Chapter 26 - Slightly Deranged
It seems like my life will never be rid of it. It is very difficult to remember a time when I wasn’t stressed. It must have been before I went to Hogwarts. My whole pre-sixth year life at Hogwarts was full of studying, homework, and trying to keep James Potter alive. Sixth year was full of pregnancy and trying to keep James Potter alive. Pre-Hogwarts was full of anxiety that I wasn’t actually a witch, but a squib and the fear that I would never receive my Hogwarts letter.
And keeping James Potter alive, of course.
Now, on top of keeping a very derailed James Potter alive, I have to keep a child alive, keep my feelings for a married man under wraps, study for Potions classes, help my mother to become Minister for Magic – and plan a birthday party for a soon to be six-year-old. It’s no wonder everyone seems to think I’m much older than twenty-three.
It’s been a few weeks since Aidan came back home. I haven’t seen a whole lot of Scorpius and Daisy, and I have not seen them exchange words once. Usually we would host Aidan’s birthday parties in Scorpius’s flat, which is so much bigger than mine, but given the generally bad atmosphere in the Malfoy household, I’ve asked Mum and Dad if I can use their house instead.
I help Aidan to write the invitations. He insists on sending one to every single member of the family, even though I’ve told him it would be much quicker to just tell one or two and have them spread the word. But my son is nothing if not stubborn.
“Can I get a magician?” Aidan asks while writing the invitations.
“What, one of those Muggles trying to be wizards?”
“Mia had one at her party and he was really funny, he made a rabbit appear!”
I point my wand at the toaster and quickly transfigure it into a white rabbit and back again.
“We don’t need to pay some Muggle to hide a rabbit in his hat, Aidan,” I tell him.
“But you said nobody’s allowed to do magic at my party because there’ll be Muggles there!”
“Yes, but –”
“Please, Mum? Please?”
I sigh and roll my eyes. “I’ll think about it.”
He’s happy enough with this answer, probably because he knows if he’s worn me down from ‘no’ to ‘I’ll think about it’ that quickly, he’ll definitely be getting what he wants.
We decide to have the party on a Sunday, mainly to break the monotony of the so called Sabbath. There’s never anything to do on a Sunday, except for visit family members. Most Sundays are spent at Mum and Dad’s or The Burrow anyway. The Burrow would have been an ideal place to have the party, but we’d have a hard time explaining to Muggle parents and children how exactly the house is being held up – it looks ready to fall over, but it has survived extremely strong winds and heavy storms thanks to the charms Grandad has cast on it.
As expected, vast amounts of Weasleys turn up to Mum and Dad’s to help set up for Aidan’s party. Nana Molly brings the cake (which I keep up very high, away from little mischievous hands), and Ginny and Mum have made all sorts of food. I honestly don’t know where Mum gets time with her campaign and everything. I honestly believe she could be Superwoman.
We all get quite a surprise when even Uncle Percy and Auntie Audrey turn up with Molly and Lucy in toe; Dad actually drops his queen cake when he sees them.
“Afternoon all!” Auntie Audrey calls pompously as she swans into the house, as if she was invited or something. She wasn’t. In fact, I specifically told her not to come. Uncle Percy hands Aidan a small, soft looking parcel and mutters “Happy Birthday”. Aidan, like any six year old, rips open the parcel to find:
A mustard yellow tie.
“What’s this?” Aidan practically spits.
“Aidan,” I whisper furiously to him, “Manners.”
“Every young man needs a tie!” Percy tries to explain. “F-for formal occasions...and such...”
He looks so embarrassed, I almost feel sorry for him. Almost.
“Right, thanks.” Aidan literally throws it on the floor and walks away like the rather spoiled brat he is.
“Thank you Uncle Percy,” I stutter quickly, picking up the tie and putting it with the rest of Aidan’s gifts. “You know how kids are, I’m sure he’ll appreciate it when the time comes to wear it!” I know that time will never come.
Scorpius and Daisy show up together, though I don’t see them exchange words once. I try my best to avoid them without raising suspicion. After what happened the day Aidan came home from the hospital, I don’t particularly want to speak with either of them.
Of course, it’s impossible to avoid them.
Daisy is first to seek me out. She looks very chic in white jeans and a mint green vest top, not to mention about six times thinner than me. She makes it very easy for me to hate her. She finds me in the kitchen talking to Aidan’s friend’s mother, and hangs around until Mia’s mum has gone to check on the kids. Then she pounces.
“Rose,” she begins, “I’m sorry we haven’t been in touch much over the last week or so. How are things?”
If there’s one thing I hate more than skinny bitches in white jeans, it’s making small talk with them.
