The office of Mr Thomas Fox smells horribly damp. There is an annoying drip coming from an invisible tap, and the curtains and furniture look moth-eaten. There are no pictures in the office of Mr Fox’s family, friends or acquaintances. I can’t help but wonder if he even has a family, or friends. There is a large portrait of some dull-looking landscape on the wall behind his desk, which makes me depressed when I look at it too much. So I turn my attention to the window, which looks onto a bleak alleyway, and into the building next door, which is only about a meter away. If that office worker across the way opened her window, I’m sure I could jump across easily.
I strongly consider leaving. I can find a better solicitor for the same price, I’m sure. And even if I can’t, maybe I could just defend myself to the Wizengamot? I had considered asking Mum to defend me, but she told me it would be a conflict of interests and would not work in my favour. She also proceeded to call Scorpius every bad name under the sun – she used words that weren’t even in my vocabulary. Apparently Dad really has rubbed off on her after all these years of marriage.
Before I can get up to leave, the door of the office opens and Thomas Fox enters. He definitely looks like he belongs in this office – his robes are tattered and creased, and he’s not even wearing a tie. It looks like he hasn’t shaved in a few days either, and I doubt if he’s ever heard of the rather modern invention called the hairbrush.
“Rose Weasley?” he asks.
“Er, hello,” I reply, trying my best not to look or sound too judgemental.
“Yeah, hi,” he replies, somewhat rudely. He starts flicking through his papers, whistling tunelessly. I actually want to hit him. Is there anything more annoying than a whistling lawyer? “So...custody battle, yeah?”
“That’s right,” I say coldly, “The father of my son is trying to sue me for sole custody.”
“Right,” Mr Fox nods, “And why is that?”
I look at him blankly. “So that Aidan can live with him.” Duh.
“Yes, I had worked that much out for myself,” he says sarcastically. Oh how I hate him already. “I mean why is he suing you now? Are you getting divorced?”
“No. We were never married,” I say, grudgingly. I hate having to tell this bloke anything about myself, especially when he has that judgemental look on his face.
“So what, you went on a drinking binge with some mates and now he thinks you’re not capable of being a good mother?”
“Excuse me? You actually talk to people like that?”
“Look, Ms Weasley,” he sighs, placing his palms on his desk and moving his face closer to mine. He is now within slapping distance. “I see a lot of parents exactly like you passing through here. Now, unless you’re completely honest with me, I can’t help you.”
“You actually think I’m some sort of alcoholic, negligent mother?”
I jump up from my seat, and he stands back and folds his arms, surveying me.
“How dare you!” I cry, “I’m paying you to defend me, not insult me! I refuse to sit here and be judged by a man who looks like he’s slept in his robes and is purposefully boycotting hairbrushes!”
With that, I storm out of his office. I’m not sure anyone has ever made such a horrible first impression on me, except perhaps for Laura, whose first words to me were something along the lines of ‘oh Merlin, did you actually step out of your house looking like that?’
Before I can reach the door out of reception, it locks. I spin around angrily to face the lawyer, who is now standing at the doorway to his office with his hands in his pockets.
“That was a test,” he says, shrugging his shoulders again, “And you passed. Now, step into my office.”
His secretary is smiling at him with mixed fondness and admiration. Is she serious? Is he serious?
Because I’m in such shock and have absolutely no idea what else to do, I return to Mr Fox’s office.
“It’s nice to know you’re serious about this,” he says, taking a seat behind his dull desk. He then extends a hand, indicating I should sit too. “I get a lot of negligent parents using their kids to get back at their exes.”
“Well I’m not one of them,” I say coldly.
“Didn’t think you were, but I had to check.” He studies me for a moment. “Just as I thought, really.”
“What do you mean?” I frown. I hate the way he’s looking at me. It makes me very uncomfortable.
“You’re your mother’s daughter,” he smirks.
For some reason, I’ve always taken this observation as an insult. I suppose no woman really wants to be like their mother, especially if their mother is a first class geek with bad hair.
“You know my mother?”
“Everyone knows Hermione Weasley.” I suppose it was a stupid question – she is running for Minister after all. “And I worked under her for a while at the Ministry before I set up my own practise.”
