Chapter 3 : Stealth and Lies
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With her heart pounding, Roxanne turned her back on Benjamin but she could feel the heat of his gaze going over her neck and slowly down, as if he were touching her with indecent expectation. Flushing, she said sternly, surprised by how much her voice wasn’t shaking. “I’ll come with you but you have to wait a while until I can sneak out.”
“How long?” Benjamin asked her softly, quietly and his voice slithered and coiled around her until she thought that she wasn’t able to breathe. “Are you going to still be here?” he asked, perhaps thinking that she was going to sleaze away out of her flat and meet him somewhere in Diagon Alley, like she had so many other times before.
Roxanne turned slightly to look at him, unnerved that he had moved so close to her without her hearing his footsteps. For someone so big, he moved like a cat and it was an unwelcome experience, even though she should have been used to it by now, when he had always found it upon himself to sneak up on her and scare her when they’d been at Hogwarts. “I’m staying the night with my grandparents. I’ll sneak out after everyone is asleep and meet you back out here but you have to make sure no one sees you!” she snapped.
Benjamin considered this for a moment or two, as if he were highly amused. He probably was when he despised so many of her cousins for personal reasons that he had never quite shared with her and after a moment he ran his tongue slowly over his lower lip and her eyes flicked to the movement against her own will, “Weasley, are you trying to tell me you don’t think I can do a simple Disillusionment Charm?”
“Don’t talk to me like I’m stupid. I didn’t know you could,” Roxanne bit out sharply and his eyebrows shot up in mock surprise. There was no telling what was on his mind and that worried her a little and she thought for a second more on whether or not she should go with him tonight…after all, it had been a whole year since she had seen him and the last time she had, they hadn’t been on good terms. But— “If you’d have sent me an owl or two while you’d been away I probably would be happier to see you.”
Benjamin barked a laugh and it sounded rueful and annoyed. He moved towards her a little bit more and she took a step back, warily eyeing him as if he were a snake, “Don’t be scared, Weasley. I’m not the horrible person everyone says I am you know.”
“Ben, sarcasm doesn’t suit anyone.” Roxanne said dryly. That caused him to burst out laughing and she flushed annoyingly, “I have to catch up with my cousin all right? Go somewhere and hide for a while. Don’t come back to the shed, Dom-Dom might bring someone over here,” she warned but Benjamin seemed oblivious to this concern and ran his eyes down her form for a moment before giving her a soft, disarming smile. She almost forgot what she’d meant to say but worked around it firmly, hating how he could make her do that, “It’ll be a minute but don’t leave without me.”
At that, he reached out and touched a stray strand of her curly hair and she scowled. It seemed to please him though because he said gently, “When have I ever left without you when I wanted to see you?” he asked and Roxanne opened her mouth to say something to that but he had never abandoned her. It had only been recently that he’d stopped talking to her, “relax, Weasley. You should probably go after that stuttering cousin of yours.”
“Don’t make fun of Dom-Dom.” Roxanne warned sharply, smacking his hand away with more force than she’d thought capable of and he rolled his eyes, finding this overdramatic. “She’s a nice girl and you’re just…” she thought about it and he raised his brows, which were as black as the rest of his hair, so black that it reminded her of midnight, “There isn’t even a word for what you are.”
Benjamin laughed of course and she shot him a dirty look before gathering herself and leaving the shed, his light footprints swallowing her own. The tent was still glowing with light and even from here, Roxanne could hear music and happy laughter and for a moment she envied them, wishing that she could go and join her family once again but it was impossible.
With her strange friend hovering around the grounds of the Burrow, she wouldn’t be able to pretend around her family, they knew her a bit too well, especially Molly and her brother, “I’ll be around Weasley.” The sound of his voice so close to her ear caused her to jump but when she turned around, he wasn’t there.
He’d melted easily into the darkness.
Unsettled, Roxanne looked around frantically for a sign of Dom-Dom and caught a figure walking determinedly down a hill, halfway to the tent and she cursed fluently before chasing after her, her heart hammering a little with each step. “Dom-Dom, wait!”
