I stand there in silence, unable to make myself move. My eyes won't leave the swinging door where my mystery blue-eyed-blonde has just vanished. It takes a moment for my brain to catch up with my feet but I finally start through the door after him.
For his own safety, of course.
He's gone! The hall is stark empty and I can't see his stumbling self in the distance either. One of the other passengers must have spotted him and helped him to his room; a mate or maybe a...girlfriend. I cringe at the thought and shake my head. No way he has a girlfriend, not the way he was looking at me. A boyfriend perhaps, but that's never really stopped me before.
I'm not too worried, we'll be on the same ship for the next three days and it's not as though he can leave. Before you start in about how my sister told me not to sleep with any of the guests, you have to be realistic here. I might be good looking and rather charming, if I do say so myself, and I do say so myself, but I don't always have the widest selection of guys that are my type. So when tall, blonde and gorgeous gives me a smile like that, I'm not about to let my sister stop me from giving it a shot.
Besides, what she doesn't know won't hurt her.
...or me, as the case may be.
“Louis?” The sound of Julian's voice pulls me from my thoughts and I give the man a small wave. He's charging down the hall towards me, wearing one of those just-lost-your-puppy frowns and muttering under his breath in Spanish. “I've been looking for you. I thought you would have been in the dining room by now. Did you get lost?” He glances towards the swinging doors of the bar and lifts a brow.
“I wasn't lost. I was helping a passenger who was a little lost, actually.” It's kind of true. In the remotest way. But it's none of his business what I was doing to begin with.
Julian lets out a sigh and rolls his eyes at me. “I would appreciate it if you didn't get me so worried. I promised your sister that I would look out for you.”
“If you were that worried, you shouldn't have left me alone.” I purse my lips in a way that says point made, but he keeps right on staring at me like I'm his naughty little dog. “It's a ship for crying out loud. What's the worst that can happen to me? I can't exactly take wrong turn beside the pool and end up in the Romanian forest.”
He laughs and flashes me the kind of smile that would send a weaker man swooning right off the edge of the ship. I just walk away. It's not that Julian isn't attractive, but I'm not at all interested.
One: He's already got it in his head that I'm some child who can't walk from one end of the ship to the other without getting lost. Two: He just admitted to being my sister's little henchman. Three: He's obviously straight. I can't explain how I know, you can just tell sometimes.
Even if all of that was different, it wouldn't matter. I can't get my mind off the guy from the bar. I can be...persistent, to say the least. I wouldn't go as far as obsessive, but once I get something, or someone, in my sights, I don't just let it go.
Right now I have to focus on my job, though. I take the tiny name tag and pin it to my shirt, checking in the mirror to make sure it's nice and straight. Alright...I just wanted to check my hair.
“Come on.” Julian taps my shoulder and leads me over to the counter. “Okay, let me tell you how you do this.” He holds up an empty plate and starts giving me the ins and outs of serving.
I was listening! I swear on everything that I was listening to every word he said, but as it turns out, I am a horrible waiter.
I go the entire night forgetting orders, mixing up tables, spilling drinks and bumping into other waiters. Some of the young women find it amusing; they spend the whole time giggling at me and batting their lashes. Their dates don't find it quite so funny. By the end of the dinner service, I am exhausted, my best shoes have champagne on them and most of the other waiters are glaring at me like I've set the place on fire.
Which is a bad example considering I knocked over a candle on one table and burnt a cloth napkin. But it isn't like the whole dining room went up. And the old lady at the table barely noticed. The only good thing that came out of the night was that mystery-bar-guy wasn't at dinner to see me make a complete fool out of myself.
I offer to stay behind and clean up for some of the guys whose night I made especially difficult. They don't exactly thank me, but their glares get a little less deadly as they file out of the dining room, leaving Julian and myself to tame the mess.
I pull out my wand and get to work on straightening up the table cloths and removing any stains from dinner. I reset the tables and arrange the flatware for breakfast. It's decided that the candles won't be brought back. Apparently the old lady whose napkin caught fire was the bride's grandmother or something.
My whole body tenses at the sound of his voice. I put on my best smile and spin around, still clutching the knife and fork I'm meant to be arranging. “Hey yourself.”
He looks like hell. His hair is all messy and sticking up a bit in the back, his clothes are a tad wrinkled and he hasn't bothered tucking in his dress shirt or even buttoning it, leaving the plain white tee beneath exposed. His eyes are heavy like he hasn't slept in days, but they're still that deep, shining blue that you could just spend the entire night staring into and -
What?! He may look like hell but he's still gorgeous.
“I missed dinner.” He looks around and takes on a low tone, like he's afraid of being overheard. “Do you think I could have something?”
“The chefs are all gone.” I bite my bottom lip and put down the flatware. He looks disappointed and I can't allow that. “Which means the kitchen is empty. I bet we could find you something.”
