Chapter 8 : eight.
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Steeling my resolve, I managed a smile. “Hey.”
“Be good, darling,” Eoin’s bare feet don’t make a sound and I jump a mile as he curves an arm around my waist, lips brushing my cheek. I frown at him, notice Freddie’s gaze move from me to the dark haired Irish boy. His expression doesn’t flicker.
Shaking my head, I shove Eoin lightly in the chest and step out, pulling the door shut behind me.
“Your boyfriend’s jealous,” Freddie comments idly, plucking a bit of lint off his blue and white striped shirt cuff.
“He’s not my boyfriend,” I huff automatically in retaliation, “why do people keep saying that?!”
Freddie’s crooked grin is enough for me to wish that I’d played along with the whole boyfriend story. Something flipped in my stomach as his eyes darkened almost dangerously.
“Marvellous,” I was glad there were no flowers, no dramatic flourishes. Until; “there’s just one rule for tonight.”
I stopped myself from groaning. “What’s that?”
“We’re only allowed to go forwards, and we’re not allowed to retrace our steps.”
My face screwed up in confusion, something that was undoubtedly extremely attractive. “What exactly are we doing?”
Freddie Weasley’s eyes sparked with amusement as he offered out his hand. “I don’t know. Do you?”
Crack. We’re gone.
I’m a girl who lives in Knockturn Alley. I am no stranger to dingy hallways and seedy characters. But the alleyway we landed in was hardly majestic. I was expecting – I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting. But massive, stinking red wheely bins full of rubbish wasn’t it.
Freddie stepped regally from the surroundings, heading down the alley to the bustling street beyond it. I glanced around, realising we were in some major city. A major Muggle city.
“Are we still in London?” Harriet and I had ventured into Muggle London on a couple of occasions – who wouldn’t, with it on your doorstep? But never at night. The city had taken on a new edge, as though someone had breathed life into it.
“We are,” Freddie confirmed and he has a small on his face that seemed so satisfied but at the same time so young. “Muggles make it easier to avoid… avid fans,” something flickered across his face that made me want to ask more, but then it was gone and he was turning away. “Which way?” he asked.
“Which way?” I repeat in confusion. “I don’t know. Which way is it?”
I don’t know whether I like his mischievous look. “Which way do you want? Left or right?”
“Left,” I decided quickly, figuring that this whole situation was surreal and choosing right would seem like far too much irony when this didn’t feel right at all.
We walk rhythmically, the silence not uncomfortable but unexpected. He was so cocksure, so confident, I was expecting a steady stream of chatter.
“You’re choosing,” he reminds me, and then I stop suddenly. It takes Freddie a few steps to realise, and he swings around to face me. One eyebrow is raised, a corner of his mouth quirked up. “Yes? I can’t come back, remember.”
The whole not crossing back. Right. Taking in our surroundings, my eyes land upon a swanky looking restaurant. All black and chrome. “There,” I don’t wait for him, set off across the road (after looking both ways, those Muggle Carriers are bloody scary) and push open the door. Freddie’s right behind, hand splayed above mine to hold the door open.
We stand waiting to be seated for a moment, eyes sweeping around the décor. Jazz music played softly in the background, the seats were all squishy leather and the tables polished mahogany. “Good choice,” Freddie’s hand brushed my waist and he smiled at me. Not smirk. A smile.
“Hello!” the waitress’ had a welcoming smile that skipped right over me and landed on Freddie. I saw her eyes slide to my hand. “Table for two?”
“Please,” I shot Freddie a look, wondering if he’d noticed the waitress’ doe eyes. He seemed to be peering elsewhere, though I felt his hand on the small of my back as we were lead through the restaurant. He pulled my chair out, smiled distractedly at the waitress as she handed us menus.
“Anything to drink?”
“I’ll have a double whiskey. Eva?”
“Um,” I racked my brains quickly for a Muggle cocktail, a Muggle drink. Anything. Freddie must have sensed my panic as he smoothly took over.
“And a Mohito, please.” His smile was dazzling and the waitress missed a step as she moved away. I opened up the (leather mounted) menu and peered down.
“We’re only having starters,” Freddie announced casually, nodding to the waitress as she placed the drinks down.
“Why?” I looked a little apprehensively at the drink before me, then took a sip. It was minty; delicious, and very alcoholic. Exactly my kind of drink.
“You’re choosing somewhere else for main and desert,” his eyes roved up and down the menu, flickering across the options. They paused, and glanced up. “Is that a problem?” Realising I’d been staring, I could feel a blush creeping across my cheeks.
“It’s certainly novel,” I wondered what Eoin would make of it – probably snort in derision and mutter something about him having too much money.
“I thought you’d appreciate something… different,” his dark eyes flicker with something I can’t read, something nearly raw and vulnerable. But then it’s gone and he’s smirking again, “I like a woman who knows what she wants.”
I huff a little, busying myself with the menu. “You like women, fullstop,” I grumble. It seemed we were going the whole shebang, and so I settled on the mushroom risotto. Freddie ordered some seafood cocktail, which sounded delicious. Plus two glasses of white wine to accompany the starters. I sipped the mohito, feeling the alcoholic kick.
“I… appreciate women,” it was hard not to roll my eyes at his tone, at his sparking eyes and the way he leant back in his chair and looked like he just slotted so easily into any role.
“Read: shag anything that moves,” I find myself quirking one eyebrow just as he had done so many times and quickly fix the matter.
“You have a very low opinion of me,” it’s hard not to notice that his voice is like amber, a hint of husk every now and then. Taking another gulp of the mohito, I shrugged one shoulder.
