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The magic touch

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Watching the videos turns out to be a lot of fun.  Despite his assurance that he could study on Monday, it isn’t until 5 thirty p.m. that Ben shows up at the Duke’s residence, wearing a bright grin, and his arms full of snacks. After settling in in the living room, they begin their marathon. At first, it’s a bit awkward, seeing herself on camera. The first few vlogs aren’t really exciting, and the sound’s not very good, but at the same time, it’s so fascinating to see a version of herself that she still remembers, yet still feels so very different from. Hero was right, this was a good idea. Hero says something about how she’ll be in control of posting things on twitter, so their followers can see, but she waves at her cousin.

“Shh, I’m listening to myself!” There are no real surprises until they get to Ursula’s Year Nine’s first video. In spite of herself, she doesn’t find them so annoying, but rather endearing, and when they get to the end of their video, she and Ben are both howling with glee.

“The Sherlock theme!” Bea screams.

“Kazoo Sherlock is my life!” breathes Ben. “Why did we not think of kazoo for our videos?” Both of them sing along, until Bea’s next video starts. It’s the one where ben first appears, and she suddenly sees what they mean when they call it her ‘grumpy cat’ expression. A teasing glint in Ben’s eyes forces her to admit it, and she can see Hero’s fingers flying over the keyboard on her phone, tweeting it to all of her followers. Great…

A couple of videos later, she has to admit that Ben’s videos weren’t as bad as she thought. Admittedly, she hadn’t even gotten through the ‘BIRDS’ one the first time around, and she’s surprised that he referenced their vlogs. She looks at Ben with affection, and is surprised to find he seems a bit embarrassed. He notices her looking, and gives her a gentle shove, before turning back to the screen. Her own grumbling appearance distracts her, and all focus is back on the vlogs.

“I am SO calling you Crotchety Old Emu!” Ben cackles when they finish ‘Introducing Leo’, ignoring Bea’s “NO!” “Also, who were you calling judgemental, little miss ‘all guys grow disgusting beards’, huh?” Bea pinches his side.

“Don’t call me out on my present hypocrisy! Save it for the one on camera, okay. Now shush, your video is starting, and I wanna see if you have any more sloths!”

The video turns out to be somewhat funny, but mostly she’s acutely aware on how hurt Ben must’ve felt when he recorded it. Watching these videos makes her realise that Ben had actually been prepared to be proper friends this year, to replace their childish squabbling with friendly banter, and she had been too blind and hurt to notice. The fact that he is now her most favourite person in the entire world (after Hero, of course), and he might not even know it, scares her, and she wants to apologise for what she did to cause him to make this resentful video. She wants to take his hand in hers and hold it, possibly forever, but he’s currently sitting with his arms crossed. Instead, she tried to make a comment about her being his knight in shining armour; luckily, it seems to work.

Ben uncrosses his arms, and rests his hands in his lap. Her own hand is now less than a foot from his, but she still can’t bring herself to reach out and grab his, especially not with Hero practically drooling at the prospect of getting a picture of them she can post to Twitter or Instagram. Somehow, though, she doesn’t have to reach out, because Ben just turns his head, looks her in the eyes, and gives her that smile that makes her stomach flip and her world spin. And before she knows it, her hand is cradled between his, and he’s playing with her fingers. It’s like magic, the way Ben always seems to know when she wants to be near him, and how comfortable she is with being affectionate in public. Somehow, he can always tell when she wants to do something, but cannot bring herself to do it. The first time it happened was at Hero’s fake vigil, but during the past week, since they became official, his skill to always know what to do at the right time had reached the paranormal. His magic ability to differentiate between her annoyance with people’s stares and her frustration at not having kissed him for a few hours was impressive to say the least. She thinks she’ll wait a while to tell him, though. He doesn’t need to add his ‘magic touch’ to go along with his ‘benedick’, or she might just make him lose both!

When they’ve been watching for three hours, their heads are spinning, and Hero has been yawning for the past five videos. They decide to wait with the rest of the videos until tomorrow, and as Hero goes up to prepare for bed, Bea stays behind to say goodbye to Ben.

“Sooo” Ben says. “That was unexpected…” Bea thinks it’s a bit of an understatement, but she just nods her head. The realisation that their friends had conspired to bring them together shocks her almost as much as the fact that it worked. And she can’t really believe the video of it had been on the internet for months before they watched it. But as they hug each other goodbye, both of them can feel the chemistry between them, chemistry that can’t be forced by scheming friends.

“Screw their ‘Team Love Gods’!” Bea says. “I’m not together with you because they tricked me into believing you fancied me; I’m with you because I love you, and I love you because you’re not afraid to stand by the people you care about. We would have gotten over ourselves eventually; they just sped up the process, right?” Ben nods emphatically.

“Yeah, you’re absolutely right! I love you too, even without their interference. Also, if we can laugh at our teachers betting on us, we can certainly laugh at our friends trying to match us up!”

Their kiss goodnight is slightly more fierce than usual, their chemistry getting free run of their bodies.  It is with swollen lips and short breaths they finally break apart, and Bea stands looking in the doorway as Ben stumbles towards his car, a slightly dumb-struck expression on his face. She almost feels like a sixties’ housewife as she smiles and waves as he drives away, but she doesn’t care. Ben’s magic intuition is not the only magic between them, and not all the scheming friends in the world can make up for that!