A/N: Hello everyone! I'm so glad that you've come back and please enjoy this latest chapter and uhm, don't hate me for it.
Benjamin’s hand still felt the same after all this time. Roxanne’s fingers curled against his so easily that she felt an electric zing go up her arm and shot him a glance in the fading dark but if he felt it too, he didn’t comment and her eagerness to be with him blurred with the truth.
Their fingers clasped so easily as he pulled her throught he broken wards and spells, a slight pressure leaving her as she was pulled gently onto the other side, which was more forest, trees and a few streams thrown along.
Benjamin didn’t say anything but dropped her hand after a moment or so, looking away from her and smiling to himself, as if he had something naughty planned that he couldn’t wait to show her and he said, “Come on. We’ll walk a ways and then I’ll Disapparate from here, just to be sure.”
“All right,” Roxanne replied calmly, though her heart was pounding like a drum. Her fingers were a little sweaty and she rubbed them on her thighs and saw his eyes flicker over her a little while his wand waved around the area for intruders, even though they were the imposters here, “I don’t think anyone saw me leave.”
Benjamin scanned the area once more and she saw his wand flare with a strange, gold light before it faded, reduced to the same silvery light as before. When she sent him a questioning look, he explained, “Homenum revelio. It reveals human presence but it’s pretty useless here since a Muggle village is nearby,”
Roxanne smiled at him, genuinely impressed and he had the audacity to turn a bit pink. “What are you blushing about?” she asked and he snorted and turned away, “you know, you’re always so grumpy. You’re like an old man.”
“And you think I’m sexy so what does that say about you?” Benjamin shot back smartly, his eyes flashing with laughter. Roxanne had to cover her mouth to stop the giggles that nearly burst up, “you’re a dirty, dirty girl Weasley.” He said with a grin before motioning her closer, “come on, we should get going.”
Roxanne followed him without hesitation, nearly forgetting all of the things that he had said about her behind her back. It caused the slightest sting in her chest at the memory but she fought it down, knowing that underneath it all she had missed him and had needed to know how he had been doing, so far away in Italy last year.
He hadn’t sent her any owls when he and his father had gone because of some scandal that had been whispered about at her own dinner table. Though of course not while her parents thought she was listening and despite her snooping, she had never discovered what it had been.
People hushed up scandals and mishaps rather quickly in the Ministry, just like they always had and she pondered weakly if Benjamin would finally open up to her about it, somehow understanding that it might be like trying to catch fog.
Although she’d known him for years and they had been close, in their own strange way, it had been hard to get Benjamin to reveal the details of his life, the information and reality always causing him to fold in on himself.
The Malfoy name was still held with the sort of disdain and suspicion that had caused many former Death Eaters to either leave the country or bury themselves in mundane and trivial lives that they had never been accustomed to before.
Roxanne knew this much from her Aunt Hermione, who was an important figure in the Ministry and often talked about the changes that the new laws had brought onto former Death Eaters or old supports of Voldemort’s regime. Despite it all, Mr. Malfoy was, in her opinion, a good man.
He held charities and benefits for families and children that had lost or been deprived during the War and he had even opened endless accounts from his own personal family vault to rebuild Hogwarts.
No one wanted to openly admit that they appreciated it of course and the hatred and distaste for the man still simmered beneath the surface and it wouldn’t take much to start it all over again.
Roxanne had never grasped how difficult it must have been for Benjamin, the oldest son returning to Hogwarts and having that sort of stain and burden hanging over his head.
Her cousins and brother had never understood why she talked to him in the first place but none of them understood that she couldn’t help it, there was something about him that tethered and pulled at her and she had stopped fighting it a long time ago.
“What’s wrong with you lump?” Benjamin’s voice seemed to come out of nowhere and Roxanne, who had been crying on a bench near Quality Quidditch Supplies on a bleary afternoon, glanced up. “I thought I recognized you,” he said awkwardly, his eyes settling on her curly hair.
Roxanne stared up at him in awe, wondering how his shadow was able to stretch and shield her so effortlessly. His blue-brown eyes were curious and his black hair was hanging past his ears and he still looked a little mean and her cheeks turned pink but she didn’t immediately reply, “Benjamin?”
