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31 December 2008 @ 06:13 pm
Red: The Meeting (PL)  
Title: Red: The Meeting
Fandom: Professor Layton
Rating: PG
Word Count: 831
Genre: Romance
Disclaimer: I don't own Professor Layton. Or his top-hat of awesome.
Teaser: It turned out to be the high point of an otherwise awful day. Layton/Claire



Oh, it was just one of those days, wasn’t it? Whatever could go wrong seemed to be going wrong, left and right. And now she was running late. Could this possibly get any worse?

Claire glanced up at the clock tower. Its infuriating display had not changed: she was still going to be desperately late for her next class. This was not what she needed. Oh, this was going to be a nightmare to explain to her professor…

She was so intent on the time showing up on the clock that she did not notice the person walking around the corner she was about to turn. Granted, the person had not noticed her either; his face was obscured by the book he seemed to be absorbed in.

It was a recipe for an accident, and sure enough, the two collided head-on, sending them both toppling to the sidewalk. The book went flying, and Claire’s satchel slid across the ground. She let out an unladylike squawk as she landed hard on the walkway, the man she had run into now pinned beneath her. She was sprawled across his stomach.

Claire sat up and immediately began grappling around for her things, babbling as she tried to fathom how the day could possibly get any worse. “I’m so sorry, I wasn’t paying attention, and I was in a hurry and running late…”

“Are you all right, miss?”

For the first time, she actually looked at the person she had crashed into. And in spite of her panic, she felt her face redden in a way that had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that she was running late and upset over everything else that had happened that day.

He was handsome, to be sure. Brown hair, square jaw, and the kindest eyes she had seen on a man in a long time. And he was already on his feet and offering her a hand up. “I’m terribly sorry, miss.”

“It’s all right…” she said, accepting the proffered hand and getting to her own feet, reaching for her fallen things as she did so. “I’m sorry, I wasn’t paying attention.”

He chuckled and stooped to pick up the book he had been so intent on reading, as well as the hat that had been knocked from his head at the impact. “It was my fault.” He had a nice smile, too, she noticed absently. But before she could say anything else, there was a loud sound from overhead. The sound of bells chiming the…

Hour…

She felt her eyes widen. “Oh no, I’m late!” she turned and started hurrying down the sidewalk once again in a desperate attempt to not be any later than she absolutely had to be.

“Miss!” she heard him call after her. “What’s your name?”

She was surprised to feel her feet slowing down, and she turned back to him. “Claire. I’m Claire,” she said far more breathlessly than she had intended. “And you?”

“Hershel,” he replied. “Nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you, too!” she said, resuming her hurry and hoping that he would understand. Odd, though. Her face still felt rather red.

The next day, she did not have that class again. But she found herself walking back towards that intersection, curious as to whether or not she would run into the man, Hershel, again.

She had mentioned the encounter to a friend, who had promptly told her that the only Hershel said friend was aware of was Hershel Layton, who was a student in the history department, where he was studying archaeology. He was said to be a genius, with no few lady admirers in the student body.

Going back there was probably a waste of time, and a wild goose chase. But nothing ventured, nothing gained, or so the saying went.

Claire paused on the corner and looked around. There were people milling about, heading here and there and the other place, but no sign of the man in the hat. She did not see him.

Until…

“Fancy running into you here again.”

She turned around quickly. Sure enough, that was him. Wearing that same smile, no less. “Oh, Mr. Layton!” she said. “What a coincidence!”

“It seems we’re making a habit of this, Miss Claire,” he chuckled.

It was then that she noticed the book under his arm, and decided to ask. “What is it that you were reading yesterday?” It had been half the cause of their collision. She imagined that it was some great historical tome, given what she knew to be his field of study.

To her surprise, the book he held out was a book of puzzles. “It’s a hobby of mine,” he said at her startled look. He seemed to hesitate, then gestured towards a small café across the street. “If you’re not busy, Miss Claire, perhaps you would accompany me…?”

As far as riddles went, Claire decided, that was an easy one. “I would love to,” she said.