Who: Orsino Thruston and Penny Clearwater What: Negotiations and serious talks in not-so-serious circumstances When: Tuesday 16 February, afternoon Where: Penny and Oliver's flat Rating/Warning: PG/PG-13 ish. Status: Completed narrative.
Finding Orsino on her doorstep had been a nice surprise to a day that had begun with finding a hole in her shoes and been compounded by an over enthusiastic owl taking objection to her filing system. A bottle of wine lay open on the coffee table and whilst it was breathing - Penny had read about such things in a book somewhere - Penny took the oppurtunity to indulge in a more pleasing form of relaxation.
Orsino didnt seem to mind, but then his mouth was occupied as she sat on him and kissed him. And forgot about the wine.
After his impromptu visit a few weeks earlier had been so successful - getting to spend an afternoon with both Penny and Leigh had been nice, if not quite what he'd been planning on - Orsino had begun to take a bit more liberty with just dropping in on Penny with little reason. Or announcement. To his relief, her flatmate was nowhere to be seen today, and it was clear in his absence that Penny seemed to find little reason to put up pretense.
The abandoned wine bottle was still "breathing", possibly more than was needed. Orsino was much more interested in the fact that Penny had opted to leave drinks for later when she deftly straddled his lap, pinning him into the sofa and kissing him with no indication that she'd been about to do so. A month and a half of this sort of thing had seen him lose the initial surprise such an action may have caused before, and he immediately responded in kind.
His hands settled comfortably at her waist at first, but had soon moved away until one was quite eagerly running through her hair and the other was caressing her thigh gently. He smirked, a habit he'd never been able to break, his lips moving against hers more forcibly.
Penny let herself slip into the kiss with a small sigh as she leaned forward and fitted herself against Orsino. Over the time since they'd been 'experimenting' she'd come to grow more comfortable with him and, with herself.
Oliver wasn't due back for hours and even the ticking of the clock on the mantelpiece had faded into the background. One hand slipped underneath the fabric of his shirt as she let her thumb graze the tattoo she knew she'd find there. Penny had become rather fascinated by the different coloured inks and shapes that traced his body but for right now she was content just to keep on kissing him.
Shifting slightly she let her arms settle round his neck and let her mouth wander away from his. ---
Orsino had relaxed somewhat into the sofa and was stroking the length of Penny's back, toying with the hem of her shirt. He arched his back, rocking up against her and sliding his hand down again. When she disengaged her mouth for a moment, he let out a low utterance that may have indicated his increasing enjoyment of this diversion, or frustration that she'd moved away. Not that it mattered much - he busied himself with a few closely placed kisses to her neck, just behind her ear, nipping at the skin there just slightly before pausing.
His forehead pressed into a few tendrils of her hair, Orsino was sticken suddenly by a thought that had occurred to him once or twice in the past but he'd never felt compelled to voice. Still, when she'd brought up that Marco character last time, he'd felt a distinct little inkling of, he thought - possibly - jealousy. Couldn't be much harm in feeling this out, nevermind that this was hardly the moment.
Not moving from where he was, Orsino said quietly, as if there was anyone around who might care to eavesdrop, "It would be safe to assume that if I were to do this with someone else, say tomorrow, or last week, that it would not be okay with you?"
Pausing in the act of doing her best to coax that sound from him again, Penny stopped completly - one hand hovering in mid air as her brain tried to process exactly what had happened. The fact that he'd muttered it set off alarm bells in her head.
Had he been kissing other people like this ? The thought had ice slipping into her stomach and her overactive imagination could all too clearly imagine what had happened. The other girl was blonde and had one of those inspid names with little hearts above the 'i's'. Even the imaginary voice of the imaginary women grated.
"Did you?" she asked as she bit her lip and shifted slightly away from him. Her confusion more than likely showed on her face before she pushed her heavy hair away from her flushed skin and tried to meet his eyes. ---
Sitting back and resting his head against the back of the sofa, Orsino set his hands on her hips and fixed Penny with a troubled look. He was slightly offended that she'd simply assume that was what he'd been getting at. Why did everyone seem to think he was incapable of controlling himself?
He winced and said, a slight edge in his voice, "No?" Not to say the idea hadn't come to him, but he and Penny seemed to have some sort of unspoken agreement. Which in itself confused Orsino, because this relationship hadn't been fitting in with anything he'd gotten used to in the past - this wasn't a groupie, this wasn't a one night stand, this wasn't a week-long fling, and they weren't dating. And they weren't sleeping together, which had, in his mind, been another point of contention entirely.