Benjamin shrugged lazily. “Who else would I be?” that was true, there weren’t a lot of boys his age that were this big and Roxanne swallowed hard. It had been a while since she had seen him and she didn’t want to admit that she had been going down to the shop every day for the past two weeks looking and searching for his tall, imposing shape, “you’ve got snot all over your shirt.” He said, distracting her.
Roxanne sniffled and wiped at her nose with her sleeve and he made a face before sitting beside her patiently, his eyes flicking warily over her. “Sorry,”
“It’s not my snot,” Benjamin said with a grimace as she sniffled. “What’s wrong with you?”
Roxanne hesitated but he waited patiently and she eventually explained. “I was playing hide-and-seek with some kids and this girl that was supposed to find me called me a really bad word.” The girl, Rachel Travers was a snobby little brat that had always hated her and lived with her parents above some fancy panty shop (Her brother said her mum made lingerie, whatever that was) on the other side of Diagon Alley.
Benjamin was silent for a moment or two before he asked carefully. “What’d she call you?” Roxanne shook her head but he prodded her forcefully until she finally voiced the nasty word out loud and his eyes flashed with disgust and anger. “What’d you do after she called you that word?” he asked sharply.
“I punched her in the nose.” Roxanne said firmly and he burst out laughing, apparently startled that she would do something like that. It was a known fact that she had her father’s temper, “It started bleeding and she ran away.”
“Then why are you crying?”
Roxanne glanced at him before saying with a sniffle, her eyes stinging. “People call me bad words all the time when they think I can’t hear.” She felt her lips trembling, trying to block out the memory of cruel words that had made her cry in the past. “They say I’m not a Weasley because my mum is black and I’m black,”
Benjamin hesitated uncomfortably before reminding her. “Your dad’s whiter than milk,”
“But my skin is brown.” She said while touching her arm and showing it to him. He pinched her lightly but didn’t comment, “My mum said it’s nothing to be ashamed of and I’m not, it’s just, people always say nasty things about me,” Roxanne said with another sniffle. Benjamin was silent for a while and she continued on with a frown, “my cousin Molly and Lucy are the only ones who understand. Their mum’s Chinese and people talk about them behind their backs too.”
There was a slight silence that was only broken by the sound of footsteps and various other noises from the shops and restaurants around them. Diagon Alley was always flooded with noise, especially in the afternoon and Benjamin eventually said with a grimace, “I know what that’s like.” Roxanne stared at him doubtfully. “I’m not my dad’s real son you know.”
Roxanne was surprised. “You’re not?”
“I’m adopted. My real parents didn’t want me,” Benjamin replied curtly, glaring at her as if she might say something to that. When she did nothing more than smile weakly at him, his face turned red and he looked away in a hurry, “and everyone hates my dad because he was a bad person.”
“He’s not anymore though. Your dad is very nice.” Roxanne pointed out with a confused expression while his shoulder brushed against hers. She felt her cheeks turn pink, “it doesn’t matter if he’s not your real dad.”
Apparently no one had told him this before because he stared down at her in surprise before pinching her cheek and tugging on it until she squealed. “Yeah, I guess so, lump.” He said with a grin before he let her go and she rubbed her skin, “and it doesn’t matter if you don’t look like your other cousins, okay? Just punch whoever says it in the face.”
Roxanne nodded firmly. “Okay,” and then she swallowed. “I don’t want to get in trouble for doing it though. My mum says I’m not supposed to fight. She hates fighting,”
“Well, sometimes you have to fight. Sometimes people really need a fist in the face,” Benjamin remarked and she laughed. He appeared pleased, “so don’t feel bad about it. I won’t tell anyone.”
Roxanne felt relieved and bubbly. “Why are you here anyway?”
