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Still Delicate by padfoot4ever

Format: Novel
Chapters: 35
Word Count: 142,007
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Strong Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme, Contains Spoilers

Genres: Drama, Humor, Romance
Characters: Teddy, Scorpius, Albus, James (II), Lily (II), Hugo, Rose, Victoire
Pairings: Rose/Scorpius, Harry/Ginny, Ron/Hermione, Teddy/Victoire, Other Pairing

First Published: 12/14/2008
Last Chapter: 02/28/2012
Last Updated: 02/28/2012

Summary:
Wonderful new banner by PhoenixAlthor @ TDA.





Five and a half years after the birth of her child, Rose Weasley feels her life is about to go in a new direction. Things can only get better. Well, they can't get any worse...or so she reckons.  
A story about love, life, friendship, family...and an annoying cousin that will never stop calling her Red.


Chapter 1: A Beginning Of Sorts
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A/N - Welcome to the sequel of 'Delicate'. If you haven't read it, I strongly suggest you do, because you won't get this otherwise! This story is set five and a half years after Delicate - Rose is now twenty-two (going on twenty-three). I do hope you enjoy the chapter, I know it's a lot of new names and characters, but bear with me! Please review, I'd like to know what you think! (",)
P.S - Happy Christmas!


 






Chapter One - A Beginning Of Sorts

Christmas is always a tricky time of year. It’s that time when we spend an outrageous amount of money on gifts that will be neither used nor appreciated, when we stuff ourselves with food we aren’t even hungry for and when we spend time with those family members we can’t stand, but we love just because we feel obliged to. I’ve had my fair share of difficult Christmases, one which sticks out in my mind perhaps slightly more than others, but this year might just about top them all.

“Look, Weasley, this is the roster, and what it says goes,” the Chief Healer and my boss, Healer Wharton spits at me. I’m not sure if he means to spit every time he says a word with the letter ‘s’ in it, but it seems like every time I try to have a conversation with the man, I end up needing to put a drying spell on my hair.

“But sir, I can’t work on Christmas Eve!” I try to reason with him, “I have too much to do – I haven’t even had time to do my Christmas shopping yet –”

“Cry me a river,” he says nastily, “You don’t work Christmas Eve, you don’t work in my hospital ever again.”

I go to argue back, but he sweeps off down the corridor, clearly not giving a toss that he’s just ruined all of my best laid plans. Healer Joseph Wharton always wears blood red robes instead of the traditional lime green ones every other Healer in this place wears. I think he just likes to show that he’s a step above everyone else.

I slump back onto my chair behind the receptionists’ station, defeated. Christmas Eve is all of two days away and I have so much to do before then that it’s not physically possible to get it done.

“Cheer up, love,” Gladys tells me in her husky voice. Gladys is a woman in her very late fifties and every time she speaks, you can hear the thousands of cigarettes she’s smoked in her lifetime. She’s a divorcee and hates almost everything about men, especially men like Hr. Wharton. She’s the only person Hr. Wharton doesn’t give attitude to, because even he knows better than to mess with a menopausal receptionist. “It’ll only be ‘til four.”

“I know,” I mumble miserably, “But I haven’t bought any presents yet and I told my Nana I’d make the Christmas pudding, and I told Mum I’d help them decorate The Burrow, and I promised Aidan I’d take him to see Santa in the shopping centre…”

“Those Muggle Santa’s always look so fake anyway,” Linda butted in, “When I used to take Our Liam to see them, he’d end up pulling off the beard and making all the other kiddies cry.” Linda sounds half-proud of her son as she tells the story. Linda is a forty year old single mother, with a fifteen year old son, called ‘Our Liam’. Ever since I came to work in St Mungo’s she’s been incredibly supportive of me, because she knows just how hard it is raising a child alone. She talks about ‘Our Liam’ more than anything else in the world, almost to the point where it’s annoying. ‘Our Liam’ is the Second Coming, according to Linda.

“Why don’t you get his dad to take him?” asks Hazel. Hazel, slightly younger than Gladys, is still married but refers to her husband as ‘The Useless Shit’. I don’t even know what her husband’s actual name is. I’m not quite sure if she hates men more than Gladys, but I certainly do feel a bit sorry for her husband. These three women – all of whom are old enough to be my mother – have become my closest friends since I came to work at St Mungo’s almost two years ago. And that I find sort of pathetic.

“He’s still in America,” I remind her, “He’ll be home tomorrow.” I try not to feel nauseous at the thought, but I fail miserably.

“Too busy for his kid,” Gladys scoffs, “Typical bloke, if you ask me!”

Luckily, the magi-phone rings, so Gladys answers with a very bored and husky-sounding ‘Hello, St Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries, Gladys speaking, how can I help you?’ I would hardly consider going away on a two-week business trip as ‘too busy’ for his child. Scorpius has a demanding job and I’ve accepted that. Is it sad that I’m even defending him in my own head?

“Rose, it’s exactly twenty-five to,” Linda whispers to me excitedly and the two of us lean over the reception desk and stare down the corridor, waiting. This is the highlight of our day.

A tall and handsome man with dark hair, blue eyes and the most magical smile since Gilderoy Lockhart strolls around the corner wearing lime green robes, looking at a chart in deep concentration. Linda and I sit back down very quickly and wait a few seconds for him to pass by.

“Afternoon, ladies,” he smiles and even though I’m sitting down, I’m actually weak at the knees.

“Afternoon, Healer Kennedy,” I smile back, hoping I don’t sound too ridiculous.

He continues walking down the corridor and turns off into the Artefact Accidents headquarters, as he does every single day at twenty-five to four. Healer Damien Kennedy – the hospital hunk. The Hot Healer. The Delicious Doctor. Sometimes I wish for somebody’s wand to backfire on them so that I can see him run down the corridor, his dark hair bouncing, ready to save lives…

“If I was ten years younger,” Linda swoons.

“If I was thirty years younger,” Gladys chips in. Even Gladys, the man-hater, can’t help but notice Damien Kennedy’s unbelievably charming looks. He’s only been a fully qualified Healer for about two years and he’s been walking by us every single day since I came to work here.

However, even the extremely sensational Damien Kennedy cannot distract me from the fact that Scorpius is coming home tomorrow. Have you ever looked forward to something, but completely dreaded it at the same time? Has your brain ever screamed at you not to do something, but your heart took over all reason? That’s how I feel.

“So,” Linda takes a sip of her tea and looks at me very business-like, “Have you made a decision?”

“No,” I tell her, “Not yet.”

“Rose! He’s coming home tomorrow!” she scolds, “How can you not have made a decision? You have to tell him.”

“No, she doesn’t,” says Hazel, scribbling down some patient details in a chart, “She’s better off not telling him. What good will it do?”

“They could end up together! They could get married, Hazel, and have more children -”

“One child is enough,” I jump in, “Thank you very much. And can we please change the subject?” I don’t know why I ever told these women – two of the world’s most cynical women and the world’s only surviving pure optimist – about this. I haven’t told anybody about this. Well, except for Jenny, but she doesn’t really count. I have to tell her these things. But I really didn’t have to go and tell Gladys, Hazel and Linda. They’re my colleagues – do they really need to know about my love life?

“I think it’s beautiful,” Linda sighs.

“What’s beautiful?” I scoff.

“Your story! The story of Rose Weasley and Scorpius Malfred. Best friends. Lovers.”

“We were never best friends,” I correct her, “And it’s Malfoy.”

“Torn apart by fate, brought together by destiny…”

“Fate and destiny are the same thing,” I snap.

“Two best friends, one night of passion six years ago resulting in an illegitimate lovechild –”

“That’s not how it was –”

“Living in separate worlds for a whole year –”

“I’d hardly call England and Scotland ‘separate worlds’,” I growl at her romanticism.

“Eventually broken apart by an evil wretch –”

“He copped off with a Hufflepuff when he was in seventh year!” I cry, “Aren’t you slightly over-exaggerating?”

“Only to be brought together once again –”

“Actually,” Gladys interrupts Linda’s anecdote, “They were brought together about six different times, weren’t they? Three times in one night if I remember correctly?” I do wish Gladys wouldn’t remember everything I say.

“Okay…only to be brought together six times more,” she continues with a clouded over expression, “And now, when he returns from the foreign land of –”

“Las Vegas,” I mumble.

“– the foreign land of Las Vegas, the story of Rose Weasley and Scorpius Mildred –”

“Malfoy! How can you not know the name Malfoy?!” I cry.

