Chapter 9 : nine.
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“Stop cheating,” I wondered if I’d ever get used to his voice, the various tones.
“You never told me about this rule,” I protest as I’m chivvied along. “You’re just making things up now.”
I can practically feel his smile as he leans his chin on my shoulder, his breath warm on my ear. “Adventure, remember?”
Freddie Weasley’s voice does funny things to my brain. His chin falls off my shoulder as I speed up a little, peering at the next menu before he pushes my shoulder. “Fine!” I harrumph, stopping on the pavement and looking from side to side. I must have looked a little strange, hair whipping with each head fling, hands on my hips. “There!” I point a little further down the road, yelp a little as a Muggle carrier comes a little too close for comfort, and head off to investigate the chosen restaurant. It’s annoying that I’m walking extra quickly, yet Freddie strolls along almost idly beside me, barely breaking stride.
We stop in front of the next place, both looking through the windows. What had seemed like a rustic little kitsch restaurant turned out to be some bustling, faux-Mexican typhoon. The rustic décor was just painted plastic. “Sure?” Freddie’s quirking one eyebrow, one half of his mouth about to follow suit. Knowing he was looking for somewhere more classy I could easily go back on the choice. The red and white checkered table cloths didn’t even seem that attractive to me. But there was something about watching Freddie flounder. It was like taking a giraffe and placing it in the arctic; bizarre, yet amusing. Only more humane. And the giraffe in this case was extremely attractive.
A waiter showed us to a tiny, rickety table. Our knees bumped as we sat down. Cutlery was rolled up in white paper napkins and standing upright in the condiment holder in the middle of the table; this was a place you would find Eoin, not Freddie with his expensive looking striped shirt. He peered around with an unfathomable expression, eyes flicking to the waiter as laminated menus were placed on the table.
“Thanks!” the waiter smiled gratefully, then pulled a pad out.
“Mohito, please,” Freddie’s lips curved into a wicked grin at my order, and he ordered a beer.
There was a patch of red peeling from the tablecloth, the ridges were oddly comforting beneath my fingertips. Chocolate eyes glanced at the pattern my fingers seemed to be tapping out, then Freddie Weasley leant back in the chair. Something squeaked ominously and he shot forwards, eyes widening in supposed expectation of the seat giving way beneath him. A snort filled the air, my hand claps over my mouth and Freddie’s laugh sounds like a bark, loud and bright.
“So attractive,” he chooses instead to lean one forearm on the tiny table and I realise I am enjoying this, how he flounders and worries about breakages in this insignificant place when it seems the rest of his life hasn’t a chance of remaining whole.
The waiter placing the mohito on the table gives me something to curl my hands around, fingers sliding through the condensation on the glass. The beer is handed to Freddie still in the bottle; he snags it between two fingers and lifts it to his lips as the waiter lingers. The waiter’s whose eyes meet mine, flick downwards for a minute, before a faint flush graces his cheeks.
“Have I ruined the premise? The holier-than-thou virginial beauty?” batting my eyelids seems to take a little sting out the words, in any case Freddie simply moves his narrowed gaze from the waiters retreating back to me and shrugs one shoulder. His mood seems to have shifted, his eyes tunnels of black, pupil consuming iris. His head is turned away as I sip the minty cocktail through the black straw, but I can tell he’s looking by the way his adams apple bobs as my knee grazes his beneath the table.
The rum in the cocktail is sharp on my tongue, the mint failing to hide the alcoholic bite. Freddie swigs the beer, places the bottle back on the table with the glass thud. “You’re dangerous,” just as the silence seemed to be stretching out for too long, his voice is a low rumble, so low it’s difficult to ascertain whether or not he spoke at all.
“What?” my breath catches in my throat in a disbelieving laugh, a huff of air. My eyes widen and I raise one finger to the (extremely attentive) waiter, smiling and pointing at my glass. He raises a thumb in recognition. Weasley’s gaze flickers to the waiter, observing as he ignores a customer trying to gain his attention and he weaves his way towards us. Was it just me or were these glasses getting bigger? I grin my thanks, trace a finger in the condensation left by the glass, and frown at Freddie. Waiting for an explanation.
He shrugs one shoulder again and my lips flatten into an unimpressed line. Hiding behind the menu, I glower at the writing and mimic his infuriating shoulder shrug. Settle on the barbeque ribs (Mexican? really?) just as the waiter re-materialises.
“Chilli con carne.” He still sounds pissed off and the waiter looks so taken aback that I feel guilt curl in my stomach and I plaster on my best smile and indicate that we all knew I was sitting across from a wanker with my eyes. At least, I attempted to.
“Can I have the barbeque ribs please, and with extra coleslaw.”