Still, his question could have implied that he had been seeing other girls, he supposed. "No," he repeated. "This is just..." He wasn't exactly sure how to phrase what he was trying to say, so instead he made another face and fidgeted. ---
His hands on her hips acted as an anchor and she didn't slide from the chair and tried to follow his logic. As he fidgeted in the chair she nodded as her own brain finally caught up. She'd spent hours flicking through all the dictionaries she'd owned (seven at the last count) to try and come up with the word for exactly what they were.
None of them seemed to fit and she'd lost an entire lunch break last week looking in the window of Wheezes. The displays itself hadn't interested her, rather she'd looked past them and let her mind wander. Should she have gotten him something? All the cards had been full of the sort of rhymes that made her want to throw up.
"This is," she echoed as she reached down to tug at the hem of her blouse. "Were you looking for the word too?" --
"What?" he said, his head cocking to the side. "The word for what?"
Orsino pursed his lips and let his gaze wander over to the table, settling on the bottle of wine, and for a moment he wondered if they'd let it breath long enough. This had certainly seemed like a better option, of course, but it would be a shame to waste it. Having Penny settled in his lap made it a bit difficult to reach for it, though. And besides that, he rather liked having her there.
Of course he wasn't stupid, but Orsino didn't quite possess the same need to define everything. Even though he hadn't understood Penny's question exactly, the fact that he wasn't really sure what exactly this was that they were doing annoyed him if he gave it too much thought. One of his legs began to bounce for a few moments before he noticed and stopped. "Are we talking about the same thing here?" ----
Being bounced was not her idea of fun, and she reached down to splay her hands on his thighs, before settling and pushing her hair back from her face. "I have no idea," she confessed slowly "I think you lost me with the word 'this'."
Was she right to assume she knew what he was thinking? Actually was she right in even assuming that Orsino wanted to talk about the definition of things? It was such a Ravenclaw trait ; the need to have words, definations and make everything fit neatly into a box.
She could ignore the whole thing. It wasn't as though anyone else had to know about the thesaurus fetish or the stack of papers as she'd tried to make her own need to be free and without definition, fit into something pre-ordained.
"Hm? Oh. Yeah, well," Orsino said brusquely.
The fact that he'd trailed off mid-sentence while trying to explain his meaning had only confused things, which was to be expected. Though still puzzled by what Penny's 'word' question had meant, he pushed that aside for now and sat silently. It wasn't fun, trying to decide how to word this when he wasn't really sure what...maybe that's what she'd been asking, actually? Orsino supposed it was entirely possible this had been bothering her, too.
He kneaded at a knot in his shoulder to pass the moments of silence, feeling Penny's weight on his knees. "Hm. This, like, us being friends." He massaged his shoulder a bit more forcefully. "Well. It seems a little...off. Er, not off." Here he cleared his throat and scratched at the stubble along his jaw. He rolled his eyes. "I guess...is this usually how you carry on with friends? Do you know what I mean?"
Stopping there, he eyed a few strands of Penny's hair that had crept over her shoulder and brushed them back absently. Orsino didn't say anything else, just yet - he wasn't trying to suggest anything, but he wanted to know what she thought.
She didn't say anything as she felt the feather light brush of his fingers as he tucked her hair behind her ears and though part of her had been expecting the discussion to come up, she hadn't thought it would be him asking the question.
"No," she admitted with a chuckle before leaning forward and linking their fingers together "I definitely don't do this sort of thing with my friends."
Nerves could have stopped her from continuing but it was those nerves that had kept her up at night and silenced her before when she'd tried to explain the situation to her friends. At 21 she felt too old to try and define something as an experiment when it had - at least in her mind - moved past that. He ticked all the boxes - she liked spending time with him, liked kissing him and perhaps most tellingly, the thought of him spending time with another girl caused a weird, undefinable sensation in her stomach.
"I - I was wondering," she began haltingly as she wished for just a little bit of Gyrffindor courage "Maybe if you wanted to consider well. Thing is I like you. As in like you and I don't even know if you're allowed to have girlf -"
Penny paused before getting the next sentence out in a rush that ended on a whoosh of breath. "I'd quite like to ask you out. On a date sort of thing. But you don't have - I don't want you to feel pressured or anything. We could still be friends. You're a great person and honestly, I wouldn't take offense. Really. "
She shrugged lightly, eyes not quite ready to meet his. --
Having somewhat suspected that bringing this up in any form would have led to just this point, Orsino wasn't really surprised by what Penny said. The fact that she hadn't answered his initial question - not directly, at least - didn't really matter, because he had known the answer before he'd asked it. There was just the fact of hearing it laid out, verbally and definitively, that made it more concrete.