He stays quiet for a few moments, with a thoughtful look on his face. Then he sits back in his chair and folds his arms. “I’ll take your case, Miss Weasley. And I’ll win. But you have to tell me everything that has ever gone on between you and Scorpius. From the beginning.”
I sigh heavily. “How much time do you have?”
After a very long meeting with the solicitor, I head to Mum and Dad’s house, as they have been looking after Aidan for me for the morning. Today is the match between the Chudley Cannons and Puddlemere United, and Teddy and Remus are already here at Mum and Dad’s, ready to go.
“How did it go?” Mum asks as soon as I get in the door, “Isn’t Tom brilliant?”
“You could say that,” I mumble, still thoroughly unimpressed with Tom Fox and his whole method of custody-battling. Still, if he kicks Scorpius’ arse I don’t really mind.
“He was always a fantastic worker – he’s only about thirty, you know. Very ruthless. Exactly what you need to beat that son-of-a-”
“Okay, Mum!” I hold my hand up to stop her, “We all know your feelings about him.”
Why is it that it still annoys me if someone calls Scorpius a bad name? Do I really think that I’m the only person who reserves that right?
When Uncle Harry arrives, Dad, Teddy, Remus, Aidan and I all set off for the Quidditch stadium. There is always a great buzz to a Chudley Cannons match. As we take our seats in the top box of the stadium, Aidan and Remus exchange opinions on who is going to score the most points in today’s League Qualifier.
“James is going to score a million points!” Aidan proclaims.
“No, he’s going to score two million points!” Remus objects.
“You two are aware James is the seeker?” Dad points out, while Harry and Teddy merely smile at the boys. They continue arguing until the match finally begins.
James has always been very much a show off on the Quidditch pitch. Even when he first joined the Gryffindor team in second year, he had more confidence than those who had been on the team for years. And I suppose when you’re as good as James, you have every reason to be confident – but it does get rather annoying. What is even more annoying is the squealing from women as James does circles around the pitch, so lost in the atmosphere of the game that I can’t help but wonder if he remembers what he’s there for – to catch the bloody snitch.
But despite the shouting from Uncle Harry and Dad, I can’t concentrate on the match. All I can think of is this stupid custody battle, and how pointless this all seems. I wish Jenny was here. More importantly, I wish Jenny and I were still on speaking terms. I could talk to Dom and Laura, but they don’t seem to take anything seriously – I suppose Jenny’s problem was always that she took things too seriously. It just seems like in the last few months everything has gotten so complicated...
“FOUL! That was a bloody foul!” Dad and Harry leap up from their seats, and the two boys stand up on their seats to see down to the ground, where James and the Puddlemere United Beater have landed.
“What happened?” I ask, wishing I had been paying attention.
“Roland hit James with his bat!” Teddy shouts angrily, “That’s not on –”
He stops talking to take a closer look at what’s happening. This time I see the action. I see James hit Roland square in the face, knocking him to the ground. The rest of the players start to land too – and a massive fight breaks out, in which several players try to hold James back, while the rest of them spur him on. He tackles Roland, punching him repeatedly. What the hell is wrong with him?
Teddy, Dad and Harry run from the box, and I grab the two boys by the hand and follow. The whole way down the hundreds of steps, Remus and Aidan are chattering excitedly about what’s just gone on – not a very good example James is setting. We have no problem getting on to the Quidditch pitch. People tend not to refuse Harry Potter anything.
By the time we have arrived on the pitch, the fight has been broken up. Both James and Roland look very bloodied up, and there are Quidditch officials having words with both of them, until James shoots them a very nasty look and storms off into the changing rooms. Harry runs after him.
“Mum, what’s happening?” Aidan asks me.
“I have no idea,” I respond honestly.
After a few minutes, Harry storms back out of the changing room.
“He’s been suspended for three matches,” says Harry angrily, “Wait ‘til Ginny gets her hands on him...”
That doesn’t really bear thinking about.
There are reporters from the Daily Prophet already gathering round to take pictures of us, so we decide to head on home and not stay for the rest of the match. Although we don’t really care what pictures the Daily Prophet take – Aunt Ginny is the Editor in Chief anyway, so they won’t be published – we don’t really fancy seeing them in some little tabloid or Witch Weekly with a crazy headline like ‘Potter goes mental at match, family kill selves’.
