Author Topic:  [mp] all the small things. [jacq]  (Read 321 times)

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Offline Andronicus Lovecraft

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[mp] all the small things. [jacq]
« on: October 06, 2019, 03:42:41 AM »
february 2003

For two days now Andronicus had been enchanting little heart shaped notes to show up inside of all Jacqueline's text books. The spell itself had taken him weeks to master but he'd planned the whole thing out early that way when it came time for Valentine's he'd be ready. The little notes were heart shaped parchment cut outs in all of her favorite colors, not just the classic reds and pinks, and he thought that made it even better. The messages were fairly simple: "Meet me at the Three Broomsticks on Saturday. I'll be wearing a red Bow-Tie." but there was one caveat: he hadn't signed any of them. Rather than having his name on the notes Andy had left them all anonymous. It was partly because he thought the idea of a secret admirer was really cute but mostly because he was a little bit scared of telling her how he really felt.

Andy had started to figure out his feelings for his childhood best friend turned beautifully amazing witch some time last year. He'd managed earn back her friendship and ask her on a date to the ball at the end of term but it hadn't quite gone as he hoped. Andy knew what he wanted the night to be but it seemed Jacqueline had thought they were there more so as friends and thus he was still stuck in this awful limbo. About a month before Valentine's day he had resolved to finally tell her, with no uncertainties, about how he really felt and then came the plan. So far is it was working perfectly. For a moment he thought he was going to accidentally spoil it when a note came during a lunch when they were sitting next to one another but he'd managed to keep it together.

On the day he'd gotten up early, made sure his hair was perfectly formed, and headed down to the Hogsmeade path. Until today the teenage wizard hadn't known it was possible to feel so many different kinds of anxious. Hands shaking, heart pounding, he felt nervous and nauseous and excited. He tried to make sure he was there early enough that they wouldn't accidentally run into each other on the way. Dressed in finely pressed black slacks and a fancy button up gray shirt Andy made his way to the Broomsticks. He got a table, even though it was already starting to get busy, and began to fuss with putting on the bow tie. As he waited, committed to his mission, he checked his reflection in the pint glass of Butterbeer he'd already slammed and tried to keep his jittery bouncing legs calm.

He was going to tell her how he felt.

Today everything was going to change.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2019, 02:56:04 AM by Olivia »

Offline Jacqueline MacClelland

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Re: [mp] all the small things. [jacq]
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2019, 08:40:41 PM »
If Jacqueline were being honest, she woke up that Saturday after Valentine’s Day feeling as nervous as though she were about to sit her O.W.L.s all over again.

Unsurprisingly, word that the Scottish witch had acquired a Secret Admirer had spread like wildfire among her girlfriends earlier in the week: when she’d opened her Charms textbook to reveal – to her great surprise – the first of several confetti cascades composed of colored paper hearts. Within seconds, a heated discussion (carried out in whispers, of course, to maintain the utmost secrecy) broke out as to the identity of this mysterious person. The notes had read: ‘Meet me at the Three Broomsticks on Saturday. I'll be wearing a red Bow-Tie.’. Naturally, the first thing that the Ravenclaw archetype attempted to do was determine whose handwriting it was – but it appeared to be a generic sort of script, and not one that she recognized.
Someone suggested Lionel (they had spent a good deal of time together over the years), but Jacqueline was quick to point out that charmed paper hearts couldn’t be further from his ‘style’; furthermore, they were “just friends” and fellow scholars, and she doubted he had any romantic interest in her. The discussion made her both uncomfortable and exhilarated, but before she could shut it down altogether, none other than Andy had been propositioned (they had spent “an awful lot of time together” over the past few months). Feeling the heat rise in her cheeks, Jacq started to insist that they, too, were “just friends” – but when she trailed off halfway through her own rebuttal, the delighted shrieks from her girlfriends told her all she needed to know. Embarrassed, she hid her face in her hands; but smiled secretly behind them. She sorely hoped it was Andy, though it positively terrified her to some small degree. He was her oldest friend, after all.

