by Lady H
He smirks. “Oh yeah I forgot you were new to this whole getting into trouble thing."
His Kiss - Part Nine
Inside, Henry's heart is singing. She cannot, for the life of her, stop thinking about the moment her and Mark had just shared. Okay, so she ran away. But he was going to kiss her, she was sure of it.
She was sitting in afternoon assembly, listening to Mr Hewlett, the Head Teacher, drone on and on about how important it was for Sixth Form to be involved in the many House competitions the school was running at the moment and that, well, as said before, she wasn't really listening all that carefully; she had much more pressing issues on her mind.
How was she supposed to act around Mark now? Did this mean that he liked her? Was he just caught up in the moment? Had she read it wrong; was he actually going to kiss her? What was she meant to do? All sorts of questions fly through her mind, all unanswered.
Henry decides that the best course of action is to just carry on as if the moment hadn't happened. In all honesty, her feelings about Mark and James were all a mess right now. She'd watch and see how Mark acted, and then decide from there.
She thanks God when Mr Hewlett finishes his lecture and asks if any of the other teachers have any announcements. This was usually the cue for the teachers to shake their heads, and the students to stand up and file out of the hall quietly.
Instead, Mrs Boston, the Deputy Head, stands up. Mrs Boston was an imposing lady; she had quite a large frame, cropped, greying hair and piercing steel eyes. She doubles as a maths teacher, and Henry had been taught by her last year. She was the best maths teacher in the school; she could do awfully hard sums with ridiculous fractions in her head within seconds. Not many people liked Mrs Boston. They thought she was strict and unfair, and lots of children from the younger years were terrified of her and her loud, commanding voice that could echo around half the school when someone got on the wrong side of her. But Henry liked her, she always had. Mrs Boston was, in her opinion, a fair teacher. An inspiration, really. Henry especially liked her expert maths skills. Mrs Boston told people off when they deserved it, and otherwise laughed and joked with her students, not minding if they pushed the boundaries a bit - people who knew her well knew exactly how far to push it. She was the sort of woman who, when she was younger, couldn't be bothered with the pretty, airy girls, instead making friends with the boys. She just had that sort of boyish humour about her, and Henry swore it made her a better teacher. By intimidating people when they first met her, she gained their respect. And Henry loved that about her.
Henry's head snaps up and the mention of her name.
“Can I see the two of you in my office please!” It isn't a question, it is a command. This is the side of Mrs Boston you didn't want to get on, a side that Henry had heard about but never witnessed first person before.
Henry gulps. Why would Mrs Boston want to see her? Then it dawns on her. Someone must have seen them messing up Mr Brawn's classroom! Hushed voices ripple around the old hall. Mark and Henry in trouble, together? What was going on?
Mrs Boston turns sharply on her heel and exits, and Henry presumes this is her queue to follow. She stands shakily to her feet, and hears Emma, sitting next to her, burst out laughing. She glares down at her friend; this was no laughing matter! Henry had never been in trouble like this before, let alone getting sent to the Deputy Head's office.
Henry watches as Mark saunters down his isle, looking so laid back. He even has the nerve to exchange a few high fives with his mates – although this is quickly stopped with a dark look from Mr Hewlett. She can't believe how calm Mark is. The one thing Henry hates more than anything else is attention. She much preferred to just sit happily in the background, listening and watching other people. How is she going to cope with all the rumours that would no doubt be flying around in a few minutes?
When they reach the door to the corridor, Mark steps back, gentlemanly letting Henry through first. This causes a few wolf whistles - which cause Henry's warm cheeks to turn an even more startling shade of red.
Mark winks at her, tipping her over the edge. “How can you be so calm?!” She explodes.
“Don't worry, Hen. It'll all be okay, I promise you,” he says softly. Although Mark still looks relaxed, gone is the show-off prick from the hall. Henry preferred this Mark much better. He gives her a reassuring smile, which she returns, trying to stand up straighter and look more confident.
Henry takes a deep breath as they enter the office – she realises she is a lot calmer now that they are away from their judgemental peers. In fact, she could almost see the funny side of the situation. Almost.
