Chapter 12 : Paint pots and iteration
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"A few weeks ago."
"So you're moving back here?"
"Yes," I answered, still watching Oliver. He seemed to have trouble breathing, and eventually pushed his chair away and left the table.
"You sit down right now, Gregory Davis," Cat snapped as he motioned to follow Oliver. "Kiwi's going. And that's not a question," she barked at me.
Oliver was behind the bunk house, leaning against the wall. I placed my fingers on his arm carefully.
"I'm sorry, Oliver. If I'd known I wouldn't have accepted."
"You think that would have been better?"
"Isn't that what you want?"
"No," he sighed, "it's not. I'm the one who's sorry."
"Too late. I'm sorry I left you and Grace alone, I'm sorry you had to cope with everything without me when I said I'd be there for you, I'm sorry I wasn't there at my daughter's birth, I'm sorry for being a dick, I'm sorry I…"
"Oliver, shut up. I wasn't alone, ever, you're not a dick, I'm sorry I didn't tell you earlier on in my pregnancy that you were Grace's father, and I'm glad you're here for her now."
He smiled sadly. "But I'm not, am I? She doesn't know who I am, and I have no idea who she truly is."
That shut me up.
"How are you going to cope with Grace if you're teaching at Hogwarts?" Oliver sat down on the ground.
"I'm not exactly teaching," I lowered myself next to him. "I'm there to watch and help students with difficulties, and this is only for first year students, for now at least. But to answer your question, I found a flat in Hogsmeade, and Maya will pick Grace up every morning and take her to preschool after that."
"Sounds good. How far from the castle is your flat?"
"Fifteen, sixteen minutes by foot," I approximated. "It's on Trumpton Road, number eight."
"Just behind Honeydukes?"
I grinned. "Yep, that's the place. You know about it?"
"That's where I'm staying as well."
I felt my heart miss a beat or two or five. "Please tell me it's a joke."
"Afraid not. Flat K, sixth floor."
"L, sixth floor. Hello, new neighbour," I replied glumly.
There was another pregnant pause. The tension between us was rippling through the air, making me feel like my head was being forced against a stone wall.
"I didn't mean that," I spoke up quietly. "It just seems so strange, you know? We broke up really violently, hated one another, didn't speak or write to each other for years, and yet…"
"We have a daughter and we're going to live a hallway away from one another," Oliver completed for me. "Yep."
I laughed and turned to him. "If we're so close to one another physically, this makes matters more practical."
He cocked an eyebrow. "So close to one another physically?"
I punched his shoulder lightly. "Get off your high horse, Wood. That's not what I meant," a brief image flashed through my head, but I shook it away. "I don't know what time you need to be at Hogwarts in the mornings, but if it's after eight I could leave Grace with you, and Maya would pick her up from your place."
"I only need to be there for first years' flying lessons and Quidditch matches, which means never before ten. Leaving me Grace would be fine."
"Do you want to?" I glanced at him anxiously. "I mean, if it's a problem, just tell me, and I can find another way."
"She's my daughter too. I want to spend more time with her, and I've already missed out on so much."
I almost agreed with his statement, rather nastily, but for once in my life, I decided to drop it and just shut the fuck up.
I dusted myself off, glancing around me with approval. I'd painted the walls of the flat turquoise, the bathroom was tiled in lime green, and Grace's room was painted a light shade of pink, making it look like, and I quote, "a huge plate of squashed strawberries, thank you mum".
The suitcases were unpacked, the fridge was stocked, I had remembered to buy soap, and there was a raspberry pie cooking in the tiny oven. I was ready for the first of September.
"Mum, mum, can daddy eat with us?" Grace barged into the kitchen, nearly crashing into one of the chairs. "Please?"
I looked at her hopeful expression, biting my lip. I didn't want to, but she seemed so enthusiastic about it.
"Fine," I agreed. "Go wash your hands while I go get him."
It was quite simple, really. Cross the corridor, knock, wait. Oliver had moved in only today, two weeks after us, and I had heard the shuffling sound of boxes being lugged around since the morning.
"Yes?" He opened the door a crack.
"Grace wants you to eat with us."
"Okay, give me a minute," he shut the door, only to reappear a few moments later.
