BACKDATED - Padma and Ernie WHO: Padma and Ernie WHEN: Friday, 2 May WHERE: Ernie's home WHAT: Ernie invited Padma round for dinner... and his parents are out
After two hours of throwing on and off outfits, stomping around in tears because she felt like she didn't have anything suitable to wear, and finally giving herself a sharp mental slap, Padma was ready. She was also more nervous about this dinner with Ernie than she was before her exam started. After all, tonight was a big step forward in their relationship, maybe even bigger than the promise ring which sparkled on her finger. Everyone knew what it meant when your significant other invited you over to their place when their parents were out.
Staring at her reflection in the mirror, smoothing the fine material of her blue dress over her hips, Padma wondered if she was mentally prepared. She really hadn't expected Ernie to take this step so soon, and certainly not without discussing it with her first - with flowcharts. Still, she did quite like that he was being spontaneous and ever since that disturbing 'dream' she'd experience in the final stages of the Black Tulip initiation, Padma couldn't help wondering if it was so wrong to want more than just a few kisses. Often she would write the longing for more down to hormones, which weren't logical and needed to be kept under control, but then she thought about Hannah and how she was supremely happy with the relationship with Quinn - and they weren't married!
The chime from her clock snapped Padma out of her thoughts and she gasped, realising that it was bang on 7 o'clock and if she didn't hurry then she would be more than five minutes late.
At 7.04 precisely, she arrived on the Macmillan's doorstep, her cheeks flushed and her eyes bright. After ringing the bell, she decided to stop fretting about whether she was ready or not and just let matters take their course. She and Ernie were going to get married and going a step further than kissing wouldn't change that. Perhaps it would even be helpful. With that last thought in mind, Padma was smiling happily as the door was opened and she stepped inside.
Ernie looked over his journal conversation with Hannah, his brow etched deep with worry. Was Padma really expecting more than a roasted chicken and pleasant uninterrupted conversation along with the chaste kisses they usually shared? No, of course not, he decided. Padma was a proper girl, he was a proper young man, and he most certainly would never insinuate anything of the kind in such a crude and public manner. Maybe... maybe Hannah was right in saying snogging wouldn't be completely improper... but she had to be wrong in thinking Padma was expecting more. After all, Hannah was dating the pinnacle of impropriety and debauchery. He probably snogged her on the first date.
Hearing the door, Ernie hastily jumped from where he was sitting on the sofa, his journal still opened on the coffee table as he forgot it entirely on his path to answer the call of what had to be his Padma. Sure enough, it was. And the sight of her was enough to put his worried mind at ease. She looked beautiful, the picture of upstanding virtue that he had fallen in love with. For a second he simply smiled at her before he caught himself and opened the door wider. "Padma, you look beautiful, my love. Come in, come in," he greeted, leaning in to give her a light kiss.
Not expecting to be pounced on and snogged within an inch of her life as soon as she entered, Padma wasn't the least disappointed by Ernie's greeting. She responded to his kiss with the same light pressure and lightly brushed his cheek with an affectionate hand. Her heart did start beating a little faster though and her mouth felt a bit dry. "I'm sorry I'm a little late," a little blush coloured her cheeks when Padma recalled why she'd been late. Even though Ernie had initiated the invitation, she still felt a bit embarrassed about dwelling on what was going to happen. Better to forget about it until after dinner. Nothing will happen before then! "How was your day, love? Has Zabini continued to be obnoxious about the Head Boy badge?"
Taking her hand, Ernie began to lead her down the hall and towards the informal dining room, glancing at her quizzically. "What badge? Why would he be asking me for it?"
"Oh, he was making some ridiculous claim about you stealing off with 'his' badge and leaving him with a fake one," Padma's expression showed precisely what she thought of Blaise Zabini's accusations - which wasn't very much at all. She squeezed his hand and smiled at him. "You know, if you had done something like that, I wouldn't have blamed you in the slightest! He certainly didn't deserve the title."
Ernie shook his head, plainly confused about all of the matter. "Stealing his... I turned it in! If I'd faked one someone would have been bound to see it before now." Rolling his eyes, annoyed, his hand clenched tighter around hers. "Blaise Zabini just likes trying to ruin my character. He is a waste of a human being."
"Usually I wouldn't agree with that sort of description, but in his case, I quite agree," Padma couldn't help a slight wince when his fingers tightened on hers. She wriggled her hand in an unspoken request for him to loosen his grip. "Anyway, he obviously wants people to notice him, no matter what idiotic comments he makes, it's really rather pitiful and only goes to show you're the much better man," she tiptoed to kiss his cheek. "But then I've known that for a while now!"
