Once the kitchen was stocked and everyone had a full belly the atmosphere settled. Everyone was content after being fed and we all sat in front of the television for an afternoon watching cartoons or reading. It was a nice atmosphere, quiet and calm. Draco refused to join in of course.
We'd eaten, we'd talked, we'd read and we'd watched cartoons...it didn't take much longer for us to get bored. I hadn't exactly been sat dreaming of wandering into a cabin with five strangers and spending the rest of the summer playing in a swimming pool and having a great time...but I hadn't expected to be with a group of people I knew while lounging around doing bugger all, especially with a definite split among the people in the cabin. Draco vs. Harry. Neither of them said it, actually none of us mentioned it. They barely spoke to each other...in fact Malfoy was barely talking to anybody. Ron and Hermione would shoot a nasty look at him whenever he entered a room; Ryan saw this as an unnecessary act of aggression - as Malfoy hadn't yet caused any fights - and would return the looks with a hostile glare of his own. I remained neutral. Or I like to think I did, but the facts are Ryan is my best friend, if they were going to turn on him I was going to turn on them.
I decided to go for a walk one day, partially because I wanted t avoid the hostility crackling between the two houses, and partly because I was severely bored. Either way I wandered out of the back door and down the garden to the stream at the end. It was a wide, shallow stream running lazily through long green grass. I followed it out of the boundaries of the cabin's garden where it got a little wider and deeper, but no faster. The more I followed it the deeper it got until the point where I thought it would probably reach up around my shoulders, and then all of a sudden I was stood at the edge of a lake.
It was a sort of oval shape and off to one side there was a gap between the trees that surrounded it and I could just see from the position I was standing that it ran off to the side, an oval stuck to the side of the oval. There was a little dirt track between the lake and the trees. I set off walking along it, wearing an oversized t-shirt and a pair of shorts and trainers. As I was walking my mind strayed to money. There was a little wizarding town nearby - which is where me and Ryan had gotten the food. I had spent all the money I had had in my pockets on that food, none of us had thought to bring large amounts of money and when we had collected it all together upon mine and Ryan's return we figured out we could survive from it for maybe two more weeks, although we didn't even know how long our current food supplies would last us.
I only just looked up in time to avoid walking straight into a young man. He gave me a reassuring smile and laughed briefly, accepting my apology. A sheep dog appeared by his side a moment later and he explained he worked on the farm that turned out to be tucked away next to the smaller oval of the lake.
"I'm staying in the cabin," I had told him. I assumed he knew which one - it was the only cabin in the area, and I didn't particularly like talking to strangers...I don't really like talking to anyone. I gave a small smile and took a slight step back as if to move away. Apparently it was too slight because the boy didn't notice and carried o talking to me, and then all of a sudden we'd been talking for what seemed like an age and I was looking around his farm.
It was a cute little farm. The house, three stables and a herd of sheep and goats grazing in pastures nearby, they weren't fenced in - nobody would steal his sheep and they all knew where they lived so they never ran off. He offered me a drink and I explained about our money dilemma and he offered to help by giving me a job sending a couple of hours a morning helping him move the animals around or picking up feed from the village.
It was getting dark by the time I skipped off back to the cabin and it was dark when I arrived. I wasn't bothered by the dark. I could see the lights of the cabin just up the slope of the hill by the stream. I stood with my feet in the water for a minute, grinning at the logs illuminated by a porch light, moss had grown in places and in the dark the cabin almost blended in completely with the trees surrounding it. I wandered into the cabin, pleased with myself for sorting out the financial problem and very pleased with myself for getting a job, I'd never worked before, I'd never had to.
I had only just closed the door behind me when Ryan exploded at me.
"Where the hell have you been!" he snarled. I had always thought Ryan was too mellow to be in Slytherin, he could be devious if he chose but generally he was far too laid back and easy going...until he was mad. He stormed forwards and pushed me back so I was pinned to the wall. "I've been worried for hours what the hell have you been doing? Is it too much to ask that you tell someone before you vanish into thin air," He hissed.
the smile disappeared from my face and I shuffled slightly, letting him know I wasn't comfortable trapped against the wall, he had a hand either side of my head and his right leg was pushing mien against the wall so I couldn't wander off.
