There was no one thing in the world that Joy Charming hated quite as much as True Hearts Day, except, possibly Starling Hood, but she was a person and not a thing, so she did not fall in the same category.
Joy flopped down on her brother's bed with a groan(he and his roommate were currently out). Today was true hearts day, and it was already the worst true hearts day of Joy's high school career. The day had started with her best friend forever after, Roman, waking her up at the crack of dawn with a phone call asking her to help him decorate for the dance. Joy, being the idiot that she was, agreed, and it had gone downhill from there.
Joy didn't know why, but she had expected to be the only person that Roman had asked to help decorate. She had expected to spend some quality time with her friend before the true hearts day crap started up and Roman was busy running the whole thing with girls asking him to dance every five minutes(it had been that way the past three years). And, perhaps, Joy would've told him that she had had a crush on him for most of her high school career.
However, it had not been so. Roman had invited a whole gaggle of people to help decorate, most of whom were female and always looking for an excuse to touch Roman. It made Joy want to scream, and only helped to reinforce the fact that her best friend was a very attractive guy with lots of girls chasing after him, and that he had confessed to having a crush on one of those girls.
The door banged open and omitted her younger brother, Gal, along with his roommate, Duke Hood, and Joy's cousin, Rosemary. The three of them were best friends, even if they were a strange group. Gal had bright purple hair that he'd inherited from their mother, was twig thin, and could perform magic. Duke was the younger brother of Starling Hood, Joy's roommate, although considerably more levelheaded. He had red hair like his sister and was one of the greatest ballet dances the school had seen. Those two nerds probably would've gotten beaten up a lot if it weren't for the third member of their group, Rosemary Charming. Rosemary was of average height and very pretty, with luxurious ebony hair and bright blue eyes. All that said, the girl could hit a fly from a mile away with her throwing knives, and she always carried a dozen or more on her person.
"What are you doing in my room?" Gal asked, although he didn't seem too surprised.
"It's true hearts day," Joy said, sitting up and crossing her legs.
"True hearts day?" Rosemary asked from behind Gal.
"It's a stupid holiday," Joy explained.
"Isn't it run by your boyfriend?" Duke asked, moving to sit at his desk.
"He's not my boyfriend," Joy muttered.
"That's not what Starling says."
"Well, you shouldn't believe everything that Starling says," Joy snapped back.
"It's the truth, though," Gal said, taking a seat next to his sister, "You two spend so much time together, you might as well be dating."
Joy rolled her eyes, knowing that if she argued with her brother, the only thing she'd get was a burnt backside.
"So, why aren't you hanging out with Roman?" Rosemary asked.
Joy glanced at her cousin. "He's decorating for true hearts day."
"Why aren't you helping?"
"I don't like dances," Joy said, not bothering to fully answer her cousin's question.
"Then why aren't you in your room?" Duke asked.
Joy shot him an accusing look. "That would be because of your sister. Do you know how much time she spends talking about Roman."
"You don't have to tell me," Duke said, "I live with her."
If Joy's day had been going better, she probably would've laughed at his statement. It was a testimony to her mood that she didn't.
"I hate true hearts day," she muttered quietly. Joy shook her head. She wouldn't think about true hearts day or Roman for the rest of the day. She would...visit Maggie in Book End. Yes, that sounded like a great idea.
"I'm leaving," Joy said, sparing a glance at Gal who was busy communicating silently with him friends. Gal glanced at her.
"Oh, yeah," he said, "Have a good true hearts day."
Joy laughed at that.
Roman wasn't having the best true hearts day. He would go as far as to say that he wasn't having a good true hearts day. This true hearts day was well and truly okay, a thing that no true hearts day had ever been before.
Roman wasn't exactly sure why this true hearts day wasn't as good as the previous ones. The decorations were great, Sage Wood was going to DJ, and Pepper Breadhouse had even agreed to get her mom to cater. It was the true hearts day that Roman had been dreaming of for the entirety of his high school career. So, why wasn't it the best?
Roman's eyes scanned the room. The dance would officially start in an hour, but people were already lining up outside. A few people that had volunteered to help were adding the finishing touches to the room. Sage Wood was setting up her equipment in the middle of the room. She looked up at him and smiled, beckoning him over.
"Are you okay if I play some of my own original songs?" Sage asked when he was within talking distance.
"That's fine," Roman said.
"Good," the younger girl said, glancing around the room as she did so. "Where's Joy?" she asked a second later.
"I don't know," Roman replied. Joy had disappeared some time during the day, and, while Roman had noticed, he hadn't thought much about it. Joy had never liked dances, and he supposed that true hearts day was no different. Even though Roman had thought that, maybe, she'd changed her mind since she had agreed to decorate for the first time ever.
It struck Roman a moment later that maybe Joy was celebrating true hearts day with someone else. The thought irritated him more than he wanted it to. Joy was his friend, and if she had found someone to share her true heart with, then Roman should be happy for her, even if he liked her as more than just friends.