“The story of Rose Weasley and Scorpius Malfoy will finally reach it’s happily ever after ending. Isn’t it romantic?” Linda finishes with a sigh.

“Absolutely riveting,” a very dry voice says from above us, “But I need Mrs Hillman’s chart before the end of the century, so if you lot could stop feeding off Weasley’s pathetic excuse for a love life and concentrate on your work for a change, that’d be just spiffing.”

Trust Healer Evil O’Satan to be the one to hear the entire, somewhat exaggerated, details of my love life. Even the exaggerated version is just a ‘pathetic excuse’ for a love life. Evil O’Satan – otherwise known as Bonnie Clyde (no, I’m not joking, that’s her name) – thinks she’s the boss of just about everyone. She is the master, the second-in-command, and a complete arse kisser when it comes to Chief Healer Wharton. She especially hates us, the receptionists, because we apparently have absolutely nothing to offer this hospital. Still, if we weren’t here, who’d get her the stupid Mrs Hillman chart?

Gladys pulls out the chart and hands it grudgingly to Healer O’Satan, who grabs it off her.

“Oh good, at least you have one brain cell between you,” she spits and then stalks off down the corridor. I do hate her so very much. Everyone does, that is except for Chief Healer Wharton.

“I hope she gets what’s coming to her, that one,” Hazel hisses as soon as O’Satan is out of earshot, “Thinks she’s a step above Hippogriff shit…”

“So Rose,” Linda grins at me, clearly unfazed by Evil O’Satan’s interruption, “Please tell me you’re going to give it a go with Scorpius. You should give it a chance at least –”

“Oh look at the time,” I cry in mock-surprise, “Is it time to go home already? I have to pick up the child from Al and Jenny’s.” I grab my coat off the back of my chair and get ready to sign out.

“Rose!” Linda cries, “You can’t leave! Are you working tomorrow?”

“Yes,” I tell her, “But you’re not.” I point to the roster, and she groans in disappointment when she realises we’re not working together again until Christmas Eve. “I’ll see you the day after tomorrow, Linda. And I’ll see you two tomorrow.”

Hazel and Gladys bid me goodbye and Linda cries “tell him how you feel!” at me on my way out the door. I know she means well, but sometimes I wish she’d concentrate on her own love life rather than mine all the time.

*

“I’ve lost your son!” Jenny cries frantically, “He was here just a minute ago – Rose I’m so sorry! I – I’ll replace him! ALBUS POTTER! You have to get me pregnant right now, we need to give a child to Rose! What position did you and Scorpius do it in to get a boy –”

“Please stop right there,” I hold my hand up, “You really do not need to know that information–”

“Too right,” my cousin, Albus mumbles.

“And anyway, I don’t remember,” I shrug, and Al shudders. I think the thought that I slept with his best friend still slightly creeps him out. It’s a good thing Jenny never told him about the other nine and a half times it happened. “Aidan!”

“I’ve looked everywhere!” Jenny cries, with tears in her eyes. Even though she is my best friend in the world, and I love her, her obsessive worrying does get annoying after a while.

“He’s around here somewhere,” I tell her reasonably, “If he was here just a minute ago, he can’t have gone far. Aidan! Come here!” I call out. Silence. “Aidan, if you don’t come here right now, Grandad won’t get you those Chudley Cannon tickets for Christmas and you won’t get to see James playing…”

Blackmail works. I think there should be an entire chapter on blackmail in those parenting books. A rather blonde five-year-old pops out from behind the couch, grinning his father’s grin cheekily. Jenny sighs in relief, grabs him and hugs him tightly.

“Aidan! Don't you do that to me again!” she cries. Sometimes I wonder if she’s really his mother. Aidan doesn’t pull stunts like that one on me, because he knows if he did I’d just find him within twenty seconds. He gets a reaction out of Jenny.

“See, nothing to worry about,” I shrug, “Aidan, I hope you haven’t been giving Auntie Jenny trouble today?” I give him my warning look, which is basically the same as my ‘I’m angry’ look and ‘I’m hungry’ look.

“No,” he grins, “Would I?” He is too sarcastic for a five-year-old. He gets it from the Malfoys.

“Er, Rose? Did you hear James and Scorpius are coming back a day early?” Al says to me quietly while Jenny gets Aidan’s coat and schoolbag. My heart practically stops beating at this news.

“A day early?” I ask him, “Wouldn’t that be…today?”

“Tonight,” he nods, “They should be home around eight. Just thought I’d…let you know…”

I glare at him. He stares down at the ground guiltily and then starts cleaning his glasses off his shirt.

“Jenny told you?” I hiss, “She told you?!”

“S-sort of…and just so you know, I think it’s brilliant. You and Scorpius, finally together –”

“Stop right there,” I snap, “I don’t even know if I’m going to tell him about my…feelings…so don’t you say a word to anyone, d’you hear me? Especially not Aidan.”

“Of course,” he nods frantically, “I won’t breathe a word.”

I think about it the whole way home. I’ve tried to push this from my brain, thinking I had two good weeks to think about what I would say to Scorpius. But now I have less than four hours until he comes home and he is guaranteed to stop by my flat to see Aidan once he arrives. Aidan chats to me as we walk home, but I’m barely even listening to him. I know that makes me sound negligent, but you wouldn’t listen to a five-year-old talking about how fantastic clouds are either.

Scorpius went away on business with the Chudley Cannons two weeks ago. I can’t believe it’s been a whole two weeks already. Scorpius is a broomstick charmer and he works for Nimbus, who sponsor the Cannons. Really it’s not a business trip, it’s more of a freebie. The team were playing the Las Vegas Virgins (an unfortunate name for a Quidditch team), so Scorpius and James basically considered the trip as two weeks of non-stop drinking. And the day before Scorpius left I realised that I want him. I want everything with him. So now I have to tell him that, and I have absolutely no idea how to even start.

I make Aidan some dinner when we arrive home at the tiny flat. This flat is the best one I could find so close to work and so close to Al and Jenny’s. I never took my apparition test, so I have to use my legs like a common Muggle to get places. It really is quite frustrating.

“Mum?” Aidan says in his ‘I’ve got a question for you’ tone, while stuffing his face with Bolognese, “You know how people pretend to not like people when really they do?”

All too well, son.

“Yes, I do.”

“Well…see, there’s this girl in my class. And I don’t like her. But if I act like I don’t like her, people think I do like her and I don’t. She’s so annoying,” he frowns at me. He definitely looks like me when he frowns. It’s quite scary to see yourself in someone else. But it’s twice as scary to see something that grew in your uterus looking at you with those huge brown eyes, waiting for you to answer a question.

“Are you sure you don’t like her?” I raise my eyebrows.

“I don’t like her!” he snaps, “She thinks she’s so brilliant at everything, but she’s not. She can’t even spell.” I don’t like to point out that his five-year-old brain can’t spell all that much either, so he needn’t be so critical.

“What you need to do is just ignore her,” I tell him, “Don’t let her get to you.”

“Well she does get to me,” he mutters angrily. Oh wow – my son has his first crush. Is it too early for the sex talk? I’ll have to discuss this with Scorpius, but really, it’s never too early for the sex talk. I never got the sex talk, and look where I ended up – a twenty-two year old debating whether or not to give her five year old the sex talk. I can’t let that happen to him.

It seems that time is going far too quickly for my liking. By the time dinner is finished it’s almost half five, and I still have to clean the flat before Scorpius arrives. Aidan rushes into his room straight after dinner to play with his toy broomstick, and I set to work on cleaning. I’m not exactly the neatest person in the world. Mum often scolds me for the state of the place. It’s not dirty or anything, just messy. There are old copies of The Daily Prophet and The Quibbler lying around the place and Aidan’s toys are scattered all over the floor. I flick my wand at the mess of the living room and charm the dishes to wash themselves and after around an hour the place looks presentable. I don’t bother going near my bedroom, even though if things go well, I do hope the evening ends there.

Oh no! I haven’t even shaved my legs in…well, I don’t really remember. I haven’t exactly had the time recently. And I didn’t wash my hair today, nor did I cleanse-tone-moisturise like Dom is always telling me to. I jump into the shower and shampoo, shave, pluck and wax all the areas that I deem appropriate. I haven’t done this in quite a while, so I end up cutting my legs and my underarms. I study my reflection in the mirror and realise that Dom was right in telling me I should moisturise – even though I’ve just gotten out of the shower, I can see how dry my skin is. I rush into my bedroom, dry my hair and pick out something nice, but something casual to wear. Why am I so nervous? It’s just Scorpius! I see him every day, practically!

