When Amelia opened her eyes she was confronted with the bluest sky she had ever seen, reflecting on water so clear that she wondered for a moment if Ben could have possibly Apparated them all the way to the Caribbean.
The beaches were pure and white, leading form the water to soft hills of long grasses and daffodils.Glancing around, Amelia saw that they were completely alone. There was no one nearby; not even a single sign of human life.
“Ben, where are we?” Amelia stammered.
“The Isles of Scilly, love,” Ben replied with a smug grin. “White Island, to be precise.”
Amelia gasped. “I’ve always wanted to visit… Ben, you shouldn’t have!”
“Happy birthday, darling. Now let’s find our accommodations. Then we can explore.”
Amelia followed Ben speechlessly. She couldn’t believe he had brought her to Scilly for her birthday. It was thoroughly perfect. The archipelago off the southwestern tip of Cornwall was known for its natural beauty in Muggle and wizarding worlds alike.
“White Island, you said?”
Ben nodded, then explained, “It’s not inhabited by Muggles. They stick to the five bigger islands. This one has just one cottage; a little old witch owns it and rents it out.”
“How on Earth did you find it?”
Ben shrugged. “I asked around. I knew I wanted to take you to Scilly so I talked to some people.”
“And we’re the only people here,” Amelia asked in disbelief.
He chuckled in response. “Amelia, there are about one hundred and fifty islands here… plenty for people to choose from!”
“Right,” Amelia murmured, her train of thought redirected to the fairy-tale cottage in the clearing ahead of them.
After settling into the one-room cottage, which Ben had already stocked with food and drink, the couple packed a small picnic and headed back to the beach where they had arrived.
It was remarkably warm for that time of year, but it was still April in Great Britain so Amelia had dressed warmly in slacks and a jersey pullover. The sun was bright, but the breeze from the Celtic Sea was refreshingly chill.
Ben had laid out the blanket near the water, but safe from tides. As he stoked up a small campfire, Amelia poured out two glasses of wine.
“Look over there,” Ben said, sinking onto the blanket beside Amelia and pulling her close.
Amelia followed his finger to the northeast.
“What am I looking at?” she asked playfully.
“Lyonesse,” Ben replied. “According to legend, it sank just northeast of this island.”
“Really?” Amelia asked excitedly. “That was the site of the battle where Arthur defeated Mordred.”
She watched the waves crest and fall over the sunken city.
“That would make this area ‘the phantom circle of a moaning sea,’” Amelia noted, quoting Tennyson’s famous Arthurian poem. She had gone through a King Arthur phase as a child.
“Indeed,” Ben mused. “And the birthplace of Tristan. Romantic, no?”
Ben punctuated his suggestion with a kiss.
“Tristan and Iseult?” Amelia teased. “Love based on a potion, built around adultery, and ended in tragedy. Romantic isn’t quiet the word I word choose.”
“Spoilsport,” he snorted.
“Just so,” Amelia said absently, her mind straying with her eyes along the coastline.
“How many ships do you think have shipwrecked here?” she pondered.
Ben chuckled. “And you think Tristan and Iseult were morbid?”
She smiled sheepishly. “It’s fascinating though.”
“Let’s go for a walk and see what fascinating things we can find,” he suggested, pulling Amelia to her feet. “Who knows, maybe we’ll see a shipwreck.”
The pair didn’t find a shipwreck, but they did come across a family of seals sunning on the rocks and, inland, old Roman field walls surrounding acres upon acres of daffodils.
“Look at all of them,” Amelia remarked in awe.
Ben smiled at the look on her face and pulled her along until they were standing completely surrounded by the golden flowers.
“They bloom earlier here because the sea keeps away the frost,” Ben said knowledgeably.
“Been reading up, have we?”
“Well, it’s hard to keep up with that brain of yours.”
“Flattery will get you everywhere, Benjamin Auden.”
“Will it get me back to the cottage and into bed with you?” Ben replied. “Because that’s all I really want.”
Amelia tipped her head back and sighed dramatically, placing a hand across her forehead.
“I just don’t know if I could make it, Ben,” she lamented theatrically. “I’m just so very exhausted. Go on without me.”
“Ah, but the bed would not be nearly as much fun without you,” Ben said, playing along. “Perhaps I should carry you on my back.”
“I’m far too heavy, kind sir.”
“Pshaw – you’re so light I’d forget you were there.”
“Oh, very well then,” Amelia relented with a giggle.
Ben knelt down slightly and Amelia wrapped her arms around his shoulders from behind, fastening them above his collarbone. Ben stood easily and held one of her legs in each hand.
“I could get used to this,” Amelia teased.
“What? Who said that?”
Amelia laughed heartily.
“And that? That bloody old cow, she never said this island was haunted.”
Amelia just giggled even more and kissed his neck.
“Well… if it’s that kind of ghost, I could live with it,” Ben admitted as he continued on toward their cottage.
It was just past seven o’ clock when Ben crawled silently out of the bed where he had spent the last few hours with Amelia. She was dozing peacefully, tangled in the sheets, and Ben thought it was the perfect time to make Amelia’s birthday dinner.
Digging into the icebox, Ben found the bizarre looking ‘hot dogs’, which incidentally didn’t look a think like a dog. He had wanted to ask Hollis how to cook them, but he didn’t think she’d be able to keep the secret from Amelia.
Instead he settled for a trip to the kitchens. The elves could cook just about anything.
After setting the hot dogs onto the grill of the stove like Dobby had instructed, Ben pulled out the elf-made macaroni salad and put water on to boil for the corn on the cob.
