“What's up old boy?” Oliver asked, joyful as usual, “You look rather pale this morning!”
Silas trudged towards him in his white tennis gear. His headache had returned with a vengeance and he bit back an angry retort at his friend, settling instead for an unimpressed glare. This was met with a grin, and Oliver handed him a tennis racket. He stared at grudgingly, condemning it for its very existance, refusing to take it.
“Tennis again?” he grumbled, “We played that last week. Can't we have a game of something else for once? I heard there's a cricket game on down on the green. What about badminton?"
Anything but tennis, please.
“Not a chance!” his friend guffawed, “It gets boring after a while!”
Silas frowned, irritated, but then he relaxed and laughed, “But you always win at tennis! Fine. Tennis it is today, but next week it's badminton. Okay?”
The other man laughed – he was district tennis champion, of course he'd win – then walked away towards the court, a small walled garden on the old Duke's estate, and Silas followed, gritting his teeth. That man was getting on his nerves a little today and they'd barely talked. Maybe it was just his lack of sleep getting to him. His mind flashed to that horrifying dream he'd had and he shuddered. What had they done to him? Who were they? He shrugged off these thoughts: this was stupid, they weren't even real, he was just worried about a figment of his imagination, that's all.
When they got there, Silas was surprised to find Hettie, her parasol shading her pale complexion from the sun, waiting for them. She floated towards him (or at least her gown made it look that way) kissing him quickly on the lips when she reached him. She giggled and smiled up at him, the kind of smile that would melt butter.
“What? Come to watch me get crushed at the dreaded racket sport?” Silas asked, confused and slightly irked by her unpronounced appearance
“Nothing, I'm just here to watch my champion play tennis,” she smiled, sitting down on a stone bench, warmed by the sun, “Don't mind me,”
“Okay,” He sighed, resigned to his fate and lifted his racket into position...
Oliver panted heavily, dripping in sweat as he tried to hit the ball back across the net. He failed, and the game was up.
“Wow, you've never played like that before Silas,” his friend panted, staring at him, wide eyed. He'd barely broken a sweat and his face looked, although still uncharacteristically pale, utterly determined. Oliver's face betrayed his feelings; how had his friend played so well? Silas was, at least according to Oliver - although possibly he meant it in jest when he said it - the worst tennis player in history again and now... this?
“That was... really well played,” he shook his anxiety away, “Do you want another round?”
Silas shivered slightly, then looked at his friend. His face was a picture of shock and... fear? What had caused this? Even Hettie looked surprised, although her expression was softer and almost exuberant. He couldn't share her enthusiasm in his victory.
“I... I have to go,” He mutely said, “Goodbye Oliver, Hettie,” he took a few steps backwards, “I'll see you soon...”
Then he turned tail and ran.