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 Everything (Oneshot!)

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Hunter VanDerberg
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PostSubject: Everything (Oneshot!)   Fri Dec 25, 2015 5:16 am

Spoiler:
 

No. No, no, NO. Over the past few weeks, Hunter had told himself no a thousand times. When he woke up in the morning and Ariel was the first thing he thought of. No. When he was at work, and he passed by her sister, and how much he missed her hit him like a punch in the gut. No. When he was out at a bar, trying to hook up with some random girl, and her face kept flashing through his mind. Holy fuck, no! He’d slept with that girl anyway, but it had felt all wrong, and when she was gone Hunter been flooded by the deepest feeling of guilt. Which was ridiculous, because he had nothing to feel guilty about – but that had been weeks ago, and he hadn’t hooked up with anyone since aside from Aeva. And days ago, he'd even ended things with her - which had been a bit harder than he would've liked. He'd gotten slightly attached to Aeva. But he needed a break from whatever it was that they had, to figure this shit out. Because ever since Ariel had told him, he hadn’t been able to get her out of his head. And every single time, he pushed her out. But that was the biggest problem – he had to keep telling himself no. And somewhere in the back of his mind, no matter how adamantly he denied it, Hunter knew what that meant. But no, it couldn’t mean that. Because he couldn’t possibly think of Ariel that way.

But even now, as he sunk down onto the couch in his apartment, his headphones blasting in his ears to try and drown out his thoughts, she was there. He hadn’t seen her since that day – and this time, it wasn’t only because he was busy. They’d exchanged letters, but Hunter had been sure to his short and objective. About the task the order had given her, or her exams, or how their friends were doing. Nothing that could lead to anything difficult, because she needed to sort her thoughts out, realize that she was wrong. Because she was wrong. But Christmas break had begun the day before at Hogwarts, and Ariel was definitely home by now. And for some reason, knowing that she was so close made him ache to see her - badly. But that wouldn’t be a good idea – his mind was too fucked up. He needed more time, because there was a deep part of himself that knew what seeing her now might lead to. No, Ariel was off limits – and she was just a friend, anyway. But as the words ran through his mind, it struck him that no matter how many times he repeated them to himself, they would always be a lie. Because truthfully, when had Ariel ever been just a friend? He instantly felt bad for even thinking it, because it diminished her in so many ways.

Friend. Best friend. Girlfriend?  Hunter sighed in frustration, letting his head fall back against the armrest of the couch, because the truth was that Ariel didn’t fit into any of those categories. Because for years now, Ariel had been nothing short of everything. It was like she transcended all of that. He could still remember the dull ache in his chest that persisted through the all the months that they weren’t speaking in fifth year. He’d never cared more about someone’s happiness as he did Ariel’s, and he’d shared more of himself with her than anyone else would ever get to see. She was the only person who he let in when she was shutting the rest of the world out. She’d seen him at his worst – the raw, uncut version of him that would’ve scared most people away. But Ariel had never been afraid of him, and she’d never judged him. And there was never a time when wrapping his arms around her, hearing her voice, just having her there – there was never a time that it hadn’t made him feel whole. Which might explain why right now he felt so empty.

She hadn’t always felt that way about him. He knew she hadn’t – or if she had, she hadn’t realized. What had changed? He hadn’t acted any differently around her, and it was beyond frustrating that no matter what angle he looked at it from, he just couldn’t see why all of a sudden this had happened. Nothing had changed and – oh. Hunter brought a hand to his face as he realized how stupid he was to overlook it. Because all at once, it became incredibly obvious. Because he had done something different – he’d left. Yeah, he'd known his leaving had been the start, but it wasn't until now that he truly understood the implication. Before she told him, he’d thought that she was angry at him for being so busy – for not making enough time for her. He’d been afraid that he’d stayed away so long that she no longer wanted anything to do with him. But he was wrong – he’d stayed away so long that Ariel had started to need more. More of him. More from him. What they’d had before – it had always been enough. But then he’d left, and it wasn’t enough for her anymore.

For a moment, Hunter wondered what Ariel was doing now. Was she laying on her bed, thinking the same things as him? What would she even think if she knew what he was thinking? If she knew that she was driving him absolutely mad from across town – that she’d been driving him mad from across the country. She’d probably be glad that she was causing him so much trouble – after what he’d said to her, that is. Or, maybe, she didn’t care anymore. Maybe she’d realized that she was being stupid, and the tides were turned and she was off hooking up with some stranger while he sat here trying to figure out what was going on between them. Ariel, hooking up with some stranger – it was a laughable idea, because it wasn’t something she would ever do. It had crossed his mind as a joke – a sarcastic, ironic thought. Which was why Hunter hadn’t expected the instant, overwhelming rush of jealousy that washed through him. It was so sudden – so powerful – that he actually sat up from where he was laying.