Unfortunately, I told Aidan I’d let him go over to Scorpius’s after the match. I had hoped he’d be so tired he’d just fall asleep on the way home and go straight to bed – but instead he’s extremely hyper. On top of this, Mr Fox told me to allow Scorpius to see Aidan whenever possible so that we can make him look like the unreasonable one. Which he is.
As we approach Scorpius’s front door, I find myself hoping that only Daisy will be here. I have never hoped to see that woman in my entire life. Even the thought of her ridiculous name makes me want to throw up.
Both of them answer the door. Mr and Mrs Malfoy. It’s nice they do things as a couple.
The tension is undeniably uncomfortable, but Aidan doesn’t seem to notice it. Instead he runs straight into the apartment without even saying goodbye to me, so I’m left standing at the door holding his overnight bag like a complete idiot.
“Hello Rose, how are you?” Daisy smiles uncomfortably.
“Fine,” I reply shortly, “Here are Aidan’s things. I’ll collect him at four tomorrow.”
“I could drop him over either,” Scorpius suggests.
Scorpius rolls his eyes as if I’m a little child who’s being naughty. I have never wanted to kick someone in the crotch more. But again, that wouldn’t look so great in front of the Wizengamot.
“I got your solicitor’s letter,” I tell him coldly.
“I’ll go put the dinner on,” Daisy says quickly, leaving us alone.
“Well you knew it was coming,” Scorpius shrugs.
I stare at him for a moment. His eyes used to look so warm. Now they just look icy. It’s like something’s died in him. “Actually, I never saw this coming.”
He pauses. “Al and Jenny are home tomorrow.”
I can tell he’s thinking the same thing as me. What if Jenny has decided to tell Daisy? There is only so long these things can be kept under wraps – secrets always come out in the end. And what if Jenny has told Al already? The chances are she has – after all, he is her husband now. Will Al forgive us? Or will he be just as judgemental as Jenny, if not more?
“Are you two –”
“We’re still not speaking,” I tell him shortly. Thanks to you. With that, I turn and leave.
Two days after the match, James has yet to speak to anyone about what happened. He’s locked himself away in his apartment and nobody can get through to him, not even Aunt Ginny who nearly knocked his door down banging on it. We even tried setting Aidan on him, but he just wouldn’t answer. Of course his picture is on the front of nearly every tabloid, and each story is as ridiculous as the last –I don’t care what anybody says, James did not set anybody’s hair on fire.
Mum is getting more and more stressed as the election draws closer. I haven’t seen her this bad in a long time. When we were kids, Mum used to study for Ministry exams to earn more degrees and get more promotions – whenever Mum was studying, Hugo and I would be banished to Nana Molly’s or to Nana Jane’s or to wherever would take us. And we would be delighted to leave, because when Mum is stressed, nobody wants to be anywhere near her.
Least of all Dad.
“Ron! Did you finish those posters yet?” Mum calls from the kitchen. Dad and I are sitting in the living room, and Dad turns up the radio in the hope that Mum will give up calling him. Really, he’s known her for almost 40 years, he should really get how this works.
Mum bursts into the living room, and flicks her wand at the radio, which switches off. “I know you heard me!” she shrieks, “I’m canvassing in Godric’s Hollow tomorrow, and I would really like your support on this! Do you have your best dressrobes ironed? Rose, you’ll be in attendance?” She says all of this very quickly.
“Um, actually, I have to work tomorrow, and I have apparition lessons in the evening,” I tell her, happy for once that I’ve left it so late to learn to apparate.
“Oh yes, of course,” she says, “Well, Hugo will be there. Perhaps I could just bring Roxanne along and pretend she’s my daughter...”
Dad and I look at each other, but neither of us point out the fact that Roxie and I could not look more different. I believe Mum is now living in a dream world – it’s best to leave her to it. I do make a mental note to ring Roxie later and tell her to leave the country as quickly as possible.
“I’ve gotten the support of more than half of the Wizengamot – Kyle Peterson even said he’d come with us on the campaign, isn’t it wonderful?” Mum rabbits on. She’s always mentioning these random names of Ministry officials that I really couldn’t care less about, but I just nod and smile anyway.
Mum bustles back out to the kitchen.
“She might have Peterson, but Percy has Vincent,” says Dad darkly, “Paul Vincent is one of the most influential figures in the whole Ministry. Bullies people for support. I think that’s why she’s so highly strung.”
