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Author Topic:  [MP] A little piece of my heart [Murray]  (Read 471 times)

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Meredith Howell [ Hufflepuff ]
115 Posts  •  17  •  Heterosexual  •  played by Louise
[MP] A little piece of my heart [Murray]
« on: April 10, 2019, 04:32:01 AM »
October 31, 2002

It was a clear night, scarcely a cloud to be seen.  The stars shone down brightly from a blue-black sky.  There was a chill to the air and a young blonde witch shivered where she stood on the step outside the main entrance to the castle.  She soon regretted her attire which left her shoulders and arms bare.  Gooseflesh prickled her bare skin and she rubbed her hands vigorously up and down her arms to try and retain some warmth.  This is foolish, she told herself, I shouldn’t be doing this.  It wasn’t just that she was inappropriately dressed to be outside in this season, Meredith was planning to do something all of her good senses had been telling her not to.   

Would he even come?

Considering how she’d been behaving, Mere wouldn’t be surprised if Murray decided to stay inside for the feast in the nice, warm hall.  After barely speaking to him over the last few weeks, she shouldn’t really expect him to abandon his dinner to come chasing after her.  She hadn’t even voiced her invitation, instead handing him a note like she was some kind of shy little girl.  In many ways she was that when it came to him.  Meredith had never developed these kinds of feelings before and had no idea what to do about them.  All she really knew is that she shouldn’t have any feelings for Murray, it was highly unlikely there could ever be a happy ending to such a relationship, but no matter how hard she tried, the feelings would not go away.  Denying them just seemed to make them stronger.  Now she’d decided that whatever happened, she needed him to tell him the truth or else she’d live the rest of her life in regret.

But would he even come?!

He’d kissed her that time in the Hogs Head but it was possible that hadn’t meant anything.  Mere knew she shouldn’t assume that he reciprocated her feelings – especially after she had firmly stomped on the idea of them ever being anything more than friends.  Could she have crushed whatever feelings he might have been harbouring for her too?  And if he actually followed her, would that even mean anything?  Or would he just be being nice?  Murray was always so kind and sweet.

Mere stood there for a few minutes, tense and anxious – just waiting for the door to open behind her.  Blessedly she was not kept waiting long.  Hearing the door creak open, she turned and recognised Murray’s silhouette in the sliver of light that fell outside the entrance.  Seeing him made her feel warm despite the ever-present chill of the night.  He came!  No longer repressing the affection that arose at the sight of him, she smiled widely and with genuine happiness.  Then it occurred to her, he’d be expecting her to say something.  He’d want some kind of explanation for being out here in the cold whilst their peers enjoyed the feast inside.     

“Ah…  Hi Murray.  You look good.”  Meredith stalled awkwardly, a flush rising in her cheeks.  It wasn’t like she could just blurt everything out in one go.  This was a conversation she’d need to ease into – and frankly, she was a little bit scared.  “I was wondering…”  She stalled some more.  Grasping for some excuse to have called him out here, to spend time with him alone, she recalled the piece of news she’d just recently received from the friendly Gryffindor ghost, Nearly Headless Nick.  “The Grey Lady has gone missing.”  The Head Girl divulged with a small smile, relieved to have found a pretext for this meeting.  “I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind helping me look for her?”  Holding her breath, she desperately hoped he would agree.  “The others are all quite upset about it.”  She added for good measure, referring to the remaining ghostly population of the school. 

It was a rather flimsy reason to go walking around the grounds at night.  He might see right through it immediately.  If she was serious about tracking down the lost Ravenclaw ghost, it would make more sense to search inside the castle since the school ghosts never strayed far from the walls.  However, it was quiet out here, serene, and the night was beautiful.  Plus it was unlikely they’d be interrupted by other students.  She didn’t want anyone to witness her spilling her heart.  This was just between her and Murray.  The rest of the school, her family, the media…  It was none of their business. 

@Murray Cowan
« Last Edit: April 10, 2019, 10:52:50 AM by Louise »

Murray Cowan [ Hufflepuff ]
82 Posts  •  17  •  Straight  •  played by Kelly
Re: [MP] A little piece of my heart [Murray]
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2019, 04:07:56 AM »
Thankfully as soon as Murray pushed the oak door open, he spotted Meredith only a few feet in front of him. She spoke immediately, and he could tell she was stalling. The Grey Lady? That’s what she’d called him out here for? But he was willing to play along. Anything to take his mind off of his brother Fraser was a breath of fresh air right now. He couldn’t help wonder if there was some deeper meaning to her inviting him away from dinner. Murray didn’t want to think it was something negative, especially about what happened between the pair of them in the Hog’s Head weeks ago. Could she still be upset about it? Murray hadn’t meant to keep his distance over the past fortnight but he had a hard time focusing on too many thoughts at once. It was easier for the badger to simply tone himself down a little bit until he was able to think things through. There also didn’t seem to be as many opportunities as usual to catch up with Meredith and talk to her. Murray even wondered once or twice if she’d been avoiding him.

“First things first- it’s too cold to be outside without a jacket,” he said to the Head Girl with a smile as she finished speaking. He stepped back into the castle and stood back, pushing the door open wide so that she could walk inside. “You look great, by the way,” Murray said quietly as Meredith walked in past him. And that was the truth. He picked up on the fact that her white dress hugged her body in all the right places. The unicorn horn she charmed on her forehead suited her outfit perfectly. He should feel underdressed, by her standards, standing there in only a pair of pants, but the badger wasn’t thinking about that. He couldn’t take his eyes off the blonde witch. If it was up to him, he’d be fine wandering around the castle for a few hours with the Head Girl. If they found the Grey Lady- great. If they didn’t find her- that would be OK with Murray. He’d take any time he could spend with Meredith, even if it was just to search for a Hogwarts ghost.

“Where do you think we should look first?” He finally asked, striding away from the oak doors and into the entrance hall. Murray felt a chill even standing by the doors, so he was happy to get back into the warmth of the main castle. The two wandered side by side towards the staircases leading down to the Hufflepuff common room which also led down to the dungeons. When they walked past the entrance into the Great Hall Murray caught a whiff of shepherds pie and inhaled longingly. Later, he reminded himself. “Did you get anything to eat?” he asked quickly, wanting to make sure the Head Girl wasn’t about to go hungry in search of a ghost.

Meredith Howell [ Hufflepuff ]
115 Posts  •  17  •  Heterosexual  •  played by Louise
Re: [MP] A little piece of my heart [Murray]
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2019, 06:23:12 PM »
Drawing Murray away had been an impulsive decision.  Meredith wished she'd taken the time to plan something out.  She was nervous and that was making it more difficult to improvise.  Part of her just wanted to give it up as a bad idea but as apprehensive as she felt, Mere was equally stubborn.  Whether or not this turned out to be a complete disaster, she was determined to see it through.  It would've been nice to have been more prepared though, she reflected as Murray pointed out it was too cold to go wandering only half-clothed.