“My mum wanted me to come to work with her. She owns a real fancy robe store,” Benjamin said with a hint of pride. Roxanne looked interested as he continued on, “it’s called Beauty Within,”
“I’ve been there. I didn’t know that she was your mum,” Roxanne replied, thinking of the nice lady that had always helped her find the nicest colors. It was always really busy there, even busier than Madame Malkin’s and that had once been the best place to buy robes, “I like her. Her belly’s all big too,”
Benjamin flushed pink but frowned, biting back a smile. “She had another baby.” Roxanne looked curious because she had always been around babies since she had so many cousins, “I have a baby brother and sister. Mum says she’s still fat and it makes her all sad and stuff. My dad thinks it’s funny,”
“Because…” Benjamin flushed and snapped embarrassingly. “It’s none of your business!” Roxanne flinched and he said hastily, swallowing hard. “My dad doesn’t smile a lot, he’s always really sad.”
There was a slight pause and Roxanne kicked her legs underneath the bench for something to do, humming and singing nothing in particular. Benjamin stared at her in rapt fascination and horror, “How come you’re not with your mum?” she asked eventually.
Benjamin hesitated a little but she watched him reaching up and lightly touching her hair. She gave him a confused look and he lowered his hand quickly. “I told her I wanted to get something to eat and I saw you crying.”
Roxanne smiled at him, flushed with happiness. “It was nice of you to talk to me,”
“So, that’s what friends do.”
“Whatever,” Benjamin grumbled and they fell into an easy silence. When Roxanne wiped at her eyes a bit more to get rid of any evidence of tears, he angled his head at her and said awkwardly, “you like flowers Weasley?”
Roxanne blinked in surprise. “Yeah, I guess so. Why?”
Benjamin surprised her by taking out his wand and she had a feeling that he wasn’t supposed to be carrying it around with him. “Everyone says that girls like stuff like that. Dad says it makes my mum stop crying when he makes her sad so…” he watched her eyes light up. “Don’t think it’s because I like you or anything okay?!”
“Okay,” Roxanne said soberly, flinching.
Benjamin glared at her a little, turning pink before swishing his wand and saying. “Orchideous!” and she was startled to see a flare of daisies burst from the tip and explode around them like fireworks, “damn. I’m only twelve but Flitwick said that’s an easy spell,”
Roxanne picked the clumps up from the bench and placed them in her lap happily. “They’re so pretty! But you’re not supposed to use magic outside of school!” Benjamin shrugged. “You’ll get into trouble!”
“So?” Benjamin countered and she couldn’t come up with anything else to say to that and he grinned at her impishly. When she raised one of the daisies to her nose, he surprised her by taking a few and putting them behind her ear, “there. Now you’re not sad anymore, right?”
Roxanne grinned at him. “Nope!” when he turned away, grumbling and red in the face she asked him eagerly, “you wanna help me put cherry bombs in some bathrooms? I was gonna do it with my brother but he’s with his friend Teddy Lupin today.”
Benjamin looked extremely interested. “Okay,” he mumbled and she hopped off the bench and he held out his hand for her and when she stared at it stupidly, he snapped. “You’ll get lost, walking around here by yourself, okay? And I’m hungry. I want something to eat.”
“You’ll buy me something too?” Roxanne asked happily, slipping her hand in his. He shrugged and she smiled, overcome by how nice it was to hold his hand as he led her away—
“You space out like that a lot, Weasley?” Benjamin’s deep voice intruded into her thoughts like a whip and she jerked sharply, surprised to find that they had wandered quite a ways from the comfort of the Burrow. Leaves crunched under their feet and she glanced behind his tall form and saw that the sky was streaked with weak flashes of color, the day threatening to begin.
Roxanne frowned but cut her eyes to his annoyingly. “I get it from my mum. She does it a lot too,” she didn’t explain that her father had told her that her mother did it when something traumatic from her past collided with the present. It was bad enough that her hands still shook and even though neither of her parents would explain, it wasn’t hard to ignore the sounds of their screams at night when a nightmare gripped them, “I was just thinking of the time I saw you again when we were little, after you saw me crying about Rachel Travers?”
Benjamin looked as if he didn’t recall it but she thought she saw a flash of color flash over his cheeks, though it was hard to tell with it still shadowy and dark. His hand tightened around hers as if willing whatever thoughts in his mind away, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, lump,” he muttered.