He smiles and starts off for the back, not even waiting for me. I hurry across the room to where Julian is freshening up the flowers in the centerpieces and grab his arm. “I'm going to help out a guest. You can go on without me when you're done.” Before I dash off, I'm sure to add, “If I get lost, I'll send up flares,” in the most sarcastic tone I can muster. He just smirks at me and I run off to catch up with mystery-bar-guy.
I cannot keep calling him mystery-bar-guy.
“What's your name?” I follow him into the kitchen and watch as he mills about the room for a minute.
“Pancakes?” He turns back to me and grins.
“That's an unfortunate name, mate.” We both chuckle and I start the search for flour.
“Benjamin.” He lays out a pan, mixing bowl, spoon, spatula, two plates and some forks onto the large counter at the side of the kitchen.
I bite my lip and finish getting the ingredients for making the pancakes. He goes right to work, not even needing a recipe. Eggs, milk, flour, sugar...he doesn't even measure them. I start to wonder if he's a really good cook or if these pancakes are going to end up being a disaster.
Then he looks up and meets my eyes and I forget what we're even doing. “Louis....” He looks deep in thought but I can't figure out how he even knows my name. He must see the confusion in my eyes because he taps on my name tag and I go red. “Weasley.” His eyes widen and he gets this look of complete realization on his face.
“Yeah.” I grin and look around. I feel like I'm missing something.
“You don't remember?” He chuckles and sighs and goes back to staring into the mixing bowl. “I think you were a fifth year. I was Head Boy and gave you three weeks detention for setting fire to a tapestry on the...fourth floor, I think it was.”
I bust into laughter. “It was the third floor and that was you? Can't blame me for not remembering, I think I had my own chair in detention.”
For the record, the tapestry was just fine!
“Wouldn't surprise me. The Prefects had a little nickname for you.” He cringes and I decide I don't want to know what said nickname was.
“Wait...if you were the Head Boy who gave me detention then you were the one whose shoes I jinxed to whistle at every professor that walked by.”
I laugh but he doesn't. “That wasn't funny! I had to go barefoot for two days.” His eyes narrow and a small smile finally breeches his lips. “Alright it was kind of funny. You're lucky I didn't know it was you.” He waves the mixing spoon at me threateningly and moves over to the stove.
I watch him start up the stove and get to work on cooking. “Too bad I was so distracted with the fire and detention.” He throws me a confused look and I walk over to stand beside him. “Well if I had met you under better circumstances, we could have been...making pancakes two years ago.” I wink at him and he flusters the spatula right onto the floor.
“Just find the syrup.” He sounds annoyed as he gets a new spatula and focuses on the food.
I just smirk and do as he asks. “Hey, there's some strawberries in here,” I say, pointing towards the cooler. “Should I get a few?”
He looks back and nods, that bright smile returning to his face. I grab the berries. He finishes making the pancakes. We pour glasses of orange juice and take a seat on two stools at the large counter, leaving the mess to take care of after eating.
“So, Benjamin.... Benjamin? That name sounds too stodgy for you.”
“I am stodgy.”
“Oh please. No guy who gets drunk at four in the afternoon and sneaks into the kitchen to make pancakes can be that stodgy.” I hold up a strawberry and wave it at him teasingly.
He snags the berry and throws me a stern look. “Don't you dare call me Ben.”
“Wouldn't dream of it.” My hands go up in surrender and I think over some names in my head. “How about Benji?”
“I like Benji.” I lean a little closer but he seems to develop a fascination with looking anywhere but at me. I follow his gaze to the kitchen doors and sigh. “You always seem so nervous.”
“Maybe that's because I am.” He licks his lips and stabs at his pancakes with growing aggression. “I just don't want to get caught is all. I mean, we aren't supposed to be in here this late. I'm sure they wouldn't say anything to me but you could get in trouble.”
“Don't worry, Trouble is my middle name, I'm used to it. I'll be fine.”
“No, not really.” I laugh a little. “My middle name is William. My parents would be begging for me to hang from the rafters if they named me that.”
“I meant -” He puts his fork down and rolls his eyes. “- really would you be fine if we got caught.”
“Oh. Probably. Don't care, to be honest.” I look down at my pancakes and go silent. They really are good; the perfect amount of sweetness, the right texture, I can taste a hint of lemon in them too. Hell, they're better than my Grandma Weasley's.
Don't you dare tell her I said that!
“Can I be honest with you?” Benjamin takes a long drink that I imagine is more stalling than thirst-quenching. “I'm not really worried about what would happen to you if we got caught. More like I'm worried what would happen if I got caught with you.” He shifts on his stool and looks at me hesitantly.
“What's so wrong with me?” I can't help feeling a bit wounded. “Is it because I'm just some waiter?”
“No.” His tone is so sharp. “It has nothing to do with your job.”
“Well....” I push my plate away and grab the last strawberry. “It's not like you're doing anything wrong. Just getting some food.” I smirk and hold the berry out towards him. “Right?”
