Hmmm, this isn't turning out as popular as I'd hoped...I've got several chapters planned out, but I'm not sure I'll be uploading much more, if this doesn't get any more readers. :(
Disclaimer: J.K Rowling owns Harry Potter. Also the term Guardian is an Andrea Cremer concept.
Chapter 3: Apples and Sunflowers
Chryssa yawned widely as she sat down at the breakfast table, embarrassed to see that she was the first there. She felt as tired as she looked. Which, judging by the concerned look on Draco's face as he entered the dining room, was considerably.
"Hey," he said softly. "I thought I told you that you could grab something later, if you needed to sleep in? Breakfast isn't compulsory."
She did know that, actually, but as always, no matter how comfortable her environment, she always had trouble sleeping for the first night or two. Being so far away from the pack was hard. Sleeping rough might actually help, she thought ruefully. Waking up in her silk sheets repeatedly between those blessed half-hour increments of sleep she actually managed to get occasionally, she'd feel like she was drowning. She liked silk clothing, but she wasn't fond of sleeping in it. She was glad her room was next to Draco's. She wasn't used to being posted so close to her charge, and though the manufactured link between them was nothing compared to being close to her real pack, and their fully-fledged bond, it was better than nothing. After completely giving up on sleeping, at half five in the morning, she gotten up and taken a shower. An en-suite bathroom was something she could definitely get used to. Living with some of her pack may be heaven at its best, but battles over bathroom uses were frequent, and chaotic. She'd decided to go to breakfast.
"You did. I'm fine," she tried looking offended at his unintentional slight on her appearance, but only succeeded in looking more tired. He rolled his eyes at her stubbornness, and sat down beside her, grabbing some toast from a large tray.
"You don't look fine. And don't pull that face, you're not insulted." She grinned. "Do you want to go back to bed? Nobody will mind. I can even come with you…?"
She didn't even bother responding to that.
Will you be joining us for dinner tonight?"
"Sure. Should I… dress formally?" Draco looked impressed.
"You weren't lying about having moneyed clients on your résumé. Not that I thought that," he added hurriedly. "Yes. You don't have to do it the majority of the time, unless we have guests, but-"
"I'd like to make a good first impression, the first time we all dine together." She finished. He nodded.
"Well until then, wear what you like…nevermind." He broke off, looking at her outfit: a black vest paired with grey yoga-style cotton pants, long hair tied back in a high ponytail. She stuck her tongue out at him, and he laughed at her, surprised.
"I'm dressed perfectly appropriately, in loose clothing. You on the other hand will have to change. Formal trousers are not the correct wear for sitting comfortably in the grass, am I right? Looking at those particular trousers, I'll be very surprised if you can even touch your toes, never mind successfully cross your legs."
"Why on earth should I want to touch my toes?" Draco asked sulkily. He'd never really tried. Chryssa grinned at him, guessing, but didn't remark. "And why do I have to change?"
"I was hoping you'd meditate with me today," she told him, not very much liking the cynical look that passed over his face. "I will show you how to effectively use our link, how to protect it, and maintain it."
"Maintain? Are you trying to tell me that this queer little tattoo -which I did not ask for, by the way- doesn't at least have that as a use?" Chryssa resisted the urge to stamp on his foot, and took satisfaction in taking her time answering, by devouring her chosen breakfast of a bacon sandwich, and an apple. He looked on impatiently.
"The proof of our bond, that you so casually slate, of course is necessary, it is a physical link." He had the decency to look slightly apologetic. "However, if you were to be physically and emotionally distanced from me, for a prolonged period of time, the bond could weaken. If you were to not see me, contact me at all, and shut me out, the bond will not remain as strong. You aren't a real pack-mate, hence the need for us to be marked as each other's. But don't worry, hiding in your room for a week, and refusing to project a thought to me wouldn't do it, so don't think you can rob me of my wages if you're ever sulking with me for some reason. It has to be quite extreme measures. Meditating together will help." He glowered at her for the patronisation, but imitated her by eating his toast annoying slowly.
"Thanks, I appreciate it," he didn't return her winning smile. "But I'm not particularly unhappy with your presence, so I'm not going to try to sabotage your work. Whatever gave you that idea? Oh, I'm guessing your previous clients aren't always as delightful company as me?"
She gave him an incredulous look, before rising from the table. "We should go, when you're ready." Draco pushed his empty plate back, and they left the dining room together.
"The most peaceful part of your grounds we are allowed on. That would be preferable. Do you know such a place? Naturally your thick-headed, unplaced scepticism towards meditation leads me to believe you've never tried it. But try to think of the quietest spot."
"I get it," he replied, irritably. "I understand the concept of meditation at least, and just why exactly have you followed me back to my room, anyway? Are you hoping to be invited in while I get changed?"
Chryssa flushed "Of course not! I was… going to my own room for something," she was glad that Draco did not possess her detection for lies. She'd not really noticed where they were going. He rolled his eyes at her again, then entered his own room, and shut the door behind him, though not before sending her a quick and slightly suggestive look. He appeared again a minute later, adjusting the mid-length sleeved black t-shirt he wore with grey sweat pants.
"There, we match. Happy?"
She tried not to look too approving.
