Summary: They really just wanted to be alone. They would have to settle on being alone, together.
All characters belong to JK Rowling and I make no money from the writing and publishing of this story. Thank You!
This short story was written for Quilter to thank her for her constant support of the writers here by constantly reviewing. Thank you dear friend! Now, enjoy your prize for the carrot... I know how much you like your Slytherins.
(Written for Quilter for The Maple Bookshelf's June 2013 Carrot)
He closed the door as he entered the room as quietly as he could. The room before him was pitch-black. He was happy for the darkness. He needed to hide for a moment… just for a few minutes. Everyone was vying for his attention and he was so very tired of it all.
The way everyone was acting one would think that Marcus Flint had saved the entire world or something, when in fact all he did was help his team win the World Quidditch Cup. All of this fanfare for Quidditch! Even he thought that was crazy.
He walked further into the room, but then at the last minute remembered to turn back toward the door. Locking it with a simple spell, he next lit the end of his wand and walked toward the middle of the room. Moving the lighted wand around, he could only see that he was apparently in some sort of a library. There were bookshelves all around, a small sofa in front of the fireplace, and two long windows, complete with window seats, at the far end of the room.
That was his destination.
With purpose and intent, he lowered his now extinguished wand and followed the faint light of the moon as it streaked in through the windows. Once he was in front of one the window seats, he turned to sit down.
He jumped back up quickly, lit his wand in a hurry, and pointed it back toward the window seat toward the voice that had just said 'ouch'.
There was a woman sitting there. She was half hidden in darkness, small and unassuming, bundled almost in a ball in the farthest corner of the window seat. Even with the light from his wand, and the aforementioned dim light from the moon, he could barely make out her features.
"I'm sorry," he said gruffly. "I didn't see you there. Why didn't you tell me you were in here when you heard me open the door?"
"Truthfully," she confessed, "I was hoping you would think the room was empty and leave."
"I did think the room was empty," he explained, "therefore I came in. I wanted to be alone."
"So did I," she explained.
"We can't be alone together." He frowned as he said it, but he knew she couldn't see his frown.
"Yes we can. There's another window seat in front of the other window," she said softly. "You take that one, I'll stay here, and there's no need for us to talk. It will be almost as if we were alone, but together."
"You could just leave," he spat. He really didn't want to deal with ANYONE right now.
"Or you could just leave, as I was here first," she snapped, her voice sounding peevish and strained. "You find another room in which to hide if you want to be alone. There are plenty of rooms in this house. Or you can take me up on my offer, take the other seat, and stop talking."
He was still standing in front of her. He moved his lit wand up toward her face, but she batted it away with her hand. "Who are you?" He lowered his wand and extinguished it at the same time.
"Does it matter?" she asked in return. "I didn't hear you introduce yourself."
This woman was a shrew, but she was also right. This party was being held in his honor, so he rather liked the fact that someone here didn't know who he was. "Perhaps not," he said truthfully, his voice low and weary. "But I'd still like to know whom I'm to be alone with, if you'd please."
"Do we have to talk?" she asked plaintively. "It doesn't matter who I am, or who you are. I thought you wanted to be alone."
"If I'm to be alone with you, I'd like to know who you are, that's all," he reasoned. He took one step and then sat down in the other corner of the woman's window seat, instead of sitting on the vacant one beside it. He didn't know why he did it. He didn't even think about it, he just did it.
She still didn't answer his question regarding her identity. Instead, she drew her legs up to her chin, planting her feet on the seat between them, turned her gaze to the darkness outside, even as she let her head rest of the cool glass of the window.
He decided to ask one more time. "Just tell me your name."
"It doesn't matter who I am. Not to anyone, or so it would seem."
"I'm having the opposite problem tonight," he mumbled, not knowing why he was still talking to this woman when all he really wanted when he stepped in here was quiet and solitude, two things he hadn't received since coming here.
She didn't ask him to explain, not that he thought she would, just as he didn't ask her to explain her statement. He turned his body to face hers, bringing up his right leg and bending it at the knee, so that his right foot was planted on the seat between them. The toe of his shoe was touching the tip of hers. He stretched out his left leg, that foot firmly planted on the floor, placed his arm across his right knee, and turned to look out at the darkness, just as she was doing.
He said, "If we're to share our hiding space, I want to make it clear that I don't want to talk."
"Then stop talking. Who said I wanted to talk anyway?" she demanded.
"Then we won't talk," he reiterated.
"You better tell yourself that, as you're the one who keeps talking," she said with a sigh.