Her younger cousin turned her head at the sound of her voice and halted, though she looked rather annoyed when Roxanne gripped her upper arm. “Wh-what i-is it R-Roxie?” she asked calmly, her big blue eyes going over her face, “d-did th-that M-Malfoy boy h-hurt y-you?”
“No, of course not,” Roxanne said defensively and her cousin narrowed her eyes a little, looking around the dark grass for some sign of Benjamin. She had no idea where he had gone but that wasn’t the issue right now, “I don’t want you to tell my dad or Uncle Harry that he was here, all right?”
“W-why? H-he’s not s-supposed t-to b-be.” Dom-Dom said with severe dislike and Roxanne wondered if there were few people her cousin did like and she could barely think of any. She was a loner and there was usually nothing that got her to talking to strangers, if at all, “I-I d-don’t l-like h-him.”
Roxanne swallowed hard and slowly released her cousin’s thin arm and watched as she ran her fingers down her dress for something to do. “No one does but he’s my friend and I’ll handle it.” She knew she sounded as if she were in control of the situation but in truth, there was nothing about Benjamin that she could handle, he was like a force of nature.
“H-he f-freaks m-me out,” Dom-Dom said to her and Roxanne was surprised by this admission and she watched her cousin gnawing on her lower lip for a second. “I-I d-don’t l-like t-the w-way he l-looks at y-you.” Roxanne didn’t really like it either but her skin warmed as if trying to mock her, “h-he’s l-like a-a n-nasty c-cat and y-you’re th-the m-mouse.”
Roxanne knew that her cousin was right and she couldn’t remember a time when she hadn’t felt like that around Benjamin herself. But some part of her didn’t want him to ever leave her and she closed her eyes sharply against the thought that he had already, without a care for her, “I know he’s sort of…”
When she faltered for words, Dom-Dom supplied them for her. “C-creepy,” Roxanne laughed. “Y-you’re n-not g-going a-anywhere w-with h-him a-are y-you?” she asked with a frown, “y-you sh-should b-be m-more c-careful R-Roxie.”
A bit annoyed by the words and thinking that she could, at least, take care of herself; Roxanne frowned a little and Dom-Dom eyed her warily. “I’m just going to tell him to go home but you don’t need to tell my dad or Uncle Harry about it. They’ll just make a big fuss over nothing, I mean, my dad knows Benjamin, he’s been coming to the shop for years.” But he’d never liked him much either, having said, on one occasion that he’d sort of freaked him out.
“S-so? H-he’s a p-prat and I-I t-think h-he’s s-sneaky,” Dom-Dom said tightly and Roxanne thought that she was being awfully observant and sort of hated it even while she knew the words were true. Some silly part of her wanted to defend Benjamin because he had his moments of being extremely kind and on some days at Hogwarts he’d even been as sensitive as any other kid but no one else saw that but her. “A-are y-you s-sure y-you c-can h-handle th-this?”
Roxanne nodded firmly. “I’ll get rid of him. He just came to see me, but I’ll make him send an owl.” Dom-Dom looked worried, annoyed and doubtful all at once and she didn’t blame her. Could she hear her heart hammering at the thought of seeing Benjamin again? It was a guilty sensation and she didn’t precisely welcome it, even as her cheeks flamed, “let’s go back to the party and I’ll find my mom and dance with you before we go inside.”
“Y-your m-mum t-told m-me t-to t-tell y-you th-that y-you’re g-going h-home t-to g-get some cl-clothes,” Dom-Dom explained and Roxanne felt a smile creeping up because they were, in fact going to bother her grandparents for a while longer. Breakfast tomorrow would be interesting and she wasn’t sure how much of her parents they could stand but considering that their Gran had raised her father and Uncle Fred, anything could be tolerated. “I-I w-wish I-I c-could st-stay too.”
“Why don’t you?” Roxanne asked as they neared the tent.
