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Hazel rubbed her hands over her bare arms as Jae spoke, her displeasure at the situation he described etched clearly across her features. Henry wasn’t someone she tended to interact with on more than a cursory level, but he and Jae were closer than she’d ever seen two boys be. From the stories Jae had told her and the moments she and Henry had spoken in person, he’d only ever given her the impression of being a sweet – if slightly out-there (and honestly, who wasn’t) – guy. The idea of some girl taking advantage of him for some weird thrill just didn’t sit well with her.

“Ah, I get it. And that’s shit, honestly. I’d be happy to help you out if you needed anything.” She pulled her hair over her shoulders; a nervous tick she’d developed that arose whenever she tread dangerous waters, and one that refused to leave, no matter how much she tried to squash the habit. “Who’s he going with again?”

And then Jae asked whether she was going, and suddenly the opportunity she was hoping for was presented to her on a silver platter. His question was the perfect segue into the area of discussion she was hoping they’d travel down once she’d dropped the topic into the conversational pool. Sadie Hawkins didn’t have the prestige and memorability of prom, but it put her in a unique position that no other big school event did: she could be the asker. It wasn’t as though that was outlawed with any other dance, but it came with a stigma that she was none too eager to embrace – especially with her past reputation still out and about.

She contemplated bursting into a flood of explanations, saying that it didn’t have to mean anything, that it could just be as friends, that she didn’t have anybody else she wanted to go with as much as him – they all swirled around in her head like some torrential whirlpool. But as clarity returned to her mind, she realised that she’d better be served not by a deluge of harried, defensive words in case of rejection, but by a direct and to the point question. She was used to nerves before a performance, but they always seemed to disappear the second she was on the stage – if anything, they made it stronger. Why should asking Jae be any different?

“Yeah, I am, actually. And speaking of… I was wondering if maybe you’d like to go with me?”
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