The Grapes of Not-Wrath
Aprilk 8, 2005 11:47 AM
Blaise stepped through the floo and nearly tripped over the damn kneazle. He made a face as it hissed at him. "Hannah?"
Hannah hurried down the stairs with a smile on her face. "Hello. You look very boy pretty today."
He looked down at his ratty jeans and a t-shirt he should have thrown out a long while ago strangely. It was only half tucked in and the belt needed to hold up the jeans was worn out.
"If that's your way of telling me to wear the riding pants and boots, I'd say your shit out of luck because they don't fit anymore."
"Like you can't afford new ones. I would like to see you dressed as such one day."
She smoothed her battered jeans and hooded sweatshirt. She had thrown on her pink sneakers too.
"Am I all right for riding?"
"Do you have something decent underneath that sweatshirt? It's warm in Italy this time of day," he remarked, looking her over.
Hannah unzipped her hoodie and showed off her pink tank top.
"Will it do?"
Blaise shook his head. "Everything's pink with you," he muttered before handing her floo powder. "All right. We're going to Zabini aprire la villa
. Repeat it back so I know you have it."
"Hold on," Hannah said.
She hurried into the kitchen and grabbed her picnic basket.
"I made us lunch. Zabini aprire la villa
He nodded and grabbed his own handful of floo powder. "Yes. This is going to be interesting."
Blaise stepped into the floo and shouted the location, zipping out and nearly tripping over the rug in front of the fireplace his stepmother insisted be put in front to catch any dirty. He rolled his eyes and kicked it aside, waiting for Hannah to come through.
Hannah stepped out gracefully, basket held in both hands. "Oooo pretty."
Barking interrupted what Blaise was going to say, and he groaned. His father's two Cane Corso hounds came tearing around the corner, one sliding on the marble floor into a table and Blaise shook his head. For some reason, the two beasts absolutely loved him, although he was the one person in the family who couldn't stand any animal except horses.
"Stay there for a moment," he told Hannah. While they were both loving animals, sometimes they didn't take well to strangers. The fact that they were full blood and trained to attack on command was sometimes nerve wracking to guests. Blaise thought his father would have put them up. "Di nuovo lei due. Stare giù. Giù,
" he instructed the dogs when they jumped up to greet him. "I said down, you damn creatures." They kept jumping up to lick his face, and he could hear Hannah giggle at him.
He got them to keep all four paws on the floor and held them by their collars. "Put the basket on a table and let them smell you. They'll warm up quickly but sometimes they can go a little nuts around new people."
Hannah did as instructed. She crouched down, despite the warning look on Blaise's face. She offered one of the dogs her hand with the fingers curled in.
"There you are. That's a good dog. You're very pretty. Yes, you are."
The other hound sniffed her hair and Hannah giggled.
"That's Dante. He likes girls. His sister Daria is more cautious, but she likes food more. And they both love to fetch--"
Both dogs went wild and Blaise wanted to slam his head against a wall. He stood up and tried to keep the dogs from jumping up on him. He forgot their love of playing could be understood in two languages.
Both dogs quickly hushed and padded over to their master, sitting down on either side of him, awaiting instruction.
Blaise turned around and glared at his father. "I hate it when you do that. I thought you would put them up." He offered a hand to Hannah to help her off the floor.
Hannah looked up in horror. Of course the first time she sees Blasie's father she's crouched on the floor. It was obvious who he was. The age told her, but the resemblance was striking. Hannah took the offered hand and tried not to be nervous.
"They're fine. Just exuberant. It's a fine quality for a dog."
," Alessandro instructed the dogs, and they both trotted out of the room.
Blaise huffed. "I yell at them in two languages and you tell them to leave and they happily obey. I swear you do this just to piss me off."
Alessandro smiled. "Of course. That is the only reason I have them--to irritate my son who I rarely see in my own home. And you must be Hannah." He took her hand and kissed the back of it. "It is a pleasure to meet you."