She was mentally relaxing, her earlier nerves fading, as they talked. Padma actually felt a bit silly for fretting. This was Ernie and even if something happened tonight, she wouldn't regret it.
Startled at the movement from her hand he dropped it as if her fingers had burned him. "I'm sorry! Did I hurt you?" Concerned, he lifted her hand to press his lips against the back of her knuckles, his eyes flicking over to hers. After a second his face flushed and he turned away, taking the hand back into his own, but loosely, scared to hurt her again. "The elves should be nearly finished. I'd have tried cooking for you but I'm afraid I'd be rather useless in the kitchen."
"It's all right, I'm fine, really!" Padma gave his hand a squeeze to show her fingers were in perfect working order. Of course, the minute he kissed her hand all the fluttery feelings came back and she'd also blushed. For a brief moment her imagination had wandered from hand kissing to... well, places it probably shouldn't be going quite yet. Focusing on his remark about cooking, she couldn't help a little laugh escaping. "I might feel a bit threatened if you were good at cooking. That's my domain!. I can't wait until I get to make your meals everyday," the last remark slipped out without Padma realising and she blushed again, embarrassed by her obvious eagerness to be his wife. Even though she fully accepted the reasons why they were not getting married sooner, and agreed they were logical, it was hard not to dream when people like Megan Jones were getting married in August.
Laughing, he reached the dining room and pulled her chair out for her. "I can't wait either," he confessed, bending down to press his lips against her cheek before walking to his seat across from her just as the elves came in to get their drink selections. His heart rate seemed to slow as he moved away, the feeling that moments were only going to get more intense seeming to become a reality in his mind. Giving his head a brief shake, Ernie turned his attention to putting on a pleasant smile as he waited for Padma to receive her drink.
Keeping her mind firmly in the present despite her emotions being thrown into a whirl by his confession, Padma spent a bit more time than usual deciding on her drink. By the time she had selected a apple juice she was more in command of her feelings and could face Ernie without feeling breathless. "Now I have the results of my exam, I get to start my training next week. It's going to be a bit hard, coming in behind the rest of the interns, but Dad had offered to help me with some extra practical work. I do hope none of the others make any accusation about me riding on his robe tails though."
Scoffing, Ernie requested a glass of sparkling water before turning back to Padma. "You made it in fair and square, your father had nothing to do with it. You're brilliant, and will make a fine addition to the Healing staff. They'll see that as soon as you get a chance to show them," he assured her.
She beamed at him, expecting the back up but appreciating it no less. "I hope so!" she sipped the apple juice the house elf brought to her. "Of course, I also need to think about which area of medicine to focus on, Spell Damage like Dad or Potion and Plant Poisoning or Creature-Induced Injuries, all of which interest me greatly."
"You should try out everything, and see where your passion and talents lead you," he told her honestly, glancing up as the elf brought out the chicken and began carving it. "I want you to be happy in the work you do."
"Well, I will get a chance to dabble in all fields first, so I suppose I shouldn't leap ahead before then," she agreed, glancing at the chicken and feeling her stomach rumble. Two hours of fretting did work up an appetite. "Anyway, how are things going with you, Ernie? No more thefts of your quills now you have your box to keep them in?"
Laughing as the elf left after serving them, Ernie placed his napkin over his lap and lifted his cutlery. "No, my possessions have been quite safe, thank you. In fact, some of my co-workers have actually brought in similar lock boxes to protect their own affects. I think you may have started a trend," he grinned.
"Well you know I am rather a trend setter!" Padma said in a mock-snooty tone and flipped back her hair, posing like a model before she started laughing.
"Speaking of trends, are you interested in attending George's party after the Gellys?"
Looking up from his meal, Ernie waited till he swallowed. "I am if you would like to. Were you planning on dressing up?"
"Well it does seem to be a requirement," Padma grinned. She paused to take another sip of her juice. "Besides, it would be fun and we don't have to do anything outrageous."
Ernie looked momentarily uneasy. "If you want to dress up, you should," he said carefully, the idea of having to go as someone other than himself not sitting incredibly well with him.
"Of course I have to figure out which celebrity I would be. Perhaps I can ask Parvati for ideas..." she mused. Nothing Ernie's uneasy expression, Padma gave him a considering look. "But I won't if you don't, it wouldn't be so much fun if we didn't both get into the spirit of things!" a mad idea occured to her and she chuckled. "Why not go as Harry? All you need is the scar and some glasses!"