“Sit,” Mrs Boston says simply. Henry and Mark sit. “Now, I don't know if you are aware, but we had a bit of a situation at lunchtime. Some students caused havoc in Mr Brawn's classroom.” Henry toys with the idea of looking shocked and innocent, but then thinks better of it.
Mark curses next to her. “How?” He asks, as if the visit was a regular occurrence and this was a script well-rehearsed by now, with Mrs Boston knowing exactly what he meant by this one-word question.
“Second stairwell security camera,” Mrs Boston answers gravelly.
Mark swears again. Henry sits, unable to move. Henrietta Morgan has been called into the Deputy Head’s office. This has never, ever happened before; Henry prided herself on her clean track record and had never done anything bad enough to warrant a visit into a teacher’s office. Her mum was going to be so disappointed. No, her mum was going to be furious, would this go on her UCAS reference?
But the little voice at the back of her head whispers “You knew this was going to happen.” Go away! Henry thinks. But it carries on: “You agreed to the plan, you could have said no. It's almost as if you wanted this to happen...” Henry cries out in protest at the voice, then realises that Mark and Mrs Boston have stopped talking and are now looking at her, puzzled. She quickly covers up her outburst with a cough, leaning forward and momentarily closing her eyes while she thinks. Great. Now not only was she in trouble, but Mark and Mrs Boston thought she is crazy.
“I thought she’d never let us go!” Mark exclaims twenty minutes later, when they are well away from Mrs Boston’s office.
“Does she not always go on for so long?” Henry asks.
Mark turns to look at her, then when he catches her eye he smirks. “Oh yeah I forgot you were new to this whole getting into trouble thing.” Henry blushes. “Aren’t you supposed to re-enforce the point that you’re a good girl and this was a one off?” He laughs, holding the door open and letting Henry through first.
“No. I think that’s a bit cheesy, don’t you? I can’t deny that I enjoyed it. I’d do it again.” Henry carries on looking forwards down the stairs, not wanting to see Mark’s reaction.
“Well, maybe I’d try and be a bit more sneaky next time. And there I was thinking that I was partnered with a professional criminal – those James Bond moves were clearly just for show, weren’t they?!”
Mark takes the dig light heartedly as they exit the building through the back door onto the playground. “Well someone’s a bit full of themselves after just one prank.”
Henry laughs and hits him on the arm.
“Oh don’t act all hard now, you nearly shit yourself when you heard someone try the door.” He grins, turning to face her and noticing how her hair shines golden in the bright sunlight, curls bouncing as they walk towards the maths building.
“So did you!” She cries incredulously. Mark chuckles in response.
Henry pauses when they reach the classroom door; through the glass panel she can see the class had already started, and she’s always hated walking in late.
“After you” Mark gestures for her to go in first.
She takes a step back. “No, no, you can go in first.” Mark gives her a quizzical look, then throws her a dazzling smile before swinging the door open and making a grand entrance. Their Maths teacher is not impressed.
“Why is it, Mr Roberts, that you can never come in quietly?” She sighs as Mark strides across the room and takes a seat right at the front of the room, demanding everyone’s attention. There are a few chuckles.
Henry shuffles in behind, head down, and makes her way to the back of the classroom. Just as she sits down she realises too late that James is sitting directly in front of her.
“So why is it that you two are twenty minutes late to my class?” Their teacher is clearly in no rush to get back to the integration equation on the board.
“We had an appointment to see Mrs Boston,” Mark replies.
“An appointment, was it?” Their teacher tips her head forward to look at Mark over the top of her glasses. “The both of you?” She turns her attention to Henry now, raising a quizzical eyebrow. James turns around too, leaning on the back of the chair and frowning at Henry.
Henry nods in response to the teacher and then mouths “What?” at James, and frowns straight back. He shoots her a disapproving look before turning back to the front.
“Right. Okay. Back to integration and differentiation.” The teacher draws her class’ attention back to the lesson. Henry sighs.
“Em seriously I just don’t know what I’m doing. With Mark or James. I am in WAY over my head. With it all.” Glad the school week was finally over, the two girls were walking home from school together as the drizzling rain that had been falling all day had given them a reprieve.
Emma nods her head in companionship, knowing Henry has more to say and that any moment her friend will explode with everything she’s been holding in these past few days.
