. Maybe she was pregnant... Holy fuck, no, why would he even think that?! Of course she wasn't pregnant, this was Ariel. And the entire idea of that made him uncomfortable anyway, so he quickly pushed that possibility from his mind, even though it was the only thing that came to mind that might cause her to be so stressed, and it would certainly explain the strange moodswings.

"I've never thought you were selfish," he said, breaking rule number one and interrupting her. But he quickly closed his mouth again, because Ariel was still talking. And that was a good thing. Or at least, it was a good thing at first. Then, finally, Ariel closed her eyes and let him in on what was going on. I'm falling in love with you. Oh, holy fuck. Oh no. Instantly, Hunter felt himself freeze, his eyes locked on Ariel, and it took a few moments of the words bouncing around in his skull to even accept that Ariel had actually uttered them. After what felt like an eternity, they settled into reality, but it didn't matter. All he could do was stare at Ariel in absolute bewilderment, trying to sort all of this shit out in his mind. "You're - you're what?" he asked, knowing his voice was betraying his shock. Ariel was... was what? No, that wasn't possible. Ariel couldn't be in love with him. She was Ariel. They were best friends. He would have known. But at the look on her face, he suddenly realized that this definitely wasn't some sort of joke. He realized that he needed to say something. But what was he supposed to say when, all of a sudden, he couldn't sort out one emotion in his head from the next? Slowly, one by one, he tried to separate them from each other. Panic and caution were at the forefront. But those were expected. What was unexpected was the sense that the part of him that was usually settled by Ariel's presence felt as though it had caught aflame, and he couldn't shake the feeling that somewhere in the back of his mind, she was knocking on some door that he hadn't even known existed.

He'd been silent for too long already. But he had to figure out what to say - the only trouble was, there wasn't anything that he could say that wouldn't hurt Ariel, and his thoughts were far too confused to come up with any coherent feeling about the entire situation. For a moment, he thought about going along with it simply to avoid having to reject her. Because, in reality, dating Ariel wasn't really the most ludicrous idea. It wasn't that Hunter could never see Ariel in that way - it wasn't like he was oblivious that she was a girl. He'd be lying to say he wasn't attracted to her - she was a Veela, for fucks sake. And he could see how it made sense. Hell, people probably thought they were dating already, considering how at ease they were around each other. And then, to make things worse, Hunter closed his eyes and sighed in exasperation as he realized that he'd just hooked up with Aeva the night before. How many times had he done that since the ball? How many times had Ariel sat there, reading his letters, trying to figure out how to tell him, while he was off sleeping with half of the female population? Holy fuck.

That guilt was surprisingly far worse than the rest - and it was exactly what finally made his decision for him. Hunter wasn't the type of person that someone like Ariel should fall in love with. Because it was doomed to fail - he was doomed to hurt her. And when it happened, that hurt would be so much worse than getting it over with now. No, Ariel was off limits to him. Whether she wanted to be or not. I'm falling in love with you. Hunter didn't fall in love with anybody. And leading Ariel to believe he could wasn't something he would do. "Ariel, that's not a good idea," he said finally, his voice a bit cautious. He took a breath, finally looking up at her and meeting her gaze. It wasn't an answer - not really. If anything, it was dodging the question. But to just reject her - he didn't know if he could do it. He shoved the part of him that wasn't even sure if he wanted to into the back of his mind. Hunter made sure to keep his tone normal, to try and ease the awkwardness he was sure Ariel was feeling, though this wasn't awkward to Hunter. Not really. Just confusing. "Look, you just aren't used to not having me around all the time," he said softly, trying to reason with her. Maybe he could get her to change her own mind - realize she was wrong about this and avoid hurting her altogether. "You're just reading too much into it, that's all." And maybe that was all. Maybe she was just lonely - maybe she really did just miss him, and didn't know how to cope with it. He sighed again, running a hand through his hair. "Come on, Ariel, you don't wanna be with me - ask anyone who has."