"I'm sorry..." I muttered, head down, avoiding eye contact, "I met a boy by the lake...he gave me a job...I thought I was helping..."
Ryan sighed and pushed off from the wall running a hand through his hair and then flopping into one of the armchairs.
As it turned out, Ryan wasn't really mad at me. Well he was, but not entirely. It seemed Draco had broken his silence long enough to hurl a few sentences of abuse at Harry...which had quickly resulted in three-on-one duel. The Golden Trio vs. Draco Malfoy. Ryan had tried to mediate hoping for my back-up, only to find I wasn't there to help him. he'd been hit with a few curses himself until he managed to obtain everyone's wands, which I was told where now hidden away under Ryan's mattress. Not quite the peaceful day I had enjoyed.
Apparently after that things had been fairly uneventful, Harry had been storming around with a face like thunder and shooting Ryan accusing glances. Ryan avoided eye contact with Harry and was spending a lot of time watching Malfoy, head pressed against the window staring outside into the sun. We knew he couldn't leave the cabin. He'd bolt the second his feet hit the ground.
We all sat around the counter for dinner - which Ryan had made. He felt guilty despite the fact he had soothed the arguing. Part of him wanted to obliterate Harry and part of him wanted to throw Draco through the window. He ended up feeling guilty for both without actually doing either. That was the way Ryan was.
I got sick of the brooding mood at dinner after only a few moments of it. The tension was so thick it would take someone hacking at it with an axe to finally get through. I tried to make polite conversation but the boys were too busy staring at each other with that look, the one that dares the other to say something snappy or make a sudden move. I sighed and took my plate outside, wandering down the slope and sitting with my feet dipped into the stream. The light from the cabin reached me enough that I could just make out the food on my plate. Despite the late hour the air was still hot.
Hermione joined me after a few minutes, she sat down gave a frustrated sigh and carried on eating, I turned to her with a smile.
"I just don't understand boys!" She said. "We're all stuck here all summer. I know Malfoy is a snivelling sod but why can't he and Harry just put their differences aside and get on with life? It's just one summer!"
"Because Harry is too hot-headed and Draco is too arrogant to act like a normal human being,"
Hermione paused with her fork to her mouth and glanced back at the cabin. There was a window in the kitchen and we could see the boys silently eating, either avoiding eyes contact all together or refusing to break it at all. "Sounds about right," She sighed.
We sat there until we'd finished our meals and then we sat there a little while longer. Shouting started up from behind us and I guessed Ryan had given back the wands because flashes of colour illuminated the garden every now and again. Hermione and I sat there and pretended we didn't hear or see any of it.
"What's your home like?" She asked after a particularly vicious bout of insults.
"No...I mean, what's your family like? Parents? Siblings? Pet dog?"
"Wizards don't have dogs, we're cat people. Dog's aren't sly enough, to cheerful. No one wants a dog running about to between curses," I had replied, laying back and fiddling with the grass under my hands.
Hermione didn't say anything for a few beats but I could tell she wasn't finished questioning me. "Is there a lot of cursing at your house?"
"Yes," I let the ghost of a smile cross my lips...witches and wizards from muggle families were always curious about the wizarding household.
"Because my father is...he's not a nice man. He doesn't take kindly to muggles...or mud-bloods...or half-bloods for that matter. He thinks women shouldn't speak unless spoken to and he thinks children shouldn't speak ever. If I cannot master a spell within a given time I am rewarded with a new bruise to teach me to learn faster next time,"
"And do you learn faster?"
"...I learnt to duck," I closed my eyes and ignored the crashing from inside the cabin.
"You know...just because someone is born of a muggle family...it doesn't make them less significant than you," Hermione said a moment or so later, a slight sting to her voice and I momentarily regretted my earlier choice of wording, but then, if she wanted to know about my life I could use whichever words I chose.
"I know," Was all I said. I could have told her how my father had brought me up believing my blood line made me more superior than anyone I might meet...only to tell me seconds later that I was the most insignificant creature he'd ever come across. My father altered his opinion every other second. I could have told her any of this but I chose to leave it. I never told anyone. I was shy.
