by Lady Holly
“Four entries? I don’t even want to know what you did in order to get FOUR!"
His Kiss - Part Eight
“I think he still loves me.”
It is Friday morning, and Henry had text Emma to see if they could walk to school together. She needs to sort out some of the mess that is thudding around in her head.
Daniel and Catherine walk ahead, dressed for the weather in big coats, hats, scarfs and gloves. They’re talking about a book they've been reading in class, jumping in crunchy piles of leaves as they pass them. Their gleeful chuckles echo around the empty street, interrupted only when the odd car passes by. Henry and Emma are pushing Zoe and Rose, who are equally bundled up against the autumn chill, in their pushchairs.
“Well, I'm not surprised,” Emma says knowledgeably, re-wrapping her scarf around her neck where it had blown undone. Henry waits for Emma to elaborate.
“Think about it, Henry. He's known you since he was a baby. He spent nearly every day by your side until the age of ten, where you had to leave each other suddenly and on bad terms. And then five years later, he meets you on holiday by chance. He'd probably been thinking about you the whole time. If anyone else from primary had seen you, they would have just said 'hey, how you doing?' And that would be that. But not James, he made you fall in love with him, for real this time, didn't he spend every waking moment with you?”
Henry grimaces. “Until that last day.”
“Yes, until then. But put yourself in his position – he's stumbled across this girl who's managed to turn his world upside down, and he knows that after the weeks up, she's going to leave him again. And this blonde comes up to him, you're not around...” Emma’s not looking at Henry, but straight ahead. She’s in full-on imaginary scenario mode.
“I really don’t think he’s spent all this time thinking about me. It’s just not James. And if he still liked me why would he go out with Darcy? And that other girl in the summer? And are you making excuses for him?” Henry says, trying to sound teasing, but inside she is worried; is Emma on James' side? Is Henry the one in the wrong?
“No, no. Henry, if he’s in love with a girl he can’t have, he’s going to get with other people isn’t he? How else is he going to move on? That’s why I keep suggesting you get a boyfriend; finding someone else is a sure fire way of forgetting about the person before them. And of course I’m not on his side, you have every right to be mad at him.”
Henry lets out the breath she's been holding in and re-adjusts her woolly hat. “Hmmm. I guess you’re right. But still, you can't excuse his behaviour last night.”
“Well no, you can't. I don't know why he went out with Darcy in the first place if he still liked you, not when he realised you were here and he still had a chance.”
Henry decides not to comment on James having a chance. Did she want to give him another chance? She gave him a chance in the summer and he found another girl before she’d even left. She decides to change the subject. “Darcy is seriously pissed.” Henry had text her five times and left three voice mails since, but Darcy hadn’t got back to her at all. This had never, in the history of the Henry-Darcy friendship, happened before.
“I bet she is. But poor George, he was only having a bit of fun... I hope he's okay.”
Henry turns to face her friend, catching her staring off into the distance.
“Emma Mills! Do you have a soft spot for George?” Henry watches as her friend's cheeks turn a fetching pink. “You do!” She squeals. “How wonderful!”
“How is it wonderful?” Emma asks, forgetting that she is supposed to be denying it.
“Because I've seen him looking at you before. I think he likes you too!” Henry yanks Catherine, who was shuffling through the brilliantly coloured leaves, out of the road as she spots a car approaching.
“Really?” Emma can't contain her excitement.
Henry laughs. “Yes, honestly! You should text him and ask him if he's okay after last night.”
“Good idea!” Emma pulls out her phone and begins tapping out a sympathetic text. “I don't suppose you'd consider…”
But before Emma can even finish, Henry cuts in “No. Absolutely no more double dating!” They both burst out laughing. Emma's phone buzzes and she turns her full attention to the tiny screen. Henry smiles.
When they reach school, Darcy is waiting for them at the front gates, arms folded across her chest. Henry is happy to note that at least today her friend has dressed for the time of year, in a khaki green parker jacket and sky-blue bobble hat.
Henry speaks first. “Darcy, I'm sorry about last night. I really don't know what happened.”
Darcy stands for a moment, trying to work out if Henry is telling the truth. There seems to be more behind Henry and James; they seem quite close. But Henry isn't one for flirting with the boys, and if she says there’s nothing to it, Darcy can’t see why she would be lying. “It's okay Henry. It wasn't like you knew he was going to behave like that. I know you wouldn't ever make a move on my boyfriend. God, there I was thinking James was different to all the other guys. Honestly, they're all the same! Bastards.”
“I thought he was different too, Darce,” Henry agrees. Even though James hadn’t been trying to make a move on her, more trying to stop other guys from making a move on her. But the guy that James had thought was making a move on her, wasn’t making a move on her anyway. Henry’s head was still throbbing. She realises that what she’d said to Darcy was true; she really did think James was different. This James wasn't the James who she'd been best friends with in Primary school, nor was he the James she'd fallen in love with last summer. This James was definitely different. She felt horrifically guilty for kissing him, but it wasn’t her place to tell Darcy.
Darcy accepts Henry’s statement of solidarity and Emma's determined nod of agreement. She links arms with the two of them, and all three walk to class chained together in unison.
