Benjamin's promised hour stretches into two and I have no complaints. He keeps his arms wrapped around me the entire time, holding me close to his body and kissing me so softly I feel like it's all a dream. We don't kiss the entire time though.
We kiss a lot. A lot. But we talk as well.
Every time things get a little too heated, Benjamin pulls his lips from mine and gives me the sweetest smile I've ever seen. He asks me trivial questions – What's my favourite colour? What was my favourite subject in school? What's my favourite ice cream? – then I ask them right back and he resumes the tender kissing.
In case you're curious: I like blue, Charms and chocolate chip cookie dough; Benjamin prefers red, Transfigurations and strawberry.
When the time comes for him to leave, I don't bother hiding the saddened look on my face. But fact is, I have to go as well. It's time to serve lunch and I'm sure if I don't show up, Julian will just come looking for me anyways.
“Wait.” I grab Benjamin's arm before he can open the door. “I wanna see you tonight. There's a little party on the deck later, why don't you come with me?”
“You mean the party you told your sister you weren't going to?” He gives me a little smirk.
“I tell my sister a lot of things.” I laugh and bat my lashes at him. “There's going to be fireworks and drinking and music and your parents won't be there.”
My mention of his parents sends a flash of possibility across his face but it quickly fades away. “I can't. I have some stupid gathering tonight. They'll go mental if I don't show up.” He lays his hand on my cheek and tries to give a comforting smile. “Sorry. Maybe I'll see you again before the wedding.”
I twist my lips in disappointment and shrug without conviction. “Yeah, maybe.”
Benjamin leaves and I straighten myself out for work. He doesn't show up for lunch and I manage to make it most of my shift without messing anything up. No spills. No crashes. But I do keep mixing up a lot of people's orders.
Sandwiches all look the same from the top!
Luckily, that isn't a problem I have during my dinner shift and by the end of the night, I am deemed a proper waiter. The other wait staff stop giving me death glares and even Julian says that I've improved remarkably quick. I want to be excited about this...but it's just a temporary job. I honestly have no intention of ever being a waiter again after this cruise is over. And I can't get my mind off Benjamin.
I know...I've become possessed by the thought of him. But I can't help it. My head keeps replaying the time we spent together and painfully reminding me that it most likely will not be repeated. I don't understand why he's so adamant that we can't be together. Yeah, we just met – well we technically met in school, but properly met – but that doesn't change anything. There was a connection, a spark.
When it feels right, it feels right! End of.
And I get that his parents don't approve, but that hasn't exactly stopped him so far. I hate the idea of hiding relationships or sneaking around, but I would be willing to stay low key. We could go places that his parents would never know about. I can tell by his accent his from England proper and I have no problem Apparating anywhere to see him. I know this amazing bar that -
Then it hits me. Maybe it isn't his parents at all.
Maybe he doesn't feel the same connection I do.
Maybe it's just about the one night stand for him.
Maybe he already has a boyfriend.
Maybe he just isn't interested.
Now I feel about a dozen times worse than before and I can't wait to get to that stupid staff party. At least I'll get to watch some fireworks and drink until I forget about what's-his-face.
My decision to forget about him lasts all of fifteen seconds because when I step out of the dining room door, Benjamin is standing there waiting for me. At least, I think he's waiting for me. He's leaning on the wall and staring off in the distance, but what other reason would he have to be there? The dining room isn't exactly the type of place that you'd hang out in.
I linger behind the others, acting like I have to tie my shoe, and once they've all gone, I approach him. “I thought you had somewhere to be tonight.” I look around for signs of prying eyes before stepping closer than normal personal space should allow.
“I do.” He tips his head to the side and lazily looks over at me. “However, it seems I've come down with an excruciating headache and have decided to spend the night in my bed, getting well.”
His lips pull into that sneaky smirk and I put my hand on the wall to maintain my balance. “Well -” I take a daring reach for Benjamin's hand and he doesn't move it away “- I have a much better cure for that than bed-rest.” Our fingers slip together and I tug him in the general direction of the far deck.
“Wait.” He squeezes my hand and brings me to a stop. “We can't stay very long though, alright? I don't want one of the other employees to decide they wanna report back to my parents.”
“They wouldn't.” I have no idea if this is accurate, but I'm trying to be comforting. If it happens, it happens, there's nothing that excessive worry can do to help him right now. I grab the front of his tee-shirt and tug him closer, then give him a quick, reassuring kiss. “It'll be fun. We don't even have to be that close if it'll make you feel better. We can just hang out.” I'm hoping he'll argue that fact, but he doesn't and I guess that's okay. I don't blame him. So we walk down to the party deck side-by-side, looking more chummy than romantic. I stuff my hands into the pockets of my slacks to keep from succumbing to the urge to hold his hand.
As we approach what appears to be a loud, excited gathering of the ship's employees, I notice that I can't hear a single thing. People are dancing, but I can't hear music. People are laughing and talking, but no sound reaches me and Benjamin. The moment we reach the group, I can feel a charm wash over us and suddenly the sound of laughing, music and clanking drinks hits us full force. I can't help but marvel at the sheer size of the sound impediment charm.