He blinked. "Harry... huh," pausing, Ernie considered the idea. "You know... that isn't a completely insane notion. I do have green eyes," he pointed out. "Much lighter, but still. I might be able to get away with it..."
"It would be brilliant!" Padma enthused, smiling encouragingly. "And I could transfigure a pair of Dad's old glasses to look like Harry's."
Ernie considered this, still looking doubtful. But the excited expression on Padma's face made it impossible to outright refuse her, and he felt his shoulders sag. "If it will make you happy, I'll dress as Harry."
She reached out to place her hand over his. "It will, but I also think you'll enjoy yourself as well. Fun is good therapy, Ernie," Padma teased. A little voice reminded her that they'd hardly been thinking about this time last year, when they were fighting for their lives and losing friends, but she refused to be maudlin. Michael wouldn't have wanted her to mope and Padma believed that the best way to honour the dead was to live, remembering them but enjoying life, not feeling guilty.
Nodding, he covered her hand with his other one. "Then it's settled. I'll go as Harry. Do you have any ideas on your celebrity?"
"Not at all," Padma pulled a face before chuckling. "I don't really feel like going as anyone I know well, which rules out most of the Quidditch players. Unless I went as Carina," she shook her head at the absurd idea of her prancing about in one of Carina's outfits. "No, no one would recognise me! I don't have that figure after all," she immediately regretted the last comment. Would Ernie think she was fishing for a compliment about her figure? Was she fishing? A short mental check and Padma realised she was. Well, what woman wouldn't need some some loving reassurance when Miss November was mentioned? And he better say the right thing! said a little voice that sound suspiciously like Parvati.
Raising his eyebrows, Ernie shook his head. "You'd look better than Carina in whatever outfit of hers you wore," he insisted. "She'd never be able to compare if she tried to wear it again after you." Immediately Ernie flushed. "Not that I pay attention to what she's wearing, of course! Or what she's not wearing!" Realizing he just seemed to be digging himself into a bigger hole, he squeezed his eyes shut. "I'd rather look at you than Carina, that's all I'm trying to say."
Padma's expression went through a range of emotions as he spoke. At first she beamed and then she frowned with her brows drawing closer and closer together until he saved himself and she was smiling again. Part of her felt a bit silly for being so vain, but most of her was mentally dancing with joy and she gave his hand a tight squeeze before withdrawing it to attend to her dinner again. "Well... perhaps I'll go as one of the Indian celebrities. Remember that witch Cousin Vijay liked so much? Vanni Mukerjee? She has a large following amongst Indian wizards here too and all I'd have to do is find a flashy sari. Most people won't recognise me, but that doesn't really matter."
Relieved to be on safer conversational ground, Ernie picked his knife and fork back up from his plate. "Well if people are going as Muggle celebrities I see no reason why you shouldn't be able to go as an Indian one. Or what about that woman in Chambers' band? Hannah's shown me pictures of them and she's rather exotic looking."
"Lirit?" Padma mused this over as she ate a few more mouthfuls. Once she'd washed that down with some juice, she nodded. "That's a definite possibility and wouldn't require too much work," she flashed him a smile. "Good idea!"
"We can get you a fake guitar, put you in some of those clothes that look as if they were taken from a Margin Alley clothesline, and you should be set," he said simply, his lips twitching as he cut another piece of chicken.
"Ernie, they're not that bad," she chided gently, but with a small, slightly amused smile. "Anyway, it'll be fun to forget about work and such for a little while. Keep people from calling us dull," she rolled her eyes, well aware that there were many who felt she and Ernie could do with some livening up. Padma didn't really think she was boring just because she didn't go to parties and get drunk every night, but it did get tiresome having to deal with comments about her 'staid' life.
"Our lives are hardly dull, we're simply responsible," he protested. "Some of our classmates have just yet to grow up. They'll learn and discover there's more to life than parties and alcohol."
"You don't need to persuade me, Ernie, I agree with you. I do get sick of having to defend myself though," Padma admitted her private thought with a rueful smile before stabbing her last piece of chicken with her fork. "I just wish others would realise that their fun isn't always what's right for everyone else," another rueful smile curved her lips once she finished her mouthful. "And while I'm at it, I'll wish for the moon as well."