Shirtless, with tousled, damp hair falling into his eyes.
Breathe, Kiwi, breathe. Had he always been that well-built?
He coughed, and I realised I had been eyeing him with much more interest than I should have.
"Like what you see?" He pulled a shirt over his head.
I decided to be truthful – plus I'd been obvious enough. "Yes."
"Before Grace was born…"
"Yes?" I looked at him, puzzled.
"You said the father was as hot as me, but I wouldn't be jealous."
He nodded. "It took me two months to figure that one out."
I grinned, hiding my reddening cheeks behind a lock of hair fallen out of my bun. "I didn't find you too ugly at the time."
"What about today?" He smiled slyly at me.
"Please, Oliver, stop doing this," I whispered, my throat suddenly very dry. "Don't ruin things."
He ran a hand through his hair, embarrassed. "Sorry."
"It's good to see things haven't changed," I attempted a tension breaker.
"What do you mean, me flirting with you on a regular basis?"
"You flirting end of," I ignored my slightly racing heart at his words. "Do you still use that horrible pick-up line?"
"Which one? I've got so many."
I stifled a smile at his attempted suave tone, and put on a gruff voice. "Hello, would you like to find out why I got my surname?"
He let out a short bout of laughter. "You're a very poor imitation of me, I'll have you know. And no, I haven't."
"Daddy!" Grace bounded over to him. Their relationship had developed so quickly, I realised, and at the same time there was still a reticence on both sides. They talked together often, Oliver had written to her, but there was no physical contact, ever.
"Hello, beautiful," he waved to her from a safe distance.
"Are you staying for dinner or for ever?" Grace questioned.
"Just dinner I'm afraid."
I'm afraid? I'm afraid? What the bloody hell was that supposed to mean?
"Can I show you my room?"
"Course you can. What colour did you paint it in?"
"Squashed strawberries? That's my favourite colour," Oliver assured her, following Grace out of the room with a smile in my direction.
I turned back to the chicken I had begun to fry, quietly appreciating the concert of their voices, one low and rumbling, the other laughing and excited.
"And so the princess followed the prince into his castle, they got married and had lots of children and lived happily ever after."
"Daddy, are you going to have lots of children with mum?"
Oliver distinctly gulped, and I popped my head around the door to save him.
"Grace, aren't you asleep yet? Daddy is tired and wants to go to bed, but he can't if you don't leave him alone."
"But are you going to have lots of children?" She turned away from Oliver to look at me.
So much for trying to change subjects.
"We already have you," I replied.
"But mum…" she insisted.
She pulled the covers up to her chin, slightly pouting. "Goodnight."
Oliver followed me out of her room, turning the lights off and shutting the door behind both of us.
"I'm only going to bed if it's with you," he informed me conversationally.
"Oliver," I started out.
"Sorry, sorry, I said I'd stop, I know, sorry, anyway thanks for the meal, it was delicious, bye," the words tumbled out of his mouth. He was out of my flat before I could say anything.
Minutes later I saw him stride into the street, clenching and unclenching his fingers as he paced back and forth briskly.
No, I don't usually spy on my exes through the window, okay? This was different. It wasn't just an ex. It was Oliver. And as soon as this thought went through my head, I knew what I wanted to do. It wasn't appropriate, it certainly wasn't reasonable, but it was all I wanted, after weeks of accumulated tension and thoughts of him.
I stumbled down the six flights of stairs, tore the front door open, and walked as steadily as I could manage in his direction.
Our mouths met somewhere in the middle.
My hands threaded in his hair, his hands up my shirt, holding each other as if letting go would kill both of us.
It probably would.
"I can't," I mumbled against his lips. "I can't do this – mmph." He was kissing me again, and I was responding eagerly, desperately.
Slowly but surely, we had inched back inside our block of flats. Still kissing me, he somehow managed to turn on his heel and Apparate the pair of us into his flat.
"Grace," I pushed him away. "I don't even know if she's asleep." I crept out of his flat and into mine, dashed to Grace's room and peeked inside. As usual, she had fallen asleep in the space of minutes, and was now snoring softly. Reassured, I walked out again, knowing the door would lock itself automatically, and knocked on Oliver's door for the second time that evening.