“But you have to remember! I punched that bitch Rachel Travers in the nose,” Roxanne said with renewed displeasure at the thought of the girl. She was a year or so younger than Benjamin and a Slytherin so he knew her and had told her on more than one occasion that she was a hag, “she thinks she’s so special just because her mum owns some stupid lingerie shop.”
Benjamin’s lips, which were a bit full, tilted up a bit. “She is a bitch, I’ll give you that one, Weasley.” They walked for a while longer until Roxanne’s feet began to hurt from her boots and she looked around every now and then, thinking that someone or something would spot them. There was only the hoot of owls, the scratching of various small mammals and the curious eyes of gnomes, “but she’s a damn good Quidditch player.”
He said this slyly and Roxanne shot him a furious glance before shrugging her shoulders and feeling only the slightest press of his eyes along her throat. When she spoke, her voice held a faint tremor, “She’s not that good of a Chaser you know, my brother can ride circles around her.” She proclaimed arrogantly and Benjamin rolled his eyes heavenward, “she’s too cocky and hardly ever pays attention, which is why that Bludger almost smacked her in the face last year,”
Of course, the girl had ranted and hissed that Roxanne had sent the Bludger flying at her on purpose but it had never been proven.
Quidditch was almost sacred to her and she didn’t cheat and hadn’t forgiven the wretch for the lie, no matter if they hated one another with a passion, “And you still claim you didn’t do it, huh?” Benjamin asked teasingly and she gawped at him in mock outrage and caused him to laugh. His laughter made the hair on the back of her neck rise a little with pleasure, “it’s not really your style anyway, even if you can beat me up.”
“Ben, you’re twice my size!” Roxanne said with a laugh. She had never been able to beat him up and he knew it but she’d given him enough tongue lashings over the years to leave his ears ringing, “and maybe if you weren’t such a prat all the time I wouldn’t have to put you in your place.”
Benjamin roared with laughter and she saw that there was something almost carnal in his gaze when he flicked his eyes back to hers. Roxanne’s cheeks turned scarlet, not understanding but feeling that strange, almost painful tug, “You can put me in my place anytime you like, sweet.”
Roxanne scowled, flushing. “N-no thanks,” she muttered and he laughed again. Benjamin had been with more girls than she could even tick off her fingers and toes and she, like always, felt a bit of envy pooling around her heart when she thought of someone else occupying his time. “Just be warned right now that I’m not going to rob Honeydukes with you this time, okay?”
“How come?” Benjamin questioned with surprise while kicking a gnome out of his way easily with what Roxanne noticed were dragon hide boots like the kind her Uncle Bill still wore. “Is it because of the Wanted posters or the fact that we’re banned?” he pressed curiously, naming two of the reasons why Roxanne could never go back into the sweet shop on Hogsmeade trips.
They had been caught once or twice, shoveling cartons of chocolate and gummy trolls into knapsacks by the furious owner and Roxanne’s parents had grounded her for a month. The fact that they’d done the same thing at her age had been beside the point of course, “That’s mainly the reason. And plus, I can’t stay out all morning with you, I have to go over my aunt and uncles later.”
Benjamin appeared thoughtful, though there was a little frown of displeasure on his face as if he couldn’t believe she had other plans that didn’t include him.
Roxanne waited for him to say something but he stayed silent as they continued walking and she took a minute or two to study him, taking in the hard planes and angles of his face and the heavy black hair that was tied in a thick braid down his back.
Things had changed a lot for him in the past year, she knew this just from these quick assessments and her eyes strayed upward to the scar on his right eyebrow, wondering where and how it had happened. “Why’re you staring?” he demanded after a while.
“I was wondering where you got that scar, you know,” Roxanne reached up on the tips of her toes and gently ran her fingers along his eyebrow, tracing the mark. His skin too, she noted faintly, was deeply tanned and she could imagine him suddenly basking in the Italian sun— “how’d you get it?” she asked, swallowing shallowly when she retracted her fingers.