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PostSubject: Re: See You There (Ariel)   Thu Dec 17, 2015 1:19 am

Ariel stayed completely still, frozen, and so did time. There was a deafening silence that she had never experienced in her life before, only ever read about in books, that completely engulfed her and made her want to scream. But she stayed still with her eyes shut and head bent. She wondered what was going on in his mind; what wouldn’t she do to be a bloody skilled legilimens in that second? At the same time, she wasn’t sure if she’d want to know. Hunter was the most predictably unpredictable person she knew. She never really knew how he’d react, but when he did react, she wasn’t surprised. His stutter shut down the silence, but the shock lingered as he finished the two-word sentence.

But then started a new silence, and this one -albeit not as deafening- made Ariel feel as if everything she was doing was audible. She swallowed, and the sound felt like it would reach all the way to Hogwarts and back. And when she finally noticed her pounding heart, she opened her eyes and slowly looked at Hunter. He wasn’t looking at her, which was a good thing. But his face… his face was so hard to read. There was shock, there was panic, and some sense of confusion perhaps? Ariel suddenly felt the full force of what she’d actually just told him. It was all real now. All of it. She couldn’t take it back. And for a heartbeat, she wished she could. For a heartbeat, she felt stupid and idiotic and even guilty. Because the look on Hunter’s face reminded her of pain. And to know she’d caused that look made her feel very selfish. Hunter might think she could never be selfish, but she knew her thoughts. She might not act on them much, but she knew them very well.

She wondered what Hunter would think if he knew what she was thinking. Well, first of, he’d be damned surprised, and he might realize that they weren’t so different after all. And at his next words, she felt her teeth clutch. It wasn’t that it hurt, it aggravated her more than hurt; she’d been prepared for a rejection. She’d not prepared for him to say something demeaning. She was sure he hadn’t intended it to sound belittling, which was why Ariel wasn’t already screaming at him, but it still annoyed her. But she took a deep breath and her jaw loosened, looking back at him with an even gaze. One of the things that was good was her embarrassment seemed to have left her. "You think?" she asked. She couldn’t help the slightly sarcastic comment, though it was also weirdly light. For half a moment, Ariel’s aggravation left her and she swore she could’ve broken down in a fit of laughter. Because how ludicrous wasn’t this?! But Hunter then continued to talk. And as if he hadn’t belittled her already with the earlier comment, the next ones were even worse.

… Ask anyone who has? At that sentence, the aggravation was back, but not in the way that she was angry at him, more frustrated because he didn’t understand. But it did make her want to be vehement enough to say: "With whom do you recommend I begin?" Ariel regretted the words the moment they’d left her mouth and she groaned, her head falling back in exasperation. "I didn’t mean that," she said annoyed, at herself this time, and started pacing a bit. "But you’re being demeaning, Hunter. I know it’s not a good idea. Holy cow, of course I do! But that’s got nothing to do with you, it’s got to do with our friendship. And I wouldn’t risk our friendship on something I wasn’t sure about, okay?" she said, her words firm, though her voice was starting to shake a bit. "I know how I feel about you," she said, her voice silenced. And then she stopped pacing, looking at him, standing there with that face. That guilty face she just knew too well.

Ariel honestly didn’t know how he was so blind. Sure, he had many faults. Like how he pushed away people he loved by hurting them, and how he would spontaneously punch things. But that was about it. And in the end it boiled down to one thing; his own perception of himself, which was completely different from what she thought of him. "I don’t think I’m too good for you, and even if I was, isn’t that my decision? Look, if you just don’t fancy me in that way, tell me, and don’t make some lame ass excuses about how it isn’t right because apparently I’m too good for you, because that’s not up to you to decide." She wanted to say more. She wanted to rant at him for being so damned blind. But she didn’t know what words to use. It wasn’t fair to spring this on him like this, so unexpected, but it certainly wasn’t fair for him to try to let her down easy. Because she had come there with the clear accept that he did not like her in that way. However, her words had sparked a hope in her that she was trying feverishly to quench; what if he never thought of the idea that they could be together and be happy because he thought he was bad for her? Even better, what if he did like her and had never told her because he felt she could do so much better? Ariel kicked a stone at that thought and finally just fell down on a stump of tree, feeling absolutely mortified at herself. "Just be honest, Hunter. Don’t make any excuses, I do actually deserve better than that. But I think there’s always been a part of us, a very small one, that has always considered this a possibility."