She brushed past him as she stepped back through the door, walking closer to him than was necessary to get through the entry way.  The young blonde ducked her head and smiled as he complimented her costume.  Back inside the entry hall it was a lot warmer.  She shivered once as some of the chill left her body.  Turning back to her house-mate, she made no effort to be discrete as she cast a lazy gaze over his outfit.  Mere had already admired it from afar but enjoyed a closer look.  His bare torso did not make her as uncomfortable this time as it had during their unexpected encounter in the common room earlier in the year.  This time she didn't flinch away from looking.  "This is clever."  She commented, reaching out a finger to lightly touch one of the scales on his chest.

Drawing back quickly, as though startled by her own boldness, she avoided meeting Murray's eye.  "Ummm..." Mere tried to think of a plan for going forward about this pretend search.  It didn't really matter to her where they went as long as they could be alone.  Fortunately everyone should be at the feast so it would be unlikely for them to bump into anyone.  At least there was that advantage to this spur of the moment date.  She just hoped he wouldn't resent her too much for stealing him away from one of the greatest feasts of the year.  "I thought we might check the greenhouses."  The Headgirl finally picked a location to search, automatically selecting one of the places on campus that she felt most comfortable.  It was also an unlikely place for a ghost to be wandering.  Mere wouldn't want them to have the bad luck of immediately finding the Grey Lady.

She noted the way he paused longingly outside the Great Hall.  Meredith knew that if she went back in there now she might never work up the courage to do this again, to try and get Murray alone long enough to express how she truly felt about him.  "Oh I'm fine.  I'm not really hungry."  She replied knowing that her stomach was clenched too tightly with nerves to really eat.  Mere knew how much her companion enjoyed food so she momentarily faltered, willing to let the whole thing go if Murray really wanted.  Of course she hoped he liked her enough to choose her over the feast.  "Sorry," She mumbled while staring at the floor, "You can go back to dinner if you prefer.  I'll be alright on my own."  Her stomach took that moment to rumble audibly, embarassing her and undermining her ealier statement that she was not hungry.  Fortunately she'd just been struck by inspiration.  "Or maybe we could go by the kitchen and pick up a picnic?"  She was sure that the house elves would be happy to accommodate them with a basket of whatever treats they wanted.  Remembering her supposed purpose, she quickly added - "Oh! And we could check if the elves have seen any sign of the Grey Lady."  It was actually a pretty valid idea.  The only entities with more eyes around the castle than the elves were the paintings.

"But first, let's grab our coats."  She smiled brightly at Murray as their wandering steps brought them to the entry of the Hufflepuff dormitory.  The seventeen-year-old girl could feel her enthusiasm for the evening growing.  How many hours could she keep Murray to herself?  She wasn't sure but greatly looked forward to spending time together - just the two of them.  They'd discussed their futures and their pasts before.  Tonight she hoped to focus on their present, on the moment.  Tapping out the rhythm on the appropriate barrel with her wand, Meredith opened the entrance to their common room.  She took Murray's hand spontaneously and drew him after her as she walked inside.  After a moment she dropped his hand again, laughing nervously.  Having resisted her feelings for her fellow badger for so long, she needed to ease herself into showing her affection.  She was also a little afraid that he might not be receptive, given how strongly she had tried to squash any fondness between them before. 
« Last Edit: April 14, 2019, 06:26:30 PM by Louise »

Murray Cowan [ Hufflepuff ]
82 Posts  •  17  •  Straight  •  played by Kelly
Re: [MP] A little piece of my heart [Murray]
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2019, 08:09:46 PM »
He drew a silent breath when Meredith's finger brushed against his chest, but he kept his facial expression impassive, not letting her know how she was affecting him. He needed to find out where her head was at, first. At her suggestion of checking for the Grey Lady in the greenhouses, he immediately grew excited, and it had absolutely nothing to do with plants. Murray knew nothing about plants or flowers. Some of them tasted good, and he knew about those ones, but otherwise he had never put any focus on flora. It'd been a few years since Murray had even stepped foot in a greenhouse, having failed his Herbology OWL and not continued on with that class for his sixth and seventh years. But he did remember Meredith mentioning how much she loved her gardens while they were chatting in the Hog's Head, so if she wanted to take a trip to the greenhouses- he was all aboard.

Murray laughed aloud at the sound of the Head Girl's rumbling stomach. He knew that sound too well. And as if he was going back to the Great Hall to eat dinner alone. "A picnic sounds great!" he jumped at the idea, anything to do with food and wandering around with Meredith by his side sounded like a good time to the badger. "I'm sure the house elves haven't sent everything they made for the feast up through the tables. They always save some in the kitchens." This wasn't his first rodeo. He decided not to say anything about her mention of the house elves having possibly seen the missing ghost. Honestly, he kept forgetting that was the reason Meredith had called him out of dinner in the first place.

He was grateful that it was Meredith to suggest they get their coats. Of course he would have walked out to the greenhouses and acted like he was tough enough to withstand the cold on his naked torso... But he was thankful to not have to put himself through that. Plus, he honestly would have been more worried about Meredith in the cold than himself. Murray stood beside the Head Girl as she used her wand to tap the pattern on the barrels before they were able to gain entrance into the Hufflepuff common room. He wasn't expecting Meredith to take his hand and lead him into the room, but he wasn't about to protest. Her hand felt warm within his. He smiled at Meredith's laugh when she released his hand, attempting to convey through a look that he would hold her hand all night if that's what she wanted.

"Meet you back here in a minute," Murray said with a grin, walking off towards the entrance to the boys dormitories. He quickly grabbed his red plaid overcoat and pulled it around himself, not bothering to put on a shirt underneath. He met Meredith back in the common room a few moments later. While they were alone in the room together, memories came flooding back about that night they'd spent curled up under his duvet on the couch. Thankfully he had little time to dwell on that as his own stomach took its turn in rumbling loudly. He chuckled in response to the sound, leading the way back out of the common room and down the corridor a short way to the entrance to the kitchens. Murray tickled the pear in the correct spot and it let out the telltale giggle before turning into a green doorknob before their eyes. He turned it and opened the door to the kitchens wide, letting Meredith enter before himself.