Benjamin reached up and touched the spot with a rueful grin. His eyes were slanted away from her as he replied evasively, “A cat got me.” And when Roxanne appeared incredibly doubtful, he asked with a slyness that made her uncomfortable, “Do you really want to know about all my scars, Weasley? I’ve got a few on my back that are really, really something.”
Roxanne blushed, catching what he meant easily and frowned up at him. “Don’t talk to me like that, I told you once before. I’m not one of those girls that you fool around with and dump, all right?” Benjamin raised his hand to fend her off, the other still clutching his lit wand lazily, “I don’t care about all the stupid girls that you’ve been with!”
“You do,” Benjamin said with a slow, arrogant smile that cast his features into the sort of handsomeness that should be damned to Hell. Roxanne felt her cheeks flaming furiously even while she turned away and jutted her chin upwards, too stubborn to admit to the truth, “just admit it Weasley, I’m your dream lover.”
“Oh, please!” Roxanne found herself shrieking, outraged and trying not to laugh. The expression on his face was simpering and seductive but ridiculously overdone, “you’re too cocky for your own good! Not every girl faints and swoons at the sight of you!”
Benjamin shrugged his shoulders—shoulders that she noted were obnoxiously broad to match the rest of his large frame.
While he was taller and wider than any of the other boys that she knew and even her brother and cousins, Roxanne knew from eavesdropping on older girls like Miranda Patil that there wasn’t an ounce of fat on him, just lean, rippling muscle. The thought made her blush all the harder, “Come on Weasley, tell me you don’t love it,” he said to her now, waggling his eyebrows.
Roxanne giggled and swatted at him. “Shut up! I don’t—get away,” she cried breathlessly as he tried to wrap one of his arms around her and pull her close. It did little good since her foot snagged on a branch and he eventually had his way and nuzzled into her throat, “prat! Let me go!” she demanded, laughing and shoving at him.
For the briefest of moments she felt his mouth trailing along her throat, hinting at a kiss on her pulse before he pulled away, taking in her suddenly stunned expression.
Pleasure had buzzed like whispers down her skin and she had to blink rapidly to clear her suddenly empty mind, “Just admit it Weasley.” Benjamin murmured with a darkly pleased expression on his face that escaped her. “Come on, take my hand.”
Still a little unsettled, Roxanne reached out and took his hand and felt that strange and uncomfortable pull behind her belly button. She wasn’t the biggest fan of Disapparation and much preferred her broom but Benjamin was in control and she thought that there wasn’t anything that could get the better of him that he couldn’t bend or mold to his liking.
With that bouncing in her skull, she shut her eyes, gripped his hand tightly and felt themselves vanish with a distinct pop that marked the trees and grounds around them.
“You can open your eyes, Weasley. The worst is over,” Benjamin’s deep rumble of a voice was enough to startle Roxanne and cause her eyes to open. Disapparation usually left her feeling rather dizzy and she automatically placed her hand at her stomach to stop the churning and bubbling, “you all right?”
Roxanne nodded shakily, her throat suddenly a bit sore. She didn’t want him to think that she couldn’t handle herself, she had to appear mature and composed and yet her stomach was bubbling, “I just hate traveling that way.” The slight tremor in her voice betrayed her and Benjamin chuckled.
“I’ll get you some water but just as a warning, Weasley, don’t throw up. I’d rather not have to clean it all up,” Benjamin said with a teasing glint in his eyes as she turned her face up to his. There was only the faintest of lights around them and when she looked away, seeking the source, he explained, “I left a few lights on before I went to get you.”
Roxanne decided to ignore the smugness in his tone and felt a flush creeping into her cheeks over the fact that she had indeed come against what might have been best. They hadn’t seen each other in a year after all and she could still hear his mocking words ringing like bells in her ears—words that had hurt her to hear and had ruined whatever friendship they’d had, “Don’t look so confident. I won’t be staying long,” she said crisply.
Benjamin eyed her warily, trying to gauge her mood before shrugging it off along with her hand, which had still been entwined with his. Roxanne felt that same brief spark of electricity as her hand fell away and rubbed it awkwardly on her skirt, “I’m pretty sure I can change your mind. You want to know all about my trip to Italy don’t you?” he asked with faint manipulation.