"Starting now," he said, just to get the last word in. If she could see him she would know that he had a genuine smile on his face, his first all evening.
They finally stopped talking, apparently by mutual consent. Silence engulfed them, surrounding them like a blanket. It wasn't oppressive or awkward. He found it extremely comforting. It was just what he needed.
He was so very tired and exhausted. Strangely enough, he was almost more relaxed and at ease than he'd been in months, sitting in this dark room, sharing a window seat with a woman he couldn't see. They were silent for so long that he almost drifted off to sleep; only jerking to attention when he thought he heard her crying.
He tried to study her again. Her face was tucked against her bent knees, her arms hugging her legs tightly. "Are you crying?" he asked with an edge to his voice. He didn't like it when women cried. Crying women made him feel helpless. Crying women made him want to take them in his arms and hold them tight. His hands itched to do that with this woman right now.
When she didn't answer the question in which he already knew the answer, he asked, "Why are you crying?"
"I thought you didn't want to talk."
"Well, I've changed my mind."
"I haven't changed mine," she countered, bringing her head back so that it rested on the frame around the window. She placed one hand on the cool glass, drew it down, and began to draw little pictures on the condensation. He studied her fingers. He thought they were lovely.
"What are you drawing?" he asked, mostly to break the silence, which he now found in his disfavor.
"Guess," she said, surprising him.
She drew what looked like a tree, but just to be contrary he said, "Is it a dog?"
Even in the low light he could tell she was looking at him with disdain. Her hand came back down to her lap. "Yes… yes it was a dog," she said sarcastically. "Really? A dog?"
"I knew it was a tree," he said with a laugh. He drew something on one of the small panes of glass near him. "What is this?"
"A sun?" she asked.
"Well, you drew a circle. What else could it be?"
He laughed again. "It's a circle."
She inhaled a sharp breath, folded her legs in front of her and sat up straighter. "You can't just draw a circle!"
"Who says?" He mirrored her, bringing his legs under him, and crossing them so he could sit closer to her. "I don't remember that in the rules."
"We didn't state any rules!" She shook her head. "Still, everyone knows that."
"Fine, I'll draw something else." He drew a line down from the circle. "What's that?"
He was going to tell her it was a circle with a line down it, but instead he said, "Yes, it's a balloon. You're good at this."
"Are you being condescending?" she asked.
"Would I be condescending to you?" he asked back.
"How would I know, I don't even know who you are. You might be the most condescending person in the world."
He laughed again. "No, that would be Draco Malfoy."
And at that, she laughed. Her laughter was like a ray of sunshine in the darkness of the room. It was like a beam of bright light in the dimness of his life. "I take it you are acquainted with Draco Malfoy?" he asked after she laughed.
"And it would appear you are as well," she said. He imagined that she was smiling. It sounded like she was smiling.
"Tell me why you were hiding in here this evening." He brought his legs around and placed his feet on the floor, leaned forward, arms on his knees. When she didn't answer right away, he said, "If you tell me, I'll tell you."
Again, there was no answer right away, just a rustling sound as she moved to sit beside him, feet on the floor, arms on her legs, leaning forward. Her arm was touching his, her thigh almost touching his thigh. He had an undeniable urge to take her into his arms and hold her tight.
Therefore, that's what he did.
He started slowly – bringing his right arm across her back, placing his hand on her right shoulder. Then he drew her onto his chest. To his surprise, she came willingly. Then, in an act of sheer lunacy (or utter bravery) he brought his left arm along her front and clasped his hands together, caging her in a warm embrace.
She started to cry again. She tucked her face right into his chest and started to cry so softly he could barely hear her. Holding her felt right. It felt like the most right thing he had done in years. He maneuvered them both so they were leaning back against the window, forcing her to bring her legs up to her side, as his legs were longer than hers. He turned slightly, and then as if it were meant to be, he slid her up to his lap.
He held this woman whose face he couldn't see, whose name he didn't know, whose troubles seemed more dire than his, as he if had every right to hold her. It felt right – it did. He was a simple man of simple means. He never wanted fame or fortune, although he had both. All he wanted out of his life was to play a sport he loved, and to find the love he felt he deserved and earned.
The problem with his fame (and fortune) was that he didn't think he would ever find 'true love' when all anyone ever wanted from him was his fame (and fortune). But this woman, crumbling in his arms, didn't know who he was, didn't care that he had helped his team win the World Cup, didn't care that he was awarded 250,000 galleons for his trouble, and didn't care that he was tall and good-looking.