As usual, they were met by a group of bustling house elves all smiling and waving and running here and there during their busiest shift. The smell of the room was incredible as soon as it hit Murray's senses, and he had to resist the urge to pull up a chair and eat dinner right then and there. "Do you think we could please have a basket with some of the leftovers from the feast? We'll bring back the basket before the night is through." Murray promised, and the exciting house elves nodded and immediately set to work preparing a picnic basket for the pair of seventh years. While the elves busied themselves putting together their takeaway, Murray turned back to Meredith. "I sometimes feel bad for bothering them, especially in the middle of dinner," he admitted, plainly obvious that he'd bothered them loads of times. "Oh, right- were you going to ask them about the Grey Lady?" Murray added with a raised eyebrow, remembering the reason that they were here in the first place.

Meredith Howell [ Hufflepuff ]
115 Posts  •  17  •  Heterosexual  •  played by Louise
Re: [MP] A little piece of my heart [Murray]
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2019, 11:20:41 PM »
Entering her dorm, Meredith took a moment to sit down on her bed, one hand raised to her breast where she could feel her heart racing.  She drew in a deep steadying breath and slowly exhaled as she futilely tried to tell herself that there was no reason to feel so anxious.  It was also exciting though, to be treading these unfamiliar waters with Murray.  Not wanting to keep him waiting, she quickly dug a soft white cardigan out of her trunk and put it on.  A glance in the mirror confirmed that it didn’t clash with her dress, though it did soften her otherwise regal appearance.  Soft was perfectly fine for this though.  On impulse she grabbed the blanket from her bed and cast a quick spell to shrink it.  Once it fit nicely in the palm of her hand, she tucked it away in a hidden pocket next to her wand. 

They met back in the common room after a few minutes.  Mere was very conscious that it was where this had all begun.  The room was quiet and empty, just like it had been on that night.  It was tempting to take a seat on the couch before the fire, to re-enact the circumstances that had so drastically changed the dynamic between them, but she knew they were unlikely to be alone here for long.  She wanted to be able to have Murray all to herself, without interruptions.  Laughing lightly at his rumbling tummy, she followed him back out to the hall and through to the kitchen. 

Stepping through the passage, she was immediately greeted by the warmth and smell of food baking in the ovens as well as the friendly welcome of the house elves.  She waved and smiled back at them as they ran about.  Over the years she’d been into the kitchens on more than one occasion and was quite familiar than them all.  While many witches and wizards looked down on house elves as lesser beings, she’d always been raised to treat the help kindly, whether they were human or not.  It was important to take care of those that took care of you.  Several of the elves paused to see what kind of assistance they could provide to the young master and mistress.  One of the female elves exclaimed that Meredith looked lovely but then began to tut fussily over a smudge on the hem of her dress.  Murray attended to acquiring a picnic meal, while she was engaged in reassuring her little attendant that it was quite alright and she didn’t need her dress laundered while she was wearing it. 

“You’re sweet to worry about bothering them.”  She shook her head, smiling at Murray.  “But I don’t think they’d ever believe it was an imposition.”  The elves were always eager and happy to serve.  Still, she appreciated that her year-mate cared enough about the creatures to not want to take advantage.  “We’ll get out of their way in just a second.”  Mere reassured him.  Crouching down to be eye level with the closest elves, she politely enquired whether they knew the whereabouts of the Grey Lady.  Ears quivering, they all shook they heads and admitted ignorance of her location.  They were clearly disappointed that they couldn’t provide a helpful answer though and so immediately offered to send out search parties.  “No.  No.  That’s quite alright.  You’ve got your hands full here.”  She said quickly, standing up and raising her hands to wave them off.  “Please just focus on dinner.”  Catching Murray’s eye she grinned and tipped her head towards the exit, indicating they should leave before the poor elves got too carried away.

Loaded with a very full basket of food and drink, which was steaming enticingly, they made their farewells and headed back out to the corridor where they turned their steps on a return path to the main entrance to the grounds.  Now warmer and better prepared, she looked forward to entering the brisk night air.  Meredith cast furtive glances at Murray as they walked, looking away and blushing slightly whenever he turned his face towards her.  The young blonde felt sure that he must suspect she had an ulterior motive for requesting his company.  She wanted to take his hand again but hesitated, a little worried that they might be spotted by someone whilst still within the castle walls. 
« Last Edit: April 14, 2019, 11:25:14 PM by Louise »

Murray Cowan [ Hufflepuff ]
82 Posts  •  17  •  Straight  •  played by Kelly
Re: [MP] A little piece of my heart [Murray]
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2019, 01:18:42 PM »
Murray couldn't help but overhear the small conversation involving one of the house elves worrying about a smudge on the hem of Meredith's dress. He eyed the Head Girl curiously, and was impressed with her reaction. But not only that- he was all around impressed with the way she communicated with the house elves. Murray was instantly reminded of an incident late in his fourth year; he had snuck down to the kitchens right before turning in for the night and come across a fifth year Slytherin complaining to the elves about the bread pudding that had been served for dessert. Needless to say, the badger had some choice words for the snake. It bothered him to no end when people treated house elves as less than. He appreciated Meredith even more now, if that was possible. He knew he needn't worry about bothering the castle's elves, but he couldn't help it.

Unfortunately, the house elves in the kitchens had no knowledge of the whereabouts of the Grey Lady. "Thanks so much," Murray said with a bright smile, taking the heavy basket from a gracious house elf. They wouldn't go hungry if they managed to eat all of the content of the basket, he thought, as it was already starting to weigh down his arm. Murray walked alongside Meredith back up to the entrance hall and once again out into the chilly evening air. He hoped that the cardigan she had put on in her dormitory would keep her warm enough, as he wasn't sure what temperature to expect when they reached the greenhouses. His own overcoat was proving to be a bit warmer than he'd hoped, but that could be due to the heavy parcel he carried in his right hand. They made their way across the dewy lawn to the greenhouses. Murray couldn't help but cast a few glances in Meredith's direction as they walked. He couldn't see a ghost in sight outside, and doubted whether they would stumble across the Grey Lady outside the castle walls.

Regardless, he was happy to be distracted. And this was more than a welcome distraction. Murray felt strangely giddy. He felt excited. And a small part of him felt a bit nervous. He didn't know what to expect when they reached the greenhouse. What if there was no sign of the Grey Lady at all? Would they still stay and enjoy a picnic together? The badger hoped so. He drew in a long breath of night air, trying to steady his thoughts. Did Meredith want to talk to him about something specific? Was it about the article? Murray hadn't even given the time of day to the small Daily Prophet clipping that appeared in the gossip column a few weeks ago. He'd been questioned about it by loads of his friends and other students at Hogwarts, but he took it with a grain of salt. There was absolutely no way he and Meredith could have been spotted within the Hog's Head, especially while sharing their kiss. Murray would have been more impressed with the article it if actually had accurate details. Instead, he brushed it off with a laugh. He hoped Meredith did as well, but as they hadn't yet had a chance to talk about it...