“Fine,” I tell her, not quite meeting her eye. I’m losing count of the amount of times her husband has cheated on her with me, both emotionally and physically. How can I possibly make small talk?
“I still feel awful...”
“Don’t. Aidan’s perfectly fine.”
“That’s great.” She pauses for a moment and looks around her to check that the kitchen is empty. Unfortunately, it is. “Rose, I think Scorpius is cheating.”
I begin coughing uncontrollably having swallowed some fizzy water the wrong way.
Oh shitty shit.
“Are you alright?” Daisy looks concerned.
“S-sorry!” I choke. “W-went down the wrong way!”
Why must things like this constantly happen to me?
“I-it’s just, he’s always home from work late,” she continues. “And I know he isn’t down for that much overtime – I’m the one who sets the bloody overtime!”
“I’m sure he’s not cheating.” That’s literally all I can say. I mean, technically he’s not actively cheating. It’s not like there’s an affair between us or anything. Can a few meaningless kisses really count as cheating?
“He barely even touches me anymore,” she says sadly. “I know I did an awful thing, but I wish he’d just tell me what he’s feeling instead of completely ignoring me! And he’ll come home some evenings smelling of alcohol. I know he’s been going to the pub, but he never invites me along.”
“You know what men are like,” I try to be nonchalant. “The pub is like their territory, a woman-free zone. I’m sure you’re just going through a rough patch.”
“How many couples go through a rough patch in their first year of marriage?” She’s practically crying now. This conversation is way too heavy for a six-year-old’s birthday party.
“I’ve tried talking about it with him, but he just leaves the room or turns up the radio.” She actually is crying now. In a panic, I grab her arm and steer her to the front of the house where nobody will notice her tears. The last thing I need is for Jenny to hear Daisy utter the word ‘affair’.
She wipes her eyes on her sleeve and shakes herself out a bit, as if she’s getting ready to go for a run or something. Then she takes a deep breath to calm herself down.
“I’m sorry I’m such a mess,” she sniffs. “I know you’re the last person I should be talking to about this.”
For some reason, I take offence to this. True, she shouldn’t be talking to me about this considering all I’ve done with her husband behind her back. But still, she didn’t need to say it.
Realising that I’ve said absolutely nothing constructive so far, I say: “Maybe you should follow him.”
What the hell is wrong with me?
“Follow him? Isn’t that a bit...deranged?”
Yet another adjective used to describe Rose Weasley.
“No, he’s your husband! If he’s cheating on you, you have a right to know,” I tell her, and then add as an afterthought, “But I’m sure he isn’t.”
If she follows him and sees that he’s not cheating – more specifically, not cheating with me – then everything will be alright.
“How can I do that without being seen?” she asks.
“James’s invisibility cloak!” Oh why was I born? Where the hell do I pull these ridiculous ideas from? “Or if he’s driving, just make sure to put two cars between yours and his...a-at least that’s what I hear you should do...”
Dom and I once stalked a Muggle boyfriend of hers. Turned out he was cheating. His car now has no wing mirrors. Dom keeps them in her bedside locker.
Daisy looks like she’s slightly considering what I’m saying. I wish she wouldn’t. I’m deranged, after all. Scorpius isn’t cheating on her, he’s just angry with her. He’s just being a spoiled brat as usual and won’t talk about what’s bothering him. And no amount of car chasing his going to change that.
Luckily our conversation is cut short by the arrival of the middle-aged magician that Aidan managed to talk me into hiring. He looks absolutely ridiculous in a black tuxedo and top-hat, and a rather large briefcase full of Muggle excuses for magic. Hmm, maybe if the Potions classes don’t work out so well, I can make a living as a Muggle magician.
“Hello, Ms Weasley?” he asks me.
“That’s me.” Daisy is looking him up and down, quite as unimpressed as I am.
“Sorry I’m a bit late, traffic was mental! Where d’you want me to set up?”
I lead him into the living room, which has been cleared of children. They are now all outside in the back garden playing with the Muggle football Dad bought just this morning; he only had Quidditch balls before that. The Magician, who calls himself Eric the Eccentric, starts telling me how he does all of his tricks, and I lose interest very quickly.
When I call all of the children inside to watch this loser pretend to be a wizard, Aidan approaches me not looking very happy.
“What’s wrong, love?” I ask him.
James. He never even crossed my mind today. After a quick glance around, I quickly realise that James is the only member of the family who’s not here. And he’s just about the only one who Aidan really wants here.
“He must be sick,” I tell Aidan apologetically, “I’m sorry sweetheart. Why don’t you watch the magician and I’ll give him a ring?”
Aidan nods and goes to sit with his friends, looking very disheartened. Why does James bloody Potter have to ruin everything?
