Chapter 2 : Yes and No
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It had been a long time.
Roxanne felt a shudder going over her skin as the rough pad of his thumb caressed the soft line of her jaw, almost as if she were too precious. She had to close her eyes against the sudden sting of emotion, it seemed like all of her emotions were on overdrive and her throat felt tight.
After an entire year, Benjamin Malfoy had come back home and Roxanne couldn't string two words together. There was only heat and sound...memories twisting up inside of her mind until nothing at all made sense. Instead of hating him for how he had ruined their fragile friendship, her heart decided to dance in a rhythm that she barely recognized—or hadn’t since he had left.
Although Draco Malfoy was still treated like a monster, he was one of the kindest people that Roxanne had ever met. As a young girl, there had only been a few times that she had met Mr. Malfoy and each time that he had come to her father’s joke shop, he had brought a reluctant Benjamin with him.
“What are you gawking at?” Benjamin hissed at her and Roxanne jumped nearly three feet in the air.
The stack of Fever Fudge that Roxanne had been hiding behind clattered noisily but the customers roaming about hardly noticed her mishap. “U-uhm,” Roxanne said nervously as she met a pair of odd colored eyes that were narrowed on her flushed cheeks. “I just…”
“Just what?” Benjamin snapped as he lowered the bag of Canary Creams that he’d been considering back onto their brightly colored shelf. “Thought you could catch me doing something evil?” his voice was shrewd.
Roxanne swallowed roughly, he was taller than she was and bigger than her brother but she had never heard him talk before. She had always been fascinated by this strange little boy and couldn't quite put the feeling into words, “N-no...”
“I'm not going to steal anything,” Benjamin snapped, frowning.
Roxanne was only ten years old but she knew what it was like for people to think that she was a thief. Benjamin looked like he understood that as well and for one moment she had the strangest feeling that he was lonely, “N-no… I just…” Roxanne swallowed, “wanted to say hi.”
Benjamin quirked a brow. “From all the way over there? You look like a pervert.”
Roxanne frowned and stomped over ot him.“I’m not a pervert!”
“So why’d you hide instead of saying hi?” Benjamin demanded suspiciously.
Roxanne snapped. “Shut up! I got nervous!”
“Why were you hiding from me?” Benjamin demanded, annoyed.
Roxanne had always wanted to talk to him but she had been intimidated by his constant frowns and grumpy attitude. It ahd taken all of her courage just to approach him once he was alone but she had chickened out at the last second and hid instead, “You look so mean!”
“I-I'm not trying to be—it's just how my face is!” Benjamin defended.
“You should smile more.” Roxanne huffed.
“Who are you anyway?” Benjamin demanded rudely.
Roxanne blinked in surprise. “I'm Roxanne,”
“You live around here?” Benjamin asked curiously.
Roxanne nodded. “I live upstairs. This is my dad’s shop.”
Benjamin eyed her stupidly. “You mean George Weasley’s your dad?” she flinched as he ran his eyes over her brown skin, her curly dark hair and her eyes, which were so brown they hid her pupils. “Oh. I heard there was a sexy black lady that lived here. That’s your mum, huh?”
“Yes,” Roxanne replied happily.
Benjamin nearly smiled. “No wonder you're so friendly,”
Roxanne became encouraged and approached him shyly, noticing that his body tensed as if she meant to hurt him. It was clear that he had had his share of bad experiences and it was painful that she understood, “My names Roxanne Katie Weasley, it's really nice to meet you.” She said softly while offering her hand.
Uncle Percy had told her once that a handshake was a very good friendship but with the way Benjamin was looking at her hand, it might as well have been an insult. Roxanne felt silly and made an attempt to draw back and was stunned when Benjamin said, “It's nice to meet you too.” He clasped her hand briefly in his own. “I'm Benjamin Frederick Malfoy.”
Roxanne felt a burst of triumph and she smiled at him before considering his name for a minute. “That's weird, my uncle’s name was Fred. He was my dad’s twin—it’s funny that you’ve got his name,” she said with a little smile before letting it fall from the look he was giving her.
A curious expression flashed over Benjamin's face and Roxanne sensed that there were a few things that he was unwilling to speak about. He shifted his eyes away, “It’s not funny, okay? I don’t want anything to do with you stinking Weasley’s.”