They reached the greenhouses together and Murray paused. Greenhouse three, he knew, housed some of the more dangerous plants Hogwarts had to offer. He had only been in there a time or two during his Herbology classes. Murray tapped the door handle on the main entrance to greenhouse three with his free hand and pushed the door open slowly. "Lumos," he said quietly as he entered the dark space. Using the light of his wand, he looked for a bit of floor space upon which he could set the heavy basket of food. "Should we turn on the overhead lamps?" Murray suggested with a light chuckle, trying hard to keep the tone of nervousness out of his voice. Dark spaces containing plants whose properties and abilities were unknown to the badger wasn't exactly a comforting feeling.

Meredith Howell [ Hufflepuff ]
115 Posts  •  17  •  Heterosexual  •  played by Louise
Re: [MP] A little piece of my heart [Murray]
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2019, 12:14:02 AM »

They weren’t technically allowed to be in the greenhouses without permission nor at night but Meredith was sure that Nazreen wouldn't mind.  The herbology professor trusted Mere with the plants and was not very strict on rules anyway.  At Murray’s query whether they should turn on the overhead lights, she shook her head.  Reaching out, she placed a hand above his wand and indicated for him to lower the beam of light to the ground.  “We'd better not disturb them too much.”  Already some of the plants had begun to rustle unhappily at the intrusion.

This was her environment, not Murray’s, so it seemed appropriate she should take the lead.  “Come.  This way.”  Feeling more confident, she took his hand and led him deeper into the greenhouse.  The fingers of her free hand trailed over the plants as they passed, gently touching the tendrils and vines that reached out to greet her.  They knew her here and she was unafraid of being bitten or stung.  There was something she found very calming about being around the vegetation.  She might not know how to cope with her feelings for Murray but she understood the needs and purpose of every shrub and flower within these glass walls. 

There was an area down the back with a little clear space.  It certainly had enough room for them to enjoy a small picnic.  “After all that searching, shall we take a break?”  She said jokingly, knowing full well that they hadn’t made any real effort to look for the Grey Lady.  Yet the Head Girl doubted he would mind.  After giving Murray’s hand a quick squeeze, she released it and then took the miniature blanket out of her pocket.  As she gave the blanket a brisk shake, it returned to full size and she laid it down on the ground.  Lowering herself down, she carefully arranged her skirts so that her legs remained modestly covered. 

Meredith was still very nervous but it helped to be somewhere she felt comfortable.  And if things went too badly she could always set a Venomous Tentacula on him.  Not that she would.  She smiled at Murray and patted the blanket next to her in invitation.  It was still quite dark, even by the light of his wand, so she conjured a small orb of purple fire, no larger than a Bludger, and let in float in the air above them.  The fire emanated a soft glowing light, not too harsh for the flora surrounding them, and also provided a gentle warmth.  Tucked away from prying eyes and surrounded by greenery, it was a cosy, intimate spot. 

She stayed silent a first, just looking at him and trying to gauge what he was thinking.  It would be understandable if he was a bit confused by her behaviour.  After rejecting his affections and then avoiding him for weeks, Murray was probably wondering why she’d drawn him here now.  Mere didn’t know how to begin to explain how she was feeling.  Biting her lip anxiously, she plunged in anyway.  “I should apologise.”  The young blonde blurted out abruptly.  “I’m sorry for the way I reacted when you…”  Her voice trailed off as a blush rose in her cheeks.  Surely he would know what she meant without her having to say.  The seventeen-year-old didn’t know how she was ever going to cope with kissing again if she couldn’t even talk about it.  Was that what she was hoping for here?  “Anyway…”  She shrugged and reached for the picnic basket, hoping to distract Murray with food. 

Murray Cowan [ Hufflepuff ]
82 Posts  •  17  •  Straight  •  played by Kelly
Re: [MP] A little piece of my heart [Murray]
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2019, 02:16:18 AM »
He lowered his wand immediately when Meredith reached her hand out to cover the bright light it was omitting. Murray was oblivious to plants and their needs and was willing to take every instruction possible to make sure he didn't end up strangled on the floor by something with pointy tentacles. He let her lead him off into the depths of the greenhouse, hoping his palm wasn't as sweaty as he thought it might be. Wandering through the dark in a room full of plants that were moving as they passed was creepier than expected. Murray kept his eyes on the floor in front of him as he walked in case there was a plant that had strung itself out on the floor for the evening. The last thing he needed was to step on something. Who knew how it would react.

Murray was impressed with the way Meredith navigated them through the greenhouse, and especially thankful when they came into a bit of a clearing free of reaching branches. He laughed quietly at her joke and watched her carefully as she pulled out the tiny blanket that soon transformed into full size and perfect for the pair to sit on. "Good thinking," he said with a grin, impressed with Meredith's planning skills that far outstripped his own. Murray took a seat beside her as instructed, first attempting to cross his legs in front of him but quickly realizing the pants that made up his merman outfit were way too tight for that position. He instead let his legs stretch out in front of him and he rolled comfortably onto his side, planting an arm beneath him to support his upper body weight.

The purple fire that the witch produced gave enough light that he quickly put his wand light out. Murray had tried to keep it aimed away from the vegetation around them, but Meredith's idea was a much better one. His eyes drifted around at their surroundings, which seemed a little less foreboding under a purple glow. A half hour ago, the badger wouldn't have imagined sitting on the floor of greenhouse three beside Meredith wearing Halloween costumes and having a picnic. Even thinking about it made him want to laugh out loud, but he resisted. It was now blatantly clear that searching for the Grey Lady was not their ultimate purpose. He was very interested to know why Meredith had asked him away from dinner. Murray pulled his gaze away from the surrounding plants and looked at the blonde in front of him.

"When I kissed you?" Murray finished Meredith's sentence with a wry smile. He thought he could see a faint blush in her cheeks, even through the dim purple glow. "I should have waited," he began. He paused, trying to choose his words carefully. "I must have caught you off guard, and I'm sorry." He made eye contact with the Head Girl and didn't look away for a few moments. Eventually, the smell of the delicious food coming from the picnic basket won out, and he reached forward to slowly open it. It looked so good. He withdrew the two plates that the house elves had neatly stacked atop their carefully packaged dinner and handed the top one to Meredith before taking his own and setting it on the blanket in front of him. Murray peered down into the basket and pulled out the largest container. He opened it, taking care not to let any of it spill. Shepherd's pie. He could already feel his mouth watering.

"Ladies first," he said with a smile, handing Meredith the open container and reaching back into the basket to grab a serving spoon which he set down on her plate. Lastly, he pulled out some cutlery wrapped in crisp white napkins and placed a set down beside each of their plates. There was one smaller container remaining at the bottom of the basket. He could tell by its smell that it housed dessert and he stared at it longingly before shutting the top of the basket and moving it off to the side, out of the way.