Completely contrary to her usual nature (i.e. ability to be almost completely impartial to emotion), she couldn’t bring herself to broach the subject with him – even during lunch one day, when one arrived while they were sitting right next to each other. It was something she hadn’t quite realized she’d wanted, at least consciously, until the past few weeks or so. If it wasn’t Andy, she wasn’t quite sure what she would do. And yet…
Would ‘just a friend’ go through the trouble of enchanting paper hearts (in her favorite colors, to boot!) hidden in her textbooks? Would ‘just a friend’ leave anonymous notes and dress up for such an occasion?

She needed a plan… yes, that was it. A good, solid, logically-founded plan. Most of her girlfriends were all too happy to contribute, and they’d stayed up late into the night discussing; but even long after they’d fallen asleep Jacqueline had lain awake, ruminating.

Before she knew it, the morning had dawned bright and cold. She’d insisted on going to Hogsmeade alone, and so with trembling fingers she dressed, pulled on her warmest coat, and made her way to the village.
Jacqueline hovered at the entrance to the pub, suddenly worried despite the fact that she’d formulated a detailed plan of approach.
‘What if it wasn’t Andy?’ she’d asked herself for the thousandth time. How would she handle the situation without hurting the poor lad’s feelings? Not that she fancied herself ‘popular’ by a long shot… but being the analytical witch she was, she had certainly entertained the possibility and considered a few sample scenarios. Regardless, she very much hoped she wouldn’t need to use any of them.
Opening the door, she childishly peeked around the corner before properly stepping into the pub, hoping to buy herself a few additional seconds to prepare. It was silly, she knew, and especially out-of-character for her… but she couldn’t help it. And before she was quite aware of what she was doing, she found herself looking for Andy (instead of the red bow-tie, her original planned target). When she found him she registered a funny sort of jolt in her stomach, like an electric shock, and felt her heart in her throat as her gaze traveled down a few inches to rest on his collar.

He was wearing a red bow-tie.

Her limbs moved of their own volition; she finally stepped out from around the corner as her hand went reflexively to her mouth, which split into a grin so broad it actually hurt her cheeks. A wave of what she could only describe as relief and pure joy washed over her; the giddy, lightheaded, tingly feeling took root again, and immediately she was transported back to last June when they’d danced together at the End-of-Term Ball. The spark had been there all along – she just hadn’t quite realized it. She felt as though her chest might burst.

Jacqueline stood for a moment, frozen, before finally finding her voice, though it emerged much more quietly than she’d expected.
“I’d verra much hoped to find it was ye wearing the bow-tie, Andy.”
« Last Edit: December 03, 2019, 08:41:03 PM by Olivia »
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Offline Andronicus Lovecraft

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Re: [mp] all the small things. [jacq]
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2019, 12:13:05 AM »
Acutely aware of his surroundings Andronicus felt a cold draft of air every time the door to the pub creaked open. He did everything in his power to fight the urge to lean back in his chair and scope out who was headed in. He had to play it at least a little bit cool, there would be plenty of time to make a fool out of himself once she got there. Sitting quietly he waited for what felt like a lot longer than it really was and as he sat his mind began to wander. First to what he might say, how he might express himself, but eventually his thoughts grew more desperate. As they often did when he began to over think things he started to wonder about the worst possible scenarios. Would it be worse if she didn't show up? Or if she showed up but wasn't impressed that he was her secret admirer. He started to second guess the entire plan, maybe she would feel obligated or under pressure, he would never want that.

His palms began to sweat as he went over all of the possibilities of how badly he could crash and burn this afternoon and the longer he waited the worse his nerves got. Normally cool and social the teenager felt a hot wave of anxiety when she finally arrived. He swallowed hard, pushing out a smile even though he was genuinely excited to see her. "Really?" He asked, way too eagerly, before faking a cough and trying again. "I mean, I'm glad." He swallowed again, desperately hoping his cheeks weren't as red as they felt. He stood up as she approached the table, pulling out her chair for her and mentally ticking that gesture off the checklist of "good date etiquette" he'd memorized out of one of Eleanora's witchy magazines. Next was offering her something to drink. He clung to the checklist now, using it like a crutch because for once in his life he had no idea what to say to Jacqueline, his oldest friend.