“Highly strung? I hadn’t noticed,” I say sarcastically, “But seriously, Dad, Mum has this election in the bag doesn’t she? I mean, she has Harry Potter on her side! I think Harry is a lot more influential than Paul Vincent.” Oh how I wish I knew who Paul Vincent was.
“Harry’s never been one to exploit his status, Rosie. You know that,” says Dad. Stupid noble Harry. “Of course we’ll have the support of former Order members, but there are still a few Ministry members who aren’t exactly Harry’s biggest fans. Bloody democracy.”
“Rosie, if it were Harry running for Minister, then I’m sure he would have plenty of support simply because he’s famous. But he’s not running for that very reason. And your mother...well, as much as I love her, she can be somewhat...controversial...” Dad trails off. I know what he’s talking about. Mum likes to get under people’s skin and ruffle feathers. Now that I think about it, I’m sure there are many Ministers who really don’t like her for being such a know-it-all.
But then again, her opponent is Percy. Wow, the voters really are stuck between a rock and a hard place.
The next day at work, Hazel turns on the radio so that we can hear Mum’s speech from Godric’s Hollow. And when Wharton gives out about the volume we have it up at, Gladys gives him a truly evil look and he walks away briskly.
“...it is time that we all stood together in the face of the economic downturn – Goblins, Elves, Witches and Wizards! Giants and Centaurs! We are all equals!....”
“If your Mum becomes Minister for Magic, does that mean you won’t have to work here anymore?” Linda asks me, munching on a Chocolate Frog.
“I wish,” I say miserably, “If my Mum won a billion Galleons, there is no way she would let me give up my job. She’s a fascist.”
“Aw good,” says Gladys, “We’d miss you ‘round here.”
The three ladies of course stop listening to the radio once Healer Kennedy passes by, but I have stopped drooling over him ever since I started Potions classes. He teaches some of them, and the more time I spend with him, the less attractive I find him. Of course he is absolutely gorgeous and everything, but he can be quite boring.
While the three are fawning over a man half their age, I am left to answer the phone when it rings.
“Hello, St Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Injuries and Maladies, Rose Weasley speaking how can I help you?” I rhyme off.
“Rose, hello, Tom Fox here.”
I have to think for a moment, and then I remember that Tom Fox is my lawyer. I had almost forgotten about the custody battle in the wake of Mum’s campaign, but hearing Tom’s voice makes my heart drop a bit.
“Hi Mr Fox.”
“Please, it’s Tom,” he says in that usual hurried voice, “Listen, I just thought I’d let you know that I’ve done a little bit of digging and found something that might really help your case. Can you meet me in my office later on?”
“You have? What is it?” I ask excitedly, hoping for some legal loophole that will entitle me to sole custody of Aidan.
“Are you able to come in around four o’clock?”
“No, I can’t,” I tell him, “I have...an appointment.” I can’t bring myself to tell him I have to take apparition classes.
“Right, how about tomorrow?”
“I suppose I could come in on my lunch hour? Around half twelve?”
“Yes, perfect,” says Tom.
“Can’t you at least tell me the jist of what you’ve dug up?”
“Let’s just say Mrs Daisy Malfoy isn’t as squeaky clean as you’d think,” he says, and I can hear a smirk. “Have to run now, see you tomorrow.” He hangs up before I can question him anymore.
What on earth could he have dug up?
A/N - Better late than never, eh??
First of all, I am aware that it doesn't take five months to fix a broken computer, however, my computer only broke in January, and I had to send it away to Germany to be fixed (I live in Ireland as most of you will know). A month and a half later, it came back. Broken. So I had to send it back again. Two weeks later it was back - hard-drive was wiped. Yipee. Lost all of my stories, including what I had written of this chapter. Luckily I had some of the backed up - only not this chapter.
So I'll admit I didn't update for two months out of writer's block/exams/Christmas/family problems...but three months were basically me shouting down the phone at a computer company.
And what really doesn't help are reviews in which people give out. I gave an explanation that people just had to try to pick holes in. If I'm going to abandon this story (which I am NOT), I will set it to 'Abandoned'.
Hope you enjoyed this chapter, it is the setting up of things to come!
It's great to be back in business. ;)