“That’s not very nice of yo—”
“Well, no one’s been nice to me.”
“I’m being nice to you!”
“What for?” Benjamin’s voice was laced with dislike and suspicion.
Roxanne was unable to truly put her feelings into words and she toyed with the loose lock of her curly hair nervously. “You always look so sad and it's what friend’s do, that’s what my mum says anyway. I've always wanted to talk to you,”
Benjamin narrowed his eyes on her but something in his expression relaxed. “You must be stupid Weasley if you want to be my friend.” Roxanne shrugged and he laughed a little, considering her. “Just because you’re being nice to me and I’m talking to you doesn’t make me your friend. Got that?”
Roxanne smiled widely. “Okay.”
That caused Benjamin to flush and he opened his mouth to say something to that but just then a long, dark shadow fell over them. Mr. Malfoy had found them and he appeared to have bought quite a bit of merchandise, judging from the bags in his hands, “There you are. I thought you’d walked off,” he said to his son, who grumbled in annoyance, flushing even deeper.
Roxanne stared up at him curiously. He was pale all over with silvery blonde hair that was slicked back importantly and his eyes were a cool grey but it was the fact that he seemed to be really unhappy that caught her attention, “I was talking to him, sir.” She said.
Mr. Malfoy gave her a soft smile and she beamed under such attention, knowing that her own father would be very proud of her for being so polite. “What a nice little girl you are. You’re Roxanne Weasley, right?” she nodded and he sent his son a sidelong glance that made Benjamin pale. “You weren’t being rude to her were you?”
Benjamin spluttered. “No! She was the one staring at me being all dopey and cu—I mean, no.” He said hastily while Roxanne grinned at him. His father regarded him curiously before letting it slide and reaching out to pat him on the head, which only humiliated him more, “aw Dad—not in front of the enemy!”
“They’re not the enemy and it’s time to go.” Mr. Malfoy said sternly before glancing at Roxanne again and giving her a welcoming smile. “Feel free to talk to him again. I haven’t seen him this happy in a long time.” And with that, he swept away, black robes rustling and after a slight hesitation, his son gave her a nod.
Roxanne waved him away as he started to turn. “Bye! Let’s play Exploding Snap next time!” and Benjamin’s face turned slack with something that looked really mean before he turned bright red.
“Stupid,” Benjamin snapped but he nodded covertly, ignored his father’s teasing smile and stomped out of the shop. Roxanne felt proud of herself then for overcoming her fear and talking to him and making her very own friend but now—
“You’re not going to faint or something are you?” Benjamin asked her just then and she snapped herself out of her thoughts, blushing deeply. Wariness settled after a moment as his thumb danced playfully over her lower lip and she turned her face away, “did I scare you that bad?”
Roxanne thought that was an understatement to how he was making her feel and she tried to gather her thoughts and churning emotions. “W...what are you doing here, Ben?” she demanded, finally forcing the question out as she turned her face back to his, though she couldn’t see it due to the darkness.
Benjamin seemed to want a closer look at her because there was a faint click, followed by an eerie, grey light that made her eyes hurt. His wand was raised carelessly over her face in his free hand and she was confronted with the first real sight of him that didn’t involve his face being thrust into shadows—
“You still look like a dopey little lump, Weasley.” Benjamin teased.
Roxanne spluttered angrily at the insult and she glared at him for his nerve. He looked as hauntingly attractive as the last time that she had seen him but she couldn’t quite recall the thin scar that was etched into his right eyebrow. “I-I do not! You are such a prick, I’ve grown up!”
“I can tell,” Benjamin whispered and his voice had changed as well, it was still deep but possessed what she would have thought a devil might sound like. “You’ve grown at least three inches since I saw you last.”
“Told you,” Roxanne said smugly.
Benjamin's eyes ran over her slowly. “...I barely recognize you.”
Roxanne heard something bizarre in his voice and she suddenly felt uncomfortable in her modest gown. “A lot of things have changed, you know!” Roxanne snapped as he opened his mouth to say something more, revealing shiny white teeth in the darkness. “Ben, what the hell are you doing here? You weren’t invited!”