He set the table with salt, pepper, butter, and lemonade and then turned the hot dogs as suggested.
The water began to boil heavily and Ben quickly added the corn that the elves had shucked for him. By the time he had covered the corn, set a spoon in the macaroni, and put out plates, Amelia had woken to the smell of burning hot dogs.
“Ben?” she asked sleepily. “What are you cooking? It smells like… America.”
“Shite, shite, shite,” Ben was chanting, unaware of Amelia’s wakefulness.
Laughing to herself, Amelia climbed out of bed and pulled on Ben’s discarded shirt. Sidling up beside Ben at the stove, she turned the flame down considerably and moved the hot dogs to the side with a fork.
Ben smiled sheepishly. “Surprise?”
He was rewarded with a kiss.
“Any American will tell you, the burnt ones are the best ones.”
That night, Ben led Amelia back down to the beach where he restarted the campfire and laid out a quilt. He had brought blankets and cast warming charms on the area so that Amelia would be warm enough.
Without the lights of civilization, or the pollution, White Island was a remarkable place to watch the stars.
“Aurora would give her left thumb for this view,” Amelia murmured, cuddled under Ben’s arm.
He snorted. “She could give her whole arm for all I care.”
“Ben,” Amelia chided.
“What? She’s a cow. Do you see the way she looks at us whenever we’re together? Like she doesn’t approve...”
Amelia shrugged. She had noticed it but had always done her best to ignore it. She had been odd since they had emerged as a couple after the break.
“I suppose. Perhaps she’s just jealous.”
“Hm, you are very beautiful.”
Amelia chuckled. “I was referring to your handsome face, love.”
“Well, there is that.”
“Perhaps she just has a strict sense of propriety,” Amelia proposed.
Ben furrowed is brow, tired of the old argument.
“We aren’t doing anything wrong. There’s nothing improper about us,” he said firmly.
“I know,” Amelia soothed. “But others might see it differently, because we work together.”
Ben didn’t respond and Amelia could tell it bothered him.
“It’s not important, Ben,” Amelia said quietly. “Especially not tonight.”
“No, especially not tonight.”
They lay together under the stars for over an hour. When the charms faded and the fire died, they decided it was time to head back into the warm cottage. Scilly was remarkably warm for Great Britain, but April nights were still quite chilly.
Back in the cottage, Ben pulled two packages from his overnight bag.
“Ben,” Amelia scolded. “This trip is gift enough.”
“Oh, hush,” he laughed, completely unsurprised by Amelia’s protest. “Let me spoil you.”
Amelia grudgingly accepted the packages.
“Besides,” Ben added, “One of the is probably more for me.”
Opening the first package, Amelia found a second edition of Olde and Forgotten Bewitchments and Charmes. She gasped and drew her hands away, not wanting to mar the delicate pages.
“Relax, there are protective charms. I wouldn’t give you a book you couldn’t read.”
“Oh, Ben,” she murmured, gently touching the cover with reverence. “Where did you find this?”
“I’ve been looking for a few weeks. Mr. Flourish tracked it down through an old associate, apparently. Had it sent from Rome. I tried for a first edition, but…”
Amelia was astounded at the measures Ben had gone through for her gift. It showed a great deal of time and effort, as well as Galleons.
“Don’t say it,” Ben said, chuckling softly.
“That I shouldn’t have. I want to make you happy.”
“I am happy,” she replied, leaning in and kissing Ben passionately. He responded and gingerly moved the book off of Amelia’s lap so that they could move closer.
“Wait,” he cried, moving away from her lips. “Your second present!”
“Now?” Amelia asked in frustration. That kiss had been thoroughly enjoyable.
“Now is the perfect time,” he assured her, his eyes glittering greedily as she unwrapped a pale yellow silk teddy with matching knickers and stockings.
Amelia couldn’t help but laugh.
“Whose birthday is it, yours or mine?” she teased.
“Do you like it? The color seemed you.”
“I love it,” she assured him. “Now turn around while I change.”
“It’s nothing I haven’t seen,” Ben snorted.
“No, but I don’t want you to see the outfit until it’s all put together.”
Ben turned around obediently, motivated by her logic, and listened to the whisper of silk across her skin.
After she had changed, they spent the remainder of the night enjoying Amelia’s birthday gift.
Amelia and Ben returned to Hogwarts late the next morning. Amelia couldn’t believe how wonderful Ben had been. He seemed to know exactly what she needed, even when she didn’t.
Although it was just one night away, they had made the most of it and Amelia returned feeling refreshed and positive. Gone was the negativity that had been hovering over her and gone was the drained psyche that the school year had wrought. Amelia felt wonderful.
The couple separated in the Great Hall so that Ben could inform Minerva of their return. Amelia carried on towards her rooms, her bags shrunken to fit her pocket where they would not be noticed.
She had just stepped into the alcove housing her door when she was met with a flustered Hollis.
“Hollis! I’m glad you’re here. You’ll never guess where Ben took me!”
Amelia was still bubbling over with contentedness and she knew Hollis would be impressed with Ben’s planning.
“Where were you?” she hissed angrily, effectively deflating Amelia's bubble. "We had plans."
Lyonesse is part of some versions of Arthurian legend and, in some readings, linked to the Tristan and Iseult story. The quote is from Tennyson's 'Idylls of the King'
The Isles of Scilly are real and I portrayed them the best I could without ever having been there!
Please review with feedback. What did you like? What did you hate? Favorite part of this chapter?