Roxanne hated that she wanted to know but she merely shrugged her shoulders, hoping for carelessness but only succeeding in making him grin at her. “What?” she demanded icily.
Benjamin reached out and rubbed his thumb along her bottom lip. “You don’t need to pout, Weasley.” He said and Roxanne gasped and smacked his hand away, feeling her cheeks flaming, “I like you better when you’re yelling or smiling at me.” Before she could ask just what he meant by that last remark, he was motioning her forward.
Roxanne only noticed then that they had landed in the middle of a corridor and her eyes flicked around, unfamiliar with this part of the Manor. The Manor itself was larger than anything that she had ever been to and reminded her of some Gothic mansion from one of her cousin Lucy’s favorite novels, “Where’d you take us?”
“Just a corridor, I wasn’t thinking about a set place.” Benjamin replied as he watched her taking in the covered portraits hanging on the wall. A silence stretched between them as Roxanne wondered just how long he had been back from his strange departure to Italy before he said gruffly, “come on.”
Roxanne turned away from the portraits and followed him quietly as they walked further down the corridor, the sound of the marble floors clicking beneath her boots.
There was a strange feeling about Malfoy Manor and the first time that she had snuck here with him, back when she’d been thirteen, the sheer mass and grandeur of the place had overwhelmed her.
She knew from running around at night with Benjamin that it was one gigantic, darkly beautiful maze with more rooms, hallways and stairs than she could have ever imagined.
Although he never went into a lot of detail about his family, Roxanne had read historical tomes in the library at Hogwarts that boasted that the Malfoy Manor was one of the oldest pureblood homes in Britain.
Centuries upon centuries of Malfoys had passed through these halls, dined in the opulent dining rooms with important guests and it was here, Roxanne thought bitterly that Uncle Harry and her aunt and uncle had been brought.
Snatchers had captured them and Aunt Hermione had been tortured here by Bellatrix Lestrange and a poor house-elf had died saving her relatives and their friends from this place.
Some part of her felt a bit guilty about being here and the oppressive weight of past sins seemed to weigh heavily in the air, like a perfume that left a strange scent. “Where are we going?” Roxanne asked Benjamin as they walked around what felt like the millionth corner like accomplished thieves.
“My room,” Benjamin replied easily, his head turning curiously as he suddenly held her back. Roxanne bumped into the hard muscles of his back and gripped his arm, frowning and about to say something before she heard the tap of heavy footsteps. “Shit, my dad’s home. I thought he’d be at the Ministry,”
Before Roxanne could say anything or ask just what Mr. Malfoy had been up to and how soon it would be before he was back working at the Ministry that outwardly shunned him, Benjamin pushed her against the nearest wall. “What do you think you’re doing?” she hissed, glaring up at him as he braced his hands on either side of her head, his nearness creating a dizzying effect on her senses.
Benjamin’s lips were thin, his blue-brown eyes narrowed warningly. Roxanne shivered, “Do not make a sound. I have to take care of this and don’t wander off. Or I’ll catch you,” he said, his tone lowering with just a hint of something she didn’t understand, although the implication made her knees lock together.
Pleased when she couldn’t say anything but murmur in understanding, Benjamin pulled away from her and stepped around the corner just as a deep voice asked. “Ben, is that you?” and Roxanne quivered, her eyes nearly popping out at the thought that she might be caught snooping at Malfoy Manor by his own father.
“Yeah, it’s me, Dad,” Benjamin replied easily, sounding nonchalant and bored. Roxanne inched along the wall and daringly poked her head around the corner, just enough to see what was happening, “what are you doing back so early? I thought you had paperwork at the Ministry all night.”
Mr. Malfoy was still as tall and pale as he’d been the last few times that Roxanne had seen him.
He was dressed in an expensive set of blue and gold robes that gave him the look of some fallen angel and she watched as he ran his fingers through his pale blonde hair, weariness making itself evident in his tone, “I finished a bit sooner than expected. They wanted to interrogate me even more than they did when I got the bloody job,” there was a hint of some sort of shame underneath it all but Roxanne wasn’t able to detect where it might be coming from.