They'd known each other for so long it seemed they could talk about anything. He never held anything back from her before, until this, but the whole point of today was to let her know how he was really feeling. Of course that was turning out to be an easier task said than done. "Would you like a butterbeer? Or are you hungry? Or anything?" He fired off nervously as he sat back in his own seat and tried not to stare at her. Had she done her hair differently? Had he seen her in that skirt before? (He doubted it, he definitely would have remembered that skirt had he seen it before....) The teenage boy tried to quell the new burning sensation inside of him with the tail end of his now room temperature butterbeer as he waited for her to answer.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2019, 12:18:38 AM by Samm »

Offline Jacqueline MacClelland

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Re: [mp] all the small things. [jacq]
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2019, 06:15:28 AM »
Her smile widened – if that was even possible at this point – at the genuine excitement in his tone.
“Aye, really,” she reassured, her own voice stronger now. “I didnae ken quite what I’d do, else,” she confided conspiratorially, feeling so giddy with relief that she almost forgot to be nervous. How was that for mental? Not two minutes ago she’d nearly been quaking in her boots for nerves… now, she felt almost invincible.

“Thanks,” she murmured as she took the proffered chair, though she couldn’t shake the sensation that she (well, at least her head) was floating. She wasn’t particularly hungry, but a drink sounded great. “Butterbeer is perfect.”
Jacqueline smoothed her skirt absently; it was a bit shorter than she’d anticipated so she’d layered it with some thicker tights, but there was no help for it now. She was positively tickled by the clear effort Andy had made and felt compelled to say something, though she wasn’t quite sure what. The last thing she wanted was to seem ungrateful…

She glanced up in hopes of catching his eye; and when she found him already gazing at her, it felt as though her stomach had done a backflip. Emboldened, she continued.
This is perfect. Honest. How long have ye been planning it?”
Jacqueline hadn’t exactly intended to put him on the spot – but now that the first wave of emotion had abated somewhat, her curiosity had been piqued.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2019, 06:18:29 AM by Olivia »
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Offline Andronicus Lovecraft

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Re: [mp] all the small things. [jacq]
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2019, 12:20:41 AM »
Andronicus let out a relieved breath when she doubled down on the fact that she had been hoping it was him sending the notes. He believed it, he really wanted to believe it, and so with a wide smile, he did. He tried to calm his nerves as she sat there across from him. Though he didn't know it yet this was going to be one of those times he remembered for the rest of his life. One of those momentous moments that he'd cherish forever, that he'd look back on in the years to come and appreciate because of everything else that couldn't of happened if this hadn't occurred first. Smiling across the table at her Andronicus could barely believe this was finally happening. He'd been planning it out for so long now that it had almost become a dream he'd chickened out of. He nodded at her request for a Butterbeer and quickly obliged. Holding his own empty pint glass up he caught the waitress' eye and pointed toward it before motioning for two with his other hand. It wasn't the most gracious of movements, but chaotic and excited was kind of the high he was riding right now. Turning back to find Jacqueline's gaze again he prayed he wasn't blushing by the time she finished her question but he was fairly certain from the heat radiating off of them that he absolutely was.

"Oh not long," he started, waving a hand like it wasn't a big deal because he was still trying to play it cool. Not a second later he was internally scolding himself with an inner monologue along the lines of 'What are you doing? This is Jacqs! You friggin' knob.'. Meanwhile on the outside he ran a sweaty palm through his brown hair, pushing it back from his face, before correcting himself. "Well... that's not totally true." As he began he felt like a weight was starting to lift off his shoulders. After all the time and effort he'd put into this, going over the details, the spell, her possible reactions, so many times that it didn't even feel real anymore. He had placed such pressure on the whole event he'd nearly forgotten the best part: It had worked! He was telling his best friend how he felt and she was into it. It couldn't get any better, the young wizard was sure of that. "It took me nearly two months to figure out the spell for the little notes, trickier than I though it'd be." This part was true, Andronicus excelled at charms but even he had struggled with this one. "The hardest part was figuring out the timing. So that they wouldn't keep showing up while we were together." He grinned as he spoke, a little bit embarrassed. "I thought for sure you were going to figure it out the day it came at the table." Despite his nervousness and every other emotion swirling around inside of him Andy was also a little bit proud. He'd put his mind to doing something and he'd done it.