This had been somewhat exclusive, even if unlabeled as such. It hadn't made much sense to him, really. If this was something they just did for fun, as friends, then fine, but he didn't see why it would be come sort of contract. That was what titles were for, right? - otherwise you're just fooling around and no one has a right to get angry or jealous or even ask questions about what you're up to with other people. Which was why he'd breached the subject, finally. Maybe she'd have done the same, eventually, but Orsino had been feeling cagey about it all.
On the other hand, he wondered if Penny quite understood what it would mean if they took this more seriously and did start dating, or even go on one date. They'd only ever gone out together in Muggle-populated areas. Not once had he been accosted by a fan, or a photographer for a paper; both of which tended to happen if he set foot in places like Diagon Alley. If they did this, they couldn't plausibly just stick to Muggle areas. It wasn't impossible to work this out, he knew, but it also wasn't easy for someone who was completely not used to it.
He toyed with Penny's hand in his and let out a long sigh. In the end of it all, he knew he was not opposed to the idea in the least. It had been a while since he'd made a go at some sort of actual relationship - more than a year, anyway. And that one hadn't ended very well, even if the fame thing really hadn't been an issue.
"Well, I'm certainly allowed," he said, grinning a little bit at the idea of him not being allowed to date someone. He reached forward and plucked at one of the bottons at the bottom of her blouse. "And I think you could very well do just that. Ask me out, I mean." Well she hadn't yet, really. Just posed the idea. And he found her nervousness a bit endearing, and a little too amusing to let up easily.
"Well its good to know that you're allowed. I'd hate to ask you to break a rule of any form," Pennys grin was just a little less tight around the mouth as she leaned back and fixed him with a look "Maybe I've changed my mind in the past two minutes. I'm terribly fickle you know. "
Sh was stalling. She knew she was, but in reality she'd never actually asked someone out - Percy had stuttered the question out to her and Marco had swept her up and just..assumed that she would say yes.
But, she was a Ravenclaw and they were known for being verbose. And it was a simple case of getting the words out. In the right order. And not being sick on him. There had been a girl in her second year who had done just that ; Patty had passed into the legends of Hogwarts before she'd hit seventeen years old, and for the simple reason she'd chosen an extra helping of bread and butter pudding before asking out Davey Jones.
"Would you - Orsino Thurston - consider going out with me?"
Leaning forward she kissed the lobe of his ear before whispering "Please say yes." --
He'd grinned slowly at her joke about being fickle - clearly she had no idea that fickleness was generally the rule of the day when it came the majority of his dealings with girls. Groupies were known for many things, but steadfast interest was not one of them. Orsino was glad that she seemed to be relaxing, though. He had the misfortune of being very prone to catch other people's nerves.
For some reason this whole situation just seemed funny, suddenly. He knew it was serious, or as serious as this sort of thing could be right now, but Orsino felt certain he'd start laughing. And he didn't want to offend Penny, or make her think he was laughing at her, because that wasn't it at all. But then she kissed his ear and added that little caveat to her proposition in a whisper, and it tickled a bit, and Orsino couldn't help it - he began to laugh quietly, the effort of keeping the sound in making his shoulders shake.
He leaned forward and rested his forehead at the crook of her shoulder and neck, the laughter still making his back quake, wrapping his arms loosely around her. Before Penny could wonder if she'd said the wrong thing and get nervous again, Orsino rolled his head to the side and brushed his lips against her neck. "Well, that was very polite."
He was laughing at her? The sound of her ego could be heard deflating as he literally shook with an infectious laughter and she was on the point of squirming away when she felt his arms come round to be followed closely by his lips.
"Thankyou," she managed primly "I was taught to always say please and thankyou. "
Penny didn't mention the fact that he hadn't answered her question, she was too fascinated by watching that slow grin of his inch across his face. The entire situation was ridiculous - he was pinned beneath her on the most sough after chair in the living room with every possibility that her flatmate could walk in and yet - here she was affecting her most prim voice and talking about the correct use of 'please' and 'thank-you'. When she'd been taught manners, this possibly hadn't been what her parents had planned.
Sometimes not planning led to the most fascinating consequences.
"How nice that it seems to have stuck," he commented in a low murmur, leaning into her a few moments more before sitting back into the cushion. Orsino looked at her face and assumed she probably wanted a less roundabout answer than the one he'd given. Which was only fair. And he was fairly sure he did want to say yes. But also that he might have to explain some things to Penny, about what this could mean in the long run.
"And yes. Or, I do want to say yes," he qualified. There was not much reason to dance around this. "But you do realize that if this does become something, you might be opening yourself up to some...unwanted attention?"