Hermione talked for a while and by the time we were tired enough to wander back into the cabin I knew a lot more about Hermione, Ron, and Harry but nothing about Hermione's family. We both wandered into the living room and slipped through the doorway to our bedroom. We changed into our pyjamas and slipped into our beds without another word than 'goodnight'.
I woke up the next morning and listened for a minute. The cabin wasn't silent but there weren’t any plates being thrown or curses flying across rooms from what I could hear, and Hermione wasn't in our room. So I hopped out of bed and padded into the kitchen.
Harry and Ryan were sat at the kitchen counter laughing over something one or the other had just said, I watched them for a minute and they moved around each other and talked like they were old friends. Ryan noticed me stood in the doorway.
"Very sexy," He grinned. I looked down, I was wearing a huge grey t-shirt that brushed my mid-thigh and a pair of black shorts that only fell an inch of so below my t-shirt.
"Sure," Ryan flashed me his dazzling smile and slid a plate of scrambled eggs and toast in my direction. I padded over to the counter and sat down with a quiet ' Thank you'.
I watched Harry and Ryan for a long time, they were easy in each others company, relaxed and friendly, but there was occasional lingering glance and nervous smile that had my attention. My mind was torn between leaving them be and watching them more.
I chose the former option and wandered over to the book shelf, selected a book and started reading, and that's more or less how I stayed for the rest of the day. Hermione and Ron went out for a walk, Harry and Ryan were watching cartoon and nobody saw Draco, except Ryan who might wander into their room every now and again.
The day after that was Saturday, the first day I was supposed to help work at the farm, I cross the stream in the morning and scurried off to the lake, knowing it would be quicker to get to the farm if I walked this way round. I got there by half past eight and met the boy - whose name turned out to be Michael. I spent the morning with the sheepdog moving the herd to a section of grass a little closer to the farm house, and then I helped move ten bags of feed into a little food store attached to the house. By half eleven I was on my way back to the cabin and I made it there by a little after twelve for lunch. After eating I sat in the armchair nearest the glass doors and read my book. Hermione and Ron went out for a walk. Harry and Ryan watched cartoons.
This became our routine. Draco would join us for meals and then take a book and disappear off into his room again. Sometimes the routine would vary, sometimes Harry and Ryan would go out walking too, or take a few books and some food into Harry and Ron's room. Sometimes I would read with my feet in the stream, or I might just lie outside in the grass for a while. Routine felt good. It was safe.
By Thursday we'd been there for a week. I had returned from the farm and was sat outside, laying in the grass, my book abandoned beside me and my eyes closed. I felt someone come and sit beside me so I lazily opened one eye. There was a scattering of clouds in the sky and daisies had erupted in several spots over the garden. Hermione sat next to me twirling a daisy between her fingers. She opened her mouth to say something and then closed it again.
"Is there something you want to talk about?"
Hermione looked at me in surprise, as though maybe she'd forgotten I was there, or she hadn't realised I'd opened my eyes to watch her. "Yeah, sorry. I, uh...would you mind if I swapped rooms with Harry?" she said quickly, avoiding looking at me.
I blinked at her and hid a grin, "So you're going to share with Ron?"
Hermione flushed a brilliant shade of red and nodded. "If you don't mind that you'll have to share with Harry of course,"
I was a little surprised by the request - not because Hermione wanted to share with, I was more surprised she'd actually managed to ask me. A few times she'd sat next to me and said nothing for ten minutes before wandering off again muttering to herself.
"I don't mind," I said smiling reassuringly.
It didn't take Hermione and Harry long to swap room, and after that Hermione and Ron were smitten, they started getting up later and going to bed earlier. None of us voiced our opinion on their sleeping habits, but there was an exchange of wolfish grins whenever they both left for bed. I'd like to think they were actually sleeping but the day neither of them came out of their room and Ryan returned to the kitchen with a sly smile and a wink in my direction after venturing to ask if either of them wanted dinner sort of ruined that little frame of thinking.