He didn't want to spill all of the details about the plan though, feeling like maybe it'd ruin the magic of it. Like how he'd borrowed his sisters magazines for tips or that he'd spent two Hogsmeade trips searching for the right colored parchment because regular colors weren't good enough (they had to be her favorites). He was willing to give her a few more details though, partly because the more they talked the more he began to calm down but mostly because the more they talked about this the longer he could put off the serious things he was nervous to tell her. "I had to practice writing with my left hand so you wouldn't realize it was my hand writing. Surprised you could read it, honestly." He chuckled. It was like it had always been between them, they could talk about anything and Andronicus never felt like she would judge him. If she could forgive the brat he'd been only a few years ago he knew she saw the real him. Jacqueline had always seen past his bullshit though, it was one of things that he was attracted to. She was a logical thinker who could figure her way out of just about any problem if needed. She was a loyal and dedicated friend, a hell of a study buddy (when he wasn't too distracted by how soft her skin looked), and so much funnier than she probably thought she was. Andy had always been drawn to her, even as children, she just had that kind of energy he couldn't resist.

When the butterbeers were dropped off at the table Andy took a quick sip, his throat unusually dry all of a sudden, and then kept his hands wrapped around the cool glass to keep them from fidgeting. "So do you like my tie?" He asked with a bold smile, sitting up a little, he thought it was funny at first but now he was considering adding a few to his wardrobe. Of course if she didn't like it he'd get rid of it. He wasn't committed to it or anything. "You look really pretty by the way." He gushed, honestly, and not even because that was tip #2 in the witch weekly article he had committed to memory.

Offline Jacqueline MacClelland

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Re: [mp] all the small things. [jacq]
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2020, 02:40:47 AM »
He was positively beaming at her, now, and she felt a rush of affection flood into her chest. His unbridled delight that she was delighted felt a tiny bit silly and a lot a bit wonderful at the same time. His answering flush brought another wave of pleasant contentment that settled over her like a cozy blanket.

She waited patiently as the story came out: slowly and a bit hesitantly at first, and then faster and more fluidly as he seemingly realized that she wasn’t trying to ‘test’ him, and that he was still just talking to his friend.
“I thought for sure you were going to figure it out the day it came at the table.”
Her hand went involuntarily to her mouth at that, eyes wide, but she was grinning. He was picking up steam now, though, and she was loath to interrupt him. Her heart warmed with each new detail and each new admission of the planning that had gone into it. She was fortunate to have such a thoughtful friend.

Jacqueline knew this side of him had been there, all along, and the validation was a tangible relief; she had seen it when they were just children. And so it had crushed her even worse when he’d turned away from her, and instead found company among those with colder hearts; people who were supposed to be positive influences, but dragged him down into their darkness. The emotional distance between them had felt like a hollow in her chest; the extent of which she’d only fully realized once he’d re-entered her life.

He paused for breath when their mugs of butterbeer arrived, and as he took a sip Jacq thought she’d take the opportunity to comment. But before she could say anything, he was positively beaming at her again.

“So do you like my tie?”

“Aye, I do!” she laughed.

“You look really pretty by the way.”

The comment came so unexpectedly that she was caught a little off-guard. Her heart skipped a beat, and the smile that followed was completely involuntary. Jacq felt pleasantly lightheaded.
“That’s kind of ye, thanks.”
For want of something to do with her hands, she wrapped them around the steaming mug, letting her fingers imbibe its warmth.
“Ye clean up well,” she returned with a playful wrinkle of her nose, a lighthearted allusion to his oftentimes-muddier post-Quidditch self. “A sight for sore eyes, to be sure, especially in that bow-tie. Gives ye a verra polished look.”

‘Ye look braw’ was her favorite compliment to give him; it suited him well. And while she said it many times before (and undoubtedly would say it many times to come), she felt today warranted something a little different. Because she’d never felt quite this elated about commenting on how handsome he looked as she did today; though the End-of-Term Ball had been a very close second. In retrospect it was easy to mourn the lost time; but they were here now, and that was what mattered. So she took the opportunity to say what she wanted to earlier, when he was unwrapping his master plan.