"Hi," Hannah replied, voice squeaking.
She was very nervous. She wanted to make a good impression.
Blaise looked between his father and Hannah with a dry expression. "Shall we go or are you going to keep hitting on her? You do have a wife, you know."
His father kept his grin. "And she wants to speak with you before you head to the stables. It was very nice meeting you Hannah."
Blaise grabbed the picnic basket and led Hannah out of the parlor, fully intent on skipping seeing his stepmother. He wanted to see his horse and get to riding.
"Sorry about that. The only reason the dogs were out was because he wanted to see you and knew that they wouldn't obey me. I come from a long line of Slytherin-ish family."
"He was hitting on me?" Hannah whispered.
"Is that all you care about? I'm my father's son. You're rather beautiful, and he likes to see a woman blush." He took her out of the house and onto the back portico. The house rested on a hill, so the view was rather nice. "The stables are down the hill to the west."
Hannah didn't say anything. She just stared. It was like a dream. She would not have believed a place this lovely existed. And people lived here. That blew her mind.
She would enjoy the Manor. It didn't have the open view and the vineyards, but it was an older Manor with more architectural details and gardens.
They trekked down the hill to the stables. Blaise took a small bag out of his pocket and enlarged it. It was full of treats for the horses they would ride. His stepmother promised to get the horses ready. Blaise gestured for Hannah to follow him, and he walked down the large dirt path to the row of stalls. Once he got close to his horse's, she propped her head over the wall.
Blaise couldn't help but grin. He hadn't seen Kalli in a long while and it would be nice to go riding.
"Ciao lì, il tesoro. Come la mia ragazza è?
" he asked, rubbing her narrow forehead. "Sorry I've neglected you."
Hannah would later pin it to that moment. She allowed herself to have feeling for Blaise Zabini for the loving way he spoke to his horse. She stayed back, nervous. The horses seemed big, and it scared her a little.
Blaise pushed the horses back in the stall so he could open the door. Once he slid it open, he took the reins and led the horse out of the stall. Kalli glanced at Hannah and snorted loudly, pulling on the reins.
"Hey, none of that. You're going to be pleasant. This is Hannah and she is a guest," Blaise said sternly. He looked over at Hannah and shrugged. "She's not very trusting of females that come around. Dig around in that bad and you'll find sugar cubes. That'll get you on her good side."
Hannah grabbed a sugar cube. She did not approach though. The horse was big and eyeing her with distaste.
Blaise actually did a double take when he saw Hannah standing back. "You want to cuddle the attack dogs and are scared of the friendly, non-aggressive equine? What is wrong with you?"
"The horse is bigger than I thought, and she doesn't appear to like me."
He sighed and turned back to Kalli. "Comportarsi o partirò. Ora la mostra come un cavallo proprio dovrebbe stare in piedi.
There. She'll behave."
Blaise was proud when Kalli lowered her head a bit and visibly relaxed. He ran a hand over her back smoothly. "You might want to get used to her. You are going to be riding her once I get her saddled."
"What? No. Not by myself."
Hannah was panicky. She'd never even ridden before, and he expected her to go it alone?
"Of course not by yourself. No one rides Kalli but me, but you'll be riding in front of me. Now get up here."
Hannah offered the horse her sugar cube nervously. She closed her eyes just in case the horse bit her hand off.
Blaise snickered, but Kalli was gentle. A lot of his younger cousins rode behind him, so she was never aggressive. She licked the sugar cubes off of Hannah's hand, and quickly went sniffing around for more, trying to lick up the sleeve of her hoodie.
Hannah giggled. "Here, here."
She grabbed more cubes from the bag and held them out. The horse licked them away. Then nudged Hannah's hand with her nose.
Blaise pulled the horse away. "That's enough." He led the horse out of the stables. "Are you ready to get on?"
Hannah gave Blaise a wary look. "Maybe."
"Oh all right. Don't forget the picnic basket. Let's get this part over with before I faint."
"This was your idea, remember? Now do you want front or back?"