Would makeup be too far? I think it might be. I haven’t worn makeup since Al and Jenny’s engagement party last month. No, I’ll just stick with the shaving of the legs – one small step for a woman, one giant leap for womankind.

I poke my head into Aidan’s room, and he’s still buzzing around on his broom. He’s fine. Okay, now, wine. I think I have a bottle of white in the fridge. And food – I’m sure he’ll want food after coming the whole way from America.

The phone rings and I pick it up frantically. “Hello?”

“Rose, I just thought I’d wish you luck,” Jenny chatters excitedly, “You’re still going to tell him you want to be with him, aren’t you?”

“I don’t know,” I moan, “I’m starting to feel sick…”

“That’s just nerves,” she tells me, “They’ll pass. So what are you going to say?”

“I don’t know…I’m just going to go with whatever comes out –”

“Oh, Rose, I have to go, James has just arrived! Let me know how it goes!”

She hangs up. James is there. I check my watch and realise it’s ten past eight. Scorpius will be here any minute…I’m finding it hard to breathe….

What am I going to say?! This can’t just be another repeat of Ted’s wedding. I can’t just wait for him to go to the loo and then burst in on him, proclaiming my love for him. I need to be original this time. Our relationship for the last five years has been nothing more than a string of awkward one-night stands. I need something more. And I know he wants something more too. I know it.

“Mum, will I get the door?” Aidan calls from his bedroom. I didn’t even hear the knock, but then it sounds again. He’s here.

“Eh…yes…please…”

I hear Aidan running to the door and opening it. I try to pull myself together. Scorpius doesn’t usually have this effect on me.

“Hello mate!” I hear Scorpius’s voice coming from the hall. I can’t believe it – I actually missed it.

“DAD!” Aidan cries, “You’re home!” He never gets that excited when I come home from work.

“You here all by yourself? Having a party? A couple of your girlfriends ‘round, are they?” Scorpius asks him.

“No! Mum’s in the living room!”

Crap. This is it. Moment of truth. I’m sweating. It’s a good thing I put on perfume. Scorpius walks into the living room holding Aidan like a Chaser would hold a Quaffle. I forgot how good looking he is. Well, I didn’t forget, I’ve always just sort of overlooked it.
“Alright Rose?” he grins at me. I think I’ve just melted. I am a puddle on the floor.

“Hi, Scorp,” I smile back, “Have a good trip?”

“It was fantastic – Aidan, when you’re older, we’re going to Vegas to watch a Quidditch match. You should see their stadium, it’s unbelievable!”

Aidan looks very excited by the prospect. “Vegas, Mum! We’re going to Vegas!” I doubt he even knows where Vegas is.

“I’ve got some presents for you,” Scorpius tells him, “But I really need to talk to your Mum, so will you go play in your room for a few minutes, mate?”

Aidan nods, grins and rushes into his room. If I told him to do that he’d throw a tantrum and I’d have to drag him there. Why am I always the bad one?

Wait – he really needs to talk to me? Is he going to say it so I don’t have to? Is he going to suggest we give this a go? I know he was giving signals before he left that he’d like us to give it a try, but I never thought he’d actually go through with it. Oh thank God I don’t have to say it.

“Rose…” he starts, “I have something important to tell you.”

This is perfect. Brilliant. Exactly how I imagined it would be. My crappy life is about to become a lot less crappy.

“The thing is…” he takes a deep breath, “I…I –”

“Yes?” I press.

“I…sort of…” he looks at me, as if he’s sorry about saying this, “I got married.”
 


Chapter 2: Welcome To My World
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Chapter Two - Welcome To My World
It happened two years ago. I was twenty years old. Twenty sounds old when you’re a teenager, but when you’re actually twenty, you still feel like a thirteen year old, trapped in this new adult body. You’re not a teenager anymore, technically, but mentally you are. Mentally, you’re no different from when you were thirteen, fourteen or fifteen. You’re still a teenager in many ways, though people expect much more from you.

I moved into this flat when I was twenty. I was a twenty year old teenager with a three year old son, moving away from home for the first time. Hogwarts never really counted as being away from home because I was always surrounded by family. Now, I was on my own. I’d only just started working in St Mungo’s, having given up on the dream of doing my NEWTs. After all, I had no time to study for them like I thought I would when I was a young, optimistic seventeen year old – well, not optimistic, but young. I hadn’t realised that motherhood was a twenty-four hour a day job, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year. I was an adult. A real grown-up. I was terrified.

Then he came around to celebrate my new job and my new flat – my new life. He brought a bottle of cheap champagne, because he couldn’t afford the good stuff. Nimbus wasn’t paying him much at the time, considering he was just an apprentice. But I didn’t mind. I liked the cheap stuff, and I was used to settling for second best. And as long as he was the one bringing it, he could have brought me urine in a bottle and I wouldn’t have cared. He was all I needed and when I was with him, arguing and bickering, I felt like a carefree teenager again. Not that I was actually ever carefree, but more than I am now.

He was wearing a white shirt, which I found strange at the time, considering Scorpius only ever wears t-shirts or hooded jumpers. He looked smart and formal. I should have suspected something as soon as I let him inside, but I didn’t. After we polished off the bottle of £3.99 champagne he’d bought in the Muggle supermarket, he turned to me and said ‘Marry me’. As if I didn’t have enough on my plate. As if I wasn’t going through enough change.

I said no. And that was that.

So now, as he sits before me on my couch, the same couch he popped the question on only two years ago, waiting for my response, I can’t help but marvel at the irony of it all.

“You got married?” I say blankly, “You…got married?” I say blankly. He nods. Just nods. “As in…married?” He nods again. “As in you have a wife?” Another nod. “So you’re somebody’s…husband?”

“Rose –“

I hold up a hand and he stops talking. “Just let me get this straight. You got married…in Las Vegas.”

“Yes.”

“You got married – as in, you took a wife – in Las Vegas.”

“Yes.”

“Do people actually do that?” I ask, “I mean, does that actually happen in real life?”

“Apparently,” he replies.

Well this has to be some sort of joke. Scorpius was never really very good at the jokes, but this has to be one. I grin at him and wait for him to grin back. But he doesn’t. He just keeps looking at me like I’m a ticking bomb, waiting to explode at any second. But this has to be a joke! I can’t stop myself from laughing at the image of Scorpius Malfoy, son of Draco Malfoy, standing in the Chapel o’ Love, getting married to some scarlet woman by some awful Elvis impersonator! It’s like something from a horribly cheesy Muggle film!

“You had me going there for a minute!” I laugh, “I mean, can you imagine if you actually did get married? You know, Scorp, you were never really a funny person. You got funny! Well done!”

He still isn’t laughing. Why isn’t he laughing?

“Rose, I’m not joking,” he says seriously. That makes me laugh even more. I’m starting to get hysterical now – I just can’t stop! I sincerely hope I don’t wet myself, because I’d never get it out of the couch. I haven’t laughed like this since Molly got drunk at my twenty-first and fell head first into the toilet. “Seriously.”

I stop laughing and look at him. Oh dear God he’s serious.

“You...you’re not joking.”

“No.”

“You have to be joking,” I gasp, “I mean, I know you wouldn’t just get married to some random woman without running it past me – past Aidan – first. Unless...were you drunk? Or on some sort of mind-altering potion? Were you imperiused? Are you still imperiused?”

“I just fell in love,” he shrugs. I feel like he’s kicked me in the stomach. “Her name is Daisy, she works with Nimbus too and I’ve known her a while. We only really got to know each other while we were in America...”

I’ve stopped listening. Daisy is a cow’s name. Not a ‘stupid bitch’ cow, but an honest to God, mooing Friesian cow. I have to be dreaming. This is just another one of my strange dreams.

“...and we just decided we’d go for it. Life’s too short to wait around, you know?”

“Right...you’re right. Life is too short. Congratulations.” I can’t believe this is coming out of my mouth. It’s as if my mouth in no longer connected to my brain. All I want to do is throw things and yet here I am, smiling politely. Even Scorpius is shocked by my reaction. I can’t blame him. I’ve thrown things at him for much smaller things. “This is really great.”

“Okay...thanks...I suppose...”