"Speaking of Joy," Sage's voice broke through his thoughts, "her brother's headed over here."
Roman barely had a second to process what Sage said before he was slapped on the back by Gallant Charming. "How are you doing, my man?" Gal asked, leading him away from Sage and the decorators.
Roman looked at the freshman in front of him. The boy's blue eyes sparkled with mischief. Roman knew that whatever Gal was planning it would not turn out well for him. If the youngest Charming was planning on ruining true hearts day, Roman would strangle him.
"How did you get in here?" Roman asked, although he was only slightly surprised that Gal had managed to sneak past security.
"I know people," Gal said with a smile that practically said he'd used an invisibility charm. Roman shook his head. "Anyways, I came here to ask you something."
"And that it?" Roman asked, hoping that Joy's brother would just leave him and his dance alone.
"Do you have a crush on my sister?"
Roman choked on air. "W-what?" he sputtered.
"Do you have a crush on my sister?" Roman repeated slowly.
"What? No. What in Hades made you think such a thing?"
Gal grinned. "So, it's true then?"
"No. It's not true."
Gal shook his head. "Let me tell you something, Roman," he said, looking at the older boy, "I'm very good at reading people. I know that Joy sucks at being social, but I don't, so don't think you can lie to me."
Roman sighed. "Fine," he said, "It's true."
"I knew it," Gal squealed, drawing the attention of the rest of the room's occupants. "Are you going to tell her?"
"Because, she doesn't like me."
Gal rolled his eyes. "You don't know that. Look, it's true hearts day, aren't people supposed to confess their love on true hearts day?"
"I'm not in lo-"
"Don't bother," Gal said, "My pathetic excuse for a sister is currently moping around my other sister's apartment, and there's no way that's good for either of them. So, go. I'll stay here and make sure that nothing gets too out of hand."
"Yes, me," Gal said, "I can be responsible on occasion."
"Okay," Roman said, heading towards the exit, "Just make sure nothing bad happens."
"I will," Gal said, and Roman left. He knew that he'd regret letting Gal supervise, but, right now, he didn't really care.
"You're avoiding him," Joy pretended to ignore her sister, instead focusing on the television screen. A second later in turned off.
"Hey!" Joy turned to face her sister, who had the remote in her hand.
"We're going to talk about this," Maggie said, sitting down next to Joy, "You can't avoid him forever, he's your best friend."
"I'm not avoiding him forever," Joy said with a sigh, "I'm just avoiding him today."
"And why's that?" Maggie asked.
"Because, it's true hearts day," Joy explained.
"And why's that any different?"
"Because he's freakin' Cupid's kid. Roman would be able to tell if I lied about who I like today."
"Maybe," Maggie said, "You don't need to lie."
Joy snorted. "And maybe Aunt Maddie doesn't own a tea shop."
Maggie shook her head. "You should at least go to the dance," she said.
Joy agreed with Maggie. In the past, she had always gone to the true hearts day dance, if only to support Roman. She'd smile and give him a thumbs up whenever he danced with a new girl, and then he'd roll his eyes and drag her along for a dance or two. At the moment, going to the dance and watching Roman dance with other girls was the last possible thing that Joy wanted to do.
"I always went to the dance and had fun," Maggie commented.
"Well, aren't you the social butterfly?"
Maggie rolled her eyes. "You're hopeless," she said, "I don't know why I'm not kicking you out and forcing you to go to the dance."
"Because you're the bestest sister ever?" Joy suggested.
"Whatever," Maggie said as the doorbell rang, "That's probably Brick."
"You told Brick about this?" Joy's voice raised an decibel. "You are no longer the bestest sister ever."
"Whatever," Maggie said, and Joy watched, silently cursing her sister, as she went to open the door.
Maggie had always been a fan of the idea of Joy and Roman, but her sister was a fan of the idea of Joy getting a social life in general. Her cousin Brick, on the other hand, believed that Roman and Joy were made for each other-true love, soulmates, the whole shebang. While Maggie probably wouldn't kick her out or do anything stupid, Brick would. He'd call Roman, or knock her unconscious and kidnap her so that Roman would have to rescue her. Brick was in to extremes.
Joy looked up at the sound of someone entering the room, fully prepared to start a screaming match with her cousin. If Joy knew one thing, it was that Brick wasn't going to win this one. The argument that had started to form died in her mouth as she fully noticed who it had just entered her sister's sock riddled apartment.
Roman was standing a few feet away from her, wearing a white tee shirt and jeans that looked way too good on him. His curly golden hair was all over the place, and he looked...nervous? Joy did a double take. That couldn't be right. If Roman was anything, he was confident.
"Hey," he said after a minute, and Joy realized that she had been staring. That was awkward.
"Hey," Joy said, scooting over to make room for Roman on the couch. He took the seat that she offered, but sat far away enough so that they didn't touch. Joy frowned, that was weird. "Why are you here?" she asked, "Don't you have a true hearts day dance to run?"