"But I can't pretend I regret doing it. I really enjoyed our kiss." He wasn't going to let her off the hook that easy.

Meredith Howell [ Hufflepuff ]
115 Posts  •  17  •  Heterosexual  •  played by Louise
Re: [MP] A little piece of my heart [Murray]
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2019, 04:38:15 AM »
“It was unexpected.”  She admitted in a soft voice.  Meredith didn’t know what was more surprising, being kissed by a boy or the fact that the boy had been Murray.  If someone had told her last year that her first kiss would be with her house-mate, she wouldn’t have believed it.  Looking up, their eyes locked for a few moments and Mere was transfixed, unable to look away until he did first.  She wasn’t sure how he thought he could get away with looking at her that way, except that she liked him.  But he didn’t know that.  Unless he did?  In which case it wouldn’t really be necessary for her to say anything.  Right?  Except Meredith wasn’t really buying her own excuse for staying quiet. 

Leaning towards the basket at the same time as Murray she suddenly realised her costume was poorly chosen for the circumstances.  In such close quarters the ornamental horn on her forehead posed a risk to her companion.  Mere wasn’t sure what she wanted to happen here but she definitely wouldn’t want to poke this sweet boy’s eyes out.  Turning away, she quickly removed the horn and placed it safely away to the side of the blanket.  After a moment’s further thought, she kicked off her shoes as well.  She doubted her fellow badger would care whether or not she stayed committed to her Halloween costume at this point.  In front of other people the Head Girl would feel obligated to maintain a perfect appearance but she didn’t feel that pressure around Murray.  She didn’t feel like she had to be anything but herself.  Besides, he’d already seen her without makeup on and had still thought she was beautiful.

Once she’d removed all pointy objects from her person and made herself more comfortable, she turned back to Murray and the meal he was unpacking.  She nodded her head in thanks and accepted the container of Shepherd’s Pie.  Still unsure of how much she could eat with a stomach already full of butterflies, she only served herself a small spoonful.  However, she knew from experience that he’d probably tease her for taking such a tiny helping.  Grinning at him in a ’I know what you’re thinking’ kind of way, she rolled her eyes and added another more generous spoonful to her plate before passing the container back. 

It was impossible not to smile when he boldly declared having enjoyed kissing her.  Meredith thought it was a bit cheeky of him to say so but was glad to hear it.  At least it seemed clear from his words that he still liked her, despite her recent frostiness.  It was mildly annoying that he was able to talk about it so casually.  This situation was obviously easier for him than it was for her.  She couldn’t help but feel that she was at a bit of a disadvantage and was tempted to fling a spoonful of Shepherd’s Pie at his face just to level the playing field a little.  However, she refrained from such wasteful and childish behaviour, deciding instead to go with a playful but sarcastic response – “Of course you would.”

However, after a moment she added a quiet, “I did too.”  Mere tried to appear casual about it, as though what she said was of no real consequence, but her heart was racing.  She started to eat, mainly just to have something to do and to hide the way her bottom lip had started to quiver with nerves.  It took all of her concentration to hold the spoon and plate in her hands steady.  “This is nice.”  She commented conversationally on the food and then continued in the same offhand tone, “It was my first, you know.  The kiss.”
« Last Edit: April 16, 2019, 08:05:40 AM by Louise »

Murray Cowan [ Hufflepuff ]
82 Posts  •  17  •  Straight  •  played by Kelly
Re: [MP] A little piece of my heart [Murray]
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2019, 01:10:15 PM »
He watched Meredith remove the unicorn horn from her outfit and then continue with her shoes. Murray wished he had changed out of these sea-foam green pants before coming out to the greenhouse. They were horribly uncomfortable, but it wasn't as though he could just take his pants off in front of the Head Girl, so he'd have to deal with the discomfort. He thought about her reaction if he simply pulled off his pants and set them off to the side and had to stifle a laugh. The purple fire would keep him warm, but it might make their dinner situation a touch awkward.

Murray saw Meredith's eyes roll as she dished herself a second spoonful of Shepherd's Pie and he couldn't help but laugh. She already knew him better than he thought. Murray would have loaded up her plate himself if she only took a small helping. He took the container back from her and dished out three heaping spoonfuls onto his own plate before replacing the lid and setting the container off to the side. He grabbed his spoon and dug in, the taste of corn mixed with mashed potatoes warming his senses. The smell of their dinner wafted around the greenhouse, making him feel even more comfortable in the space. The burden named Fraser that he felt he'd been plagued with over the past fortnight was finally lifting and he was happy to enjoy a large meal again instead of picking at his plate like a bird.

His eyes flicked from his plate of food back up to Meredith when she told Murray she enjoyed the kiss too. He thought back on the episode in the Hog's Head. Immediately after kissing her, everything had seemed alright. It was a few moments after that when she had apparently changed her mind and decided that him kissing her was the wrong thing to do. Murray remembered how awful he felt in that moment. He felt like he'd got everything completely wrong. Thankfully she listened to his pleas to stay and talk to him. But would she change her mind again? Murray eyed her curiously as she took a few bites of food, him continuing to do the same as well.

First what? First kiss? Ever? Murray was momentarily stunned into silence, but tried not to let his surprise show on his face though his expression was likely giving him away. It was hard to believe that she'd never been kissed. But then, maybe it wasn't so hard to believe. Murray tried to rack his brain to think of a time he saw Meredith in close proximity with a wizard that could have led to any sort of romantic relationship- he was drawing a blank. It wasn't exactly a secret that Murray had tried to get Meredith to go out with him for years. All of his friends were well aware of his failed yet persistent attempts. And yet Meredith had fluffed him off for so many years. Could it be she's just nervous? Murray was nervous too, even though his way of showing it came across differently than most. He really didn't want to screw this up for a second time.

His mind still racing, he brought himself back to the present. "Why didn't you tell me that you'd never been kissed?" Murray asked quietly, remembering how he himself elaborated about the number of girls he'd kissed. "I would have made it a little more memorable if i'd known, believe me," he promised with a wink. The pair were quiet for a few moments. Murray was trying to decide whether or not now was the time to ask a question he'd been going over and over in his mind; well, right up until two weeks ago when he thought Meredith was avoiding him. Now his feelings for the Head Girl were flowing back full circle. He knew would have a hard time squashing them if she turned him down again.

Knowing there were a ton of factors at play, he considered how best to word his request. "Would you consider letting me take you on a real date?" Murray's eyes locked on hers and he raised a curious brow.