“I’m just not used to it! I’m not used to any of this guy stuff. I can’t work out how I feel, let alone how either of them feel! Do I still like James? But what about Darcy? And I can’t just forget about all the history! Or do I like Mark? But I’ve always hated Mark. And he’s always hated me! So why am I no longer sure? It’s all such a mess!”
Henry feels like a complete drama queen but she knows Emma will understand – she just needs to get it all out of her system, and then she will be back to good old sensible Henry.
“Okay. Well, let’s start with James. Give me the facts.”
“We were best friends in primary school, but he moved away and broke my heart. My ten-year-old heart. I wasn’t really in love with him, I don’t think you can be in love at that age.”
“Then we met on holiday and spent a month together. And I really did fall in love with him. But he cheated on me on the last day, and we parted, again, on bad terms.
Last week he turned up at my school, then at my house. After realising he was dating my best friend, he still went ahead and kissed me in my bedroom, then on his date with Darcy he acted funny when George put his arm around me, and then punched George, in what I assume, was a jealous rage. It’s clear he thinks we have unfinished business.” She kicks a stray pebble on the path ahead of her.
“And how do you feel?” Henry decides Emma sounds rather like a therapist. Did she actually need therapy? Was she really going crazy?
“I, well, I still like him. I think. At least, I still like the James I knew last year – the old James. I can’t work out whether he’s changed though. I can’t work out whether there is an ‘old James’ and a ‘new James’, or whether he is still the same person. And obviously Darcy really likes him. And I wouldn’t ever want to do something to intentionally upset her.”
“Okay,” comes the voice of reason. Miss Mills, the psychological therapist. “Well, I would wait it out. See if Darcy and James are still a thing – James obviously knows you still feel something for him, whatever it is. I think you should see how both James and Darcy act. What are you going to do if James tells everyone your little secret?”
Henry grimaces. If Darcy finds out that James used to be such a large part of Henry’s life and she’d never told her… there’s no way it would end well. “I just have to hope that won’t happen.”
“For what it’s worth, I don’t think James will say anything. And George did have some suspicious, but I’ve managed to squash those so you’re safe for now.”
“Thanks Em.” Henry was truly thankful that she’d finally found a friend that she could trust with anything, and she hoped Emma felt the same way.
“So now Mark,” Emma announces as they turn the corner onto Emma’s street.
“Roberts… argh I don’t know. It was all so simple until that bloody cupboard. But I think you were right, I think there is more to him than he lets on. And I also think, that even though I’m confused, I think he’s equally baffled. He was going to kiss me, Em.”
“What?!” Nothing can disguise the delight in Emma’s girlish squeak.
“After we’d messed up Mr Brawn’s room and ran away… I was caught up in the moment and I think he was too and it just sort of very nearly happened. At least I think it did.”
“Oh my God I can’t believe you didn’t tell me sooner!” Emma grabs both of Henry’s hands in her own as they come to a stop outside Emma’s house.
“There hasn’t been the right moment! And we were interrupted, so it didn’t actually happen. And then I ran away. And I thought it would be awkward when we next saw each other but it wasn’t – we were joking and laughing like two normal friends. But the moment wasn’t mentioned again.” The words tumble out of Henry as she struggles to explain exactly what had happened to her detail-hungry best friend.
“I can’t believe it. I knew it! Didn’t I tell you?! You two would make the perfect couple!”
“Wow slow down we are definitely not a couple or anywhere near that! I don’t even know if I like him yet. And I’m not 100% he was going to kiss me.”
“But you wanted him to.”
“Well, I guess I did. In the moment.” Henry bites her lip.
“Just give it time, Henry. Give it time,” Emma says, eyes sparkling as she rests her hands on Henry’s shoulders to make sure her friend listens to her. Last words of wisdom. The two of them hug goodbye.
As Henry walks off towards her house, she can hear Emma singing as she skips up her garden path: “Henry and Ma-rk sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S…”
Henry stops walking and shouts at her, unable to keep the dizzy joy out of her voice “Emma Mills stop that at once!”
By this point Emma has her key in the door but is doubled over giggling hysterically. Henry’s own laughter is uncontrollable as well, and yet if anyone would have stopped and asked her why she was laughing, she wouldn’t have been able to put her finger on it. She just felt full to bursting with happiness.