"I - ah yeah," letting out a breath she hadn't known she'd been holding and shifted slightly so she was balancing on the arm of the chair. "Its not really like how it is with Ol and Meghan is it?" And part of her knew it wouldn't - couldn't be. Teenage girls were the most fervent, vile, obsessive little creatures on this earth. And she knew, as she'd been one. Posters of film stars had covered her walls, but Helen had been all about New Kids on Block and the same album had been played on repeat for three solid weeks until, in a fit of rage and a desperate attempt to save her salvation, she'd chucked it out of the window after snapping the cd into as many smithereens as she'd been able to.
And somewhere - as impossible as it seemed for her brain to get around - there was probably a girl out there going through the same thing with the Weird Sisters.
Reaching up to pat her curls down she fixed on a spot slightly above his shoulder "I'm not remotely interesting and well, I don't expect you to take an ad out in the Daily Prophet. If you did that, I'd be more likely to run in the other direction. But yeah," chewing on the inside of her cheek so attempted to meet his eyes "I suppose whilst I don't know what it would be like, I'd be willing to give it a shot. On the understanding that I'd have the right to freak out sometimes, and should anyone ask me to sign their breasts for my exemplary ward work, you wouldn't blink."
Tilting her head she finally made eye contact and slid her hands underneath her thighs, thumb grazing the fabric of the sofa.
"I suppose I should get some more details. Just what sort of unwanted attention are you talking about here?"
Because even she realized that it was bound to be more than pitchside chanting. ---
Orsino took advantage of Penny's relocation, stretching his legs out in front of him almost immediately. As pleasant as her presence there had been, he'd also been beginning to lose feeling in his legs - something he only realized now that she'd moved. Similarly, he stretched his arms above his head and arched his back a bit, enjoying the freedom of movement before returning to a more relaxed position.
He gave Penny's question some consideration, taking in what she'd said. His expression was quite sober again.
"Believe me, I don't plan on making any announcements. And it really wouldn't make a difference whether or not you were interesting," Which, he thought, she was, really. "I'm not sure about Quidditch fans, but from what I've gathered they aren't quite as manic. Or possessive. But basically any time one of us has had some sort of dating relationship, press types eventually get wind of it, and then the person in question winds up in the public eye, to some extent. Which isn't always a problem, but some people get freaked out by that. I still get freaked out by it, actually. Some people like having their business open to the public domain, but I don't." --
She listened intently to what Orsino was saying and what he was asking of her. She couldn't fault him for being honest ; if the positions were reversed she didn't think she would be - could be - that brutally truthful.
Was she really prepared to take the chance and date his job as well as the man? Penny thought that perhaps she was.
Since her sixth year, she'd been fighting against the moniker 'Basilisk Girl' ; spending late nights at the library and devoting herself to studying so that there would be more to who she was. Just as her past was a part of who she was and who she was trying to be, Orsinos job was his passion, his friends and a hell of a lot more important than a decision to go down an empty hallway near the dungeons one night.
And she, she realised with some surprise, just as much intrigued by that part of him as by the fact he had a weakness for cheesy Christmas music, spam and an inability to sit still.
"I'll probably be a terrible girlfriend. But I'll be faithful and honest. I'm a private person but I understand that you're more than your job. And frankly, its not your job I like spending time with and kissing. "
Wrapping her arms around her waist she swallowed hard and focused on part of the fabric of the couch. ---
Orsino gave a shallow shrug of his shoulders and dipped his head in a nod. It seemed so simple to put it in those sorts of terms, but there really wasn't much reason to try and pick out complications. He knew what they were, and she would understand it soon enough, and whatever was supposed to happen, would.
"Then, I guess, that would settle it," he replied. Looking over, he thought she looked uncomfortable again. "I think we should give it a go. And then if it doesn't work out, you can sick Oliver on me as retribution." He arched an eyebrow and tapped her on the knee playfully, hoping she'd lighten up a little. "Right?"
"Oliver?," she queried with a quirk of her lips "Olivers a giant teddybear in reality. Now Meghan, she's the one you have to worry about. Who knows what instruments of torture she's hiding under those curls?"
Reaching over she flicked him slightly on the elbow. "Since we've decided to give it a go. I think you should possibly kiss me again. To ah, seal the deal. Its a method of agreement thats got historical basis. Probably. Possibly. " ---
"Is it really?" he asked, eyebrows raising in interest. "You are just full of so many interesting ideas..."
Shifting a little, Orsino reached over to where Penny was sitting on the arm of the seat and pulled her towards him. Though he wasn't pulling very hard, it didn't seem to take much to cause her to tumble, perhaps a bit akwardly, back into his lap. Her elbow caught him in the ribs and gave him pause for a split second before he commenced in delivering the requested (and apparently contract-making) kiss.
"Deal made?" said Orsino, after some time had passed, though he wasn't sure how much.
Penny arched an eyebrow in his direction and then pulled him closer for further negotiations. Deal-making required serious dedication. ---