Meredith Howell [ Hufflepuff ]
115 Posts  •  17  •  Heterosexual  •  played by Louise
Re: [MP] A little piece of my heart [Murray]
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2019, 11:51:02 PM »
He was clearly surprised and that made her a little embarrassed.  Meredith knew she must be one of the very few people in the school who had made it to Seventh Year before being snogged.  She’d simply never had enough interest in anyone to consider kissing them and no one had ever had the audacity to kiss her without permission – until Murray.  She almost laughed in his face for asking why she hadn’t told him.  Why on earth would she have told him?!  It seemed increasingly silly now, but she had been saving her first kiss for her true love.  Mere could only imagine how telling Murray such a thing would give him completely the wrong idea, so she stayed silent and only responded to his query with a shrug. 

As it was, the kiss had been plenty memorable.  Meredith hadn’t been able to stop thinking about it since.  She’d been reliving that moment over and over in her dreams and in her waking thoughts too.  Oh how she wished things could have played out differently…  There were very few things in her life she ever regretted as much as pushing Murray away.  And apparently he thought he could kiss better?  Mere wouldn’t have thought it was possible but that brazen statement and mischievous wink made her blush even deeper.  Maybe she’d let him have another chance?

She kept getting lost in his eyes, whose light blue depths could really make her head spin.  His next question caught her somewhat off guard.  A real date?  Not one of their spontaneous and slightly clandestine meetings but a real date?  Out in the open in front of their peers?  It was exactly what she wanted but also what she feared.  “I’d like that, but…”  Meredith felt sure that she was about to ruin things again, however there were things that needed to be said.  Now seemed like the time for her to try and explain how she was feeling.  “It’s complicated, Murray.  I…”  It’s just words, Meredith!  Say it!  “I like you.  A lot.”  She was sure her face must be a deep and unflattering shade of red.  Taking a deep breath, she pushed on.  “But I’ve told you about my family so I’m sure you can understand why this –“The young blonde, gestured between the two of them.  “- can probably never go anywhere.”

Mere didn't want to start something that would most likely be doomed to end.  This was the whole reason she had been holding back.  Maybe they could get away with it while at Hogwarts, but after graduation?  She'd already told him about her family’s expectations and her mother’s strong intentions to see her married off to a suitable well-connected and wealthy Pureblood wizard.  It would be smarter to end things now, before they began, before they could get too attached to each other, before they could fall in love.  She really didn’t want to fall for him, nor him for her.  And yet she was here now because the idea of losing him was already too painful.

Discarding the plate with her half eaten dinner to one side, Meredith slowly leaned closer to her companion as she spoke.  “I hoped that these feelings would go away, because that would be simpler.  But they won’t…”  She had really tried to forget about him and how sweet, kind, charming and handsome he was – to no avail.  It was extremely unfair that he was so likeable.  If he wasn’t such a good man, she might not be facing this predicament.  Yet she could no longer find the energy to be angry at him for it.  “I blame you.”  The last words were whispered with a smile as, drawing face-to-face with Murray, her lips brushed against his.  Mere’s eyes drifted closed and she kissed him.  She might not know much about kissing but she hoped it confirmed everything she had been saying and everything she didn’t have the words to express.

Murray Cowan [ Hufflepuff ]
82 Posts  •  17  •  Straight  •  played by Kelly
Re: [MP] A little piece of my heart [Murray]
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2019, 01:05:44 PM »
Oh, man. He really liked her.

Murray was only taken aback for a split second when Meredith kissed him because all of her words leading up to it had seemed to say otherwise. He recovered in an instant. He too closed his eyes and deepened the kiss, raising his hand to lightly brush her jawline while their lips stayed connected. His heart was racing with adrenaline he didn't realize he had inside him. Murray finally pulled away after a few moments and stared at the Head Girl with a curious smile, their faces still only inches apart. "I really don't think I'm the one to blame," he offered with a quiet chuckle, leaning forward once more to plant a last swift kiss on Meredith's lips.

He leaned back and tried to consider everything she'd said before she'd come in for a kiss. Did it really matter that Meredith's family wouldn't approve of him? Yes, he told himself, it did matter in the long run. But in the short term? He was running over scenarios in his head. Could they be together in secret? Would she be alright with that? At this point, Murray doubted his feelings could be wiped away easily. It was different when she wasn't reciprocating any of his advances. Murray always wanted to think that Meredith was interested in him, but all of those times she turned him down meant he never let himself get too hopeful. Now things were different.

"Are you only really worried about how your family will react?" he asked quickly, trying to make sense of the situation (his half-eaten plate lay forgotten on the blanket beside him). His light blue eyes bore into her hazel eyes. This wasn't a joke now. He couldn't even try to make a joke out of it. Deep down Murray knew that the feelings he felt for Meredith weren't even close to any feelings he'd felt towards a girl in the past. He knew he hadn't heeded any of her warnings. Where was the fun in that? But now he was second guessing himself. If she was only really willing to kiss him and show affection in private, away from prying eyes... Murray tried to squash his immediate inward question of, so she wants me, but only when there's no one else around to see us together? He thought Meredith would be much more brave than that. But then maybe that would develop over time? He could be hopeful.

"I like you a lot, too," Murray began with a grin. "So what if you can't see a future for us together? Do you really want to give this up?" the words were out of his mouth before he could stop himself. He didn't want it to stop, and based on the kiss she'd just initiated: he hoped she was feeling the same. "Who says we need to broadcast this to the world?" Murray added, mimicking the head girl and gesturing between the two of them with a light chuckle. He didn't want to question her feelings for him, even though inwardly he couldn't stop questioning them. If Meredith was willing to give this all up because of what other people might say... Maybe they weren't meant to be together? Murray couldn't care less what other people said. They could judge him if they wanted to. He knew Meredith felt differently, and that the way she was viewed by society was important to her and her family.

"Maybe this can be our secret?" he offered, feeling like he was grasping at straws. He couldn't let them be nothing. He wanted to know how she was feeling, what she was willing to do to make this work, even if it had to be in the most secretive form. "No one has to know about us, if that's what you want?" Murray tried to keep the tone of accusation out of his voice, hoping Meredith wouldn't pick up on it. He was willing to do whatever it took to continue whatever this was. Eventually, someone would find out. He tried not to picture Meredith's reaction if that happened. Or her mother's.