That made her special to him, it really did.
After a nice cry she finally quieted. He was half afraid she was going to leave his lap, leaving him feeling bereaved. She didn't. He placed a hand in her hair and asked, "So tell me now, why were you hiding in here? Why did you want to be alone?"
She slid off his lap to sit beside him again. At least she didn't mind it when he took her hand in his.
"Why don't you tell me first," she urged.
"Compared to your tears, I'm sure my reason seems quite daft now," he began, "but I wanted to get away from all the simpering sycophants who only want to know me for my fortune and fame." He smiled. She couldn't see it.
"What if I said that's partly the reason I wanted to hide, too?" she asked softly.
He picked her hand up and brought it to his mouth. Kissing the top – because it seemed the right thing to do – he asked, "Did you also help your team win the World Cup?"
She chuckled again. His heart grew a bit warmer. "Is that why you're hiding? Did your team win some big game?"
He dropped her hand and laughed outright. "Big game? You simply must tell me who you are now, for I have doubts that you're even a witch. Yes. My team won the World Cup. I'm known for my athletic prowess. I'm very famous and my handsome face and physic is sought by many."
She laughed harder. He could barely contain his smile. "My goodness, now you seem to be channeling Draco Malfoy."
"That did sound ridiculous, didn't it?" he agreed. He slumped back against the seat, placed a hand on her back (as she was leaning forward) and said. "I don't really think so very highly of myself, but sometimes it seems that's how others view me. I merely think I'm a chap who does what he loves and gets paid nicely for it. If I win, I'm happy, if I lose, I'm alright because I know there's another game waiting in the wings. It's only sometimes that I wish I were someone else. Sometimes I wish people would just, I don't know, leave me alone."
"That's why you came in here, locked the door, and kept the lights extinguished." It wasn't a question. She was stating a fact. "And believe it or not, I know exactly how you feel. I hate it when people only like me for who they think I am, and not for who I really am. That's why I wanted to be alone, too. You see, I just found out that the gentleman whom I had been dating for the last six months was only dating me for the prestige. I overheard him telling his mate that very thing tonight. He said he thought it looked good for him to be dating me, and he was hoping my connections would help him with his job. He was apparently thrilled to be invited here to Malfoy's townhouse tonight, because Malfoy's known to all and sundry. He also, apparently, was waiting with baited breath to meet some big Quidditch star… I suppose that's you."
"I suppose so," Marcus agreed, dreaming up ways to maim her boyfriend in his head.
She continued, "But the thing that upset me the most… the thing that made me want to reveal myself to him right before I cursed him into next week and had Malfoy throw him out, was that he told this friend of his that he wasn't sure he 'needed' me any longer, since I had finally introduced him to Harry Potter."
"Potter, huh?" Marcus reached for her arm, skimming his fingers down it until he had her hand again. He twined his fingers in hers. "That stinks. Using you to meet Malfoy or me, well, that's atrocious, but using you to meet Potter, that's a bit twisted. Are you even especially close to Potter?"
He figured that she couldn't have been if she just now introduced the git to Potter after dating the twit for six months. She must have introduced him to Potter just this evening. Marcus knew he saw the saint of their world walking around here earlier.
"Harry Potter's my best friend," she said as an answer, causing Marcus to reign in his previous thoughts.
"Your best friend?" he said, stunned. Who did that make her?
"We've been best friends since our first year at Hogwarts," she clarified.
Oh no. No. No. NO. Marcus turned and tried to make out her features in the dark room. His eyes had adjusted to the light since he first came into the room, but he still couldn't see her clearly. He kept her hand in his, and with his free hand he brought it up to cup her face, then brush down her hair.
It was Hermione Granger. He knew it was. And someone had used her and caused her to cry. He knew she was known for her bravery. That must be why she felt the need to hide away… she didn't want anyone to see her tears. He knew that she probably wouldn't want him to guess her identity for the same reason, although he already had.
He would act at if he was 'still in the dark' so to speak. He said, "Well, I don't know who you are, but if you tell me the name of your ex-boyfriend, I'll go out there and curse his arse for you."
She squeezed his hand. "I could do that myself, if I so desired, but thank you. I think I'd rather just wallow in my self pity a while longer, and then when I feel up to it, go out there and show him that his callous and boorish behavior had no impact on me, even if you and I 'alone' knows that it did."
"Sounds like a plan, sweetheart. Sounds like a solid plan." He sat back and crossed his legs at the ankle. He pulled her to him and placed his arm around her shoulder. She leaned against him, and he kissed the top of her head.