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PostSubject: Re: See You There (Ariel)   Thu Dec 17, 2015 5:24 am

That could have been the end of it, if Ariel had wanted it to be. Hunter had done the most logical thing that he could think of - he'd given her a way out. Practically thrown an excuse at her face, really. If she wanted to take it back, she could have. But apparently, she was going to make this difficult instead. And maybe if he'd been more prepared, he would've been able to handle it without too much incident. Why couldn't she have just told him in a letter or something? Then, he'd have time to figure out how to diffuse the situation without exploding it. Had time to get his head on straight - to convince himself beyond a sliver of doubt that the the mere idea of what she was suggesting was mad. Instead, she'd caught him by surprise, and the moment Hunter realized she was going to push the subject he knew that this wasn't going to go as smoothly as he'd like. Hunter was a quick thinker when he had to be - when his guard was up. His guard hadn't been up when Ariel had thrown this at him. Which meant that his emotions were going to play too big a role in whatever was doomed to come out of his mouth. And what exactly was doomed to come out of his mouth depended on Ariel's reaction.

Turns out she was irritated. Which meant that this wasn't going to end quietly, whatever happened. Still, Hunter couldn't help but be a bit glad that she'd taken this route, if only because fidgety, passive Ariel was finally gone. And in one sarcastic comment, despite everything that she had just said, things felt normal again. Ariel felt normal again. But only for a moment did it feel like a good thing. Then, Ariel retorted to the last thing he said, and it became clear that it wasn't a good thing at all. Because between her irritation and his confusion, and the fact that she wasn't acting as though she was afraid of him anymore, his words fell from his mouth without the slightest filter. "Well, I can only suggest the ones whose names I remember, Ariel, but I guess that's a start, right?" Well, fuck. If there was some list somewhere of things you shouldn't say to your best friend when she says she's in love with you, Hunter was pretty sure what he'd just said would be at the top.

Hunter closed his eyes and sighed, looking over at the shack for a minute. There were two sides to this coin, really. Saying things like that would only hurt Ariel, which he didn't want to do - but at the same time, it wasn't as though they weren't true. He'd slept with more girls than he could count - Ariel had never even dated anyone before. So in the end, he didn't apologize, only because Ariel needed to realize that she wasn't right about this. "Demeaning? Well you're not being very smart," he snapped. "You think you're sure," he told her, meeting her gaze again. "But you're wrong." She had to be. When had she even decided that this would be a good idea, anyway? The idea made him hesitate, because the truth was, he didn't know. Instantly, his mind flashed to all the time he'd spent with her, every time he'd hugged her or held her hand, how they would relax in the common room with her head on his shoulder - had she been taking it all the wrong way? Was it his fault that she'd come to whatever conclusion this was? But after a moment, he decided that it couldn't be the case - it had only been obvious since the ball. Ariel wouldn't have been able to keep it a secret from him all that time.

"Can you stop - " he started to tell her to stop pacing, but Ariel interrupted him, and his words fell short at the intensity in her voice. I know how I feel about you. Hunter closed his mouth and stared at her. She sounded so determined - so sure - and a powerful wave of some kind of emotion that he couldn't quite place washed through him as her words hit him. There was just something new and oddly final in her tone that made Hunter's resolve falter. So he just swallowed and didn't say anything, suddenly a bit concerned that he'd do something stupid like give into her if he wasn't careful. Thankfully, Ariel wasn't done with her rant, and she continued, filling the silence. By the time she finished, he'd collected himself for the most part. "You're too good for most people," he told her evenly, once again dodging the actual bulk of the statement because it was easier than actually answering her straight on. "I just don't understand why you have to act like I'm some kind of saint, because I'm not. Pretending that I am is a really great way to get yourself hurt."

