Imogen clutched the bouquet in her hands. It was so embarrassing. Who brought flowers to a boy? She'd been sure her father had to be insane, or teasing her. Even her mother's sigh and agreement that it was expected to bring flowers hadn't reassured her. Only the sight of how many other people had bunches of flowers in their hands, some far larger than hers, made her decide her parent's might not have been completely wrong.
Of course, they had bought tickets right next to Paxton's fathers, which was the absolute worst. Her mum had stayed home with Scorpius, who was teething or going through a growth spurt or gassy or something. All the things looked the same to her: he drooled and screamed. Baby brothers were overrated. Not like Paxton, who was perfect. He had perfect teeth and perfect clothes and a perfect smile and she was going to absolutely die sitting next to his fathers and having to answer questions about did they know each other from school and did she play Quidditch?
She did not play Quidditch. She watched Quidditch. Mostly she watched Paxton, who didn't see her because she was just another girl, just like all the other girls who thought he was perfect. Except she was sitting here with his fathers after Paxton's piano concert and she was going to die before the bulk of the audience filtered out and he changed out of his dress robes and came out to meet them.
"I thought we'd go out for ice cream," Mr. Flint said. "Fortescue's might be a bit crowded but -."
"We'll sit in the back," Mr. Wood said. He smiled at her and she turned red. Was it worse that his fathers thought this was some kind of date to would it have been worse to sit with them? She couldn't decide, and before she could do more than notice how awful Mr. Flint's teeth were - Paxton had gotten lucky there - the most sought after boy in Slytherin had appeared, leather jacket back on.
He looked at his fathers, looked at her, and turned bright red.
She thrust the bouquet toward him like a shield. "You sounded great," she tried to say. Her mouth was so dry it came out half garbled and this was the worst thing ever. He glowered at his fathers and she realized the last thing he'd wanted was for anyone from school to know. Playing Quidditch was cool. Piano wasn't.
She held the flowers out and she could hear her heart pounding in her ears when a long moment went by and he didn't take them. "Paxton," Mr. Wood said in a tone that made this as bad as it could possibly be. "You know Mr. Malfoy's daughter, Imogen." That drove Paxton to snatch the bouquet. He held it even more awkwardly than she had.
"God," he muttered so only she could hear. "Parents are the worst."
"Right?" she asked.
He took a step closer to her as though if he separated far enough from the two men beaming at him with pride other people might not know he was with them. "Thanks for the flowers," he said.
"They're taking us all out for ice cream," she said. She wasn't sure if she was warning him or hoping he'd look pleased.
"We won't sit with you," her own father said. He sounded amused, the betraying monster. "I'm sure you'd prefer your own space."
They did. Imogen asked about the songs, and how long he'd been playing, and he mumbled since he'd been too little to reach the pedals, and she told him he sounded great. "No," she said when he looked like he didn't believe her. "You really did."
"Don't tell," he said.
"I won't," she said. Having a secret with Paxton Wood was the most thrilling thing that had ever happened to her. It was better than the time she'd beat the Ravenclaw up for telling her her father should be in jail. It was better than the first time she'd really flown on a broom. The secret's place on the list of the best things in her life didn't last, though, because he grabbed at her hand and held it for the rest of the time they were eating their ice cream.
She thought nothing would ever get better than that until she heard him hiss to his fathers on the way out, "I can't believe I told you I had a crush on her and you went and asked her to my piano concert. I am never telling you anything ever again."
. . . . . . . . .
A/N - Thank you to ktbeh for encouraging me to write more in this universe.