Draco lead the way back through the dining room, and out through some double doors into part of the garden. They walked in silence for a couple of minutes, covering some considerable ground, as he lead her past a pretty but heavily ornamented pond with large goldfish, and suspiciously bright lotus pads. Magically enhanced plants. Chryssa shook her head. They went over a small bridge, passing some gates to what looked like a stable, or barn. Eventually, they reached a clearing that must have been a small orchard once, at the furthest reaches of the garden, about fifteen minutes from the house, though she knew that the grounds spread far enough to give someone a place to walk around for hours. The area Draco had chosen was stunning; she could not have picked a better place herself. Apple trees covered a fair amount of the ground, but it was not crowded. A real pond was in a gap between a cluster of trees, small but beautiful, with natural plants and no forced, artificial beauty, and she could hear a frog nearby. There was a bench, and even a wooden swing. There was one giant tree a little away from the bench, an oak, and it was the only tree in the clearing that wasn't an apple tree. Chryssa vaguely wondered if the tree had been planted there in memorial to someone, probably more than a century ago. She was so caught up in the orchard's beauty, that she was startled when Draco broke her out of the spell, by landing on the ground right underneath the old oak, with a thump.
She looked at him, legs folded in a way that looked most uncomfortable, arms bent out pointing away from him, and he closed his eyes very briefly before they flashed open again, when he realised she wasn't following.
"What- what are you doing?" Chryssa asked him, looking very amused.
"Um, meditating? That is what you wanted to drag me out here for, right? What? I've seen how it's supposed to be done, all angles, and lotus position, and-" he broke off seeing her creased up with laughter. "What?"
"Well if that is how you are most comfortable, then of course, remain as you are, but it is not how I will relax," she rolled her pants up above her knees, revealing slim; shapely calves that Draco pretended not to notice. Then she sat in a gap between two of the trees surrounding the little pond, and rested her feet in the water, shook her hair free of its ponytail, and it settled around her, messy but compliant, about elbow-length.
"Do you walk everywhere barefoot?" Draco looked amused, getting up from under the tree, and moving to sit across from her, removing his own shoes. He noticed a dainty tattoo around her right ankle, a daisy chain, he thought at first, but upon closer inspection, the small; intricately drawn flowers were not daisies, but tiny sunflowers. He smirked, unsurprised.
"Of course not. But I was planning to stay on grass for most of the day," she told him. "And I detest wearing shoes whilst meditating. I quite like the earth, and I feel no need to be less connected from it whilst I am trying to regenerate connections in general. Shoes are pretty stifling." She looked slightly accusingly at Draco's shoes, by the edge, as if they'd offended her somehow.
Draco shook his head, lowering his own feet into the water. "They're just shoes. No need to try find such a deep meaning to them."
Chryssa laughed, embarrassed at her own unintentional piousness. "I suppose they protect. I understand that much." Draco smiled at her, feeling his tension leave him as he closed his eyes and enjoyed the sensation of the cooling; silky water around his ankles. She smiled back, understanding.
They remained silent for some time, and Draco almost jumped, when he opened his eyes again, to see a pair of large golden eyes looking intently at him. He'd never noticed how weird their shade was.
"What is it?" He was curious, unwilling to ruin the moment with sarcasm.
"I don't think you do this nearly enough," she said softly. A slight frown crossed his face.
"Ok, I was wrong about meditation… on some levels. This wasn't exactly my interpretation of it."
She smiled at his again, and her smile was too kind for his liking. "I didn't mean it that way."
"I know." More silence again, but her watched her for a while, rather than close his eyes. She tried again.
"I can see the effect this is having on you. It's good, but it looks long overdue." She had no idea. "Do you ever think that if you spent more time doing this, and not whatever you've spent too much time doing that causes your shoulders to hunch that way, that maybe you'd have less on those shoulders, less to get away from, and ultimately, less of a desperate need for this?"
"What do you mean?" His voice was sharp. She hadn't sounded accusatory, but the implication was still there. "What do you think I spend too much time doing exactly?"
She smiled mildly, hoping to calm him again. "Nothing good clearly, but I'm not here to judge your morals, Draco. I was just showing concern. Seeing you relaxed shows me how unnatural your demeanour was before." She bit her lip. "I'm glad you have relaxed, but maybe you should learn not to take too much on yourself in the first place?" He didn't speak to her for a while, and she sighed, and leant against the tree she was beside.
"My shoulders do not hunch."
"Oh they don't?" Chryssa laughed at him teasingly. "Then why is this the first time I've had a clear view of your neck?"
"Please, good posture is in my blood. Maybe you shouldn't stare at me while my eyes are closed, wanton woman." He grinned seeing her blush again. The pond was small enough for him to be able to reach out and touch her, if he wanted. He shook himself mentally. Christ, it's her second day working, and I'm already starting to fancy her. I must be out of action.
Draco realised, as they sat there in companionable silence, that he really didn't have to hide from her. Aside from her freaky ability to work him out relatively well –which he was guessing had something to do with their link, that she hadn't fully explained to him yet- he could confide in her, as well as act himself around her. Why not? She legitimately couldn't tell anyone else any information he gave her, no matter how trivial, so long as he didn't want her to. Their contract as well as the bond prevented her. He could trust her, but so far, he had no real reason besides wanting a friend to really confide in, to tell her anything. She wasn't anything to him yet.
Perhaps attending school, and spending more time together there would help. He liked the thought of being able to talk to someone without withholding absolutely everything, and so far, she seemed a good enough candidate for friendship, if anything.
Thanks though, to the few that have put me in their favourites, and this story on alert :) Please review next time guys!
Currently have my new baby rabbit (Mitsy) sitting on the bed with me, as I'm writing this.
It keeps trying to eat my bedspread, climbing on me, and keeps looking over the keyboard as I'm typing, and occasionally trying to type too. I should banish her back to her hutch, but she's sooo cute! :3