Meredith Howell [ Hufflepuff ]
115 Posts  •  17  •  Heterosexual  •  played by Louise
Re: [MP] A little piece of my heart [Murray]
« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2019, 09:02:00 PM »
Murray had been right, he could kiss better.  It had been slightly terrifying to initiate the kiss but it was what she had desired in the moment.  Thankfully after just the briefest of seconds he had started to kiss her back.  She didn't really know what she was doing with her lips, Mere just tried to go with what felt natural and right.  Fortunately his confidence balanced out her inexperience.  As his hand brushed her jaw lightly she allowed him to draw her in deeper.  She liked kissing Murray and wanted to tell him never ever to stop.  However, she did need to breathe.  When he pulled away, she was left feeling shakey and breathless.  She smiled as he chuckled in an amused way and placed another, quicker, kiss on her lips.  It was a little crazy that she then managed to order her scrambled thoughts enough to joke, "Ok, I'm willing to accept like 30% blame.  Final offer."

She just wanted to live in the moment of that kiss for eternity but time proceeded relentlessly forward.  Murray obviously wanted to discuss the 'complicated' part of things.  The young blonde shook her head awkwardly, unsure how to explain.  It wasn't as simple as just fearing her family's disapproval.  Nor was it about her pride.  Mere was just trying to protect him.

He liked her a lot too.  The Head Girl's heart fluttered happily at his words.  It was one thing to suspect his feelings but completely another to hear them spoken aloud.  She could easily get wrapped up in this, in him.  Yet there was still a small voice in the back of her head that urged caution and persistently whispered 'this is a bad idea'.  Currently she was trying to ignore it.  She would prefer to listen to her heart right now than logic. 

So what if they had no future? So what?!?  Meredith didn't really want to have him now just to lose him later.  By holding back she'd only been trying to save them both from unnecessary heartache.  Unfortunately she hadn't been strong-willed enough to stay away from him.  She could no sooner tell her heart to stop wanting him than she could make the earth stop spinning.  There was no way she wanted this to end but he needed to understand that it wasn't just fun and games.  "I don't.  I don't want to give this up.  But..."  She cringed inwardly.  B-U-T - three letters and one word she was quickly becoming sick of using.  "We shouldn't go falling for each other."  Meredith finished with a desperate, uncomfortable smile.  Already she felt like they were tumbling down a slippery slope with no way to stop.  The young witch did not enjoy feeling powerless.  She was sure that the more she got to have him, the more it would hurt to eventually have to give him up.  Was there anyway to prevent the seemingly inevitable heartbreak?

Our secret?

Meredith gasped in surprise at what he was suggesting.  She had never expected that Murray would be willing to keep their relationship a secret.  It actually made her very uneasy.  It was too close to a scenario that she had discussed with Genieveve - having her fun in secret, on the side.  She didn't want to treat Murray like she was ashamed of him, like he was underserving of her full attention.  Sweet, generous, honest Murray...  He shouldn't have to sneak and lie for her sake.  She couldn't ask him to do that.  Could she?

What did she really want from him?  For them?

She could face her family - and her society - if she had to.  It wasn't like Mere had ever hesitated to stand up for herself before.  Admittedly it was a little scary though and it seemed too soon, too early, to know if this budding relationship would be worth it.  Her heart could whisper 'yes' all it liked - that couldn't be the only thing that she listened to.  She had dreamed of romance all her life but she was still a smart girl.  Meredith could recognise that she had no idea what she was doing or what this really meant yet.  She needed to be sure of how much was a dream and how much was real before she committed herself to war on his behalf.

Our secret, no one needs to know.

Being open about their relationship right now would open them both up to a lot of criticism.   She'd only just had the courage to face it herself.  Mere wasn't yet ready to subject it to the scrutiny of others.  She didn't want to share him.  Yes, she was afraid but more for him than herself.  Meredith didn't want him to get hurt or to change.  She didn't want her world to twist and darken his good heart.  Already he was apparently willing to lie for her.  How far would he be willing to go to be with her?

That wasn't right.  He deserved better than to be her secret.  Murray shouldn't have to be the one to make all of the sacrifices.  He definitely shouldn't have to sacrifice his integrity.

How could she explain the irony that she cared about him so much that she simultaneously wanted and didn't want him as part of her life?

"I want a life where everything I do isn't a matter of public interest."  The words started to pour out of her in a rush.  "I want to be able to make personal choices without being judged.  I want to be able to have a relationship without it being anybody's business, without it being picked over by gossip hungry vultures.  I want..."  Her voice faltered and broke with emotion.  "I wish we could just be a guy and a girl who liked each other and that nothing else mattered."  Reaching out, she grasped his hand and held it gently but firmly.

"I never want you to be hurt by me or anyone else because of me."  Meredith was not foolish enough to make any promises in that regard.  Ultimately it was cruel of fate to bring them together.  No matter what she did, Mere knew she'd be risking pain for them both.  Smiling softly as she gazed into his eyes, she added in a mildly teasing tone, "Does it seem silly that I want to protect you?"

She knew Murray no doubt had concerns and further questions, but she couldn't provide him with answers just then.  "I need time."  She said softly, hoping that he would be willing to be patient.  "For now...  Can we just have this?"  Scooching over on the blanket, she moved her body into range for an embrace.  Wrapping an arm around his torso, she hugged him close and laid her head on his chest.  "Call me selfish but right now, I just want you all to myself."

« Last Edit: April 18, 2019, 11:42:19 PM by Louise »

Murray Cowan [ Hufflepuff ]
82 Posts  •  17  •  Straight  •  played by Kelly
Re: [MP] A little piece of my heart [Murray]
« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2019, 11:20:15 PM »
She didn’t want to give this up either. Murray was happy Meredith admitted that out loud. Finally. He’d been waiting to hear her say that officially. The badger could deal with needing to prove himself, he could even deal with people disliking him- as long as he knew that he and Meredith were on the same page. If they were both willing to give this a go, and let whatever happened happen, he was willing to deal with whatever fallout came along. However, when she finished her sentence explaining that they shouldn’t go falling for each other- Murray felt like they were again back at square one. He just didn’t understand. If they liked each other than what was the problem? Meredith obviously felt like there was still an issue that Murray apparently wasn’t catching onto.

Murray couldn’t look towards the future. He lived in the moment for the simple reason that it was too difficult to think about what may come next, especially the bad. That was why he’d momentarily pushed all thoughts from his mind of what would happen to him after he graduated from Hogwarts. Would he end up following in his fathers footsteps and taking care of the farm? Or, would he embark on his preferred career as a chef, perhaps going off to a school to be properly trained in the art of fine cooking. It was too difficult to think about disappointing his family- so he didn’t think about it. He focused his thoughts on other things so that he wouldn’t be plagued by that specific internal struggle. By ’other things’- nearly all of his focus had been on Meredith since that evening in the common room. And it was easier. It was much happier, for one thing. But now it seemed like she was fighting her own internal battle over their potential future relationship, when all Murray wanted to do was focus on the here and now. The known. The safe. Their passion.