Dom-Dom frowned a little. “T-Toire h-has t-to g-get u-up e-early f-for a b-ballet a-audition.” Her older sister took lessons and was hoping from what Roxanne knew to join a company after she left Hogwarts, “I-I d-don’t e-even w-want t-to g-go.”
“Maybe after its over you can come back over here or you can come with me to Uncle Percy’s to see Molly and Lucy.” Roxanne offered softly and her cousin nodded eagerly. Somehow, Lucy and Dom-Dom got along very well while she and Molly usually talked or went swimming in the ocean, which was where her parents’ cottage was, only a few miles from Uncle Bill and Aunt Fleur’s.
While they walked though, Roxanne felt a shudder going down her back and she instinctively turned around only to meet a blank, dark landscape. A chill went over her skin and she knew, without staring for too long into the darkness that Benjamin had followed and stood apart from them, somewhere on the grounds and his gaze was like a white hot brand on her skin. Eventually, she turned around but his gaze fastened on her heatedly until a pulse of excitement thrummed in her chest, dancing to its own rhythm.
Roxanne’s heart was still pounding.
It had been an hour or so since her parents had taken them home and they’d gotten some extra clothes and items before going back to the Burrow and by then, the tent had been taken apart and the music had faded into her memory like a pleasant echo.
Her grandparent’s house was finally quiet and she had waited until her parents had stopped playing Gobstones down the hall before slipping out of her pajamas and putting on some fresh clothes in the bathroom.
She was supposed to be staying in Aunt Ginny’s old room while her brother stayed in Uncle Ron’s (She had a feeling that he just wanted to send letters to Leanne) and she didn’t think anyone would bother her.
Roxanne didn’t wake up until noon on most days and her parents had decided that they would stay until late in the afternoon instead of leaving in the morning so they all could go visit Uncle Percy and Aunt Audrey. The weather was still very warm and she was anticipating going into the ocean for a nice swim but currently she peeked out of the bathroom door with her pajamas in her arms and angled her head.
Someone was snoring loudly and she giggled a little, knowing that it had to be her grandfather and slipped out, her feet heavier than usual because of the boots she was wearing.
Hoping that no one would hear her or get up for a late morning snack, Roxanne hastily walked back to Aunt Ginny’s room, opened the door and crossed to the bed, where she lumped her covered and pillows up. It wasn’t the stealthiest way to trick her family but she didn’t think that she would be over at Benjamin’s long, not when it was already early morning and she supposed that her makeshift puppet would have to do.
After shrugging into a pink jacket and zipping it up, Roxanne walked over to a mirror and checked her appearance for any flaws. After a moment she found only her bright eyed expression and her smooth brown skin staring back.
Bashfully, she hoped that Benjamin would notice how much she had grown and she ran her hands over her stomach, wishing that she could be as rail thin as Victoire and Molly but doubting that her love of sweets would allow for it. The tank top, mini skirt and tights made the most out of her figure and she thanked the lord that she played Quidditch so regularly while briefly looking at her butt and deciding that it couldn’t get any bigger.
With a sigh, she trooped towards the window on the far side of the room, opened it carefully and glanced outside. There was nothing but nighttime air, the sounds of gnomes in the grass and the sweet smell of grass. It was a relaxing moment and she climbed out, glad that her grandmother had got a trellis for her roses last year despite the fact that they hardly ever grew.
It was a shaky descent but she managed not to fall and after wishing herself some luck, hopped off the last few feet and landed easily on her toes, glad that all the Quidditch practices and her experience with sneaking out was on her side. Energized and pleased with herself, she walked back to towards the shed, knowing that Benjamin would be close by and listened to the buzzing of insects and the hoot of an owl making its way out the window where her brother supposedly slept.
Rolling her eyes at the thought of what excuse he would make later if he were caught, Roxanne grinned to herself and looked around in the darkness, trying to make out Benjamin’s tall, imposing shape. She didn’t see him right away but when a light went off she let out a slight shriek that hastily died as he clamped a hand over her mouth, moving so swiftly that she hadn’t even heard his footsteps in the grass. “Weasley, relax. It’s just me,” he whispered, sounding annoyed.