This is so very awkward. I want to cry and scream and shout and demand to know why the hell he is doing this to me, but I just keep smiling like a crazy woman. I feel completely numb on the inside, even though I can feel tears brewing in my eyes. Is this what a nervous breakdown feels like? Have I finally, after threatening to so many times, crossed the line into crazy town?

“Maybe I should go...” says Scorpius, standing up, “I’ll just go say goodnight to Aidan...”

“Right...great!” I say, too enthusiastically for it to be considered real. I’ve said ‘great’ twice now and I can tell he’s noticed. He goes into Aidan’s bedroom to say goodnight, giving me time to pull myself together. Just a few deep breaths. Everything will be alright. Just because the father of my child is married to another woman doesn’t mean I have to completely lose the plot. I’ve been through worse. I had a child when I was seventeen! This can’t possibly be worse.

Then again, I had Scorpius. Now I have nobody but a five-year-old, depending on me for his every need.

“I’ll be off then,” Scorpius says from the doorway, “I’ll see you soon? I thought Aidan could come to mine at some stage on Christmas Eve?”

“Yeah, great!” I cry, grinning manically, “I’ll talk to you soon, Scorp-O!”

I’ve done it. I’ve called him Scorp-O. There’s no turning back now. He gives me a very strange look.

“Rose, are you drunk?” he asks.

“Nope, not drunk, just happy! Happy for you! And your new wife, Daisy!” I cry.

“Right...well, I’ll see you then.”

He leaves.

I cast a silencing charm on the door of the living room and completely let loose.

“AHHHHHH!” I throw all the cushions from the couch onto the floor and collapse into a heap on top of them. I really need to kill something. I need to snap something in half. I need to kick a stray cat or burn down an old abandoned building. I need to stop pulling out strands of my own hair and take my anger out some other way. 

I hear a key in the door and wonder if it's Scorpius coming back to tell me it's all just a big joke. It's not.

“Rose! I take it you heard then?” Jenny bursts into the living room, clearly shocked and amused by the sight before her – me, sitting in the middle of the room, surrounded by cushions. Luckily she didn’t hear the screaming thanks to my silencing charm.

“Heard? Oh yes, I heard,” I cry, “I heard all about Daisy. Daisy Malfoy. Mrs Daisy Malfoy.”

“Oh Rose, I’m so sorry,” says Jenny miserably, “I couldn’t believe it when James told us. I can’t believe him...and James too!”

“What...why? Why can’t you believe James?” I ask sharply.

“Oh...n-no reason...” says Jenny, looking down at the floor. She is the world’s worst liar.

“Jenny, what did he do?” I ask. She says nothing and continues looking down at the floor. “Jenny! What did my arse of a cousin – your arse of a future brother-in-law – do?!”

“Well...he was...Rose, he was Scorpius’s best man!”

That does it. I always knew I’d be the one to kill James Potter. Aunt Ginny might bloody him up first, but I’d always be the one to finish the job.

“Stay here,” I tell Jenny, “I’ll be back.”

I grab the pot of floo powder off the mantelpiece and floo to Al and Jenny’s. I try not to floo too often. It destroys my clothes and it’s a generally unpleasant feeling. And since I never had the time to take apparition lessons, I have no choice but to either walk or floo places. And since I need to kill James Potter right now, I’m flooing.

“Alright Rose? What’re you –”

“Shut it, Al!” I snap, “Where is he?”

Al doesn’t even have to ask who ‘he’ is. I know it’s not Al’s fault that he has a complete idiot for an older brother, but sometimes I can’t help resenting him for it, considering they look so alike. And Al sometimes even acts just as arse-ish as James – take for example the Robert Hitch fiasco of 2023. But still, Al possesses all the good qualities that seemed to have skip James.

“I think he went up to have a shower,” Al tells me.

I storm to the upper floor of Al and Jenny’s two-storey four bedroomed house, which is easily five times bigger than my dingy little flat. I suppose we all can’t have rich parents, and rich grandparents and well paying jobs. I kick open the door of the bathroom, like in some old western, and James is standing at the sink, fixing his hair with a towel wrapped around his waist. Something about this scene seems strangely familiar.

“Alright Red? I’m sort of busy here,” he grins, enraging me even more. I grab him by his wet hair and drag him out of the bathroom – yes, I’ve definitely done this before. “EASY! WATCH THE HAIR!”

“YOU ARE A PRAT!” I scream, feeling that I’m being quite generous just calling him a prat, “CAN YOU GET ANY MORE THICK?”

“What the fuck did I do now?” he shouts, holding on to his towel. I hear Al running up the stairs to watch the brawl. “AH! LET GO OF MY BLOODY HAIR!”

“His best man?! You were his best man?” I cry and let go of his hair, “Why? Have you got anything at all between your ears?!”

“Well I didn’t think it’d be a problem, Red, considering you and Malfoy haven’t been together in five years! Don’t put this on me!”

“You know how I feel about him,” I yell, “Everybody knows! And since when are you and him mates?”

“Can I get dressed please? I’m feeling a bit exposed here,” he says and crosses over to the bedroom opposite the bathroom.

“Calm down, Rose,” Al tells me, “I know he’s a bit of a –”

“Wanker? Yes, you’re right,” I sigh. I can feel the tears coming again. “I’m going home. Goodnight, Al.”

*

“What an arsehole,” Gladys says bluntly after I tell her the story.

“Completely useless shit,” Hazel agrees.

I’m glad Linda’s not in today. I don’t think I could take her cheery ‘always look on the bright side’ way of thinking. Because there is no bright side here. Things do not look any better today. In fact, they look a whole lot worse. Nothing could brighten up my day. But I’m guessing it could get a whole lot worse. This is my life, after all.

“Weasley, I need the Richard Simpson chart,” Healer Wharton barks at me, spitting all over me. How I would love to stab my boss with my quill right now.

“Please,” I snap.

“Excuse me?” he snaps back.

“You need the Richard Simpson chart please,” I growl, frowning at him. At first I think he’s going to start yelling and spitting as usual. Maybe he’ll even fire me. I really couldn’t care less at this point.

“Er, yes. Right. Please.”

I grab the chart and hand it to him. He nods at me and then stalks off down the corridor.

“Wow, nicely done!” Hazel marvels at me.

“Yes, nice job, love!” Gladys agrees.

Okay, my day has become a little bit brighter.

Hazel and Gladys make the tea today. Usually they make me do it considering I’m the youngest and their knees aren’t what they used to be, and they can’t be dealing with getting up and down from their seats all day. They even give me the last chocolate biscuit. And at twenty-five to four, Healer Kennedy walks past and smiles at us as usual. And suddenly, life doesn’t seem so bad anymore.

Aidan doesn’t have school today, so I left him with Teddy. After work, I head over there to have a good moan and to forget about my crappy excuse for a life. Teddy and Victoire live in the countryside. Their house is quite small, but not too small. It’s always had a nice lived-in look, since the day it was built. It takes about a half an hour on the bus to get out there. I really have to learn to apparate, or to drive. Dad tried to teach me once, but we just ended up arguing and I stopped the car on the motorway. We didn’t try again.

Remus answers the door before I even get the chance to knock. Today his hair is purple and his eyes are the usual silvery-blue, the same as Victoire’s. He’s four years old, and apart from my own son, he’s the cheekiest little boy I’ve ever known.

“Hi Auntie Rose!” he grins.

“Hello Trouble,” I ruffle his hair, “Looking forward to Santa coming?”

“Yeah!” he exclaims as he leads me down the hall to the kitchen, where I’m guessing everyone else is, “I’m getting a broom and a new snitch and a puppy!”

“A puppy? Your Mum is allowing you get a puppy?” That does not sound like the Victoire Lupin I know. They already have a dog, much to her dismay. I can’t imagine why they’d want another one.

Teddy, Victoire, Dorie and Aidan are sitting around the dinner table like some perfect little family. Dorie is in her high chair, dropping food down to the dog, Ronnie (named by Remus after my Dad – Dad was even more flattered than when I named Aidan) and clapping her chubby hands together. Teddy, Victoire, Remus and Dorie are the perfect family. I envy them. They lead such a normal life.

Dorie is a year old and just about the cutest little girl I’ve ever set eyes on. Baby girls are so much easier than boys. Well, Dorie is anyway. She just smiles all the time. Even when she’s tired she smiles. Uncle Bill literally lights up whenever she’s around. Nana Molly forgets about her arthritis when Dorie smiles. She calls Aidan and Remus the Terrible Twosome – I think they make her arthritis worse. I wouldn’t trade Aidan for anything in the world, but the boy is a menace.