He reaches for the berry but I pull it away just before his fingers can touch it. I hold the strawberry to my lips and give him a cheeky grin. “Oh, I'm sorry. Did you want this?” He leans towards me and grins, his eyes lingering on the strawberry then meeting mine. My teeth sink into the sweet fruit and my eyes roll back slightly. I hum softly against the red flesh, allowing myself to get lost in the flavour.
Okay, my reaction has nothing to do with the strawberry and everything to do with making him squirm.
He grabs my hand, pulling the strawberry to his own lips, and looks into my eyes as he takes a bite. His lips brush against my fingertips and he lets out a sound of pleasure that makes me go weak.
“You win.” ...did I say that out loud?
“I win?” He smirks and takes the rest of the strawberry from my fingers. “What do I win, blondie?”
“Anything you want, gorgeous.”
I nod slowly and he puts his hand on the edge of my seat. He leans over me and brushes his nose against mine. What's my name again? No, seriously...he's so close I can't even think straight. I can feel his breath on my lips and his eyes are staring deep into mine. “Anything at all?” he whispers, his words sending a shiver down my spine. I can only nod again and he grins.
“I want you to clean up.” He pulls away, pats my shoulder and gets to his feet.
I jump up and make a sound that resembles a dying bird. “You can't just...just – you can't just do that and then say that and then get up like that.” I'm half-laughing from the shock and pure evil of it.
“You said I could have anything.” He holds out his hands with a rather smug look on his face.
I stand there, speechless. He has a point, but he didn't have to be so bloody torturous about it. I just scoff and turn my back on Benjamin, attending to the plates left behind. I don't hear the door open so I know he doesn't leave, but I keep my eyes on my work, gathering up the dishes and taking everything to the sink. The water is too hot, but I don't flinch because I can feel him watching me. I start splashing around in the water, soap slinging here and there as I swat at the first plate with the sponge.
“You're doing it wrong.” Footsteps draw nearer but I just keep on with what I'm doing. “Have you never done dishes before?” He chuckles and puts his hands on my shoulders, running them down the length of my arms. His fingers position over mine and gently guide me in what I'm doing. “You have to be careful or you'll break something.”
“Then maybe you should do it.” I push him away and snap up a dishtowel to dry my hands.
He just shakes his head and picks up a glass. “Now you're going to be all mad at me?”
“Maybe.” I put up my nose and cross my arms. “I don't like being teased.”
“Is that what I was doing?” He sounds so innocent and sweet. All an act! He's wearing that same sinister grin he had in the bar. “I didn't realize I was teasing you.” Oh, he may seem clueless, just standing there, washing the dishes, his messy hair falling into those deep blue eyes, just begging to be pushed away and I bet it's really soft – What was my point?
As hard as it is to look away, and it is very hard to look away, I do. “Don't act so innocent. You know what you're doing.”
He laughs softly and turns off the water, then takes the dishtowel from me to dry his own hands. “Of course I do, I'm not stupid.” He smirks and puts his hands on either side of me, resting them against the counter I'm leaning upon. “We really shouldn't do this.”
“Shouldn't do what, exactly? Eat dinner? Do dishes?”
“Now who's putting on an act?”
I allow myself to look back up at Benjamin and grin. “Well if we shouldn't be doing this, then why are you?” My fingers tug at the hem of his open dress shirt.
“Call it a surge of rebellion.”
“If you're looking to piss off mummy and daddy then you're going to have to do a lot more than feed me pancakes.” I twist my fingers into his shirt and pull him closer. It's taking every bit of restraint I possess to keep from throwing him against the wall and kissing him until he can't stand up.
He snakes his arm around my waist and pulls me flush against his body. My heart's beating so loud I'm sure he can hear it. He lays his other hand on the side of my neck and draws closer. “Unless I made them for you again in the morning,” he whispers before closing that miniscule distance that still lingers between our lips.
I melt beneath his kiss and whimper desperately. My arms wrap around his neck, determined not to let him pull away. My skin feels like it's on fire and I just want more. His hand rests flat against the small of my back and I'm grateful for the support, otherwise I might just turn into a puddle and slide into the floor. I push my fingers into his hair and wind the dirty blonde strands around them. It's soft. So, so...soft. He holds me tighter, mouth moving skillfully against mine. His lips are tender and smooth. He tastes of syrup and strawberries and I'm instantly addicted. I hope the moment never ends.
“Benjamin?” comes a voice from the dining room.
“Fuck,” Benjamin hisses and pulls his lips away, arms still wrapped tightly around me. “I have to go. That's my mum, she can't see us.” He silences my attempted protests with a chaste kiss and looks into my eyes. “I'm sorry. I shouldn't have dragged you into my mess.”
“Who's being dragged?” I try to hold on but he pries my arms from around his neck and moves away. “You don't have to go, Benji. You can sneak off with me and she'll never know.”
“That sounds beyond tempting.” He smiles but I can tell he's going to leave. “But I have to go. Please, just...stay in here -”
“Benjamin, are you in here?!”
“- until you hear us leave.” He gives me a pained look and dashes off.
Once again, my blue-eyed-blonde vanishes with the swing of a door.