“They're a force to be reckoned with mate. I just wouldn't get involved,” Thomas Jones, a boy from their year, says to James, who is standing around the corner of the building and watching the three girls walk off with interest.
James thought that last night would be the end of Henry and Darcy's friendship – he'd seen similar fallouts over boys before. Well, over himself actually, but he didn't like to brag. So why had these two bounced back even stronger? Why hadn't Darcy turned her back on Henry? Surely she realised Henry and himself had a history, and Henry had kept it from her? And more importantly, why hadn't Henry come running back to him?
Henrietta Morgan really was a force to be reckoned with. There was no telling what she was capable of – but that was what he'd always liked about her.
“I'll be back in a minute, I've just got to go and see Mr Fletcher about some homework.” Henry makes her excuses, tries to ignore Emma's knowing smile, and leaves her friends sitting in their hangout at lunchtime. She crosses the court yard before entering the science building through the nearest door, then bolting up the stairs as soon as she is out of sight.
Mark gives her a fright as he suddenly grabs hold of her forearm, pulling her behind a set of lockers.
“You can't just go marching in there!” He whispers, tightening his grip on her arm. Henry normally would have snapped a retort back, but she holds her tongue.
“Alright, okay. You can let go of me now.” He grudgingly lets go, before edging forward and peeking around the corner. If they are caught up here again, they both knew there would be serious consequences.
“There's no-one there,” he whispers back to her, before darting through a set of swinging doors, and then flattening himself against the wall outside Mr Brawn's classroom, spy style. Henry hastily follows. Although the situation is risky, she can't help smirking at how James-Bond-like Mark is acting. It’s like he'd just stepped off screen and into the school corridor, ready to shoot the terrorists that were holding hostages in a nearby classroom.
A quick look through the glass window on the door confirms that the teacher is, as they had expected, already sitting in the staffroom in the opposite building.
Trying to make as little noise as possible, the two enter the classroom and close the door quietly behind them.
Henry lets herself breathe out properly for the first time in minutes.
“Okay” Mark said. “You get the laptop, I'll do the exercise books.”
Their plan was simple. To create as much havoc as they could in Mr Brawn's classroom without damaging school property or endangering anyone. It was all classic school boy pranks, enough to annoy the teacher without hurting him.
Henry runs over to the laptop sitting on the desk and unplugs the charger. She disconnects it from the laptop itself, then locks the charging cable in the top drawer of the teacher's desk. Now when the laptop ran out of charge, he wouldn't be able to charge it until he found the key and unlocked the draw. They had originally planned to just hide the set of keys, but Henry has a stroke of genius, runs to the open window and throws the keys onto the roof of the sixth form building opposite.
Mark laughs when he sees what she'd done. “Great idea” he praises her quick thinking. “Here, come and help me muddle up these text books.”
“So how often do you carry out missions like these?” Henry is intrigued.
“Not that often. I only do it when the teacher deserves it,” Mark replies, shifting a pile of homework books onto the very top shelf. Henry raises her eyebrows at this; she didn’t believe that for one second. He takes her silence as disbelief. “I’m being serious! I don’t do it just for the fun of it.”
“That’s kind of hard to believe…”
“Why?” Mark turns to look at her.
“Because you’re always getting into trouble. You’re always making a spectacle of yourself in class, always winding up the teachers and not handing in homework and annoying other students…” Henry keeps her eyes on the books, not wanting to make eye contact.
“I guess. I just find it hard to focus. I could do the work with my eyes closed – school bores me.”
Henry doesn’t really know how to respond to that. School to her was the opposite – she fed off knowledge and loved learning new things. Although, now that she thought about it, she did get annoyed in the classes where she’d read ahead, or when most of the class didn’t get something and they had to double back and re-do the lesson. Maybe Mark did have a point.
As she shuffles two EdExcel revision guides into the middle of a pile of year eleven text books, her head whips towards the doors as someone tries the door handle. Thank God she pulled down the catch when she'd closed the door behind them; it gave them a crucial few seconds to hide. Mark taps Henry’s shoulder then runs across the classroom to the stock cupboard.
They jingle of keys outside the classroom as whoever is outside fiddles to get the door open.
For the second time in a week, Henry finds herself trapped in a compact dark space with only Mark and a few spiders for company. Once again, she had entered first, and was now crammed at the back of the cupboard, the shelves lining the back wall digging into her lower back and shoulders. As she had rushed in, her foot had narrowly missed the broken glass bucket, and she'd scraped her arm on the filing cabinet lock on the left as she'd brushed past.
They stood chest to chest, Mark's hands resting gently on Henrietta's waist, which she thought was unnecessary, but found the gesture oddly comforting. At the same time though, his touch did things to her. Her heart beat fast, and that couldn't just be down to the fact she was scared of getting caught. It definitely had been affected by Mark's presence, the light pressure of his hands on her waist and the knowledge that if she bent her head forward a bit, she'd be leaning against his broad chest – an idea she found highly enticing.
Barely breathing, they both listen as the person enters the Science room. They follow the footsteps across the classroom and over to the desk, where the sound is replaced by the rustling of paper.