“So, did you get your old job back?” Benjamin asked with genuine curiosity, though she could hear a slight sneer in his words. “Or did they already give it to someone else?” he asked his father and Roxanne glanced at him, for the first time taking in his complete outfit with a bit of disdain.
Somehow the sight of him in dark jeans, orange dragon hide boots and a snug blue shirt made him appear, despite it all, like some sort of Muggle pirate or a killer on the loose.
“Benjamin, I’d appreciate it if you would lose the tone. I’m not in the mood to discuss this with you right now,” Mr. Malfoy replied and his voice had shifted into the sort of stern pressure that Roxanne only heard from her own father when she was in very serious trouble. “You look as if you’ve been somewhere. I told you not to leave the house.”
Benjamin shrugged his shoulders and shifted his feet slightly, the only sign that he might have cared what his father was saying. Roxanne glanced between them, two men that looked nothing alike but had the sort of affection that easily made them related, “I got tired of being cooped up.”
Mr. Malfoy sighed again and pinched the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. Roxanne watched as Benjamin turned away, his lips compressing into a stubborn and ugly line, “You get into too much trouble when you’re out on your own.”
“I’m seventeen, not five.” Benjamin said with defiance, his stance becoming defensive. “You don’t have to treat me like the other ones Dad, I’m not some sort of stupid kid. I think I’ve already proved that.”
Mr. Malfoy’s blonde brows gnashed together, his grey eyes narrowing slightly and Roxanne immediately swallowed hard, sensing a sharp sting of anger. Though he didn’t speak for a minute or two, it was apparent that his son had crossed a thin line and Benjamin’s shoulders stiffened as his father replied calmly, “I know that you’re not a child and hanging that over my head for the rest of your life is showing a weak strength of character. I’d expect better from you.”
Roxanne didn’t understand what they were referring to but she felt a sting at the words. A parent could easily frighten, love and destroy a child with just their words and her eyes flicked sympathetically to Benjamin, surprised to see that he was smiling, “I could say the same about you, Dad. The whole reason the two of us left was to stop all the rumors and make mum feel better.”
Mr. Malfoy’s eyes flickered with suppressed anger and sadness but he quickly reigned in his next words, the control that took impressing Roxanne considerably. She didn’t think that living with someone like Benjamin was easy, “While that may be true Benjamin, while you’re living under my roof, I’ll treat you any way that I like and you’ll do what I tell you to. Is that understood?”
Benjamin merely grunted a reply and Roxanne found herself frowning, wondering why he was nitpicking at his father. Mr. Malfoy looked as if he would much rather get a stiff drink and sleep then argue with his son and she wondered if that was more the issue, “After I get out of school, you won’t have to worry about me.”
Mr. Malfoy ran his fingers through his hair again before lowering it and asking sharply. “Why do you always have to fight me? You’re not some sort of burden to me and I never gave you any inclination that you were,” Benjamin opened his mouth to say something but his father said severely. “Don’t you think that I would like to change what I did? What I’ve done? You’re not the only person hurting.”
“I feel like it,” Benjamin snarled through his teeth. “Mum won’t even look at me”
“She was upset that you left with me, that’s all. And what’ve done to her isn’t something that can be easily forgiven,” Mr. Malfoy said and his tone was more gruff than Roxanne had heard it before. She could practically hear his heart breaking, “by any of you.” Benjamin said nothing and a thick and ugly silence seemed to spread between them before Mr. Malfoy replied softly. “I’m going to my office. If you leave, make sure you don’t bring any trouble back with you,”
And before Benjamin could say another word, Roxanne watched as his father turned on his heel and stalked away, his head bent low.
The feeling of intense awkwardness stayed after he was gone and she hung back, bracing herself against the wall and thinking hard about whether or not she should be here in the first place when it was obvious that Benjamin had brought her into his familial drama.