Be honest. Don't make any excuses. At those words, he sighed in frustration. Because the thing was, he wanted to be honest. The problem was that he had no idea which of the things he was feeling was the real one. He watched her collapse onto a nearby stump, and instantly had to squash that part of him that wanted to go straight to her. And he did want to - annoyingly, whatever it was that usually drew Hunter to Ariel was stronger than it ever had been before, and fighting it down wasn't easy. No, he told himself, forcing his mind back to all of the reasons this was the worst idea anyone had ever come up with. Be honest. Fine. "Ariel, look," Hunter said, pushing off the fence and taking a few steps toward her. He wasn't really sure that what he was about to say was the right thing. Actually, he was sure that what he was about to say wasn't the right thing. But he was going to say it anyway, because she'd asked for the truth, and as much as he didn't want to hurt her, she was right. She deserved it. Or, the closest thing to it that would make her realize, at least.

Hunter crouched down in front of Ariel, so that he was at her level, and reached out to lift her chin so that she had to look at him. As soon as he did, it hit him that he probably shouldn't have, because now he had to worry every time he touched her that she might take it the wrong way. But he also knew that Ariel wouldn't want him to treat her differently now that he knew, and he wasn't going to. "You need to listen to me," he said, trying to ignore the way the feeling of her skin lingered on his hand after he retracted it. "It isn't that I never considered the possibility," he told her, his voice steady. "It's just that - " Hunter hesitated, because he wasn't sure how to go on without sounding completely cold. But really, there was no other way to say it. "I sleep with girls, Ariel. I don't fall in love with them," he said finally, and it sounded just as terrible as he'd expected it would, and somehow it had come out harsher than he'd meant it. That same sense of guilt as before washed over him as the words fell from his mouth. They'd been true for years, but never in his life had he dreamed that he'd have to hurt Ariel with them. At least, now that he'd started, the words were coming without restraint. "You and I wouldn't exactly wan't the same thing out of a relationship," he told her dryly. "And I'd do just about anything to make you happy, but what you're asking for, I can't give you. And if I try, you're going to get hurt." That, at least, was completely true. "You can't trust me with this, and you need to understand that."

He glanced at the ground before saying the last bit - the part that he knew he had to say if he wanted Ariel to accept everything else that had come out of his mouth. "You of all people deserve to be with someone who's in love with you back Ariel. And I'm sorry, but that person isn't me." If it was true, why did it feel so much like he was lying? No, of course he wasn't lying. Still, he'd had to force a tone of finality into the words that didn't come naturally, and he stood up the moment they were out of his mouth to keep her from noticing. Taking a few steps back, he looked down at her, and then wished he hadn't. Because all of a sudden, he felt a bit sick to his stomach over the whole thing. "Look, I should go. I just made time to stop to - uh, to find out if you were okay." It was a lie. He'd cleared his whole day for this. But suddenly it felt like the safest thing for both of them was leaving. "You - are you okay?" And they were back to the first question he'd asked her. The first and the last, and then he'd leave.

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PostSubject: Re: See You There (Ariel)   Sat Dec 26, 2015 2:54 am

Ariel wasn’t going to deny the fact that his sharp reply had hurt her. And she wasn’t going to keep the emotion out of her face either. But at the same time, she had seen it coming the moment she let her own words slip out of her own mouth. She supposed this was just how shit worked now, what with all the emotions hanging around them like a thick, invisible mist. She did wish that she’d managed to handle the situation differently, though; she felt as if being angry and trying to shut out her real emotions in that way was more of a Hunter way to deal with stuff. However, now she really understood why he’d always done that; it was the easy way out. For a while, at least. She was pretty sure it’d been hard after not so long.