Ariel hooking up with somebody. Ariel, with somebody, period. Truly, the thought had never crossed his mind before. Not really. But now, he couldn’t stop the images from flashing through his mind. Ariel being with someone else. Laughing with someone else, sharing bits of herself that nobody but Hunter knew with someone else – walking into some other guy’s arms when she was upset, or afraid. A sickening feeling was starting to grow in the pit of his stomach just thinking about it. Why? Just like he had no reason to feel guilty for his hookups, he had even less a reason to care if Ariel were to date somebody. Because it would be the most hypocritical thought anyone had ever had in their life. Ariel had watched him date countless girls, and had never said a thing. So why was the image of some other guy wrapping his arms around her waist making him so upset? Because Ariel’s mine. No sooner had the thought passed through his mind than he froze, because he hadn’t meant to think it. Mine. Was it seriously that simple?

Apparently, both he and Ariel had been taking each other for granted. They’d been taking what they had with each other for granted. All this time. He’d been with other girls and she’d never batted an eye, yes. Why? Because Ariel knew that he cared about her more. It was obvious. No matter who he was with, she’d always gotten the bulk of his attention. She’d never thought she’d have to go without it – it was expected. Just like he’d never even considered the possibility of Ariel being with somebody else. She was entirely devoted to him – they spent all their time together, knew everything about each other. And somewhere in the back of his mind, he must have known that she wouldn’t want anybody else. But what if she did? Hunter knew the answer already. His absence had been Ariel’s breaking point. Ariel was innocent, and thoughtful, and though she’d never said it out loud, Hunter knew that she wanted to feel like she was loved. When he’d left, he’d taken that away from her. It only made sense that his own breaking point would be jealousy. Because Hunter was protective and cautious and a bit possessive. Maybe all the times he’d scared off Ariel’s potential suitors was more for himself than he thought.

What now? Hunter sighed, because although he’d made a huge discovery, he didn’t feel as though he’d actually solved anything. Ariel was apparently in love with him. But just because he’d turn into a raging, jealous git if he found out she was with anyone else, it didn’t mean that being with her was a good idea. Being possessive of someone didn’t mean you were in love with them. And even if he was, there was still the issue of their friendship. And of him. Ariel may trust him, but trusting himself wasn’t as easy. It wasn’t as though his track record of not fucking everything up was great – he’d ruined what he had with Seren. He’d wasted both his and Aoife’s time just because he couldn’t accept no for an answer. But Ariel wasn’t Seren, or Aoife, or Agnes, or Aeva. I don’t think I’m too good for you. Wasn’t that what she’d said? What she didn’t seem to understand was that she was the only person that Hunter had deemed too good for him. Ariel had earned his respect early on, in a way that nobody else had. Because she was just so… pure. And he couldn’t help feeling like he’d be tainting her, by giving into what she wanted from him. What he might want from her.  He hadn’t expected to ever want anything from her. He’d erased her from –

Hunter’s thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a loud clatter on the floor behind him, and he instantly jumped up in surprise, spinning around. But he relaxed when he saw that it had just been Alaska – damn dog was always knocking things over. Hunter sighed, a bit glad to have a distraction, and crossed the room to pick up the various things that had toppled off of the hallway table. Bending down, he replaced the ceramic bowl he put his keys in, the television remote, and – seriously? Hunter wasn’t sure whether to laugh or shout out in frustration. The next thing his hand touched was a picture frame – and when he turned it over, there was Ariel, smiling happily back at him. He held it for a minute, just staring at it. It was from New Years, two years ago. He’d almost forgotten that Agnes had gotten a shot of it, really – but that was one convenient thing about having Agnes as a friend. She was always taking pictures of everything. In this one, he’d just swept Ariel onto his shoulders. The fireworks had only just started exploding. He knew that he’d kissed Aoife just before this, but that memory was faded – unimportant. Even that night, this had been what he’d enjoyed most. As if the picture didn’t show that already. Ariel was grinning from ear to ear, shrieking and grabbing onto his head for balance. He was laughing and looking up at her as if she was the most important person on earth.

Because she was.

He stared at it a minute longer, his eyes lingering on her smile. He hadn’t seen Ariel smile like that in months. It wasn’t until now that he realized how badly he missed it – how much he wanted to see her happy. How much he wanted to make her happy. I know how I feel about you. Whatever feeling had filled him at the sound of those words, when she uttered them, it was back. But it wasn’t what he expected it to be. Wasn’t falling in love with someone supposed to hit you head on? Take you by surprise? Or at least feel new? Different? This didn’t feel different. It wasn’t different. It was the same thing that Ariel always evoked from him – just stronger. More urgent. But familiar, and comforting like Ariel herself. Whatever it was, he’d have to figure it out on the way, because all of a sudden he was sure that going another day without seeing her would be a mistake. And he’d made enough of those with her already. Guess you win, he thought, glancing at her picture one more time before grabbing his keys from beside them and heading for the door. She’d pushed her way through his defenses time and time again – proven how much she cared about him. It was his turn now. Ariel deserved a break. She deserved to know that he could fight for her, too. That this time, he would.

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