A lock of blonde hair fell into the waiters eyes as his pen scratched the paper. Gently he took the menu from between my hands.
“Thank you,” my foot connects with Freddie’s shin and he grunts, whether in pain or in thanks is indistinguishable.
“Dangerous,” he repeats, his voice as soft as a falling Autumn leaf, and his gaze has turned pensive but the word sends a shiver down my spine and I’m not sure why.
Frowning, there doesn’t seem to be an adequate reply. He seems to refuse to answer why. Instead I blow out a breath. “Fine,” I accept, and my mind flickers to Harriet and think of how she’d pester and pester until she knew why. Glancing to my finger, I realise it’s tracing a heart in the condensation and quickly slam my palm down onto the table. A nearby diner flinches; Freddie Weasley merely raises an eyebrow over the top of his beer bottle.
My fingers splay and I gulp the mohito back and it slides down, lumps of ice and all. My mind is slowly uncased in the alcoholic fuzz, the hard edges worn smooth. Another beer arrives. Freddie smirks at my splayed fingers, at my frown.
“Here you go,” the waiter places the meals down without flourish, just places them on the table and he’s off, rubbing his palm over his eyes and looking bone deep weary. The ribs steam scatters as I blow on them, the sauce sticky and so perfect looking. Rolling the cutlery from the white napkin, I peer at Weasley’s chilli and am satisfied I have the better option as I tear meat from bone. It’s painful, but I manage to avoid picking up the bones and gnawing on them. Harriet would have a fit.
“Tell me something.” The words flow out my mouth like the mohito down my throat, unstoppable and tinged with a desperation for something unknown. Weasley looks up from where he was oh so delicately pushing chilli onto his fork.
“Tell you what?”
My hand flails dramatically, I frown at it and make them very, very still. “Anything. What’s your favourite colour? What’s the worst nightmare you’ve ever had? Your best friend, and why?”
“Blue. Losing my voice. James, born out of convenience rather than necessity and requirement.” His ice wall is melting as he looks at me, impartial and meek and all the things I know he’s not. “Your turn.”
“Sunflower yellow. Drowning. Harriet, because she is impatient, unruly, overlooked, loyal and stubborn.” I upend the salt over my chips. “What sort of blue?”
His expression is not one of a man who has lain on a bed, head dangling down over the side as they discussed the finer details of their favourite colour, hair grazing the floor and pausing only to drag on a stolen cigarette. (Harriet: postbox red).
“Dark blue,” he’s laid down his knife, and his mouth seems to be trying not to curl up on one side but it does as he looks down at his plate.
The ribs are delicious. Fall off the bone, melt in the mouth delicious. Scrubbing the corner of my mouth with a fingertip, I raise an eyebrow. “Midnight blue?”
His huff seems to be a cross between impatient and amusement. “Suppose,” is more of a grunt, but the ice is thawing and I feel glad.
Brown eyes flick up, once, then he scrapes up the last of his chilli (which he has practically inhaled) and the annoying one shouldered shrug is back. Discontent was obviously clear on my face, as he sighed softly. “Cousin, best friends through childhood. Habit,” it’s strange that Freddie Weasley can talk all day but move to topics of substance and he became as friendly as a just woken troll.
I scrape the last of the ribs off the bone, dab at my lips with the paper napkin. Freddie raises two fingers at the waiter, signs for the bill. It appears quickly, as though the waiter had been watching us like a hawk. I smile at him as Freddie pays with the weird rectangle thing, giggle a little as he bumps into a table as he walks away, cheeks stained red.
The door slams against the frame as Weasley stalks out, his cheeks sucked in. In such a way that his jawline was hard as flint, matching the steel in his eyes.
But mohito’s are wonderful things, and instead of trying to thaw the damn ice I tip my head back to the night sky and point. “Midnight blue!” I want to spin and spin, want Harriet and Eoin to be there, buzzed and happy and smiling.
Not Freddie Weasley as his hands close around my waist. As they push me up against a wall, the bricks scratching my arms. Not him leaning in, the woody smell; so enticing and homely it almost made me want to bury my nose in the crook of his neck.
Not his voice, low and husky against my throat. “Dangerous.” Not his lips, soft on my cheek as I turn my head away from him.
As I turn my head away from him and straight into the blinding light of a camera flash.
“Well, well, well. Freddie Weasley.”
AN: -hides- I am SO sorry. I don't even think I have a valid excuse for the extremely late update. I've recently moved to uni but I have so much free time, but I just haven't had the inspiration! I feel it shines through in the chapter too, and I feel so bad. But I think it's one of those things I just have to try and work through it.
As always, reviews are muchly, greatly appreciated. MUCH LOVE
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