As it was Harry was a very nice roommate, he would invite me out on walks with him and Ryan and if he went to bed after me her was very careful and quiet. The only problem was Harry and Ryan started using mine and Harry's room as their den and I had to find somewhere else to be all day, not that I had used it much before but I liked the option. Ryan slipped into my bed one night and cuddled up to me.
"I've missed you,"
"You see me everyday," I mumbled half asleep.
"Yeah, but I see you, there isn't as much interaction," He sighed.
I yawned, "I love you anyway,"
Ryan laughed and kissed me on the forehead. It wasn't the first time we'd shared a bed, although it was the first time Ryan had been cuddled up with me while his attention was focused entirely on the boy across the room. There was something in the way Ryan and Harry looked at each other that made me say 'no' when I was invited for walks with them.
The truth was, with Hermione and Ron barred in their room or out on a walk, and Harry and Ryan off by the lake for almost the entire day I started to get a little lonely. The only interaction I had was at dinner, or when I would go into my room and Harry and I would talk for a while. Ryan started to sleep in my bed most days.
"Lexi," he said quietly one morning when Harry had gone to the wizarding village for more food, "Would you trade rooms with me?"
If I had been a little surprised when Hermione asked I was shocked when Ryan did. I guess that was clear from the look on my face because Ryan quickly tried to sooth me, "It's just Harry and I have really been getting along and this whole thing," he made a gesture letting me know he meant the cabin, "is about making new friends and I think...would you trade with me?"
"You want me to share with Malfoy?" I asked still a little stunned, I rolled out of my bed and stood a few feet away staring at him.
"Draco isn't that bad..." Ryan said, moving so he was sat on the edge of the bed.
"Malfoy isn't that bad to you. He likes you. he thinks I'm unworthy to breath the same air as him!"
"That's not true-"
"Ryan those are the words he used,"
"He really isn't a bad person once you get to know him..."
I stared at him unsure of what to think, "Did I do something to make you hate me or is this just a passing phase?"
"I don't hate you, Lexi," Ryan said quietly, he stood and pulled me to him and kissing my forehead. "This is just...something I want to do,"
"Fine," I sighed. Ryan moved me so I was at arms length; he ducked his head so he could meet my gaze. "Was that a 'yes'?"
"Yes," I muttered.
"I owe you, Lexi," he grinned and disappeared off to get him things.
Only half an hour later all our belongings had been swapped. My love for my oldest, dearest friend, and my longing for at least one of us to come out of this experiment with a new friend and happy memories and left me in an awkward situation. Sharing a bedroom with one of the most arrogant, obnoxious, cocky boys I'd ever met. Although none of the girls in Hogwarts ever said anything about it, we all knew every girl had a fantasy about Draco Malfoy. It's easy to fall for someone you have no chance with.
Malfoy had said nothing when me and Ryan had traded. He had sat on his bed, back to the wall, watching me with a stare so intense I couldn't work out whether he'd kill me or throw me onto the bed the minute Ryan was out of the room. Malfoy shot Ryan a disgusted glare every time he entered to retrieve more clothes or a forgotten pair of socks, Ryan just stared back with a look of blank apology. It seemed I wasn't the only person unhappy about the change.
The routine changed again the next couple of days, Harry, Ryan, Ron and Hermione were like a rare species, I was lucky if I caught a glimpse of any of them before dinner time. I didn't know if they were in their rooms or out walking or what but I never asked. Draco took advantage of the disappearance and started prowling through the cabin like he owned it. He’d watch the television or read in and armchair, have something to eat in the kitchen and generally take up as much room as he could. I wasn't welcome to share the room and Draco still looked at me with that unnerving, intense stare that made me eager to be out of his company.
Draco started talking again, he was more relaxed, he would talk to Ryan at mealtimes and once or twice he shot a sentence at one of the others that wasn't entirely unpleasant. I took his former place and stopped talking. Answering a question if someone asked me one, but otherwise avoiding conversation, this wasn’t hard as there were few people around to have a conversation with. I spent more time outside lying in the grass and listening to the stream, dreaming up adventures, a few times I went to the farm - even though I only worked on weekends - and helped Michael just so I had something to do.
