Sooner than I expected, Mr Pots announced that the last fifteen minutes were the students'. I put my book down on the table, on top of the untouched ‘Silver Kiss' and glanced at Lor. He appeared to have started working now. I looked over to the other desk. Teritt appeared to be continuing but Don was already walking over.
"Want to move to the back row?" he asked, smiling warmly at me.
"Um, okay," I said, feeling slightly worried about leaving Lor on his own and going off to sit with the person he hated.
I slowly rose to my feet, half expecting Lor to stop me. But he didn't even look up as I moved with Don to sit at the desk behind his and Teritt's.
"Sorry class is so boring, angel," Don murmured, lightly caressing the ends of my hair. His voice softened my insides. Apparently I had forgiven him for his shocking speech earlier on in the lesson.
"It's fine," I replied softly.
He moved his chair closer to mine and took my hand. He lightly began stroking it under the table, almost making me feel like a cat.
"You have French next, right?" he inquired.
"Yeah," I replied, barely hearing him, barely sensing anything apart from the rhythmic movement of his fingers across my skin.
"Me too. Which is great, because ... I have that on my own." He leant in to murmur his next words in my ear. "Wonderful chance." His breath tickled me and I shivered a little.
"Mm-hmm," I replied, desperately trying to hold onto control as Don tried to pull me away from the boring world of reality.
Don seemed to sense that I wasn't comfortable enough to share an intimate moment with him and withdrew.
"Sorry, angel," he murmured. "During break. And only what you want."
"Thank you," I said, breathing out heavily in relief.
I felt someone else's eyes on me and caught Lor watching with an unreadable expression. As soon as my gaze met his, he looked back at his work, calmly writing something down.
‘Is this really happening?' I wondered, dazed. ‘Are there really two boys after me and do I really like them both?'
I should have told Don that I wanted to cancel our date or that I wasn't interested or do something like what I'd been thinking of doing when I'd talked to Lor in the long hallway - but the fact of the matter was that I was enchanted by him. However much I wanted Lor, I fancied Don too.
"So are you looking forward to Friday?" Don murmured, his expression one of deep contentment.
If I'd had any chance of stopping things in their tracks, this was it.
"Yes," I replied, sighing as my mind wandered down the green-framed tunnels of his eyes.
"We can have thick hot chocolate, topped with cream squirted out of one of those cylinders, sprinkled with chocolate grated with a mini-grater, and a rick chocolate brownie witch chocolate chips in oozing warm chocolate sauce, and a bowl of ice cream..."
My mouth began to water.
Don smiled as he watched my reaction.
"We can sit outside if it's sunny, with our chairs so close I can stroke your hand - or maybe you can sit on my lap - and afterward, we can stroll through the town hand in hand till we find a place that's suitable for us to kiss."
I was positively enchanted by his suggestions for the day.
"I want to go now," I admitted to him.
"So do I, angel." Don looked at me longingly. "You're so beautiful my heart is aching."
"You sure that's not heartburn?"
I jumped at the sound of Lor's voice.
Don glared at him.
"Go away - you're ruining the moment."
Lor beamed. "Anything to annoy you."
He pulled Don's chair from beside Teritt and drew it nearer to the opposite side of the desk Don and I were sitting at. The chair's back was towards us and Lor sat astride the chair, resting his arms on the top.
"So has Don being telling you about his medical ailments?" Lor asked me. "The palpitations of his heart, the breathlessness, perhaps a certain inexplicable stiff-"
"Lor!" I interrupted, shocked.
He grinned. "If you ask me, it's all in his head." He looked at Don in mock sympathy. "Have you not gotten over your hypochondria?"
Don crossed his arms, scowling.
I didn't know whether to laugh or tell Lor off. I wondered why he had come over. I tried not to look at him too much, knowing his eyes would intensify, draw me in, and he'd ask me a difficult question. Instead, I looked at the desk. I didn't want to look at Don either - becoming captivated by him would hurt Lor.
"So, does Lupin Scuela appeal to you, Penny, or has a certain someone put you off?" Lor inquired.
"I think it's cool," I murmured. I decided to be brave and look up. "But maybe I shouldn't come. I seem to be increasing certain tensions."
Lor frowned. "Are we still talking about Don?"
"No!" I said annoyed. "I'm talking about you two fighting. You're both looking to me to side with you when I don't hate either of you."
Lor looked taken aback.
"I was taking the mick out of Don."
"Yes: when I was here, when you know I want to be your friend, when you know Don and I want to be more than friends. You were looking for agreement."
"You want to be his friend?" Don asked, startled.
"I want to be everyone's friend!" I answered.
Lor's expression was slightly cool. It pained me that the darkness of his eyes was suddenly being directed against me rather than used to convey intense messages to me.
"You're wrong about one of those things you mentioned," he told me. "I didn't know that you wanted to be my friend. If I'm frank, I still don't know that."
Shocked and hurt, I could only watch as he stood up and returned to his own desk.
"Good, he's gone," Don said, but he looked angry. Without looking at me he asked, "Why would you want to be friends with him?"
In slight exasperation, I replied, "Because I don't particularly want an enemy."
Don didn't look satisfied by my answer.
"Would it cheer you up if I said I preferred you?" I asked. As soon as I said it, I felt the lie.
But Don's face softened and he turned towards me, quickly kissing me on the lips. I didn't even have time to respond as he drew back, smiling.
"I'm sorry, angel. I should have remembered that it's hardly in your nature to be cruel." He sighed. "It's just ... I don't think Lor is worth it, you know? He's so ... cold."
I wanted to protest but he had already moved on.
"Anyway, I'm not going to tell you who your friends should be. You decide for yourself. As long as you remember that I love you more than anyone else."
"Just like me?" I teased, though I half hoped he'd answer yes so it wouldn't be too tough on him should I decide that I actually preferred Lor.
He smiled. "Of course not." He leant in, taking my hands, saying, "I feel so much for you than like."
Internally, I sighed a little but the outside me smiled in response; most parts of me felt a thrill at the words "so much more".
Don continued to tell me how much of an impact I had on him as the lesson I went on while Lor ignored us studiously. I was flattered by Don but I couldn't help thinking about Lor, and what he had said, and his tone of his voice, and the look in his eyes. I couldn't bear it if this lasted forever.
Before I knew it, the class was over and I was following Don out of the classroom. Lor passed us on his own way out but didn't say a single word to me. Suddenly, I remembered the poetry books and I darted back in to retrieve them. Then, there was no time to dwell on Lor because I was walking with Don to room 1 of the corridor.
The door was open. Inside, a middle aged woman with short, mousy brown hair was wiping the whiteboard clean, presumably from the day before as I had seen no students leave.
As we entered, she turned and gave us a broad smile.