“I was… persuaded into this,” I remind him, smiling at the waitress as she placed down cutlery. She seemed to have caught the tailend of the conversation, paused and glanced at Freddie. His eyes, for once, didn’t flicker off me. I wish they would; they were terribly distracting.
“Am I beastly? Ghastly? Do you want to run away screaming?” he leans forwards and his knee bumps mine and oh goodness me.
“No,” it’s a murmur, an admittance. His smirk is knowing. “Quite the opposite.”
Freddie settles back into his chair. “Well then,” he turns his fork over. “Is that Irish guy your roommate or something?”
I sigh. “It’s a one bedroom flat, and he seems to have moved in. So I suppose so.” I feel compelled to add; “we’re just really good friends,” though I’m not really sure why. I don’t care about Freddie Weasley.
“That shag.” His eyes glint with something I can’t fathom.
“Have shagged,” I concede, taking another gulp of mohito and wondering where this conversation was going. If it was going anywhere at all. Thankfully our starters appeared, along with the white wine. My empty mohito glass was whisked away.
Risotto was one of my favourite things. And the first mouthful was just heavenly. Resisting the urge to moan aloud at the flavours that exploded across my tongue, I swallowed and took another forkful. My main source of food was leftovers at the Leaky, which were good, but usually greasy. They had nothing on this bowl of heaven.
Freddie was neatly decapitating prawns and glanced over, looking amused as he spotted me. “Good?” I nodded rapidly, swallowing.
“Amazing,” I enthused, quickly filling my mouth again. He seemed to realise I wasn’t one of them who could carry out any more than single word answers when food was involved; instead continued eating his. He squawked in protest as I stole a forkful (managing to stab the prawn he’d decapitated in one swift movement); I picked my bowl up and yanked it out of reach when he tried to retaliate.
“Yours is good,” I feel obliged to comment, and then place the bowl down and allow him to steal a few grains of risotto.
“This is what you look like,” he placed the fork in his mouth and his eyes rolled back into his skull in an exaggerated display of pleasure.
“Funny guy, this one,” I hid a grin by finishing the last mouthful of the delicious risotto, glancing mournfully at the menu on the next table and wondering what wonders the main courses would be. “Do we have to go?”
“Think of it as an adventure.”
I sip the glass of white wine, wondering if it was bad form to pick up my fork again and try and get that last single grain of rice on the side of my bowl. “An adventure.” I try to imagine Freddie doing this a lot, if he skipped across cities with many girls and let them choose where to go and what to do. It didn’t seem like a very him thing to do. He seemed more the bouquet of roses, the dimly lit restaurants. Somewhere close to his place so he could divert them back. “Do you do this often?”
His eyes are unreadable as he looks up from his plate, lashes obscuring the upper half of his iris. “Do what?”
“This,” I gesture at the table, at the restaurant. A little wine spills onto my wrist; I lick it off and gaze at him. “Adventure.” He looks a little confused; “with women,” I clarify.
Freddie’s smirk is crooked, eyes flashing. I roll my eyes at the alternative meaning he’s obviously gleaned. “This one’s new for me,” he admits after a little more Eva stare down.
He’s still finishing his starter, allowing me to glug back the wine like there’s no tomorrow. I disguise it by taking frequent sips, whereas his gulps half empty his glass. Still trying to decide what I make of being an experiment, I glance over and meet the eyes of the waitress who gives me a wide beam and sticks her thumbs up. She reminds me of Harriet and it makes me snicker, Freddie’s mouth turning down in a confused frown.
“So I’m a novelty.” Freddie finishes his starter, places his knife and fork side by side. Re-aligns them. I wonder if he has OCD tendencies.
“You’re very… peculiar,” he catches the eye of the waitress and signals for the bill. I mull over his word choice.
“Peculiar?” Unique was probably the word he was looking for. Somehow I got the feeling that Freddie Weasley was out of his depth; floundering, somewhat. Not that he’d ever show it. He glanced at the bill and pulled out his wallet (leather, very manly), placing a rectangle of shiny plastic on the table. “Is that why I’m here?”
“That and you’re extremely pretty,” the waitress had appeared with something that whirred in her palm. She slotted the shiny card in and presented it with a flourish to Freddie, who pressed a few buttons.
“Muggles,” I grumbled with a glance at the contraption as the waitress carried it away. “Did you just pay?”
Freddie Weasley’s eyes cut to mine and I swear they bubble with amusement. “Yes. Do you have Muggle money?” A beat of silence in which I wrinkle my nose and shake my head. “Do you have any money?”
Huffing, I roll my eyes. “Money, shmoney. Happiness makes the world go around.”
Grinning at the waitress as we leave the restaurant, I hold the door for Weasley. Give his male pride a battering. His eyes are dark, once more, and he places his hand above mine on the door and leans in close.
“Are you happy, Evangeline?”
White wine is sweet on his breath and his aftershave is intoxicating, like woods after it’s rained, so quiet and still and musky.
I spin out from underneath his arm and almost run a few steps, glancing backwards over my shoulder. “Onwards and upwards, monsieur.”
AN: What's this? An update, so soon?! No way! Well I got a complaint about the lack of Freddie in the previous chapter, so I'm hoping you're appeased! Does the 'date' live up to expectations? How is darling Eva managing? How's Freddie managing? That little grey box down there is dying to know ;) Also a massive thank you to silverashes who is far too kind and lovely. You are brillo-pads. As is missclaire17 for coming out as a silent reader. I hope I haven't disappointed!
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