A hobby I discovered to occupy me was trying to open the door in what had originally been mine and Hermione’s room, and was now Harry and Ryan’s. Of course, I could only work on this hobby when I knew the boys weren't in there. I'm good at charms, my strong suite happens to be unlocking things and I'm fairly sure that even if we hadn't found Dumbledore's note I would have been able to break out if I'd wanted to.
One morning I had been lounging in the grass staring at the daisies when Harry, Ryan, Hermione and Ron had said goodbye and disappeared along the stream for a lovey-dovey wander. They walked the opposite way to me. I always walked towards the lake and they were walking away from it. That was the first thought that occurred to me, and then was the thought that no one was in the house. I stood and brushed the grass of my sundress and slipped into the house. Draco wasn't up so I dashed to Ryan's room before he came out and saw me.
I sat down in front of the door, pulled out my wand and went to work on the lock. I tried the simplest spells I knew first, the ones that could help break into your roommate’s belongings and steal a clean pair of socks. Then I tried a few slightly more complicated spells, to me they were still easy but I knew they were in the intermediate category.
"What are you doing?"
I jumped and twisted around to see who it was. I hadn't been aware Draco had come into the room until he spoke, and then I was all too aware of him, he was stood closer than I'd have liked trying to see the keyhole.
"Trying to open the door," I replied quickly and quietly.
Malfoy looked at me like I was something unusual but interesting, "Why?"
I looked at the lock again and then back to him and gave a barely noticeable shrug, "Just wonder what's behind it,"
Malfoy quirked an eyebrow, "Sheer curiosity," he stated with the ghost of a smile, I got the impression I'd amused him but I didn't know how I had. He stared at me intently a little while longer and then he disappeared and returned with a book, sat down on the floor beside me with his back against the wall and started reading. I stared at him for a while, wondering if he was going to speak, or leave or just ... do something. He didn't, he flicked his gaze to me after a short time and raised his eyebrows, I looked away quickly and continued trying to undo the look, attempting to ignore his presence but the right side of my body refused to relax with him sat there.
After that Draco didn't prowl the house like a tiger in a cage, he started watching me. He would always be somewhere nearby just sitting somewhere, or standing, leaning, laying, kneeling, lounging, but always watching me like I was something of value that should be kept and eye on. The only times he didn't watch me was when I went to the farm.
It was one Sunday - the first Sunday of our third week at the cabin - that nobody went out. For some reason everyone staying in the living room, watching TV or reading a book. Ryan kept smiling at me and I guessed maybe they felt guilty that they had been absent so often. Draco didn't come out much that day; he sat on the back porch reading. Not bothering to watch me today; I felt myself constantly glancing in his direction, waiting for him to look back at me or just glance my way but he didn't. He came in for dinner and then went off into our room, pointedly ignoring me in particular. Ryan gave me a questioning look with I pretended not to notice.
By eleven at night I was tired, I said goodnight to everyone and shuffled off into my room, Draco was lying on his bed, staring at the ceiling with a dark look on his face. Something between anger and sadness until he looked at me and then it changed to the murderous-love look I'd become accustomed to but still couldn't fathom. I had decided one day he'd throw and unforgivable curse my way or propose marriage and that would be the day I understood the way he stared at me.
I went to the chest of draws and extracted my t-shirt and shorts. I moved to go into the bathroom and change, but Malfoy was off the bed and stood behind me before I had the chance. He was close enough that I was stuck between him and the chest of drawers, one step back and I'd hit the drawers, one step forwards and I'd be pressed into him. He stared at me for a long moment, a frown on his face, and his eyes dark. He moved his arms so there was a hand either side of me resting on the drawers and then he took a step forward. I stepped back. He took another step and I was pinned still, the small of my back pressed against the chest of drawers and my front pressed against Draco.
"I..." I had no idea what I would have said, but as it turns out I was under no obligation to come up with something because a second later Draco had his lips pressed forcefully against mine, on of his hands snaked around onto my back and held me tightly enough that I couldn't pull away. I stood still, not sure whether to respond or scream at him. Seconds later he stepped away and went back to his bed, leaving me there shocked into stillness. I gathered my senses and left the room to change.
At least now I understood the look in his eye. Lust scared me more than hatred.