Her heart ached for him though, to see him so upset but she knew that he would rather deny it than tell her what his argument with his father had been about in the first place and she decided that she wouldn’t ask.
The sound of his boots turning signaled his return to her and when he returned, towering over her in such a way that escape would be impossible, Roxanne’s throat went dry, “Don’t repeat anything that you heard here, Weasley.”
“You don’t have to threaten me, Ben. Why would I do something like that to you?” Roxanne asked him sharply in a whisper, just in case his father was coming back out. But the sound of a door closing far off down the hall signified that he was indeed, in his office. She briefly wondered what he was doing there, all alone, “Unlike you, I don’t talk about my friends behind their backs.”
Benjamin’s eyes, which she’d always considered to be his best feature, narrowed dangerously. He appeared like some big, furious bear ready to devour her but she remained defiant, her chin jutted stubbornly even though a bolt of unease prickled at the nape of her neck. “You going to hold that over my head forever, sweet? I was in a bad mood.”
Roxanne had seen him in a bad mood but she didn’t think that she could forgive him for the things that she had heard him saying. She gritted her teeth but said tightly, avoiding his eyes, “So you were in a bad mood. Everyone gets in a bad mood but you don’t talk about your friends behind their—”
“Is that what we are Weasley?” Benjamin asked with chilling accuracy. Roxanne had always considered him a strange friend and she wanted to remind him of the times that they had spent together at the Astronomy Tower or near the Black Lake, soaking up the sun and talking late into the afternoon. But apparently, those things meant absolutely nothing, “I don’t think anyone would call us that.”
Roxanne felt a burst of renewed frustration as she turned her head back to his. Unnervingly, he had moved closer until his hands were braced on either side of her head, barring her way and causing her heart to stutter with something she didn’t want to identify. And even if she could, she didn’t think it was wise to dwell on it and her voice came out stronger than she would have thought, “Who cares what everyone else says?”
Benjamin let out a cynical snort before pressing closer to her, the heat from his body flooding her own and causing her head to swim. His chest nearly touched hers and she could feel the soft puff of his breath against her chin as he replied stoically, “That’s easy for you to say, Weasley. You don’t have the entire Wizarding world hating your guts or the knowledge that your parents aren’t really yours.”
This stung even though Roxanne knew it was the truth.
She had no idea how it must be for him and she could never imagine it, having the bullying and the sneering remarks thrown her way just because her family had sinned in the past. “I-I know that. Don’t you think I know that? But that doesn’t mean that I won’t be here for you, stupid. Even though you left and didn’t say a damned word to me, I missed you when you left me.”
The proclamation caused Benjamin’s black brows to shoot up, as if he hadn’t thought that his absence would have affected her in the least. Of course, considering what Roxanne had said to him the day their fragile excuse of a friendship had ended, she didn’t immediately blame him, “How much?” he whispered now, startling her out of her thoughts.
Roxanne jerked a little as he angled his head, his lips brushing against the curve of her jaw. “H-how much what? Would you stop that?” she snapped furiously, her cheeks flaming.
She placed her hands on his chest, attempting to push him away a bit to get much needed air but the feel of his heartbeat pounding beneath her palms was so distracting that her fingers curled into his shirt. It was a weakness she didn’t appreciate.
“How much did you miss me Weasley?” Benjamin asked with devastating softness. Roxanne, flustered and uncomfortably aware of where his mouth was wandering to next, tried to angle her head away but he cupped her cheek and turned her to face him. “Did you think about me all the time?”
Roxanne wanted to deny it but it was the truth.
She had thought about him so constantly that she had nearly forsaken all of her studies, ignored her family to stay locked in her room and worried that she would probably never see his tall, dark shape again, “I didn’t think about you at all.” Somehow, her voice managed to sound both pathetically squeaky and wistful.
Benjamin’s eyes had narrowed thoughtfully, a sinfully vicious smile transforming his face. She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think straight….why did he always have to do this? “Liar,” he whispered with gentle venom before Roxanne felt the devastating pressure of his mouth against her own.
Thanks for coming back! Up next is my poor little Misfits from Albus Potter and the Dark Lord's Prince!