“Hi Rosie,” Teddy greets me, “D’you want some food?”

“No, no thanks,” I say and kiss Dorie on the cheek. She grins up at me, and I momentarily forget how shit my life is. That’s how magical her smile is.

“Vic, how’s business?” I ask, just to make conversation. I don’t really care how her clothes shop in Diagon Alley is doing.

“Great!” she replies, “I’m thinking of setting up shop in Hogsmeade too. We’re really busy this time of year...”

Teddy can tell there’s something wrong with me. Teddy can always tell. He has a sixth sense. He was the first to know when I got pregnant with Aidan. He just knows things. Even though Victoire is my cousin, I’ve always felt closer to Teddy. I used to have a massively inappropriate crush on him, but luckily he never found out about that.

Aidan and Remus rush out to the back garden when they’re finished their dinner, and Victoire goes to put Dorie down for a nap. Dorie doesn’t even protest. I’m not even sure she’s a real baby.

“So what’s up?” Teddy asks as I help him to clean up.

“Nothing’s up,” I shrug, “Why would you assume something’s up?”

“Because I’ve known you twenty-two years, Rose Weasley,” he says, “I know when something’s up.”

I sigh. I can’t hide anything from Teddy. “Scorpius got married.”

Teddy drops the pot he’s holding and looks at me. “Are you serious?”

“Yep,” I reply, “And I haven’t told Aidan yet.”

“Wait a second – he got married? When? To who? I thought he wasn’t back from the States until today?”

“He came back a day early, with a Daisy in toe.”

I tell Teddy the whole story and he listens intently and curses in all the right places. This is why I love talking to Teddy. He always seems to know the right thing to say.

“So he got married in Vegas – do real people actually do that?”

“That’s what I said!”

“What an idiot – I never really liked that bloke,” says Teddy. But that doesn’t really help me. As much as I like to insult Scorpius, I don’t like to hear other people do it. I’m messed up. And I hate myself for wanting to defend him. “So are you going to the Burrow for Christmas?”

“Of course.” We go to Nana and Grandad’s every Christmas. Usually Scorpius would come for some of the day, but I’m sure he’ll be spending this year with Daisy. I feel sick every time I think about them. I have the image of a cow-like woman, about three ft taller than Scorpius and four times wider.

Aidan and I floo home at around seven. He is all hyped up about Christmas, but my mind is still on the newlywed Malfoys. I hate Scorpius for this. Why do I have to be the one to tell Aidan? I always have to deal with the crap, where as Scorpius gets to play the good guy, the bringer of gifts, the one who lets him have chocolate at ten o’clock at night.

“Mum, why is my name Aidan Weasley and Dad isn’t called Scorpius Weasley?” Aidan asks when we arrive home, “Because Remus’s name is Remus Lupin and Uncle Teddy is Teddy Lupin. And my friend Henry’s Dad has the same second name as him too.”

See, I’m left to deal with these questions.

“Well...Remus’s Mum and Dad are married, so they have the same second name. When people get married, the Mum usually takes the Dad’s last name. And then they give their children that last name.”

“But you and Dad didn’t get married,” Aidan points out.

“Exactly,” I say, “So we decided to give you my second name instead.”

“Why?”

Whoever created the question ‘why’ should rot in hell.

“Because...wouldn’t you prefer be a Weasley?” I ask.

“Yeah, I like being a Weasley,” says Aidan, without even thinking about it.

“Well, we knew that you’d prefer to be a Weasley. Nobody wants to be a Malfoy.” Except for Daisy. I’ve never even met the woman, but I don’t think I’ve ever hated anyone as much.

“I’m glad you gave me your second name,” says Aidan.

Now that I have him sitting down, I feel it’s the best time to tell him.

“Aidan, your Dad got married,” I tell him straight. He frowns back.

“But...I thought Mum’s and Dad’s got married,” he says logically, “Did he marry you?”

“No. He married a woman named Daisy,” I tell him. He screws up his nose at the name.

“So...if Mum’s and Dad’s get married...is she my Mum now?”

What a kick in the teeth.

“She will never be your Mum,” I tell him fiercely, “I will always be your Mum.” If she carries him around in her uterus for nine months, then he can call her Mum.

“Why did he get married?” Aidan asks, “I...I wanted you to get married to him.”

“I know,” I put an arm around him, “I’m sorry, love. I’m sorry.”

This is all my fault. I’ve ruined everything. Why couldn’t I just have said yes?

“You know what, Aidan?” I tell him as I hug him closely, “Your Dad is going to pick you up tomorrow and you’re going to spend Christmas Eve with him. And I’ll collect you tomorrow evening and we’ll wait for Santa to come, like we did last year. We’ll have a brilliant Christmas, I promise.”

“D’you think I’ll get a puppy like Remus?” he asks excitedly.

“Eh...I...” he looks at me with such hope in his eyes. “Yes. Definitely.”

Crap. 





A/N - The first chapter of 2009 and Rose is in a pickle. Again. I just want to thank everyone who reviewed the first chapter - I'm blown away by the response! I'm glad people like the story so far. This chapter was again introducing some new characters - in case you didn't pick up on it, Remus and Dorie are Teddy and Victoire's kids. But of course you picked up on that! Also, anyone called Daisy, I did not mean to offend your name! I actually like the name Daisy. Rose just doesn't know anything about Daisy except for her name, so that's the only thing she can hate at the minute! I hope you enjoyed the chapter, please review! :D Happy New Year!

Chapter 3: The Crup And The Cow
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Chapter Three - The Crup And The Cow

“I need a puppy,” I gasp, having ran the whole way from work on my lunch break. The Muggle pet shop is full of people doing their last minute pet Christmas shopping. The woman before me bought a red and white coat, which I can only presume is for her extremely miniature dog. Why do people feel the need to buy their pets Christmas presents?

“Hello! Welcome to Pet-O-Licious! Merry Christmas, how may I help you?” the very jolly man grins at me from behind the counter. I don’t care if it’s Christmas Eve, I will kill this bloke. He’s wearing a Santa hat. That’s what I get for going to a place called ‘Pet-O-Licious’.

“I – need – a – puppy!” I repeat angrily.

“Alrighty! Before you make your decision as to which puppy you wish to purchase, it is my duty as an employee of Pet-O-Licious, and my duty as a bit of a dog lover,” he winks at me, “to inform you that puppies are not just for Christmas - they're for life. They are a huge responsibility. They require constant care – it’s sort of like having a baby!” Yeah, that’s all I need.

“Right –”

“Are you sure you’re prepared for this commitment?”

“Yes, I’m prepared!” I growl.

“Alrighty!” he squeals and claps his hands together enthusiastically. “We have quite a few breeds – Labrador, golden retriever, Alsatian –”

“A small one,” I interrupt, “I need a very small puppy, that won’t grow very much and that preferably will die within the next few weeks. Tell me, what’s your smallest, sickest dog?”

The man, whose nametag says ‘Hi, I’m Justin, and I’m here to help!’ looks at me as if I’ve just ran over his mother with a lorry.

“E-excuse me?” Justin stutters, “Y-you want a dying dog?”

“No,” I snap, so he won’t break down into tears. His bottom lip is quivering. “I just need a small one, alright?”

He still looks at me suspiciously. He thinks I’m some sort of dog-hater. I don’t hate dogs. I had a dog, I loved him. I just don’t want to have to raise a dog and a five year old in a dingy little flat.

“Look, Justin,” I say, “I’m in a bit of a rush. I need a small dog, alright? Can you help me?”

Still a bit wary of me, Justin proceeds to explain the different breeds. I have to be back at the hospital in fifteen minutes, so I rush him a bit and barely listen to his lecture on how a dog needs love and company, and how he or she should be walked every day and fed and such.

“Yes, I know all that,” I assure him, “Can I just see the puppies, please?”

Justin takes me out the back to where they keep the dogs. There are different sections for different breeds, and out in the garden there is a litter of puppies playing on the grass. They’re quite cute, actually. And small.

“These are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels,” Justin explains, “Very lovable dogs, and they don’t grow too big either. Only £250.”

I stop walking and stare at Justin, who looks like a puppy himself with long hair that flops down the side of his face like ears.

“£250?” I exclaim, “Are you being funny?”