“It was verra thoughtful. All of it,” she told him honestly, her smile genuine and reassuring. “The kindest thing anyone’s done for me. I…” – she hesitated fleetingly, a touch embarrassed to admit it despite the fact that there was nothing to be embarrassed about, but it would be more telling of just how much it had meant to her – “The notes. I’ve kept them all, in my nightstand. Cannae tell ye again how glad of it I am, that ye are the one who sent them. And to see that bow-tie on ye today,” she reiterated with a soft laugh.
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Offline Andronicus Lovecraft

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Re: [mp] all the small things. [jacq]
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2020, 02:56:04 AM »
Terrified the flush that was taking over his cheeks was going to give away exactly how nervous he was Andy forced himself to look away after her last comment about keeping the notes and being happy it was him in the bow tie. Those words felt like they meant the world and he couldn't hide the glee that was on his face. He was nervous but he was also exhilarated. He wondered if this was what being high felt like. He'd never really done any drugs but he'd been around others when they were and they usually seemed pretty happy. Wearing a smile that was guaranteed to last for days his dimples were on full display. "I'm glad your glad." He replied, instantly wanting to smack himself upside the head for saying something so ridiculous. Way to keep the conversation going, idiot. He went through the motions of scolding himself quickly and tried to jump right back in. There would be plenty of time to doubt his decisions and find things to beat himself up about later. That was certain.

"But this isn't all I have planned!" He said some what abruptly after a small pause. The teenage boy was all over the place this afternoon. He was nervous and excited and a little bit hyped up on Butterbeers. He felt comfortable with Jacqueline because she had been his best friend for so long but there were always two sides of a sickle. On the other side he also felt like there was so much more pressure on everything today being right because she was his best friend. And he had this dreadful feeling like if he screwed this up he could screw everything up for good. He was almost too scared to risk it but some how he managed to gather the courage and push back from the table.

"Come with me?" He asked, finishing his butterbeer and holding a hand out to her. They'd held hands before, not even that long ago really, but some how this felt like it had so much more weight. The simple gesture meant so much more in this moment and Andronicus felt like time was slowing down as he waited for her to make the choice. They were conveniently seated close to the bank door of the pub and that had all been by design. Andy rarely planned anything but today was different. Today was about impression Jacqueline and he was using every trick in the book. "You'll have to close your eyes... its a surprise." He told her when she took his hand and he moved to lead her out the back door and to the small patch of lawn that was behind the pub. It was relatively private, wooden fencing on either side and the lack of foot prints in the little patches of snow that remained proved it was rarely ever used. The bustle of the street could still be heard but it was like hearing it through a window, rather than being a part of it.

Leading her out the door he waited for it to close before he squeezed her hand, not wanting to let it go just yet, and whispered. "You can open them now." Andy had pulled a lot of favors setting this up. He'd promised to clean dishes for the next three weekends at the Pub in order to secure their "private garden". It wasn't too much to look at, some over grown vines climbed the fencing and the empty crates from yesterdays alcohol shipments were stacked up hazardously in the corner but that wasn't what he was hoping she would be looking at. In the center of the lawn Andy had set up the over sized lawn chess set they used to play as children. They used to spend days out in the gardens playing and laughing and Andy wanted to remind her of how close they had been. How perfect and easy everything had been back then. He hoped this would do the trick.

Offline Jacqueline MacClelland

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Re: [mp] all the small things. [jacq]
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2020, 05:05:47 AM »
He averted his eyes for a moment, seemingly embarrassed; but when he turned to face her again, the first thing she was drawn to was his radiant dimpled smile. Jacqueline was very well-acquainted with his characteristic ‘crooked grin’: the expression he often wore when cracking jokes or goofing around or getting into some mischief or another. But this was a rare thing altogether, and she’d seen it from him only a handful of times before.

Her eyebrows went up at his sudden proclamation, and she laughed. He stood, then, and drained the remainder of his butterbeer; she followed suit, not wanting to dampen his excitement, which was catching.

“Come with me?”

She glanced up from her now-empty mug to see his hand outstretched towards her; and she was suddenly transported back in time to last June, in the Great Hall, when he’d asked her to slow-dance with him. And, just as she had those eight months ago, without the slightest hesitation Jacqueline reached out and took it. But this time, – instead of leaving it such that all four of her fingers were between his thumb and forefinger – after the briefest of hesitations, she interlaced her fingers with his. In all the times they’d held hands over the years, they never had in this way before; like a stereotypically giddy schoolgirl, the thrill of something different (and more intimate, at that) momentarily arrested her breath.

“You’ll have to close your eyes… it’s a surprise.”