It opened with a bang, and Oliver grabbed my wrist, pulling me to him, still as urgent as before, slamming the door close with his foot.
I kissed him back, hard, head spinning, heart thumping, fireworks exploding in my stomach.
He pushed me up against the wall, and I hitched my legs up and around his hips as his hands moved down to roam my thighs. It was intense, it was needing, it was violent, and it was everything I'd been missing for five years.
Fumbling with his belt, I slid his trousers down while he did the same to my skirt, awkwardly, still clinging to one another. He tried to clamber out of his jeans, but only managed to trip and fall, bringing me down with him.
I shook with laughter into his chest as our kiss was broken, the propped myself up by the forearms, my face a few inches away from his.
"Make love to me."
He smirked, crashing his lips to mine. "With pleasure."
I laughed at Oliver's expression. His hair was sticking out at all ends, his lips were swollen and he was glistening with a thin film of sweat. "What?"
"You look amazing."
"After a night of sex on the floor? I doubt it."
"It wasn't a full night, and that's precisely what makes you look so hot."
I blushed, and pulled one of the blankets lying around to me, hiding my breasts from his gentle but hungry eyes.
He moved closer to brush my face with his thumb. "Especially knowing I'm the cause of this."
I smiled at him, and placed a soft kiss on his mouth. "Are you expecting thanks?"
"You received it already," I trailed my fingers up his chest.
He grazed my lips with his. "You have a point."
"What time is it?"
"Three in the morning."
"Oh," I snuggled into his chest. "Still plenty of time, then."
"What, that again? Now?"
"No," my eyes fluttered shut. "Time to sleep. With you."
I felt him pick me up and carry me, then lay me down on his bed, before slipping under the covers as well, an arm slung over my waist.
I woke up less than two hours later to an empty bed, and dragged myself out, pulling Oliver's discarded shirt over my head.
He was sitting on the windowsill of the living room, drumming his fingers against the pane.
"Hey," I sat on the armrest of the sofa.
"We need to talk," he continued to look away from me.
"What do you see us as?"
"I don't know," I admitted.
"Enemies with benefits?"
"Nah, we don't hate each other enough for that."
He grinned. "Friends with benefits?"
"Parents with benefits."
He laughed, but it quickly died away. "Nothing more then?"
"I don't know," I repeated. "Our relationship is too complicated. One minute we hate each other, the next we're shagging, and there's the tiny detail that's made of both our genes… It makes it difficult to define what we are."
"Can I ask you a question?"
"Go out with me?"
I slid off the side of the sofa and fell to the floor, gaping at him from my new seating place.
"What?" I blurted.
"So unladylike," he tutted, "where did your education go? Your mother seemed like a such a distinguished woman…"
I was momentarily distracted. "You've met my mum?"
He instantly looked embarrassed. "Erm… I may have gone to see her four years ago to ask her for your address."
"You asked her for my address? But then why didn't you ever write?" My voice cracked pitifully in the middle, and I hated myself for it.
"She didn't give it to me. Firmly closed the door in my face, told me to man up because apparently writing a letter is good only for cowards, and to show her I was worthy of you. Oh, and called me un sacré petit con for not running after you earlier," he stumbled on the French.
"My mum called you a little asshole? My mum, Louise Caroline Willows?"
"Yes, your mum," he mimicked. "And she was right about it."
For one of the few times in my life, I was completely and utterly speechless.
"But anyway, I repeat my question. Will you go out with me?"
This boy has the capacity to be deeply unfazed, it's quite scary.
"I need to think about it."
And I walked out of Oliver's flat.
A/N: They'll never learn, will they?! I'm not convinced by this chapter, but seeing as the queue is so short, I thought I'd put it in anyway!
Any ideas on what'll happen next? Is Kim going to change her mind? Is Oliver going to run after her? Did you like Grace in this chapter (we didn't see much of her, but hey ho)? What did you think of Oliver's question? Who hates Kim right now?
Review lovely readers! Reviews are the sunshine of my life (sort of) :)
Annnd, also, if you'd like to read a story taking place on the Titanic, I suggest you go read Frozen Waters, it's on my author page...
Thank you all ♥
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