Ernie smiled at her, patiently and amused. "I wish you wouldn't care so much about what people say, love. They're always going to have something to criticise you or I about." Reaching over, he squeezed her hand. "You can't make everyone happy. Just the ones who matter. And I am perfectly happy with you exactly as you are."
"It's a bit difficult not to care when there's a constant comparison between you and your twin," Padma loved Parvati to death, she really did, but it was rather irksome to be always known as the 'good' girl and the less exciting twin to know. She squeezed his hand back. "Thank you for soothing my little insecurities, Ernie, and I hope you know that I love YOU just as you are."
He grinned, squeezing her hand - more gently than before - and running his thumb against the skin there. "There's a reason I'm planning on marrying you and not your sister, love. I think you win in the comparison category. Not," he corrected, "that your sister isn't a lot of fun. I'd just prefer to be with someone who didn't insist on splashing me with dirty rain water from puddles."
A little shiver ran up from the spot his thumb was rubbing against and all the way down to her spine, effectively muddling thoughts. "Well... she doesn't do that on a regular basis," Padma could hear a breathless note in her voice. "But I'm glad.... about your reason."
A look of concern flitted across Ernie's face as he watched Padma, lifting his hand to rest the back of it against her cheek and forehead. "Are you feeling alright? You look a bit flushed. Is the food disagreeing with you?"
"What?" Padma's eyes widened and the colour of her cheeks deepened. "No... no, I'm fine, really!" she assured him assuredly, struggling with embarrassment and another sensation that took her quite unawares which she could only tentatively recognise as desire. Her hand fluttered up to touch his and without really thinking, she turned her head to kiss his hand. "I'm fine."
Ernie swallowed hard, rubbing his thumb against her cheek. "Good," he said in a strangled voice before clearing his throat and trying to compose himself. "That's... that's good."
Oh dear. Another little shiver ran through her and her breath caught as her eyes locked with his. Padma had no idea that such a little touch could feel so lovely and her head tilted slightly, almost like a cat responding to a caress. "Are you... all right?" she asked slowly, noting his odd tone.
Trying failing to form a coherent thought as he watched her, Ernie managed a stiff nod, his fingers finding their way to the fine hair against her neck.
Once again her breath caught and she bit her lower lip, her eyes still trained on his. "Good..." Padma could feel her heart thumping harder and her head tilted even more, offering more of her neck as his fingers trailed down. Her mind was very fuzzy and all she could think was that something that felt so nice couldn't be bad.
Acting purely on an instinct Ernie was unaware he had, and a voice in the back of his head that sounded suspiciously like Hannah reminding him that snogging was not at all inappropriate in he and Padma's situation, he leaned forward and brushed his lips against Padma's, her face still cradled in his hand as he brought her closer to him.
She leaned in at his direction, responding to the brush of his lips with a little happy sigh and half closing her eyes. As Ernie drew her closer, Padma's hands moved to his shoulders and she returned his kiss, still lightly but with a touch more pressure to indicate she wasn't averse to deepening it. Strangely enough, she didn't feel nervous anymore. Kissing Ernie and being in his arms was just the most natural and perfect thing in the world.
The dining room chairs seemed to be becoming increasingly more adverse to this new position, no matter how close Ernie managed to move his chair towards hers. This was proved when he ran over his toe with one of the legs of the chair, making him jump away and utter an oath, promptly reddening as it registered what he'd said.
Chagrin and worry immediately flooded Padma's expression that had previously been full of dreamy-eyed desire. At first she thought his reaction was a censure to her, but then she realised what the problem was and a little laugh escaped before she stifled it and got up. Leaning over, sliding her arms around him, Padma rested her head on his shoulder. "Perhaps we should move to the sofa?" she murmured feeling daring, shy and hopeful all at the same time.
Ernie paled, the implications in her voice clear and he warred with the two parts of himself over whether or not this was the right thing to do. But the part of him that was still a nineteen year old boy was at that moment much louder than the part of him that was far older. So he nodded, standing up and taking her hand as he led the way to the sitting room, his arm around her waist and his lips against hers before they'd even sat down.
She really didn't expect him to agree with the suggestion, nor was Padma even sure if she should have asked, but then he was leading her to the sitting room and kissing her before she could really process what was happening. Padma virtually melted against him, desire returning with even more force than before as her arms wound around him so they stayed close. It occurred to her then that maybe those silly romance novels she'd read out of curiousity actually did have some truth in them. All the over-the-top language and talk of being kissed breathless, blood on fire and every other cliche seemed to be coming true. She did feel extremely warm and the heavier their kisses got, more breathless she felt. Padma was also conscious that this time there was no fear any parents would swoop in to check on them and that along with what Ernie was arousing in her made her feel quite reckless.