She threw her hands up in annoyance when he said she was not being smart, that she only thought she was sure, and that -in the end- she was simply … wrong. "Hunter, can you just…!" The end of that sentence was drowned in an angry and exasperated groan. Then she watched his face change, to something more unsure. And while she kept talking, she continued studying his face for emotions she would recognize, and there were some things that made her want to stop talking and listen to him, but she’d been thinking too much about this now, she needed to get it off her chest. But his reply was mediocre at best. Her instant reaction; she buried her face in her hands and shook her head. After a second, she resurfaced and looked back at him as he continued speaking. And she ended up looking at him in disbelief. "That’s just it, Hunter! I don’t think you’re a freaking saint! You’re the one putting me on a pedestal! I’m just a human being and you can’t stop me from getting hurt anyway!" she snapped at him, but stayed seated.

Ariel, look. Oooh, shit, here it was. Hunter being the sensible one. The calm one. He walked all the way over to her, and she had to look down for a moment, because she knew she had to prepare to be let down. Which was stupid, because she’d been completely, 100% ready for that when she’d gotten there. But she was doubting it all now. She figured it was the way he just had yet to tell her ‘no’. When she felt his fingers lift her chin up, she sighed in resignation and looked up at him, and gave him a look that simply told him she could take it, whatever it was. Ariel wasn’t that surprised at his next statement. It did hit her hard in the stomach, but not because it was shocking; she’d kinda figured. She could once again see guilt in his face, but this time, she didn’t understand why. The only thing she was still thinking was that he still hadn’t said ‘no’. So where was it?

His next statement almost, almost made her laugh. Wouldn’t they be wanting the same? When Ariel imagined herself in a relationship with Hunter, it was exactly the same as before, with their occasional hugs, their leaning on each other watching movies, their holding hands once in a while, their laughing, their discussions, their tempers. And the only thing she’d added was the thing Hunter said they wouldn’t both want. But then again, there was the knowledge that the depth of his emotions would be shallower than her own, and this idea did actually make it seem impossible. And she did understand, she really did. So Ariel nodded slightly, her face calm and, for some reason, it didn’t hurt as much as she expected it to, because it was so reasonable. And maybe because she was still prepared to know he didn’t feel the same. But it still wasn’t a ‘no’.

The thought had only crossed her mind when he finally gave it to her straight. Finally. There was the ‘no’, as clear to her as the sun on a clear, blue sky. He stood up straight after he’d said it, as if it had physically hurt him, and Ariel bit her lip, looking down on the ground. It had quenched the hope she had. But it was okay. It really was. At least, she thought so. Maybe it would all hit her later on. She wanted to say that she understood, that it was okay, but she found her throat had gone completely dry. Her head snapped up when he said he ought to go, and she felt both disappointed and relieved by this. It was probably the smart thing to do, though. At the same time, she felt as if he left now, she wouldn’t see him for a long time. A long time. And things would be weird when they did see each other. She looked at Hunter for a moment and nodded at his comment about leaving.

You - are you okay? Thoughts spiraled in Ariel’s mind and she looked to the Shrieking Shack. Was she okay? No. Was it okay that she wasn’t okay? Yes. She was okay with not being okay. And that feeling is what she wanted to hold on to, because if she did, she would be able to tell him that she was okay. The fact that he didn’t love her was okay. She couldn’t do anything about that. The fact that she did love him was not okay. And she had to do something about that. She turned to face Hunter again and then her words came up short. Because it was starting to settle in, what she’d done. The consequences it would have. She knew he’d tried to treat her the same way as normal when he’d crouched down next to her. And she’d appreciated it. But it had been different. There was no denying that. So in the end, she settled on not answering the question. "Thanks for being honest, Hunter, I really appreciate that," she said, her voice a little weird, but not unnatural. Just somewhat weird. "I should get back to the castle myself. I have a meeting with the prefects and the head’s of houses," she said, casually looking back the way she’d come from, before once again looking at Hunter. "Don’t be a stranger," she said, her words this time much more forced, and much more determined. It sounded more like her, though it also sounded like an order in her mind. Then she stuffed her hands in her robes and gave him a grim smile before she turned around and walked back the way to the castle, feeling relieved and nauseas that it was over.

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