Hannah giggled at what he said, her mind going to a less innocent place. "I haven't the slightest. Which would make you more comfortable?"
Blaise huffed. He wasn't going to be comfortable either way. "Front. I don't want you flying off the back because you can't hold on." He grabbed the picnic basket and shrunk it down, re-shrunk his bag, and placed both in his pocket.
"Now, come on over here. Put your left foot in the stirrup and grab onto her mane." At Hannah's look, he rolled his eyes. "She won't feel it, I promise. Pull yourself up, and I'll help you get over until you're properly seated."
Hannah did as he said, but squealed in surprise when his method of helping her over was to place his hands on her backside.
He barely caught her as she fell back. "What the hell was that? Do you want me to help you or not?"
"You touched my hiney. I wasn't expecting that. You could have warned me."
"I said I was going to help you up."
The next time she tried it, Hannah was properly seated and Kalli didn't shuffle too much. Blaise made sure he had the basket and his bag. "All right. Foot out of the stirrup and scoot forward as much as you can. You'll be able to get more comfortable once I'm on behind you."
He'd ridden double with his cousins plenty of times and once had a small cousin behind and in front of him, but it was different than riding double with Hannah. It was true that the English saddle was larger and specially made for two riders, but it was still a tight fit. Once seated, he scoot back on the large saddle so she could get comfortable and took the reins. "Grab onto her mane if you need to, put all your weight on me.
Hannah wiggled and shifted until she felt comfortable. He groaned in her ear. It gave Hannah goosebumps.
"What? What's wrong? Are you uncomfortable?"
"Of course not," he said. Blaise forced himself to take a deep breath and prayed she kept still. Otherwise, this was going to be a very awkward and painful ride. "Right, so you've never ridden a horse?"
"Not once," Hannah said cheerfully.
She was feeling much better with him basically holding on to her. She felt safe.
"Well then. Allow me to skip the boring parts and get straight to the fun parts."
Blaise squeezed his calves and spurred Kalli into a canter until they were past the stable and he was sure Hannah wasn't going to slide off, then into a gallop.
Hannah squealed and grabbed the horse's mane with one hand and Blaise's thigh with the other. The way she was bouncing against him was a bit naughty.
Blaise directed the horse to head to the vineyard. There was a nice shaded spot past one of the gazebos and he slowed Kalli to a canter again when they were on the path. He'd never noticed how the automatic rocking motion of a canter was so erotic. Of course, he'd never done this his girlfriends or women he was physically attracted to.
"Not so bad, is it?" he asked, trying to ignore the hand gripping his thigh.
Hannah swallowed nervously. "N-not so bad."
She was glad he had asked if she had something lighter than the hoodie because she was sweating right now.
A bit later, they arrived at the gazebo and Blaise dismounted. He led Kalli over to the back end where a water bucket was set up. He charmed cool water to fill the bucket the tied off the reins. He held up a hand to help Hannah down. "I figured this would a good place to go. There's shade and it has some good views."
Hannah let him help her down and immediately removed her hoodie and tied it around her waist. Her bra straps were peeking out from under the tank top, but she hardly cared about that.
He handed her the picnic basket and Hannah un-shrunk it and started unpacking. She'd made sandwiches on homemade bread. She'd packed crisps and fresh fruit. She'd also packed cheese and a nice fruit wine. For dessert she had made a peach pie.
Blaise's eyebrows went up the more Hannah pulled out. "When you said picnic I was imagining small sandwiches and biscuits. This is a full dinner. This is supposed to be your treat for putting up with me."
"If all you expected were finger sandwiches and bikkies, then you don't know me very well, and you've certainly never been on a proper picnic."
She kicked off her sneakers and laid back on the blanket she had tossed down.
He chuckled and followed suit. She handed him a sandwich and they both started eating on the sandwiches.
"These are very good."
"I baked the bread myself," she said proudly.
Hannah had not had time to properly bake in a long time. She had made the time for Blaise.