I grin over at Benjamin and nod towards the bar. If you can call it a bar. It's technically just one bloke with a few dozen bottles of liquor and some glasses bearing the ship's name on them. “You want rum?” I assume this because it was drink of choice when I met him. It seems like ages ago that I found him falling down drunk, trying to drown out reality.
“Rum? No.” He shakes his head and requests a vodka with lime. “I only drink rum when I'm.... Well I don't drink it when I'm in a good mood, let's leave it at that.”
“So you're in a good mood now?” I get myself vodka as well, only I forsake the lime in favour of a splash of cranberry juice.
“I am in a very good mood right now.” He flashes me a big smile and sips at his drink. I can see him watching the dancing couples over the top of his glass, but he says nothing about them. “So you said there's going to be fireworks? Won't that attract attention?”
“I imagine they'll save them for last. If they're smart at least.” I take a drink and watch as his eyes move towards the dancers once more. “Do you wanna dance?”
“No, no. I'm...I'm good.”
You know how sometimes a person can tell you one thing, but every inch of their body says something else? Well Benjamin's like that right now. He's saying he doesn't want to dance, but his eyes won't leave the couples, he keeps moving his feet, his hands can't seem to be still. I get it; he's nervous. And I'm trying to be supportive about his fears, I don't believe in forcing people to come out, but I truly think if he'd just relax, he'd actually have fun.
“Well I want to dance.”
“Go on then.” He nods towards some guys hovering around the edge of the party.
He's joking, right? “You're joking right?” He better be joking. “Let me rephrase myself then. I want to dance with you. Come on, you owe me.”
“I owe you?” Benjamin sounds indignant, but he holds his hand out towards me. “How do you figure?”
“Well, you keep running away from me. I think that entitles me to at least one dance.”
We move into the middle of the dance floor area – because it certainly isn't an actual dance floor – and I put my arm around his neck. At first, he tenses up. He darts his eyes around and hesitantly puts his empty hand on my waist.
“No one cares.” I pull him a little closer and he seems to relax slightly. Again, I really don't know if anyone cares. I barely know the other staff here. But once again, it's the kind of situation that worry will do nothing to solve.
He gives me a little nod and moves his hand to my lower back. I've never had a problem with public displays of affection, so I move as close as possible and push my fingers into Benjamin's hair. The music is hardly my taste, but it's got a nice rhythm, so it'll do. I feel him pull back and for a moment, I'm afraid that he's changed his mind.
“Turn around, blondie.” He gives me a half spin and pulls me back against his body. One arm wraps around my waist and the other raises to his lips so he can finish off his drink. I tip my head back onto his shoulder and he smiles over at me. “You do this a lot?” He pushes the hair back out of his eyes and moves his lips near mine.
I reach up and put my arm around his neck; my fingers once again find those soft blonde strands and give them a little tug. “Do what? Dance?” I lean towards his lips but he keeps them far enough away.
“Dance like this with guys you barely know.” He moves his fingertips across my stomach, just under my shirt and my skin feels like it's on fire. I shake my head no and he smirks. “What makes me so special then?”
“Who said you were special?” I tease. I push against the back of his head and steal a quick, but soft, kiss. “Is it such a crime to like you?”
Benjamin drops his hand and takes my drink. I'm inclined to take it back, but if it'll make him feel more comfortable, then he's welcome to it. I turn back around and he drapes his arms over my shoulders, his face coming close and his eyes meeting mine. I wind my hands into his tee-shirt and tug him against me. The music speeds up and so do we.
Before long, tiny drops of sweat grace us both, but it's far from bothersome. He wears the shine well and his hair is damp. I'm not sure if the heat is coming off him or me but I love it. He's forgotten the others, that's clear in his eyes. His lips are so close, but we don't kiss. I squirm under his teasing breath and grab his belt buckle to pull him closer.
Benjamin presses the glasses into my hands and cradles my neck with his fingers. “You wanna get out of here?” he whispers.
I make an indistinguishable sound, that he accepts as a yes, and am rewarded with a smile. I place our glasses with the other rejects and allow Benjamin to take my hand. Behind us, I can hear the oh-so-familiar explosion of fireworks and for the first time in my life, I don't stop to watch. We hurry back down the deck and turn into the hallway that leads to the Servants' Quarters.
“My roommate.” I come to a quick stop just outside of my room and throw Benjamin a worried glance. Slowly, I push the door open and peek inside. “He's not here!”
Benjamin pushes me further into the room and kicks the door closed behind him. I start to speak, but his lips cover mine before I get the chance. He grabs the hem of my shirt and tugs it over my head, his lips only breaking away for an instant before they're back. I whimper into the kiss as he backs me towards the beds.
“You sure about this?” he whispers. I nod. He grins and pulls off his own shirt that quickly joins my own in the floor. “There's no future here. No tomorrow.” He kisses down the side of my neck and I don't care about tomorrow; I only care about now. And I say so, at least I think I do, it's all so fuzzy right now. “Then up you go, blondie.”
I give him a huge smile and hurry up the ladder on the bunk beds. There's not much room between the ceiling and my bed, but it doesn't seem to bother him as he climbs up after me and crawls over.