“These are pedigree puppies,” he tells me, as if that means anything, “If you’re looking for something cheaper, you could go down to the animal rescue centre...”

He’s looking at me like I’m poor. I am poor, but I still don’t want people looking at me like that. It’s as if I’m not worthy of these pedigree dogs, that all I deserve is some neglected old stray from the animal rescue. Still, I’m not paying £250 for a bloody dog.

“Have you anything cheaper?” I ask.

“All of our dogs are pure-blood pedigree,” Justin tells me pompously.

Here we go with the pure-blood nonsense. If I wanted a pure-blood dog I’d adopt Draco Malfoy. I leave Pet-O-Licious empty handed and run as fast as I can back to St Mungo’s, making a mental note to take apparition classes as soon as I get a free moment. I’m ten minutes late by the time I arrive back at work, and unfortunately Healer O’Satan is standing at the receptionist station. Shit. Even though she’s not technically my boss, she tends to rip into me any chance she gets.

“Weasley! You were supposed to be back fifteen minutes ago,” she growls at me.

“Ten, actually,” I correct her. Why do I do it? Why do I give backchat where it does absolutely no good?

“I don’t think Healer Wharton’s going to put up with your cheeky insolence for much longer, you know,” she says quietly to me, “And by the looks of you, I’d say you need this job.” She looks me up and down, from my damp bushy hair down to my worn out black shoes, which are all scuffed at the tops and smirks horribly.”So if I were you, I’d keep my mouth shut.” She turns around, her hair practically slapping me in the face and stalks off down the corridor.

“We’re so sorry, Rose!” Linda cries when I take my seat behind the desk, “We tried to distract her, but then she needed to get a chart –”

“It’s fine, Linda,” I tell her, “Really.” I feel like I’m about ten inches tall. I feel like I’m in first year again and Professor Chang is giving out to me for changing my matchstick into a toothpick instead of a needle. I’d love nothing more than to see that stupid Evil Bitch O’Satan cow fall flat on her face. And maybe Daisy could trip over her.

Linda hints around the subject of Scorpius, but I can tell she knows she’s treading on thin ice. I suppose Hazel and Gladys filled her in on the details while I was dog shopping. I’m glad, because I really didn’t want to be the one to crush her hopes and dreams. It’d be just as bad as it was when I told Aidan.

“Where the hell am I supposed to get a dog now?” I whine, “The animal rescue will be closed and it’s not like I have an extra 250 Muggle pounds lying around. Why did I have to go and promise him a stupid dog?”

“I got a dog for Our Liam a few years back,” Linda informs me, “He loved it for the first few weeks and then got tired of it! You’re better off not getting one!”

This doesn’t help me. I can’t promise Aidan a dog and then blame it on Santa if he doesn’t get one. Even Healer Kennedy can’t cheer me up today, although I do join the girls in staring at his arse when he walks past. I’m not even looking forward to going home, because I have to pick Aidan up from Scorpius’s at seven, meaning I have to meet the cow. This is turning out to be the worst Christmas Eve ever, including the one where my parents found out I was pregnant.

“Excuse me,” a voice says from behind the reception station, “I was bitten by an Erkling when I was in Germany last week, and it’s starting to swell –”

“You want Creature-Induced Injuries, First Floor,” I say in a bored tone. I know the floors of this hospital like the back of my hand and it gets quite tiresome after a while.

“Right, thanks – Rose?!”

I look up at the sound of my name to see a very familiar blonde-haired man, who I haven’t seen in at least two years, if not more.

“Lorcan?”

“Er, no, Lysander actually.”

It must be annoying to be a twin and have people call you by your brother’s name. It must be even more annoying to be a twin and have your twin brother steal your girlfriend, as is the case of Lorcan and Lysander Scamander and my cousin Lily Potter. The last I heard was that Lysander was travelling around Europe looking for strange and magical creatures, while Lorcan was studying to be a Magizoologist like his parents.

“Oh, sorry Lysander,” I smile weakly, “How are you?”

“Well, I was bitten by an Erkling last week,” he tells me again, “Did you know that Erklings...” I’ve stopped listening already. I forgot how difficult it is to listen to the Scamander twins. “...and that's how I came across it! So how is Aidan?”

“Aidan’s fine,” I tell him, “Except he’s going to be supremely disappointed tomorrow morning since I promised him a dog and currently find myself dogless.” Lysander’s face lights up at the mention of an animal, even a regular non-magical one.

“My Crup had a litter!” he tells me excitedly, “Just three weeks ago! You can have one, if you like!”

“Crups? As in those little Jack Russells with the forked tails?” I ask. I think I remember learning about them in Care of Magical Creatures. I suppose beggars can’t be choosers, though. “Lysander, that would be brilliant! Do you think you could drop it ‘round to me before seven?”

I write down my address and give it to Lysander and he heads on up to the first floor to have his Erkling bite checked. God bless Erklings and Lysander Scamander. I can sort of see why Lily cheated on Lorcan with him. Sort of.

*

Lysander shows up with the Crup at half six, while I’m mentally preparing myself to pick up my son from Scorpius’s. I didn’t shave my legs this time. By the looks of things, I’ll never have to shave my legs again. I’ll be an old, hairy-legged woman, living in this microscopic flat with an old Crup while my son goes out and lives his life. He’s going to be Minister for Magic, and there’ll be articles in The Daily Prophet about Minister Weasley’s crazy, hairy-legged mother.

“Her name is Olivia,” Lysander tells me as he hands the small Crup over to me. She’s very cute, I have to admit, and all the cuter for being free. But who in their right mind calls a Crup Olivia? It’s like Aidan calling his favourite Quaffle ‘Bob’. I never understood it. He goes nowhere without Bob. He even takes it to bed.

“Cheers, Lysander, I really don’t know how to repay you for this,” I say truthfully, wondering if I should give him gold for Olivia. I put her down on the ground and she runs around, barking happily and sniffing everything. She reminds me of my old dog, Padfoot, except he didn’t have a forked tail and he was much bigger.

“It’s no problem, I’m happy to help!” Lysander tells me, “She’s fairly well-trained already, she’ll let you know when she needs to go out and all that. And she doesn’t mind being left alone either. So, how’s Lily these days?”

I’m a bit taken aback by the sudden change of subject. Lysander doesn’t make eye contact with me, as if he’s trying to make the question look and sound more casual. I know that Lily became closer with Lysander in her sixth year at Hogwarts, though Lorcan knew nothing about it. In fact, nobody knew anything about it except for me, and that’s because Lily really needed somebody to confide in.

“She’s great,” I tell him, “She’s working at the Ministry. Do you two keep in touch?”

“Eh, no,” he says, “Not anymore. Right, well I better get going. Merry Christmas!”

“You too,” I call to him as he lets himself out of the flat. It’s just me and Olivia. She is looking up at me, wagging her tail happily, as if waiting for me to entertain her.

“Ollie, you’re going to need to keep quiet for tonight,” I tell her, “Because you’re a gift for Aidan, and if he hears you barking it’ll ruin the surprise.” She continues to stare at me happily, clearly not understanding anything I’m saying. Why would she? She’s a dog. “I have to go collect Aidan now. So you just...stay...” She continues wagging her tail happily. I grab my handbag, head for the door and find that Ollie is following me. “No, you have to stay here,” I tell her. More mindless tail-wagging. “I can’t take you with me...unless...”

Two minutes later, I find myself running down the stairs and knocking frantically on Mrs McGuinness’s door. She lives in number two, and she is the only Muggle in the world that wouldn’t notice that this ‘dog’ has a forked tail.

“Hello Rose dear,” she caws at me when she opens the door.

“Hello Mrs McGuinness, Happy Christmas –”

“Oh I hate Christmas, me,” she says, “Nothin’ merry about it! Did you know my husband died on Christmas Day 1998?” I do know, so I don’t know why the hell I wished her a Merry Christmas. “And the doctor says my glaucoma’s gettin’ worse, too. This time next year I won’t be able to see a blasted thing!”

“Oh, that’s awful –”

“My sister died of an aneurysm a few weeks ago, did you know that?”

“Er, no, I hadn’t heard that. I’m very sorry –”

“It could happen to any of us! You could have an aneurysm yourself and not know it until one day you drop dead in the supermarket!” It’s always a joy talking to Mrs McGuinness.

“Yes, it’s terrible,” I say and pause for a few moments, so not to seem insensitive. “Well, I have to run a quick errand, I was wondering if you could watch my new puppy for a few hours?”