Mark feels Henrietta shift her weight to her other foot, and can't help smiling. He realises with a shock that he finds the fact that Henry can't stand still highly entertaining and cute. Cute? Henry? It just couldn't be. He tightens his grip on her waist, pulling her closer. He wants to smell her again, wants desperately to ask her what shampoo she uses because the scent drives him wild. Most of all, he wants to bury his head in her luscious blonde curls. But now was neither the time nor the place.
After a tense few minutes while the person at the desk searches for what they are looking for, they finally hear the footsteps back off to the door, and then the click of the lock.
Henrietta breathes out heavily, letting her body sag against Mark's, before realising what she is doing and pulling away, pushing him out of the door.
Mark doesn't say anything while they both stand blinking, letting their eyes adjust to the light. “Do we carry on?” He asks, looking down at Henry.
After a moment’s hesitation, she brings her eyes up to meet his and grins. “Of course!”
Once they've finished with the books, they move on to turning each of the stools that surrounded the work benches upside down, so that the legs faced the ceiling, and then pulling on all of the cupboard doors and leaving them swinging wide open.
“That was incredibly close!” Henry exclaims while they are busy at work.
“Once when I was in Mr Harrison’s office he came in and I was crouched under his desk – he sat down on his chair, feet inches from my face, and I thought I was going to be trapped there for hours. Luckily someone called him out of the room and I managed to escape.”
“What on earth were you doing in Mr Harrison’s office?!”
“You don’t want to know.”
“Oh, I really do!” Henry looks at him with wide, thick-lash framed eyes. Those eyes set his heart beating at twice the pace it should. How could he refuse her when she looked at him like that?
Sighing to show her how reluctant he is to tell the story, he begins. “Mr Harrison has this book, and he writes in it all the names of kids that he’s found doing things they shouldn’t, and details of what happened, time and place and everything.”
“No, he doesn’t!” Mark has captured her full attention and she’s stopped what she is doing, shocked at this piece of news.
“Yeah, he does. At the end of the week he always takes it to the Head and reports back to him, then he sends out all his detention slips the following Monday.”
“I know, I guess he’s quite old and must get quite forgetful, so the system makes sense to him.”
“I guess, anyway, so you wanted this book?” Henry prompts.
“Yeah. This particular week he’d made four entries about me, and I needed my dad to agree to let me go on the history trip in April, so I went into the office to tear out the pages I was mentioned on.”
Henry bursts out laughing. “Oh God!” She giggles, putting her hands on her hips. “You really are awful aren’t you?! Four entries? I don’t even want to know what you did in order to get four!”
Mark laughs along with her. “Well, I’ll save those stories for another time then.”
Henry turns back to the cupboards. Did that sound like Mark presumed they’d have more conversations? Did this mean that she could now call Mark Roberts her friend? And more importantly, why did knowing Mark presumed they’d spend more time together make her feel so happy inside?
“We’d better get on with this, we’ve been in here ages,” Mark says to her, moving onto the next task they’d planned.
It was too dangerous to turn all of the gas taps on, but they ran around to each of the sinks around the edge of the room and turned on the water taps. To finish off their work, they each grab a stack of lined paper from the front of the classroom and throw handfuls of it in the air. They stand, like gleeful children watching snow fall, as the sheets flutter to the classroom floor.
“Okay, let's get out of here before someone else comes in,” Mark says, grabbing hold of Henry's hand before he realises what he was doing, and dragging her to the door. He sticks his head out to check if there is anyone in the corridor, then pulls Henry out of the classroom, and they charged off down the corridor, running down the stairs and into the corridor below.
When they are well away from the scene of the crime, they stop to catch their breath.
“Oh my God, that felt so good!” Henry laughs, blue eyes shining and chest heaving as she struggles to steady her breathing.
Mark watches her, a similar triumphant smile plastered across his face. He realises that if he'd done that with a mate, it wouldn't have been anywhere near as fun as it was with Henry – she was so good in class, it felt great to be the one to witness this different, rebellious side of her, and it made his heart ache as he looked at her flushed appearance; she was beautiful. He knew at once he just had to kiss her.
Henry, stomach filled with frantic butterflies, knew she was grinning like an idiot. But she can’t stop; she hadn’t felt this happy for a long time. She suddenly catches the way Mark is looking at her. Mesmerised, she can’t break the gaze.
Mark needs her in his arms. Right now. He reaches out, grabbing two handfuls of Henry’s shirt both sides at her waist and pulling on the material to move her closer.
Even though Henry knew at the back of her mind it was Mark’s arms physically pulling her against his body, later when Emma asks she swears the rules of gravity had pulled her like a magnet to him. Her breath is shaky; she’s never felt this much anticipation, ever. Henry tips her head up slightly, now fully enveloped in his arms.
The set of doors at the bottom of the stairs crash open, banging off of the wall. Two year seven boys come charging passed, taking the stairs two at a time.
The spell broken, this distraction is all Henry needs to realise that what is about to happen is completely wrong. Without another thought, she pushes Mark away, and stunned, he lets her go. Then she does what any sensible female would do in the same situation; she turns around and runs.