Ariel stayed at my side the whole day which made my eyebrows furrow with surprise. Was she just doing this because she felt sorry for me; the boy who was constantly bullied by others but never bothered to fight back? Probably. Most people did, pity me I mean. The bystanders just watched as Zayn, Niall and Louis tormented me yet with Ariel at my side, I was only targeted once or twice. What was it that this girl had that made her so intimidating?
"S-So the lunch hall is this w-way," I mumble. It was currently time for us juniors to have lunch and I was glad. I was tired of having balls of paper being thrown at my head when Ariel wasn't looking. I felt bad for being her charity case but she didn't seem to mind at all.
"So what lunch food should I avoid?" She smiles as we grab red plastic trays and head into the lunch line.
"T-Tuna fish s-sandwiches," I tell her, staring down at the floor. Honestly, this girl intimidated me but not in a lethal way, rather I was petrified of what she really thought of me. She was too beautiful for me to actually think she liked talking to me. She was a new girl, yes, but she certainly had to have other friends who had put her up to this; paid her twenty bucks to just talk to me so why was she taking it this far as to actually have lunch with me?
"Ew. I'd avoid that even if you hadn't told me," She says as she crinkles her nose up cutely, making me laugh. "I like your stutter, Marcel. It's cute," She tells me as we pay for our food.
I feel my face go bright red at her words, melting a bit inside when she said my name. "T-Thanks," My stutter was something I hated and often got teased for and with Ariel saying she liked it brought up this new perspective. I still hated it, yet she made me hate it a bit less. "I usually s-sit here," I tell her, sending Leeroy a small smile and setting my tray down outside by the table under the oak tree. The weather was bearable this week, having been in the mid sixties and Ariel smiles as she takes the seat across from me.
"I like it here," She tells me and I can't help but wonder if she meant here at this school or here, at lunch with me. I force a smile and try to pretend I couldn't hear the harsh words of my peers being pointed my way. I wasn't sure if Ariel could hear them as well so I don't mention it. I still wanted to ask her about why she had been crying but, we just met today and I felt as if I were overstepping a boundary if I said a thing so instead, I dug into my chicken salad and stayed silent. "Do you always eat so healthy or is today a special occasion?" She asks teasing me playfully.
"My mom doesn't let me eat much else," I mumble as I move a piece of chicken breast around with my fork and it was true, all my mother let me eat was salads, plain with no dressing while Harry was able to eat what he wanted, him having been on the football team and not having to worry about his weight but I was different. I was Marcel Styles. I had to keep up my appearance along with my grades.
"Does she put you on a diet or something?" She giggles as she spoons a forkful of macaroni and cheese into her mouth. I only shrug and she adds, "Because you defiantly don't need one," quickly with nerves.
"I'm not offended, Ariel," I tell her with a laugh and I watch as her whole face relaxes.
Footsteps sound behind us and when I look over Ariel's shoulder, I find my brother and his group of friends coming our way. Leeroy lets out a small squeak of fear and I clench my hands around my fork, knuckles gone white. "Hey Marc, who's this?" Harry asks, smirking widely as he takes in my new found friend.
"Ariel," She tells him, offering him a weak smile. Not much else is said and as Ariel asks me, "So what time is lunch over, Marcel?" Harry and his friends start to leave. When I tell her it had to be soon, she nods and the three of us leave to dump our trays. It was on our way to the trashcans I was tripped. My food goes flying everywhere and I am left utterly humiliated while everyone in the lunch room laughs. Ariel sends a glare at Zayn since she knew he was the one who did it, judging by the accomplished smirk on his face and she says, "You're a bastard, Zayn Malik,"
"I can be anything you want, baby," He winks and that only makes her face turn as red as her hair with flaming anger.
She helps me up from the floor and the two of us head outside back to our tree. My breathing is erratic and I rest my head in my hands, trying to get fresh air into my lungs but with the way I had been hyperventilating, it seemed almost impossible. "Y-You don't n-need to s-see m-me like t-this. B-Both of y-you. G-Go," I plead through panicked pants.
"Are you sure?" Ariel and Leeroy ask in unison. I nod quickly, resting my head between my knees as I try to calm down. The two leave hesitantly and when I find they are out of sight, I sob into my forearms. I had been made the laughing stalk of the school yet again. And in front of Ariel. I cringe and the tears continue to stream. I hoped that Ariel wouldn't come back and find me like this because if she did, it would only make things worse.
"Are you alright, Marcel?" I hear someone ask and when I look up, I find Harry standing in Ariel's place.
"I'll be f-fine," I sigh, wiping away my tears, my breath still coming out uneven. "Now go back to your friends, Harry. You're not supposed to be seen with your g-geek of a brother, r-remember?" I say, trying my hardest to keep my tears at bay. When Harry doesn't say a thing, I say, "I embarrassed myself in front of her, Harry. She probably thinks I'm a fool,"
"She doesn't think you're a fool," Harry disagrees, setting his hand on my shoulder. "If anything, she seemed ready to beat Malik's ass," He laughs and a small smile forms on my face. "You like her, don't you?" He asks after a moment of silence.
"I think she's beautiful, inside and out," I admit, playing with my thumbs, breathing becoming regular again. "Besides," I sigh. "I just met her today and I'm probably just her charity case." I get up from my spot at the table before walking back inside the school to class, not wanting to hear Harry's answer.
"Marcel," Ariel calls and when I look her way from my spot at her locker, I find she had looked just as beautiful as when I had last seen her. "Are you alright? You seemed a wreck the last time I saw you,"
I kick at the marbled floor under my feet with a sneakered foot and say, "Y-Yeah, I'm fine," which I was, minus the huge wave of embarrassment that washed over me whenever I walked around the school. I throw my bag over my shoulder and shut my locker, deciding to skip the bus ride home, knowing that would be a mistake. All that going on that bus would do would cause trouble and I wasn't in the mood for any more of that today.
"Mind if I walk home with you?" She asks.
I shrug. "Sure," I say, because I knew, come morning, she wouldn't even remember my name.