She looks down at Ollie, who I have on a leash and smiles a toothless smile. “Oh I’d be happy to! It’s been awful lonely since Mary died...” I have to rush away before she can get started on how her former roommate Mary died ten years ago.

*

Scorpius lives in an apartment twice as big as mine. I’m not bitter about it, because Aidan and I used to live there too. His father gave him the money for it. My parents offered to chip in, but I didn’t want to sponge off them for the rest of my life. I moved out after an argument. I don’t even remember what it was about, but then again, I don’t really remember most of the arguments I’ve had with Scorpius. There’s been far too many to keep track of.

As I make my way to the fourth floor, I feel like I’m going to get sick. It’s going to take every ounce of strength in my body not to completely flip out and burn this entire building down. I’m really starting to think I’m capable of it. I come to the door that says ‘Malfoy’ on it, take a few deep breaths and then knock.

Thankfully, Scorpius answers the door.

“Oh, hi, is it seven already?” he asks, stepping aside to let me in. I look around, but there is no sign – or smell – of a cow. Maybe she’s out in the field.

“It’s a quarter past, actually,” I inform him. My upbeat chat with Mrs McGuinness made me late. I follow Scorpius into the kitchen, where Aidan is sitting at the table making an awful mess of his dinner. Half of it is on his t-shirt, while the other half is on his face. “So where’s the Missus?” I can’t help asking.

“She’s just gone to the shop,” says Scorpius, “We ran out of milk.” Couldn’t he just milk her?

“Aidan, go get your things,” I tell him, because it really doesn’t look like he’s going to eat any more of his dinner. He runs off into the bedroom across the way, while I busy myself cleaning up his mess, so I won’t have to try and make conversation. I’m afraid if I start talking, Scorpius will end up in a bloody heap on the floor.

“You don’t have to do that, you know,” Scorpius tells me.


“Do you have your half of the presents?” I ask him, “I can take them with me now.”

“Yeah, I’ll get just get them,” he says. It’s like talking to a complete stranger. He comes back with a large black bag full of presents for Aidan from Santa and I stuff them all into my very small beaded handbag I borrowed from Mum. It’s like a Mary Poppins bag – you can fit anything into it.

“He thinks he’s getting a dog,” Scorpius tells me.

“He is,” I reply shortly.

“You got a dog?”

“You got married?” I snap fiercely. I’m not very good at hiding my true feelings, apparently.

“I knew you weren’t alright with this!” Scorpius says triumphantly, “I just knew it!”

“Well what the hell did you expect?” I spit, “You piss off to America and marry some random woman and I’m supposed to throw you a fucking parade?” I’ve tried to keep the swearing to a minimum since Aidan came along, but sometimes it’s just called for. Scorpius closes over the door separating the kitchen from the hallway so Aidan won’t hear us.

“What is your problem, eh?” he asks, “You can’t stand seeing anyone happy!”

“No, what I can’t stand is how bloody selfish you are!” I cry, “You make me want to tear my own hair out!”

“How am I being selfish?”

I slam the saucepan I’ve been holding down onto the counter and glare at him. “Do you know how many dates I’ve been on since I had Aidan?” He shrugs. “I’ll tell you – none. Not one. Do you know why?” He shrugs again. “It’s because I spend every waking second of every day worrying about my son. Every decision I make is for him. If I even think about liking someone, the first thing I wonder is if he likes kids! And if I was to even consider going out on a date with someone, I would run it past Aidan first and if he didn’t want me to go out with that person, I wouldn’t. But you think it’s alright to go off and marry a random woman without even considering how Aidan might feel about it? And then you let me be the one to tell him about it?”

“She’s not just some random woman, Rose,” Scorpius starts explaining, “I knew her for a while –”

“I DON’T CARE!” I shout, “I don’t care! The point is that you only ever think about yourself! You are too selfish to be a father.”

“Don't start that bullshit,” he snaps, “I do everything I can for that kid and you know it! I’m not the only one who makes stupid decisions, you know.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” I ask defensively.

“You know what it means,” he hisses back. I can’t believe he’s throwing this in my face. I don’t get the chance to retaliate because the door opens. I turn around, expecting to see Aidan, but instead I see a woman. The very woman we’ve just been arguing about. Daisy-the-cow.

“You must be Rose!” she smiles, “I’ve heard so much about you, it’s lovely to meet you. I’m Daisy.”

I’m still fuming from the argument, so I shake her hand very shortly. I can’t help but notice how old she is. She’s not old, but she’s certainly older than Scorpius. She is taller than I am, which is saying something, because I’m pretty tall. But she seems better able to pull off the tallness than I can. And she’s thinner than me, but then again she didn’t have a baby. She has dark blonde hair too, which is very straight. She must use some sort of potion on it. I don’t have time for those things – I consider shaving my legs a novelty, after all.

“Eh, hi,” I say, “Nice to meet you too.” She’s definitely not convinced. I feel like asking what age she is, but I don’t want to be rude. Well, actually, I do want to be rude, but I’m not going to be because Mum raised me better than that. “Congratulations,” I add, because it’s gone very quiet. Scorpius raises his eyebrows at me.

“Oh, thanks,” she says, but looks a bit embarrassed, “I’m really not the kind of girl who gets married in Las Vegas, you know. It’s just Scorpius was so romantic about the whole thing.” Now it’s my turn to raise my eyebrows. Scorpius is the least romantic person in the world. But then I realise it – she’s being sarcastic. I let out a small laugh before I can stop myself.

She made me laugh. Kill me now. She smiles at me, so I look away from her quickly and go back to scowling.

Aidan comes back into the kitchen, with his bag on his back and Bob-The-Quaffle under his arm.

“Right, well we better get going,” I say, unable to take the awkwardness anymore, “Say goodbye to your Dad, Aidan.”

Aidan gives Scorpius a hug and a kiss and then hugs Daisy out of politeness. I wish he wouldn’t.

“Will you be coming over tomorrow morning, Dad?” Aidan asks, “Because I want to show you what Santa brings me before we go over to Nana Molly’s.”

“Yeah, mate, definitely,” Scorpius tells him, “We’ll be over.”

We. Heaven forbid he’d wait for an invitation. Scorpius comes over every Christmas morning, but he generally doesn’t bring his cows with him. But I suppose this cow is here to stay.

Aidan is practically bouncing off the walls with excitement by the time we get home. I have a sneaking suspicion Scorpius fed him a bag of sugar.

“It’s nearly Christmas!” he keeps shouting, causing the narky old man next door to bang on the wall, “It’s only one more sleep! Mum, do you really think I’ll get a puppy?”

“I don’t know, have you been a good boy?” I ask. He looks worried. He’s thinking about the time he and Remus ‘accidentally’ poured chocolate ice-cream all over Victoire’s stock for her shop. And the time he and Remus ‘accidentally’ locked Dorie in a cupboard because she was trying to play with them. And the time they ‘accidentally’ took Grandad’s walking stick and Nana Molly’s umbrella and had a pretend duel and ended up breaking the old clock at The Burrow. “I’m sure Santa is very forgiving,” I assure him.

“He gives toys to people like Tony Ryan in my class, and he’s nothing but an arsehole,” says Aidan.

“Excuse me? Where did you hear that word?” I ask angrily, “If I hear that word coming from your mouth again, I’ll wash it out with soap and there’ll be no Santa!” Oh God, I sound like my mother. And my grandmother. “Aidan Weasley, where did you hear that word?”

“I saw it on TV,” he shrugs. I knew getting that TV was a bad idea.

“That is a very rude word, Aidan, don’t say it again,” I warn him, “If your Nana Hermione heard you saying that word, she’d string you up!” I never really understood the ‘string you up’ threat or the ‘clip around the ear’ one either, but I use them anyway. When I asked Mum about it, she said she didn’t really know either, they were just things parents say. “And if Grandad Ron heard you...” I trail off. If Dad heard him, he’d laugh. “Just don’t say those naughty words anymore.”

“Alright, Chillax, Mum.” He’s not hanging around with that James Potter either.

When I finally get Aidan off to bed, I run downstairs to get Ollie back off Mrs McGuinness, who is apparently watching a documentary on Polio.

“A cousin of mine had polio, you know,” she tells me, “Can’t use her left hand at all anymore...”