And so still Murray questioned Meredith’s feelings for him. If she really, truly, didn’t want to give this up- then don’t? The solution seemed so simple to Murray that even a first year could figure it out. He waited quietly, keeping an eye on the Head Girl sitting beside him with a curious smirk on his face. A hilarious thought came to him just then, completely independent of their conversation: how would Murray perform during their first Quidditch match if he had this added complication hanging over him? Forget about Murray, how would Meredith perform? They were going to need to settle this, and quick, before anyone noticed or made things even more complicated than they already were. Murray had no idea how the beautiful blonde sitting across from him dealt with situations like this, especially when Murray would be right there in front of the goal hoops trying to block shots at their next game. The badger would much prefer that he and the Head Girl were on good terms, better than good actually, which would no doubt allow him to excel as the Hufflepuff Quidditch Team’s Keeper. He hated to think about what the team dynamic might be like if he and Meredith weren’t getting along. Or had decided to call it quits. Or whatever happened if it was bad.

The seventh year listened intently as Meredith spoke of what she wanted. He squeezed her hand back in an encouraging manner when she reached out to grasp his. Yes, it did seem extremely silly that she wanted to protect him. What did he need protection from? He was a fully-grown wizard and was perfectly capable of making his own decisions, and likewise his own mistakes. Murray was ready for whatever fallout might come from their relationship being in the public eye, but he wasn’t sure whether or not she was.

He was thankful when Meredith sidled up beside him and wrapped her arm around him. Even though he had his overcoat on it was like electricity raced through his entire body at her touch. He had fallen further than he had before, he realized. And he liked it. Murray welcomed her touch. “Time is something we both have more than enough of,” he began, a bit breathlessly, a few moments after Meredith had finished speaking, her head resting on his chest. He smiled even though he knew she wouldn’t be able to see it. Murray lifted his arm and gently wrapped it around Meredith’s shoulders. He pulled her a little bit closer to him with the light force of his hand on her shoulder. “We can always have this,” Murray offered. And you can have me all to yourself, he thought inwardly, though he didn’t say it out loud. There were so many things he wanted to say, but only one that he felt he absolutely needed to say in that moment.

“Don’t worry about protecting me. I’m a big boy, and I can take care of myself. I know you’re worried about me, but please don’t be. I want this more than I’ve wanted anything in a long time.” He paused for a moment before continuing. He reached his free hand up to his hair to run his fingers through it, considering how best to word what he wanted to say. “I’ll always be wanting this, you, us. You can take all the time you want.” Murray squeezed her shoulder.

Meredith Howell [ Hufflepuff ]
115 Posts  •  17  •  Heterosexual  •  played by Louise
Re: [MP] A little piece of my heart [Murray]
« Reply #14 on: April 20, 2019, 11:37:35 PM »
Meredith would love to believe his words, that they had 'more than enough time' to figure out what it meant to be together.  She didn't quite have his confidence in that regard.  To her there was an inescapable sense of an expiry hanging over their heads.  It was something she could try not to think about though, as she strove to keep her focus on the present instead.  "Always..." She repeated with a slightly sad smile that he couldn't see.  Words like 'forever' and 'always' were for dreamers and had little place in reality.  She'd always thought she was one of the dreamers though and didn't know exactly when she had developed such a pragmatic approach to love.

"Of course you're big and strong."  Mere teased, nodding her head against his chest and then poking him playfully in the side with her fingertips, almost as though to tickle him.  It wasn't her intention to mock him though.  "No, really."  She added in a more serious tone.  Meredith did believe that he was brave, strong and capable.  Such qualities were part of what she found attractive about him.  "I know you can take care of yourself.  I just...  I care about you."  She worried that he didn't completely understand what he would be in for if he was serious about being part of her life but there didn't seem to any way to prove the perils to him yet.  She could only try to look out for him.  "You must think I'm so overdramatic."  She commented quietly.  How many teenagers or young adults would really worry about their relationships this much?  It had never been her style to be average or ordinary though.

But what if he's not serious?  The doubt popped into her mind unbidden.  They were both only seventeen.  It was normal for people their age to muck about, have flings and fall in and out of relationships with the seasons.  Would she just be another notch on Murray's belt?  He'd dated other girls before and that wasn't something she should hold against him, but she couldn't help but wonder - am I just like the others to him?  Meredith liked to believe that she was special.  He claimed that he wanted this more than anything in a long time.  She didn't think that Murray had ever lied to her before and she couldn't see any reason why he would start now.  Yet the doubt niggled at her, unjustified though it was.

"Always Murray?"  The young blonde pulled back slightly so that she could see his face.  Her features turned to a cheeky grin as she then querried, "Would you still want me if I was poor?  Or ugly with boils on my nose?  What if I got really fat or permanently smelled bad?  Would you still want to be with me then?"  Despite her inner turmoil, Mere was starting to feel much more relaxed.  She was comfortable around him, or at least she was when she stopped fighting against her feelings long enough to just enjoy his company.

She had noticed the way he ran his hand through his hair.  Mere liked how it looked when he did that.  She had watched and memorised so many of his mannerisms over the preceding weeks.  Even though she'd been trying to avoid him, she hadn't been able to help watching from a distance.  The Head Girl had frequently pictured running her hands through his hair too and wondered if it would feel as soft as it looked.  Why not find out?  Raising a hand slowly to the side of his face, she slid it back and into his hair.  She smiled widely as she did so.  Now that she wasn't fighting the attraction, it was great to touch him in the ways she'd only dreamed of.  She really liked this physical affection, to be so close to him that she could feel the warmth of his body and smell the undeniably masculine scent of him.  Mere was still a little shy about this new level in their relationship but she was excited too.  It felt really good - to touch.

"I wish I'd seen you sooner."  Mere mused outloud as she drew her hand back from his hair and instead ran her fingers lightly over his cheek and jaw, tracing the angles of his face.  She'd clearly never paid him enough attention in the past and now regretted not giving him a chance earlier.  "If I could go back in time, I'd say yes."  She said, referring to the first time he asked her out.  It made her feel a bit stupid that it had taken her so long to realise how great he was.  How could she have been so blind?  It was strange to think she'd had someone in front of her the whole time who was capable of making her feel so wonderful and happy.  Had he seen it?  "You never gave up, even though I wasn't always very nice to you."  She could now recognise and admit to flaws in her past behaviour.  She had been a bit stuck-up and superior.  "Why?  Why didn't you give up?" she asked playfully but also genuinely curious, "Did you know then that we would end up like this?"  It occurred to her that maybe they wouldn't have worked when they were younger.  Mere felt that she was a lot different from the girl she had been just a few years ago.  She was more self-aware and less self-absorbed (or so she hoped).  Still, she wondered if he'd somehow had some intuition about their potential together.


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