I dare you to chill a little
Sun Nov 26, 2017 17:53

Holland was less than thrilled when Marissa said that her next party would be beach-themed. Holland was not, overall, opposed to the beach. They didn’t have strong feelings about sand either now that they knew spells to remove it from inconvenient areas, and they liked beach-associated activities like sunbathing (not that the Rec Center had a sun) and collecting seashells and sea glass (which probably wouldn’t happen in the Rec Center either).

The main problem was that Holland didn’t really have beachwear. They owned a black kneeskin swimsuit that was good for swimming and didn’t make them feel weird about secondary sex characteristics, but it wasn’t good for lounging around in, the way swim trunks or a bikini were. At some point in the preceding weeks, Holland had gotten as far in the process of convincing themself to wear something approximating a normal swimsuit as a changing room in Selkie’s Skin. The Pearl Street shop sold wizarding swimwear; tops with water-activated Bubble-Head Charms embedded in them and children’s suits with floatation spells on them for safety.

Holland had tried on a floral-patterned bikini top and black swim shorts. Then they’d spent a couple minutes staring at the mirror trying to figure out exactly what about the outfit was making them feel so bad. The shorts were cut lower than the high-waisted shorts they normally wore, but overall Holland actually liked that part of the ensemble. The bikini top, though. Seeing their shoulders and chest and hips in the brightly-lit store mirror was… not great. It was a little bit like having all of their thoughts transfigured into FM radio static, and a little bit like practicing partial transformations for Animagus work. It was the feeling right before your arm shifted into a tentacle, but twisted, because Holland couldn’t transfigure into another shape right now. And even if they’d been done with Animagus work, Holland didn’t think being an octopus would make this feeling go away.

So that had been an unsuccessful shopping trip. They’d left without buying anything and felt sort of stupid about it when they got back to their dorm, because they’d actually liked the swim shorts, which was just great. This kind of thing didn’t happen much anymore, but the dysphoria hit hard when it showed up. Holland had known before they went to Selkie’s Skin that it would be a rough excursion, but you could only emotionally prepare so much sometimes.

That had been a few weeks ago, and Holland was fine now. Not in any rush to return to the swimwear store, they had eventually picked lycra leggings with a white and navy paisley pattern that went to about their knees. They were vehemently against anything that showed their stomach or collarbones, so they selected a white linen top that was knotted at the bottom of the line of buttons that ran down the front of the sleeveless shirt. The outfit was comfortable for just hanging out, but could handle water if Holland decided to go in the pool. Instead of matching their hair to their clothes, Holland had gone with a bleached blonde color. It felt beach-appropriate.

Holland answered Marissa’s summons, but by the time they arrived most of the prep work had been finished. Why did Marissa go all in on pineapples? Coconuts seemed like the more natural choice for a beach theme, but all right, Holland could roll with it.

They offered to help set up the food (some of which contained no pineapples at all), but the house elves had declined with well-concealed offense. Holland busied themself by levitating the volleyball net into place and spreading out some of the sandcastle molds around the pool. With the setup finished, Holland grabbed a paper plate and two beef, pepper, and grilled pineapple shish kebabs. Other students started to trickle into the rec center, most wearing swimsuits. Camilla was one of the first to arrive, dressed in a very cute bikini top, followed by Kaye, Anssi, and Ruben.

It would have been impossible not to notice Ruben, seeing as he was wearing practically nothing. He let Anssi off his shoulders and then kissed Kaye on the cheek, which reminded Holland that Ruben and Kaye were dating (or something—it was still unclear), and Marissa and Danny were dating, and Rose and Emmett were dating. Right. Considering how long Marissa and Danny had danced around each other, it was good to see them finally figuring things out. And Rose and Emmett still seemed like a weird pairing, but they seemed happy together, so Holland was adjusting to the idea with only a few alternative theories about the relationship.

They were happy for their friends. It was just that—well, Holland was a fifth wheel in their own group of friends. They’d always been the odd one out, because the group was two boys and two girls and one nonbinary person. But now the two boys and the two girls had divided into their own little twosomes, and that was… their friends weren’t trying to exclude them, but it was hard not to feel excluded. Especially when the couples went on a double date. Still, there wasn’t anyone at school with whom Holland particularly wanted to be in a relationship. Like they had told Danny, there were very few fishes for them in the RMI sea. But Holland was feeling their singleness really hard right now anyway.

Also, Ruben was barely clothed and had decided to talk to them. That was something that was happening right now. Holland did their very best to to look at his face and not his abs. Or arms. Or thighs. Or any other areas. Then he gave them an excuse to look at a pineapple-shaped beanbag chair, so Holland looked at that. They didn’t especially want to sit on it.

“Pass,” Holland said, sounding skeptical. They looked at Ruben again, trying not to seem too appreciative. “So are you trying to make the cover of Witch Weekly’s swimsuit edition?” Holland read the magazine, but only for the style section. Not that they often followed the style tips—Holland had never been one to choose styles based on other people’s opinions—but they liked to keep up with what was currently fashionable.

  • I dare you to enjoy this - Ruben Lundqvist, Wed Nov 22 20:53
    “Kick her for me, Mikael.” The only thing he got in response from the misshapen lump that was his little brother balanced on his shoulders was not a kick but a wordless squeak. Ruben sighed loudly in ... more
    • I dare you to chill a little - Holland, Sun Nov 26 17:53
      • Can't really chill when I'm this hot - Ruben, Mon Nov 27 22:44
        Holland seemed equally unimpressed with the chair. Their immediate refusal didn’t exactly come as a surprise to Ruben, but was still amusing enough that he cracked up in response. Teeth flashing,... more
        • Even with a chill pill? - Holland, Tue Nov 28 22:55
          Having known Ruben for over a year now, Holland should have been able to predict that their comment would give him an excuse (not that he often waited for excuses for most behavior) to strut around.... more
          • Ruben prided himself on his ability to turn heads. Both in terms of physical superiority (admittedly his most recent act of enforced head-turning wasn’t too noteworthy, as it had only resulted in Kit ... more
            • I have no objections to that - Holland, Wed Dec 6 18:07
              “ High praise, coming from you. I will treasure the memory of it. ” This was flirting. This was totally flirting and Holland had to decide what to do with that while they blushed a little more. There ... more
              • I have an objection - Dardanius Dubois, Fri Dec 8 16:28
                Kaye actually took his hand, which was definitely a surprise. Of course by now he should have learned not to have any expectations when it came to Kaye, but old habits die hard. He helped her out the ... more
                • Whatever is there to object to? - Ruben, Sat Dec 9 22:32
                  Holland accepted the ball from him, and provided the excellent reassurance that volleyball was more about hitting than throwing. “Ja, I am, thank you.” Ruben’s grin widened as he matched their pace... more
                  • I don’t see anything objectionable here - Holland, Mon Dec 11 11:38
                    The first time he got it wrong, Holland patiently corrected Ruben’s serving stance. Not that they were that much of an expert on volleyball, but they had played the sport and Ruben had not. The... more
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