"Try this," She held out a slice of the smoked cheddar she had gotten to him.
He'd always appreciated fine cuisine, but this was just as nice. "You're going to get me fat and then hell if I'll buy new riding trousers for you then."
"You can wear the tight ones. I promise I won't be offended."
Hannah grinned at him playfully. This was nice. Hannah sipped her wine out of the plastic wine glass she'd brought. She also looked intently at Blaise. He really was attractive and not a terrible person. She wondered why she had wasted so much time resisting him. He would probably still break her heart, but the smallest chance that he would not, that he would surprise her as he had already done so far, made it worth the risk to her.
When they were close to finished, he grabbed up some of the fruit and his drink. "Come on. I'll take you through the vineyards. They're not as impressive as my grandparent's, but they produce a good wine."
He had good memories of running through the rows and rows of grapes with his sisters or his father chasing after him. He'd spent most of his summers out here.
Hannah smiled and pulled in her sneakers. She packed the leftovers into the basket. She stood before him grinning and waiting for him to lead her.
"Have you ever been to a vineyard before?" he asked as they started to head into the rows of grapes. "Or a winery?"
"I have not," Hannah replied.
This was all a new experience for her.
"This is also the first time I have been to Italy."
"Dare il benvenuto all'Italia
," he said with a grin. At her look, he chuckled. "Welcome, is what I said. Anyway, wine grapes are different than other grapes. They're more acidic. These grapes make Amarone, which is a strong, full bodied red wine."
He pulled down one of the grapes and popped some off, handing Hannah some. "Have a taste. Mind the seeds."
Hannah did. She smiled at him. He was offered her an educational experience. She did not think he realized how attractive he was when teaching.
"You will have to let me sample some."
Hannah moved closer to him. She had no idea he had such a rich life. She had not bothered to know before. Hannah found herself quite glad they had been thrown in together. It had led to this, and this was lovely.
"It's better for a late night meal, because the alcohol content is higher." He grinned back at her. "We just like to get our wine drinkers drunk you see. My aunt tends to grow more white wines than red, but she has excellent Chianti grapes. She hosts a wine tasting event every year and gets all the other growers jealous. She had a real knack for it. I could never do this for a living."
He'd never grow his own wine, but he knew the ins and outs of the business. He was picky about his fine wines, and was sure he'd throw half of his harvest out because of his perfectionist tendencies.
"That sounds lovely. I went to a wine tasting with an ex of mine, but he only took me to show me off to his colleagues. He was very disappointed when he discovered I had a brain. I think you never know what you could do. You're so discerning. I think you could make a good wine if you committed to doing so. You have fine taste. I could see you growing something a bit different and making it be all the rage."
Blaise chuckled and ran his fingers over the vines absentmindedly. "I'm not the wine grower, but thank you for your vote of confidence. I know about the wine because I grew up in these vineyards and eavesdropped on the adult's conversations. My grandfather is truly passionate about wine. If anyone in my immediate family were to take over the vineyards here, it'd be Cecelia, but she's got her family to raise."
He snorted. "If her children are anything to judge by, my spawn are going to be hell to live with."
Him saying he would have children surprised her, but then again, she had seen him with kids. He was not terrible at it, and he seemed to do well with the younger slayers.
"I think you'd be all right." Hannah smiled. "Of course you get my vote of confidence. You could do a great many things. You just have to apply yourself, but we did not come here to discuss that. We're here to have fun, and something tells me discussing your long-term future isn't fun for you right now, so no serious talk."
Hannah stood on her toes and kissed him.
He could taste the sweet grapes on her lips and lightly ran his tongue on her bottom lip to savor the taste. The sun beat down on them through the tall vines, but heat flooded through him from the light touches of her hand on his arms.
Hannah pulled back slowly and licked her lips. "What's next?"
She was already having a wonderful day. They would have to do this again. She was already planning ahead. He probably would not appreciate that, but Hannah missed having happy times. She wanted to have them again.