Benjamin took a moment to answer as he surveyed her curiously with his wand, the light going over her softly but making her squirm. “Obviously, sweet. Actually, I came all the way here to see you.” He was still caressing her jaw and she found it hard to concentrate, “it’s been a long time since you’ve hissed at me.”
Roxanne flushed at the reminder of how their friendship had ended last year and glared at him. Her irritation dampened her fear, interest and happiness to see him, “You know what you said Benjamin—would you stop that?” she snapped as he stroked the corner of her mouth until her lips became pliant and pouty, “what do you want? I’m not going to ask again.”
The gentle touch on her skin was withdrawn for the moment and he ignored her question, raising his wand and looking around. Roxanne recalled that she’d backed up against a table, her legs aching as the metal pressed into her skin, “What is this place anyway? A museum?” Benjamin asked curiously.
“It’s my granddad’s shed. He collects Muggle things,” Roxanne explained impatiently and Benjamin whistled under his breath, turning his head a little. She saw something shift against his neck and shrieked, “What’s that thing on you?!”
Benjamin burst out laughing and flashed his wand to his shoulder, where a thick braid of black hair hung lazily. He had grown out his long hair to the point where he needed it tied back, “You are such a wimp.” Roxanne glared at him, her heart slowing down. “You like my hair?”
Roxanne recalled that he had been dedicated to growing out the inky black locks the last time they were at Hogwarts, remembering that he had let her run her fingers through it on the grounds while they’d lounged on the Black Lake. The memories brought a hazy flush to her cheeks and she was aware of how much she had actually missed him and the silky strands underneath her fingertips.
“My mum hates it.” Benjamin said with a wry chuckle.
“I dunno, its different I guess.” Roxane muttered.
“I think it makes me look awfully dashing.” Benjamin said with a purr and she blushed so red that he probably could have seen her without his wand. His eyes glowed with impsih delight and she met his stare with a reluctant grin, recognizing the blue-brown hue of his eyes just as she would have her own, “lots of girls seem to like it.”
“And? I’m not one of those stupid girls—”
Roxanne heaved a weary sigh even though her chest was pounding so fiercely that there was a chance her heart might burst. He was still so close to her and she inhaled his scent, the warmth of his body making her head spin, “You're still a prat.” Her voice was nothing more than a mumble.
Benjamin shifted until she felt as if he had swallowed her entire being. Roxanne almost went light headed from the heat of his body, “What do you think you're—Benjamin!” she cried embarrassingly as he bent his head and pressed his lips to her ear, “I don't know if you've noticed but I'm not happy to—”
“I came all this way to see you and this is how I’m treated? You have no idea how long it took me to get through those fucking wards over this place.” Benjamin said with a pout in his voice and his breath washed over and she let out a shuddery sigh, “I just got back not too long ago. Don’t you want to know how my trip to Italy went?”
The last that she had heard, he and his father had decided to move to Italy for a while until some sort of scandal had died down. It had been around that time that their friendship had ended and she hadn’t even heard from him when he’d left—he’d completely ignored her anxious owls.
Roxanne, despite herself had been willing to forgive him if he would just talk to her but he'd never contacted her and she’d left it alone. But she’d often wondered… “You didn’t have to do this. You could have sent me an owl at my place.”
“Yeah, but that’s not nearly as dramatic.” Benjamin snorted, lips on her throat and she pushed at his chest a little, overwhelmed. “I was going to go into that stupid tent but I thought I’d wait in here for a while until the party died down a little and then corner you.”
“My parents would have hexed you!”
Roxanne groaned and he bit down on the skin of her throat in response and she nearly shot out of her shoes. It was so hard to breathe, “B-Ben, you just can’t do whatever you want! Don’t you care about the consequences?!”
Benjamin snorted derisively, his voice like carved steel. “No. Of course I don’t,” he said and she could have kicked him if she’d been able to move properly. “Who would I be if I did?” Roxanne fumed at his nerve but found it suspicious that he had been able to break down the wards to the Burrow so easily.
She felt something uneasy go over her skin, which only caused him to smile. The sight caused her chest to tighten with longing, he had such a nice smile but rarely showed it to anyone, “What?” she asked.