“Oh, aye, is it?” she teased through a smile – and a ripple of nervous excitement. But she did as he’d requested, following half a step behind and taking each step with the utmost confidence, as though she could see where she was going. She might stumble, but he wouldn’t let her fall. Though she supposed there wasn’t much help for it if she were to smack her nose dead into the doorframe…

But Andy hadn’t let her do that, either, and in a few short steps they were outside; she felt the February chill settle benignly over her, a sharp contrast to the warmth they’d just left. And yet, it wasn’t the temperature that sent a chill down her spine when he whispered in her ear: “You can open them now.”

She did so, but slowly, as the glare off the snow was often blinding. And when her eyes did adjust, she couldn’t quite help herself – she gasped quietly. The sight of the lawn chess setup brought her right back to their childhood; the warm summer sun, the picnic lunches they packed themselves, parading about in outdated fancy clothes that were much too large for them. It had been years since they’d last played a game like this, out on the lawn.

Jacq stood motionless for a heartbeat, then turned her head to stare at him for a few more as her smile slowly expanded; and then she laughed gleefully, throwing her arms around his neck to pull him into a hug. Curious as ever, her first instinct was to ask how he’d managed it; for in the three-and-a-half years she’d been to the Three Broomsticks, she’d never known it to have a ‘public’ outdoor space in the back.
But she held her tongue on that, and instead sighed happily: “Andy, it’s perfect.”
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billow and breeze, islands and seas . mountains of rain and sun . all that was good, all that was fair . all that was me is gone

Offline Andronicus Lovecraft

  • Listen, I hope that if a ghost contacts you, you guys have a spirited time.
  • Slytherin
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  • Posts: 58
  • Trophy Closet "To Plant A Garden" -- This character participated in the 2002-2003 Herbology lessons Scotland National Team Fan Thread of the Month Winner This character has started and/or participated in a MP thread! Lucky Horseshoes The Lionids Holyhead Harpies Fan Awarded for Participation in the Gauntlet 1: The Labyrinth Trials. Hogwarts Quidditch Cup (1998-1999) - Slytherin Hogwarts House Cup (1999-2000) - Slytherin Rich Family Member Pureblood Character
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  • Player Name: Samm
  • Age: 17
Re: [mp] all the small things. [jacq]
« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2020, 06:43:20 PM »
Calling the bit of alley behind the pub a "garden" was definitely a stretch, but after searching high and low for some where, anywhere, he could impress her Andy had resigned to the fact that this was the best he was going to do. He thought about doing something cute on the Hogwarts grounds but Merlin knew some random first year would stumble upon them and make it super awkward. They were always underfoot like that. A few weeks back he'd been staring off into space trying to figure out his master plan to ask Jacqueline out when just like magic the door to the back alley had opened and revealed itself. It was shoddy, it was over grown, it kind of smelt like day old beer, but there was a little patch of open space and once it was cleaned up it wasn't too bad. Convincing the Broomsticks to let him use it had been a whole other adventure which included days of begging, small bribes, and finally agreeing to basically work for free for a few weekends, but seeing Jacqueline's face had made all of it worth it.

He stepped to stand next to her, never taking his dark brown eyes off of her, because he really wanted to remember this moment. The fear and anxiety that had been plaguing him earlier seemed to wash away when he saw her taking it all in. He was proud of what he'd done. When she pulled him close for a hug he wrapped his arms around her waist and couldn't help but notice how perfectly they seemed to fit up against each other. They'd hugged before, sure, but this was on a whole other level and Andronicus wasn't ready for it to end by the time they were pulling apart. He stuck his hands into the pockets of his slacks awkwardly once they were standing across from each other again, suddenly unaware of what to do with them.

"So, fancy a game?"

He propositioned with a playful smile back on his face. He had tried to think of everything in preparation for this day but there were bound to be things that fell through the cracks. He'd expected it to be a bit chilly seeing as it was February but he'd only thought to put a warming spell on the chess board area. As a small breeze bit against his cheeks he looked forward to the warmth the chessboard would provide. He hadn't thought about doing it for the whole backyard, not that he could of kept a spell that big going on his own either. Andy was pretty good at Charms but he was still just a teenager, he was still working on his magical stamina for big spells like that. "I'll let you go first." He teased, not that she'd need it. She had always been better at chess than he was.

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