"I didn't really feel like being there."
Joy raised an eyebrow. "You didn't feel like being at a party? Who are you and what have you done to my best friend?" The comment normally would've made Roman laugh, but instead he shrugged. Joy studied her friend. Something was seriously wrong. "What's wrong?" Joy asked.
"We're friends, right?" Roman asked.
"Yeah," Joy answered cautiously. Of course they were friends. In Joy's book they were best friends. Apparently, Roman hadn't gotten the message.
"And if I did something stupid you'd still be friends with me?"
"Roman," Joy said, looking at her best friend, "we're best friends. There's very little that you could do that I wouldn't still be friends with you. Hex, I'd probably still be friends with you if you killed someone."
"But what if I did something incredibly stupid, and you didn't want to be my friend afterwards?"
"That depends," Joy said, "What's the stupid thing?"
Roman seemed to think about it for a minute before he answered. "Telling a girl that I like her."
"Oh," Joy paused. She should've known that this was about Roman's mystery crush, after all, he was the son of Cupid and this was true hearts day. Didn't people confess their love on true hearts day? Wasn't that why she had been avoiding Roman in the first place, because she was in love with him?
Joy shook her head. She was in love with her best friend and here he was asking her for dating advice about another girl. She almost laughed at the world's cruel sense of humor.
"I'd still be your best friend if you suddenly decided that you you were in love with Starling Hood," Joy said, trying to smile, and failing.
"Good," Roman said, though he didn't seem any less nervous that he'd been a moment before.
"So, who is it?" Joy asked for reasons she couldn't possibly fathom. She was a masochist, she decided. She must really hate herself.
Roman eyed her for a moment before a realization dawned on him. "You like someone," he stated.
"What?" Joy scoffed, "Never."
"I'm Cupid's son, and it's true hearts day," Roman stated the obvious, "I know that you're lying to me about not liking someone."
"And so are you," Joy pointed out.
"I never said that I didn't like someone."
"But you didn't say who it was, either."
Roman shot her an accusing look. "Neither did you."
"I never confessed-"
"Cupid's son, true hearts day, remember? How about on the count of three we both tell each other who it is?"
"One," Roman started counting.
"It's totally unfair. You'd know if I was lying."
Roman smiled. "Two."
"Ugh! Fine. But you can't blame me."
"Three." Roman said.
"You," the words tumbled out of Joy's mouth before she had the chance to stop them. Roman stared at her, his eyes, whoever's name he'd been about to say dying on his tongue. Joy averted her gaze, unable to look at her best friend a moment longer. What he must think of her, Joy dreaded to think about it. Best friends forever after for four years, and now she had ruined it. All simply because she couldn't lie to Cupid's son on true hearts day.
Damn true hearts day.
"Joy," Roman started, but Joy cut him off.
"Look, you can just ignore what I said. We can act-"
"Let's just act like none of this happened-"
"I'm sure Maggie has a forgetting potion somewhere around here-" Joy's though was cut off mid sentence by lips crashing into hers. It took her a second to realize that those lips belong to Roman. And only another second to respond. Part of her couldn't believe this was happening. Roman was kissing her. She was kissing him back.
"Does that answer your question?" Roman asked, pulling away ever so slightly.
Joy looked at her best friend. Her incredibly awesome, nice, hot best friend who had just kissed her. "How long?" she asked.
A slow smile spread across his face. "Since a minute or two before I dropped a book on your head."
"That long?" Joy grinned, and Roman kissed her again.
"Joy!" bellowed a voice from the doorframe. Joy turned to look at her cousin, Brick, who was standing with Maggie behind him. "I can't believe-actually, I can. Why didn't you tell me? How long has this been going on. I have to tell Scarlet." With all that said, Joy and Roman watched as her cousin left the scene, Maggie shooting them an apologetic look as she followed him.
Joy sighed, letting her head drop into her hands. "What's wrong?" asked Roman.
"We have about five hours before the entire Charming clan knows that something is going on between us."
Joy shook her head. "They'll probably have a party or something of the sort."
"Well, then," Roman said, with a secretive smile, "We should probably make the most of the time we have before your family finds out."
Joy smiled. "I suppose we should."
"Did you hear?" Gal looked up from his phone at the sound of Rosemary's voice. The true hearts day dance was over, and it had gone excellently, according to Gal. His impromptu firework show at the end had made Roman's dance even better. His sister's best friend owed him one.
"Did I hear what?" Gal asked.
"Lavender heard it from Scarlet, who heard it from Brick, that Joy and Roman are dating."
"Yeah," Gal's cousin said with a smile, "Brick caught them making out on the couch."
Gal tried not to picture what his cousin was saying, after all, they were talking about his sister. Still, he couldn't help but smile. He knew that he was the entire reason that Brick had caught Joy and Roman making out on the couch in the first place. If it weren't for him, roman would've been stuck all night dancing with Duke's annoying sister. Oh, yeah, Roman owed him one.