Benjamin continued to smile, assuring her smugly. “I didn’t bribe someone so I could get in, all right? The wards weren’t that strong after a while. It was just a pain in the ass.”
“That’s not true. My Aunt Hermione and Uncle Harry put up those wards themselves and they know a thing or two about protective spells, Benjamin.” Roxanne stated fiercely and he pulled back to stare into her face, as if he found this highly irritating and she pushed at his chest.
“What are they so afraid of anyway?” Benjamin asked idly. “Not like anyone would ever want to hurt the mighty Weasley's and Potters,” he said with an exaggerated sigh.
Roxanne gritted her teeth and said furiously, still pushing at his chest. “No one is taking the risk of something bad happening—not like when my Uncle Bill and Aunt Fleur got married.”
Benjamin rolled his eyes heavenward, she sensed that he found this to be a waste of his time. “They’re not nearly as strong as you think they are, Weasley if I was able to break through them.” Roxanne glowered at his nerve and opened her mouth to cut him down a bit but he went on, “I'll admit that it took awhile but as much as everyone hates me, they can’t say that I’m stupid.”
Roxanne inhaled, annoyance spiking a little at this truth. Despite all the bullying that he had been subjected to in Hogwarts, Benjamin had proven time and again that he was nearly too smart for his own good and had gotten an Outstanding in nearly every class during his OWL year, “So you did break in?”
“Proud of me? See how much I want to see you?” Benjamin asked with a grin and she sighed a little, wondering what he was really up to but feeling her heart nearly exploding with the thought that he had done all of this to be with her. “Thought we’d get a chance to talk,”
“Talk? Oh, about how you were a big fat prick and didn’t even owl me when you and your dad were gone? Or, when you said all of those nasty things about me behind my back?” Roxanne snarled. She pushed at his chest again but he caught her wrists in a powerfully gentle grip and her eyes widened in alarm.
Benjamin could snap her wrists if he wanted to but Roxanne knew that he would never in his life hurt her. “Can’t you forget it, Weasley? It was ages ago and I take it all back.” He whispered and Roxanne snorted. “I never apologize for anything, so what? I thought about you while I was away you know.”
Roxanne felt her heart threatening to crush her but wasn't mature enough to consider that he was telling the truth. “Yeah, I’m sure you remembered this stupid, immature loser that you couldn’t get away from fast enough.” She snapped; hurling his words back at him from that day and he made a sound similar to a growl. “W-what makes you think that I want to talk to you anyway?”
“Trying to say you haven’t missed me, Weasley? You can do a lot better than that you know.” Benjamin said with a frown and Roxanne glared up at him, hating that he appeared so calm. “I’m not going to get my guts ripped out in this smelly place.”
There were a few sounds from outside just then and Roxanne wondered if someone were going to come in or had heard them talking. “Then I’ll do it tomorrow all right?” she spat and his cocky grin nearly had her kneeing him in the groin, “just come by the joke shop. You know where it is!”
Benjamin made a nasty sound, not wanting to be anywhere near her family and she rolled her eyes a little before he requested. “Come over to my place with me tonight.”
“Come on, it’s been ages since you’ve been there. Since I’ve snuck you in anyway,” Benjamin corrected cheekily and Roxanne recalled various instances of being dragged into the Manor, both of them feeling rather pleased with themselves. “Don’t you want to know how I’ve been?” his voice lowered into a whine.
Roxanne frowned. “That's not going to work on me this time!”
Benjamin continued to pout, looking as if he might cry and she had to stop herself from cooing. She hated it when he did that! “Pretty please? Lie to your parents and come away for just a sec. We’ll talk and…”
Roxanne thought feverishly but before she could say anything, there was the sound of the shed door opening and her cousin Dom-Dom’s voice. “R-Roxie? Your m-mum wanted me t-to tell you that its t-time to go home.”
Benjamin stiffened but Roxanne blew out a sigh of nervous relief at the sound of her older cousin’s stutter. “All right! How’d you find me?” she called back and her captor shot her a venomous look.