Roxanne relaxed only marginally and he removed his hand from her mouth long enough for her to swallow hard and look up at him. He was holding his wand over her, looking aggravated, “Why do you have to hide in the dark like that? You could have just come out and said something.”
“Where’s the fun in that?” Benjamin asked her with a wolfish grin that made her shiver. He surveyed her quickly and quirked one of his black brows, “you walk around like that all the time, Weasley?” she felt his eyes lingering on her legs and blushed.
“I have grown up Benjamin, in case you haven’t noticed.” Roxanne said smartly and he rolled his eyes a little, his gaze flicking away from her legs and settling onto her chest. “And stop looking at my chest!” she snapped, covering herself.
It made her feel like a little kid and he laughed quietly, the sound low and deep. “Not used to blokes staring at your massive chest, Weasley? Bet you haven’t even been kissed since I’ve been gone.” Benjamin jeered unkindly and she glared at him. He proceeded to say, with careful malice, “I offered to give you your first kiss but you got all mad at me.”
Roxanne flushed furiously at the memory. She’d been having a private conversation with Molly at the Great Lake and after her cousin had walked off to get to class he had appeared, making fun of her, “Shut up! I’ve been kissed a lot since then you know!”
“By who, your dad?” Benjamin asked nastily.
“No, I’ve had boyfriends!” Roxanne spat. Benjamin’s eyes narrowed and a strange look passed over his face. “You’ve been gone for a year, not thinking about me at all. Just because you’re my friend doesn’t mean that I was not going to date or turn down every guy that was interested in me.”
Benjamin made a nasty sound with his mouth and she knew that he was recalling all the nasty things he had said about her behind her back. Stupid, affectionate little Roxanne Weasley, she thought with venom and suddenly she didn’t think she wanted to be around him, “Whatever, Weasley. I don’t feel like arguing with you about that stupid shit right now. Outside, where anyone can see us,”
Roxanne crossed her arms and turned her nose up at him. “Then go without me. I think I’ve changed my mind.” She heard him chuckling and glanced to see his tall shape walking ahead without her, “wait!” she cried before she could stop herself, immediately following him.
“Thought you didn’t want to come?” Benjamin asked smugly as he glanced down into her upturned face. Roxanne scowled, “changed your mind again, I see.” He said with a grin and she harrumphed and ignored him even as he wrapped an arm around her shoulders and kissed her cheek, “Weasley, what on earth would life be like without you?”
“Oh, shut up and stop giving me the look!” Roxanne bit out as he softened his expression to such a degree that it was almost sickening. “You get on my nerves!” she snapped even as she started to smile. Benjamin, pleased, looked away and she asked, “Where are we going?”
Benjamin helped her over a dead log as they moved further and further away from her grandparent’s house and into the throng of trees. “Where I broke in at,” he said. “The wards haven’t been brought back up so it shouldn’t take us long to get out and Disapparate to my place,” he said with bored intelligence. Dom-Dom had kept her word and hadn’t told Uncle Harry or any other adult but Roxanne heard him say, “Seems like your family hardly even noticed that they were down.”
Roxanne didn’t want to mention that her family members had been a little too merry and drunk to notice, which was a little odd for Uncle Harry. He was always worrying about everything but she supposed that he’d relaxed more than he usually would have tonight, “Shut up.” She bit out.
Benjamin sneered a little but stopped her as she felt a strange pressure on her limbs. They had reached the wards blocking them from leaving and Roxanne found her eyes sweeping over the small clearing devoid of animals and shivered. “Take my hand and hold on, Weasley. I don’t want to lose you,” he said while stepping through a wavering spot in the center and holding out his calloused palm for her.
Roxanne watched the area swallow him up, his hand still outstretched eerily before her. He was watching her intently from the other side, a blurred shape of muscle and lines, “I don’t want to lose you either,” she whispered under her breath and without hesitating another moment, she took his hand and let him pull her through.
Hope you enjoyed this and let me know what you think! You know, type in that little box at the end. (Hint, hint)
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