The only other time Ernie could recall ever feeling so bold is when he defaced the Great Hall while in hiding his Seventh year. Of course that incident had resulted in him tripping over Padma's hammock while trying to get into pajamas. Fortunately this situation had them entangled in quite a different way. He found one hand lacing his fingers through her hair, his other arm tightening around her waist as he pressed her as close against him as he could, his lips growing more and more demanding against hers as he reveled in the feeling of skirting the rules he normally embraced.
This was all new and very intoxicating, Padma found herself moaning against the onslaught of Ernie's surprisingly aggressive kisses and responding with a passion she didn't think she possessed. No one had ever kissed her like this! Of course, she could count the number of kisses she'd received from boys other than him on one hand, so no wonder it was easy for her emotions to take control.
It was the sound that escaped her lips that finally brought Ernie to his senses, and he backed away with wide eyes, sense seeming to flood back into his mind and body. "Merlin, Padma, I'm sorry! I don't know what came over me." Breathing hard, he turned, resting his head in his hands and gripping his hair he tried to slow his heart rate back down.
His sudden retreat left Padma mentally unprepared and she lay back on the sofa, her hair mussed and lips tingling, breathing heavily. Her first feeling was disappointment and then frustration, but that was followed by a sense of relief. Clearly it was frighteningly easy to get carried away and she knew she would regret it if they wound up going all the way on a sofa of all places. However, at the same time she didn't think there was any cause to be ashamed of getting more passionate, especially not when they were promised to each other. With that in mind, she sat up, smoothing down her hair and then leaned in towards him until her forehead was resting on his shoulder, one hand resting on his knee. "It's all right, Ernie," Padma murmured soothingly. "Don't be sorry, it's natural to desire the one you love. It makes me happy to know you love and want me so much you lose control, and I trust you not to hurt me."
He leaned his head, allowing it to rest on hers. "I just don't want you to think that's the reason I invited you over tonight, or that I'm pressuring you into something, or anything. Because... because I respect you Padma. And I don't want to compromise your virtue in any way and lose the trust you've placed in me," he tried to explain, feeling suddenly fourteen again.
"I admit, I did wonder whether you had something in mind," Padma confessed, blushing. "The perils of listening to some of the gossipy girls, you see. But when I got here, I stopped fretting about it and decided that whatever happened, I'm just happy to be with you. I don't feel pressured in the slightest, and anyway..." she shifted so it was possible to look up at him. "I was the one who suggested moving here, remember?" her hand lifted to stroke his cheek. "I don't think we should feel that we have to go any faster than we're comfortable with, but we're promised to each other, I'm going to marry you, I don't want anyone else, so I don't believe there's anything wrong with expressing ourselves just a bit more. Whatever happens, I know you're not the sort of man to force yourself on me when I don't want something or to dump me if we ended up... ahhh.... you know..." her confident tone faulted and she blushed more, unable to actually articulate the words 'sex' or 'sleeping together'
Ernie's eyes widened. "Oh! I mean, I wouldn't..." for a second he gapped, unsure of what to say. "There's just... we should have something to look forward to, shouldn't we?"
"Calm down," she placed her fingers on his lips, still blushing but actually not floundering. Padma often found it easier to be calm when someone else was panicking and this was no different. "Of course we should, but I'm just trying to say we don't need to think so much and you needn't worry about me thinking you don't respect me just because you're kissing me more... ah... passionately. I think I'd be more worried if you didn't!" she added thoughtfully.
As soon as her fingers touched him, Ernie felt himself relax, the growing panic beginning to melt out of him. He found himself nodding, moving his hand up to hers so he could press his lips against the fingers there. "If at any time though, Padma, you think I - we -" he amended "are moving at a pace you are uncomfortable with... I want you to tell me. Promise me, you'll tell me."
"I promise I'll tell you," she said softly and seriously before removing her fingers to lean in to drop a gentle kiss on his lips. When she pulled back, Padma was smiling again. "I love you," she murmured and then cuddled against him, feeling very reassured by the talk and knowing their relationship had progressed a step further.
Tightening his arms around her, Ernie felt at peace. As though everything in the world was finally exactly as it should be. Pressing his lips against the top of her head, he felt himself grin, feeling inexplicably giddy. "I love you too."