“Figured you’d w-want to get some air after that d-dance.” Dom-Dom answered simply and Roxanne almost hid her smile but her cousin’s next words brought on a dose of fear. “Can I c-come in? I thought I heard v-voices,”
Roxanne felt a cold sweat go down her back. Benjamin started to smile and she shot him a warning glance but he said loudly. “It's only me, her best friend from Italy!” and there was a gasp from outside, followed by Dom-Dom shoving the door open with a bit more force than was necessary and stumbling inside.
Roxanne surveyed her cousin, noticing her features from the wand light that Benjamin cast at her and she saw a pair of big blue eyes widen. “It’s not what you think!” she found herself crying but with the way Benjamin was leaning over her it would be hard to believe.
Dom-Dom made an embarrassed sound and the loose bun she wore made her silver hair glow like an angel's halo. She was taller than her older sister and although she was very cute, Victoire in comparison had inherited the best characteristics from their parents but no amount of humility.
Roxanne often understood that Dom-Dom felt underrated when standing near her sister and it had made her very much a loner. “Y-you’re th-that M-Malfoy b-boy aren’t y-you?” Dom-Dom finally asked Benjamin with anger, squinting.
“I sure am whichever Weasley you are.” Benjamin responded lazily and Roxanne could have punched him for saying something like that to her cousin, who was insecure enough as it was. “Mind leaving us alone?”
Dom-Dom surprised Roxanne by saying coldly. “No.”
Roxanne pushed at Benjamin with a bit more force and he finally stepped back so that she could slip away from him. Every inch of her was heated from where their bodies had touched, “You need to leave.” She hisse and he merely stared at her in amusement.
“Hear me out first and then maybe I’ll leave like a good little boy.” Benjamin whispered conspiratorially and Dom-Dom made a nasty sound underneath her breath, stepping closer to Roxanne. Benjamin shot her a glance,“relax whomever you are, I’m not going to eat her.”
That was the word that was unsaid and Roxanne slid a glance at Dom-Dom to see if she had sensed it as well but her eyes were narrowed on Benjamin. None of her cousins had ever liked him and they had never seen why she had spent so much time with him—it didn’t simply have to do with his last name.
There was something predatory about Benjamin and Roxanne now admitted that she had never felt afraid of him before. “I’m g-getting Uncle Harry and your d-dad,” Dom-Dom said with a determined frown.
Before Roxanne could say anything that might difuse the tense situation, Dom-Dom had already turned away, the door shutting behind her with a faint click. Roxanne knew that her cousin expected her to follow but she stayed put and eyed Benjamin with a mixture of exasperation and need, “You just made a mess out of everything.”
“I wasn't trying to but there's just something so funny about the way your cousins act, it's impossible not to act like the boogey man.” Benjamin replied with a chuckle that made it hard not to smile. “I've tried talking to them, I've tried wearing cologne so I don't smell as if I've just bathed in the souls of the damned but they're still afraid of me.”
Roxanne ran her eyes over his imposing frame. “You are pretty intimidating,”
Benjamin's voice turned soft. “I've never scared you, though.”
“You're nothing to be afraid of.” Roxanne said dryly.
“Are you sure about that?” Benjamin asked devilishly.
Roxanne shivered faintly. “O..of course I'm sure!”
There was something about him now that was different and Roxanne couldn't quite put it into words. A coldness had entered where there had once been warmth and she wondered what had happened to change him, “You've never hesitated to run off with me before for any of our pranks. Why is tonight any different?” Benjamin asked her curiously. “I came all the way to see you.”
“I didn't ask you to.” Roxanne said sharply.
“But you wanted me to.” Benjamin remarked calmly.
It was the truth.
Roxanne hated him for understanding her but he would never know just how terrible the past year had been for her. She had missed him so much that it had physically hurt and there were too many grim days to count, “You could have sent me an owl or just stopped by the shop like a normal person.” Benjamin raised his brows. “I haven't seen you in a long time but I guess I can—”
“Come to my place?” Benjamin interrupted gently, his eyes caressing every inch of her in a way that made her feel indecently pleased. Roxanne swallowed roughly and sensed that the decision might not be the best one but she had missed him so much...seeing him in the depths of her dreams wasn't the same as in person. Roxanne succumbed with a faint nod, wondering why she couldn’t tell him no.
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