I decide to go on a mission to find James, but will need to bring either Al, Dom or Scorpius with me for backup. Dom is busy chatting with Brian, while Al and Jenny seem stupidly interested in the magician. Al’s fascination with Muggles can get very annoying sometimes. Scorpius is the only one who’s sitting by himself, so I decide he’ll have to do.
“Scorpius, come with me,” I order him quietly. He doesn’t ask any questions, but follows me out of the house. When we are outside and alone, I explain the situation.
“...so basically we’re breaking into James’s flat and dragging him here?” Scorpius sums up.
“Exactly. You in?”
“Do I have a choice?”
We apparate to James’s building and, as usual, we get no response when we knock on his door. I wasn’t expecting one.
“Now what?” Scorpius asks, sounding quite defeated.
I stop and think for a moment, and then: “JAMES POTTER OPEN THIS DOOR RIGHT NOW!”
Scorpius has covered his ears, for all the good that’ll do him. The door remains firmly shut.
“And now what?” Scorpius asks annoyingly.
“Don’t just stand there you idiot, blast down the door!”
“Blast it down?” Scorpius hisses. “This is a pretty posh building, Rose, I can’t just –”
“Oh move aside.” I literally shove him away and take out my wand. I cast a spell so powerful that the door is blasted from its hinges and falls ten feet inside the apartment. Scorpius, who is cowering behind me, uncovers his face and follows me inside.
“Couldn’t have just tried Alohamora?”
This way is far more dramatic.
James’s apartment is ridiculously untidy. Dirty clothes (not all belonging to James, unless he wears pink thongs) are scattered all around his living room, along with lots of small, empty potion vials. Scorpius picks up one and inspects it.
“Cito Circumvenio,” he reads off the label. “Wonder what that is?”
I pick up a similar bottle and have a look for myself. “I’ve heard the name, I just can’t remember where...”
I wrack my brains as Scorpius roams around the apartment looking for any signs of life. I know I’ve read about this potion, and not too long ago either. It must have been in Potions class, or maybe in the newspaper. I know it’s bad anyway.
“Nobody here, Rose,” Scorpius calls from James’s bedroom.
“He’s definitely had a woman staying with him,” Scorpius continues. “Girly stuff everywhere.”
It’s something to do with Quidditch anyway. It’s to do with stamina or something...
“Scorp!” I call, and he comes rushing back into the living room. “I think this is a performance-enhancing potion. It’s banned by the Quidditch Association of Britain – if anyone finds out James is taking this, he’ll never be allowed play again.”
“That’s why he’s been playing so well!”
I look around once more at the messy apartment. “Look at all of these empty bottles; he must be drinking it every day. If it’s the same potion I’m thinking about, it’s highly addictive.”
Scorpius and I remain quiet for a moment in a worried haze. So this is why James has been acting so strange. This is why he’s so thin. This is why he’s constantly shaking and hardly ever sleeps.
Before this information even sinks in with us, another person arrives at James’s apartment.
“What are you doing here?” I don’t care how reproving I sound. What the hell is she doing at James’s place?
“What happened the door?” she responds.
“Don’t answer a question with a question, it’s very annoying,” I snap. “Seriously, what are you doing here? I didn’t know you even knew where James lived!”
She looks down at the floor, and suddenly I realise who the ‘girly stuff’ belongs to. “Oh my God,” I hiss, “have you been seeing James?”
“No way!” Scorpius cries, half-amused. I’m anything but amused.
“Laura, answer me.”
She’s deliberately avoiding eye contact. “It’s only been for a while. I thought I could help him...”
Not again. I swear to Merlin, if he dumps her in front of an entire Quidditch stadium, I’m taking my son and leaving this family forever. I mean it, I really will.
“Did you know about this?” I hold up the empty potion vial.
“I tried to make him stop!” she insists. “He told me he had it under control!”
Scorpius and I look at each other in shock, and immediately the questions start pouring out.
“How long has this been going on?”
“Where is he now?”
“Is he addicted?”
“Is he alright?”
“Why the hell didn’t you tell anyone?”
Laura holds up her hands to make us shut up. For some reason, it works. Looking sufficiently ashamed of herself, Laura walks by us and sits down on the sofa.
“Look, why don’t you both sit down. I’ll explain everything.”
A/N: Answers! Finally! Well, sort of. I know, there's still a million questions; who will become Minister of Magic? Will James ever be alright? What's the deal with Brian and Dom? Is Tom ever coming back? What will become of Daisy and Scorpius? Will Rose ever be happy? All of these will hopefully be tied up in the next few chapters. I hope you enjoyed this rather short chapter! 6000+ REVIEWS!!!!!!! SO EXCITED! LOVE YOU ALL!