He had always thought she was a pretty little thing. He barely recalled her from school, but since the end of the war, she and Malfoy had become friendly, so he'd seen her a few times. How anyone could purposely hurt such a wonderful woman was beyond him. It really was.
Marcus got a brief but brilliant idea. It popped up suddenly, but he knew it could possibly change both their lives. He asked, "After you heard the little wanker go on and on about the real reasons he was dating you, what did you do? Did you shout at him, or tell him to jump off a cliff, or what?"
"I acted as if I didn't hear him, and then about a half hour later I asked him to meet me outside, where I promptly broke up with him. After that I came in here to be alone. Why?"
He smiled. That was brilliant and it would work in his favour. "That's my girl, taking the high road. You were probably some bloody Gryffindor, or perhaps a Hufflepuff, right, acting all noble and shite?" He knew the answer to that, but he waited to see what she would say.
"Gryffindor, thank you very much," she said with a slight indignation in her pretty voice. "And again, I'll ask, why?"
"I just thought you might want to teach him a lesson or two, and in the process, you could do me a favour. You and I should go out there, hand in hand, just as we are now, and act quite smitten with each other – all an act mind you – and when your bloke sees us, and all the grasping desperate women who only want me for my fame sees us, they'll all give us a wide berth, and we can enjoy the rest of the evening in the light, instead of in the dark."
She pulled her hand from his. "I was starting to like the dark," she admitted. "And you don't even know who I am. This little plan of yours might work to my advantage, but it might not work to yours."
He didn't care about that. He really just wanted a chance to spend more time with her. "If you don't want to…" He didn't finish that thought as she said, "No, no, I think it's a good plan. But you do have a right to know who I am first, I suppose."
"How about you let me worry about that later," he said. "Right now, let's seal our bargain with a kiss."
He waited for her reply. The silence this time was fraught with anxiety and anticipation. "How stupid do you think I am? If you want to kiss me, just kiss me. You don't have to use subterfuge and games."
Well alright then.
He turned to face her on the window seat. She did the same toward him. The moon was behind clouds, so he could barely see the outline of her body, let alone her face, not that it mattered. If Marcus Flint wanted to kiss someone (and he very much wanted to kiss THIS someone) then he could do it with his eyes closed and his hands tide behind his back if necessary.
Thank goodness though that he had his hands. He cupped her jaw in his hand, placed his lips next to hers and said, "I want to kiss you very much. If you mean to stop me you'd best do it now or forever hold your peace."
Instead of stopping him, she closed the distance between them and placed her lips under his. His hand went from her jaw to her hair as his mouth moved over the silky softness of her lips. He felt instant pleasure and instant satisfaction. Her mouth was so soft and warm. He opened his mouth, and she did the same. Gently, he placed his tongue inside her mouth, moving it across her tongue, over her bottom lip, over her teeth.
She was like sunshine and warmth wrapped up in a brightly coloured package that he couldn't even see. And she was just for him. Her tongue stroked his and he eased back, slowly, pulling her with him, so that he was leaning against the window, she was partially against his chest.
He sighed. Then he kissed her cheeks, both of them, both her eyes, which were closed, her forehead, and finally her nose.
"That was nice," she said.
"Just nice?" he asked, holding her tightly in his arms.
"More than nice," she admitted. "But I don't want to go out there and kiss you in front of anyone, not like that."
He understood. She was Hermione Granger, even though he wasn't supposed to know that yet, and he was Marcus Flint. Even though they were both infamous in their own ways, they were so very different. That thought crushed him a bit, but then his feelings soared higher when she said, "However, I wouldn't mind repeating that kiss in the private somewhere, when we're alone, perhaps after your party, Marcus Flint?"
He wanted to kiss her again very, very much. He stood, took her hand, and pulled her up beside him. "I'll look forward to that, Hermione Granger."
"Did you know all along who I was?" she asked.
He truthfully said, "No."
"Good, I'm glad," she said. "Shall we go join the party?"
"I don't know," he started, "Perhaps we could stay in here, alone, at least for a little while longer. What do you think?"
"I think I'd like to be alone, with you, for a while longer." She pulled him back down to the window seat, sat beside him, and held his hand.
They remained in the dark library, alone, for the rest of the night. It was a mere precursor for the rest of their lives.
A/N: To read more current stories, please visit 'The Maple Bookshelf'. All of my recent work in posted there. Thank You.