Who: Taliesyn Robards, Romilda Vane
Where: Robards HQ, Vane House
When: 9 December 2001, late evening
Cecilia had invited all her friends over for dinner and to view the portraits that Gawain had commissioned. Dinner was almost tolerable but the portrait viewing was excruciating for Tali. He felt the artist had not captured his essence at all. This normally would have been met with resignation and a shrug of the shoulders, if the artist hadn’t made him look far better, thus leading to an alarming amount of fawning, and many, many suggestions as to what he could do to align more closely with his two-dimensional self.
Unsurprisingly, his own suggestion that he offer Daisy his palette and paints and let her dab whatever colours on his face as she pleased was not met with approval.
Tali excused himself, ostensibly to use the bathroom, but now that he had disappeared upstairs they probably wouldn’t be awaiting his speedy return. He wandered into Cary’s room, shook out a miniaturised book from up his sleeve and was intent on reading when the view from the window caught his attention instead.
It so happened Romilda’s room faced in this direction. He pushed the curtains open further. He was about to call out when he realised what a dumb idea that was. She wouldn’t hear. He pressed his face against the glass. Maybe if he thought ‘LOOK THIS WAY LOOK THIS WAY LOOK THIS WAY’ really hard…
Holy shit she looked. Tali instinctively retreated and shut the curtains instantly. He wasn’t spying on her, alright? Several long seconds passed before he snuck a look. He gave Romilda a sheepish smile and waved.
One day, Romilda wanted to be written about in potions books. She wanted footnotes about her brilliant discoveries and even a flattering portrait. But when that day came, she also wanted the book to at least be interesting. Her current homework made reading the back of a box of Martin Miggs the Mad Muggle breakfast cereal seem like a thrilling prospect.
She sighed and closed the book. Romilda only glanced at the window for a moment and didn’t even register Tali until she saw the curtains jerk shut. Had he…?
Curious, she rose from where she had been lying across her bed. When Tali opened the curtains again, Romilda was standing at her window. She grinned and waved back. But now what? She couldn’t exactly start trying to shout to him without her sisters wondering what on earth was going on.
Oh, she could blow him a kiss. So she did.
Tali pretended to pluck the kiss out of the air and stick it in his shirt pocket. He patted it a couple of times to show it was safe. He blew Romilda a return kiss and used his index fingers to draw a love heart against the glass.
Catching his kiss, Romilda held it to her chest. She couldn’t help but giggle giddily as Tali drew on the glass, realising that he was the distraction that she needed right now. He would, of course, be a much better distraction in person, though. But how to tell him that?
You, she mouthed, pointing at him. Come here. She pointed at herself, hoping he got the message.
Tali did not. Me? He pointed at himself with a worried little crease of the brow, then back to her. You.
He gave a big dramatic look of confusion. Me + You = ???
You. Romilda pointed at him repeatedly. Here. This time, she pointed towards the floor a few times. Come here. She even tried waving him over.
Maybe he would have understood, if Romilda pointing at the floor didn’t suddenly remind him of his mother doing the same when she found the condition of the carpet unsatisfactory. “Here, look, a spot on the carpet that no-one else but I can see. You may not see it but I definitely can and it bothers me enormously. Clean it up. I don’t care if you’re on your way out. Clean it up. Clean it up now.”
If Romilda wanted some light housework from him, well that was fine, but was now really the time?
He made a light scrubbing motion and pointed at his watch. Then looked confused. Now?
Romilda frowned. What was he gesturing? Either Tali was thinking of something really kinky or… No, wait. He didn’t know what she wanted. She was sure that just trying to think ‘SEX’ in his direction wouldn’t really work because, well, he was male.
Then again, he was male. Perhaps there was something that could get through to him. Or two somethings. After a quick peek to make sure there weren’t any other nosy neighbours looking through windows, Romilda lifted up the hem of the Weird Sisters t-shirt she was wearing, giving Tali a meaningful look… and an eyeful.
Tali’s eyes widened and his face went immediately red, which was amazing as all the blood usually had somewhere else to be. A stupefied grin appeared also and he was sure that that was there to stay till he was out of the house. He pointed in the direction of her front door and held up a couple of fingers. Two seconds.
“I have to go. My house is on fire,” he declared to the party audience before flying out the door.
Now that he was on her porch, surely he wouldn’t have to knock.
When Romilda saw Tali’s smile, she knew that the knut had dropped. Great. Pity it had to take flashing him. She dropped her shirt back into place, nodding pulling her curtains shut.
Stifling a giggle, Romilda ran down the stairs, skidding in her socks to stop before the front door. She looked around sneakily, but none of her sisters seemed to have noticed her sudden athleticism. Pressing her ear against the door, she listened for footsteps.
Romilda pulled the door open, smirking at Tali. “Hi,” she whispered.
“Good evening, gorgeous,” said Tali, pulling Romilda into an embrace. “Is that how you won every round of charades?”
Laughing softly, Romilda wound her arms around him. “No, that was a completely new tactic. And it worked. Hooray for me,” she murmured, angling for a kiss. “Are you going to come in? ’S cold out here.”
“Yeah, just a minute,” Tali mumbled. It was rude to kiss and walk at the same time. Though he really ought to get going, as it was cold, like she said, her T-shirt wasn’t exactly thick, and it was starting to do things to him.
“Is everyone else um… unlikely to stir?” he asked as they shuffled inside and he closed the door.
Romilda looked over her shoulder, still tangled up in his embrace. “Don’t think so. Hope not. But should probably keep quiet-ish for now.” Once they were in her room, they could have all the privacy they wanted.
“OK,” whispered Tali, who immediately started to act as if they were conducting an illegal border crossing and could be hexed at any moment. It was a relief to get onto the upstairs landing.
“We could make a dash for it now… which door’s yours?”
Romilda grinned. “The one with the R on the door,” she said as soberly as she could, nodding towards the door adorned by a glittery R, clearly marking her territory. Her hand slipped into his. “Come on. Mind the squeaky floorboard.”
Tugging him behind her, Romilda pulled Tali into her bedroom for the first time, making sure that the door was locked behind them. That done, she embraced him once more. “Welcome to my room.”
Tali barely looked around. What he had come to see was standing right in front. He thought, idly, as he shifted the two of them toward the bed, that this also marked a new milestone. He sat down. He was going to be completely naked in a house he didn’t live in. He kicked off his shoes. Oh, the vulnerability. He tossed his jacket away. Oh no, how frightening. He pulled Romilda onto his lap. I mean, how on earth would he cope?
“I could fix that floorboard, you know,” he said seriously. “Later. After. Tomorrow.”
Right now there were more pressing matters.