Who: Susan Bones, Wayne Hopkins
Where: Heaven Scent
When: 17 December 2001, lunchtime
“I’m just going out on a few errands!” Susan called to Blodwen, emerging from the back room and buttoning her coat. “Will you be all right for half an hour?”
“Of course,” Blodwen said, with a curious little smile. She gestured to an empty-looking shelf. “I’ll just grab some more of the Sugar Plum Fairy bath bombs from the store while we’re quiet.”
“Oh, good idea. See you later.” Susan shook her hair free of her scarf, and opened the door just as someone on the other side pushed on it. “Oh — sorry — come in,” she said, stepping to one side so that the person could enter the shop.
Wayne hadn’t expected to see Susan leaving her own shop so it took him a moment to recognize her. “Oh, hey,” he said, catching her arm. “Are you leaving? I was going to ask you to help me pick some stuff out. My mum’s easy but Jennie’s always a complete fucking mystery…” he raised his shoulders helplessly.
Susan frowned slightly at Wayne’s casual use of bad language — really, there was no need for it! — but she couldn’t resist a plea for help. “I can stay,” she said. “It’s not a problem. I’ll just go out later. Come on in, Wayne; I’m sure we can find something for Jennie in here.” She turned to move back into the shop, but found — rather to her surprise — that she couldn’t move. She tried again, thinking that maybe she was just wedged in the doorway with Wayne (of all the silly things to happen) but no — definitely stuck. Susan gave a nervous little laugh. “Er, what…?”
Wayne had been about to protest that Susan didn’t have to stay on his account, but he was distracted by her weird movements. Was she stuck? He held up his hands to show he had nothing to do with it. “Here, I’ll—” he tried to step back out the door only to find he couldn’t set his foot on the step below. He could only balance on one foot, wavering, until he set it back down on the threshold of Susan’s shop again. “OK, that’s weird… Has this happened before?”
“No,” Susan said slowly, “I think I would remember if it had.” Honestly, what did he think, that this was a quirk of Heaven Scent designed to make people stay longer and spend more? Except that they couldn’t move anywhere. They were trapped in the doorway unable to move either in or out.
“Can you reach your wand?” she asked Wayne, partly because she had no idea what spell to try herself, and partly because she just wanted him to move his hands from their somewhat-awkward hovering position in front of her chest. Yes, she was wearing several layers including a coat, but it still didn’t seem quite appropriate.
“I think so, hang on.” Wayne had to twist around rather awkwardly to fish it out of his pocket, and in the process of contorting himself, he caught a glimpse of the cause of their predicament. “Oh,” he said. “Mistletoe.” He gestured with his chin to direct Susan’s gaze upwards as well. “Maybe that’s it. My parents had some like that at a Christmas party once.” It had been an extremely awkward party, through Wayne’s eyes, and he cringed to remember it.
To his credit, he didn’t sound too enthusiastic about the prospect of being stuck under the mistletoe with Susan. “Maybe I can…?” He managed to reach his wand well enough to carefully direct a severing charm at the mistletoe, which had absolutely no effect. He frowned.
Susan was no more keen than Wayne was to engage in the tradition, but that didn’t mean he had to sound quite so flat. To cover her feelings she ducked her head and unbuttoned her coat, drawing her own wand out of an inside pocket. As she wriggled and tried not to elbow Wayne, she reflected that Henry’s advice that she always keep her wand immediately accessible was actually very sensible, and she would definitely be following it from now on.
“Incendio,” she said, hoping to burn the mistletoe down, but no such luck. It seemed utterly impervious to their spells.
Somewhere in the middle of Susan’s wriggling around, Wayne had suddenly started to feel pretty awkward about this scenario, and blushed a deep red. It suddenly seemed clear that they were meant to be stuck here until they, well… Wayne coughed, not wanting to be the one to suggest it first. “Erm. Do you reckon we’re supposed to…?” Maybe they hadn’t exhausted all the options yet, but it seemed likely to work, and Wayne was feeling rather eager to get this over with. He had a girlfriend, he wasn’t supposed to be crammed into a doorframe with another girl… a girl he’d once spent quite a lot of time wondering what it would be like to kiss.
Susan blushed in response, and didn’t meet Wayne’s eye. She may have been slightly offended by his unenthusiasm of a few moments ago, but that didn’t mean she actually wanted to kiss him if it wasn’t strictly necessary. The thought of kissing anyone other than Henry just seemed, well, wrong, even if Wayne was a friend — and happily in a relationship of his own.
“Well, maybe,” she said, wondering whether she should try calling for Blodwen, but not knowing whether that would just end up making the situation ten times worse.
Well, maybe? What was he supposed to do with that? He didn’t want to have to debate the issue to convince her, but he didn’t want to just plant a kiss on her either. Either way he was sure he’d come off as kind of pushy or creepy. But it didn’t look like they had many other options. “Or we could just… stand here until the mistletoe gets bored and goes off to bother someone else. Or until we die of hunger, whichever happens first.”
Susan tried another half-hearted Vanishing spell at the mistletoe. Unsurprisingly, it had no effect. Suppressing a sigh, she looked up at Wayne, and realised that if there was no way around it then there was no use complaining about it. This kiss would just have to be on her terms. “I don’t really fancy dying of hunger,” she said lightly, and smiled a genuine Susan-smile, the kind that people couldn’t help responding to. “Merry Christmas, Wayne.” She rose up slightly on her toes and brushed her lips lightly over his.
Wayne was so surprised by her sudden action that he took an involuntary step backwards — forgetting there were steps behind him. He lost his footing — the snow didn’t help — and only barely managed to catch himself while he still remained upright. When he looked up at Susan his face was burning, and it was hard to say whether it was from the kiss or the completely spastic way he’d reacted to it. “OK, well, that worked,” he said, considering he was successfully out of the doorway. “Thanks, I’ll just—,” oh shit, he couldn’t go, he’d come here to go shopping, and now he’d look like a complete idiot if he just left. But then, if he went back in, would he get stuck again?
“Maybe I’ll just send you an owl order?”
That was… unexpected. Susan had no idea a simple kiss could have such an effect. “An owl order, yes, fine. I’ll look out some products I think Jennie might like.” Susan wanted to rush outside immediately now that she was free, but her sense of responsibility compelled her to call for Blodwen, who appeared suspiciously quickly from the storeroom.
“Did you know about this?” Susan asked, gesturing to the mistletoe above the door. “And more specifically, what it does?”
Blodwen’s eyes widened. “I thought you’d put that up, Susan!”
“Why would — oh, nevermind. It needs to come down as soon as possible. I don’t want it putting off customers.” Honestly, what a headache this was causing. “I’m going to leave the back way,” Susan said, not sure if she would get caught a second time but not wanting to test it either way. “See you on Friday?” she called to Wayne.
“Uh, yeah,” Wayne replied, awkwardly running his hand through his hair. He felt weirdly relieved that neither of them were bringing their significant others to dinner. Not like he wanted to be alone with Susan, not anything like that—he just felt like it would be weird to be sitting next to Louisa while being aware that he’d just kissed Susan. Especially if Louisa knew. Should he tell her? She’d probably think it was funny. Probably he should tell her. Maybe not the part where he fell down the stairs… Wayne looked preoccupied with his thoughts as he turned to walk away, but waved back over his shoulder in a friendly enough way.