Don't start getting too excited, you're not getting any details. That's a very private thing right there. I'll just tell you this...we had sex. We had safe sex. Twice. And it was ah-may-zing. Before you ask, no, he doesn't just rush off afterward either.
Benjamin wraps his arms around me and puts his lips to my bare shoulder. I can feel him smile against my heated skin and I move closer. His breathing evens out and slows down. I wonder if it's safe to let him just fall asleep here in bed with me.
“Benji?” I hate what I'm about to do. “Can you stay? Or...do you have to go back to your room before they check on you?”
“Do you want me to stay?” He opens his eyes as slits and peeks over at me.
I bite my bottom lip and nod sheepishly.
“Then I'll stay.” He gives me a sweet little grin and tightens his hold around me, his eyes closing once more. “Have you ever been to Greece?”
I'm a bit thrown by the question. “No, I haven't. Was in Italy once when I was twelve.”
“I've always wanted to go to Greece.” He shifts a little and brushes his fingers up and down my arm. “I once heard that one of their beaches has the whitest sand in the entire world.”
“I've never been interested in traveling for the beach.” I close my eyes and relax against Benjamin. “It's probably because I've lived on one my whole life.”
“You live on the beach?”
“Yeah. It's beautiful.” I lick my lips and try to use the most nonchalant tone possible. “You're welcome to come and see it anytime you'd like.”
Benjamin lets out a soft laugh but doesn't reply.
“San Sebastián has nice beaches too.”
“I hate Spain.” Something in Benjamin's tone makes it very clear he doesn't wish to be questioned on this. He quickly changes the subject. “I don't like ships either. I feel like I'm going to be sick every time I get near the edge and my room has the most ridiculous nautical theme. I mean...we're on a fucking ship, I get it. I don't need some fake anchor pasted to my wall to remind me of this floating hell.”
“Whoa, easy.” I put my hand on Benjamin's shoulder and urge him to look at me. “Calm down, gorgeous, you're getting all worked up.” I push my fingers through his hair and drag it back out of his eyes. “Why are you so angry?”
For a moment, Benjamin looks as though he's going to spill everything. But that moment snaps away with the sound of the bedroom door slamming against the wall. Let me tell you now, when you're naked, there is a long list of people you'd rather not be forced to deal with.
Victoire is the top of that list.
...and currently standing at my door with her arms crossed and her eyes full of fire.
My sister turns around long enough for me and Benjamin to fish our trousers out of the bedsheets and hurry down off the bed. Victoire snaps a shirt off the floor – my shirt mind you – and thrusts it against Benjamin's chest. “Aren't you supposed to be resting?” Her words hiss through her teeth and she picks up Benjamin's shoes.
He tries to explain that he's got the wrong shirt, but the glare she gives him makes it all pointless. He takes his shoes from my sister and gives me a sad smile before she slams the door closed on him.
“I gave you two rules, Louis.” Victoire curls her hands into fists and visibly restrains herself from striking me. “Two rules! And you didn't just break them, no...no, no. You demolished them! Nothing can be halfway for Louis Weasley, can it? I tell you not to set off any fireworks and you send up an entire display that scares half the guests right out of their overpriced shoes!”
“Now, technically I didn't se-”
“I tell you not to sleep with any of the guests, and what do you do?” Is she actually expecting an answer out of me? “You don't just sleep with any guest.” Clearly she wasn't. “You have to fuck the bloody groom!”
“Victoire, I'm s....” What the hell did she just say?! “I'm sorry, did you just say the groom?”
My sister's eyes fall over me with a mix of anger and pity. “Yes, I did.” She thumbs towards the door and puts her hand on her hip. “You...didn't know?” Her fingers raise to her temples and she massages at them, reminding me of our father instantly. “What an asshole.”
“I wasn't talking about you.”
“I know, you were talking about Benji.”
“Benji?” She snorts out a sarcastic laugh and rolls her eyes towards the ceiling. “Gods, you've already gone and given him a little nickname? That's pathetic, Louis, even for you.”
I press my lips together and tighten my jaw to keep from saying something excessively nasty to her. Instead, I busy myself with finding a shirt since she found it fitting to send mine off with Benjamin. I understand why she's saying what she is. Being sensible when it comes to love or relationships or sex has never been my strong point. I'm a hopeless romantic.
Mum always said it would make me happy one day. She was one too.
But the rest of my family thinks it makes me stupid and vulnerable.
“Louis, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that. But I'm just so...angry at you right now, you have no idea. If someone found out about this, I would lose my job.”
I scoff. “Thanks.”
“What?” She rounds on me and holds out her hands questioningly. “You expect me to feel sorry for you or something? You were with a guy who's getting married in just over a day. Did you not think to ask?”
“No, I didn't.” I shove the drawer closed so hard my hair gel rattles and falls over. “I guess that was my mistake. But honestly, Victoire, why would I? He kissed me. He danced with me. Things like that send up the signs that a bloke is gay, not engaged!” I'm so angry I can't even see straight. “We're finished!” I stomp into the bathroom and close the door on my sister's continued ranting.