I place all of Aidan’s presents on the couch beside the Christmas tree, as I do every year. Scorpius bought him a training wand, a small broomstick, the new Chudley Cannons jersey (he’s given up trying to get Aidan to support the Wimbourne Wasps), a set of Quidditch balls including a snitch that cannot go further than ten metres away and the all-new extra grip Quidditch keeper gloves that Nimbus have just brought out. I, on the other hand, got Aidan books, including The Tales of Beedle The Bard and The Early Learning Book of Spells. And I got him Ollie. I also got him a new set of Chudley Cannons pyjamas and some other clothes. I got him all the gifts he needs, whereas Scorpius got everything he wants. Except for Ollie. Still, Aidan’s just going to thank Santa for the lot.

I finally crawl into bed well past midnight, knowing that I’ll be lucky if I get to sleep until six o’clock. I take Ollie with me, and she falls asleep on the floor of my bedroom. I can’t stop thinking about Daisy and Scorpius. I hate her, yet I’m intrigued. She’s tall, she’s sarcastic, she doesn’t talk a whole lot, but you can tell there’s more going on in her head than she lets on – she’s me. She’s me, only better.


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A/N - Thanks for reading, I hope you liked it! I kind of don't...I don't know why. But I have some good stuff lined up for future chapters, promise! I just want to say thanks so much for all the feedback so far, and I'm sorry I haven't had the chance to respond to reviews, but I'm still trying to reply to all the reviews on the last chapter of Delicate! I'm so behind! And college starts back on Monday, so I'll be super busy! But I'll never be too busy to write, so please keep reviewing, they inspire me!
padfoot:D


Chapter 4: O Come Let Us Abhor Him
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Chapter Four - O Come Let Us Abhor Him

There is wrapping paper everywhere. Ollie has eaten only half of it. Bob the Quaffle is lying forgotten in the midst of it all. Aidan is barely visible under the gold and the red, but I can still hear him shouting in excitement at the fact that Santa knew exactly which number he wanted on the back of his Chudley Cannons jersey – James’s number. Wise man, that Santa Claus.

Luckily, he seems to think that Ollie is the best present anyone could ever ask for. He discovered her when he burst into my bedroom at half five this morning and found her sleeping on the floor. He was confused as to why Santa left her in my room, so I made up an elaborate excuse that Santa was obviously afraid she would get lonely during the night, so left her in my room so the surprise wouldn’t be ruined. Motherhood really has made me a fantastic liar.

Scorpius shows up alone at eight o’clock, looking as if he’s only just rolled out of bed. He’s clearly not brushed his hair, and I’m fairly sure he slept in that t-shirt he’s wearing. Why isn’t Daisy here? He said ‘we’ yesterday. ‘We’ were coming over to see Aidan on Christmas morning. Did she realise how inappropriate her presence here would be? Is she actually an intelligent person? Is there anything wrong with her at all? Aside from the fact that she marries people in Las Vegas, of course. Maybe she has her own child that she has to visit. Maybe she doesn’t have custody of the child because she’s a serial bride, and Scorpius isn’t the first victim she’s married in Las Vegas.

“Dad!” Aidan cries, appearing from under a pile of wrapping paper, “Dad, look what Santa brought me!”

“Blimey,” Scorpius practically yawns, looking around at the very messy living room, “You must’ve cleaned out that sleigh of his.” He sits down on the floor in the middle of the wrapping paper and starts looking through Aidan’s stuff with him. The reason he has yet to say a word to me is because I’m in the kitchen, peeking out at them. Yes, I’m a coward. “Where’s your Mum?”

Shit. I think he might have seen me peeking. Now I have to come out and say hello.

“Dunno,” Aidan shrugs, fiddling about with his training wand, not really listening, “Look Dad, look what this does...”

“That’s brilliant, mate...”

Okay, they’re playing with something. I have a few more minutes to hide out here in the kitchen, drinking my tea in peace, preparing myself for the day ahead. I remember a time when I used to look forward to Christmas more than any other day of the year. Christmas dinner at the Burrow used to be a happy occasion. But not since Scorpius came into my life. Since Scorpius started coming to Christmas dinner, six years ago, I’ve spent the day avoiding him like the plague.

Take for example the first Christmas he spent at the Burrow when I was sixteen. I was pregnant, he didn’t know about it and he was going out with my cousin, Dom. The second Christmas he spent at The Burrow, he had come home from Hogwarts for the holidays. Aidan was a few months old and I was stressed up to the eyeballs – and that was the time he decided to spring it on me that he ‘accidentally’ kissed a Hufflepuff girl called Rebecca. How you 'accidentally' kiss someone, I still don't know. Out of all of the Christmases Scorpius spent at The Burrow, not one of them stand out in my mind as happy. And I think this year will be worse than any of them.

“Are you avoiding me?” Scorpius appears in the doorway separating the kitchen from the living room, rubbing his eyes tiredly.

“No,” I say immediately.

“Because it seems like you’re avoiding me,” he says. He sits himself down at the table across from me, puts his head down and closes his eyes. Is he serious? I get up at seven every single day of my life, and he thinks eight o’clock is early. See, these are the things that piss me off the most. Before Aidan came along, my usual rising hour at the weekends would be around midday. Now I consider half seven a lie-on. Scorpius’s sleeping habits apparently haven’t changed at all. “I’m bloody wrecked.”

“Oh, have you been up since half five?” I snap.

“No,” he mumbles, “But I got to bed late.”

Oh God. Please do not tell me he’s going to tell me about his sexual habits with his wife, because I may just throw up all over him. And it wouldn’t be the first time I puked on Scorpius Malfoy.

“Yeah, well so did I,” I say, wanting to beat him in this ‘who-got-less-sleep’ competition, “What time are you going to The Burrow at?”

“We’ll probably head over at around one,” he says, “We’re going to my parents’ for dinner at three.”

Usually Scorpius spends Christmas day with my family and then I spend New Year’s Day with his. It’s never a pleasant experience, having dinner with the Malfoys. I suppose I sort of took it for granted that we’d be doing the same thing this year, but I suppose it’d just be weird for me to join Scorpius and his wife for dinner.

“Did you tell your parents you got married yet?” I ask, knowing the answer already.

“Eh, no. Not yet.”

I’d like to be there to see Draco Malfoy’s reaction to hearing that his only precious little son got married in a Muggle casino. In fact, I’d pay good money to see it. Would it be inappropriate for me to ask Daisy to take a picture of it?

Scorpius leaves after we have a very awkward breakfast together, so I start getting Aidan ready to go.

“I want to wear my jersey!” Aidan protests when I take out the nice shirt and pants Mum bought for him a few weeks ago.

“You’re wearing this,” I tell him firmly.

“I don’t want to!”

“Aidan! You’ll wear this or we’ll stay at home!” I threaten. Why do I always have to be the one he makes that disgusted face at?

*

“Happy Christmas!” Jenny is the first to greet us when Aidan, Ollie and I arrive at The Burrow, almost half an hour late because I had to practically wrestle him into his good clothes. I had to hide his jersey. And we had to bring Ollie to stop him from throwing a complete wobbly. Aidan isn’t talking to me, so after Jenny hugs him, he runs off with Ollie to find Remus.

“I don’t see what’s so happy about it,” I mumble. It looks like everyone else is here already. Nana Molly has started the food preparations, and although she’s almost eighty, I know it’ll be just as delicious as it is every year. Grandad is sitting in an armchair, reading the paper to Dorie, who is perched happily on his knee. The house is so crowded that I don’t think I’m going to have to worry about bumping into Daisy when she arrives.

Jenny and I go into the living room where all of the younger relations seem to be gathered. I greet everyone with fake pleasantness, except for James, who I ignore completely. It seems like ages since I’ve seen everyone. Lily cut her hair, Fred stopped shaving, Lucy lost weight, Molly put on weight and I’m fairly sure that Louis got, if possible, even quieter. Dom and Roxie aren’t even here. Hugo is spending this Christmas with his girlfriend, Robin, who is a Muggle. That’s all we know about her – Robin-the-Muggle.

While everyone else chats happily among themselves, I complain to Jenny, because I know she’s the only person who’ll actually listen to me. Jenny’s more like a family member to me than any of the others. She’ll babysit.

“...so she’s about seven foot tall and she’s not even that ugly,” I say unhappily, when describing Daisy to her.

“Maybe so, but guess what?” Jenny whispers, smirking, “She’s thirty-three.”

I drop the peanut I’m holding and glare at her.

“Are you serious?” I gasp and she nods. “Does Scorpius know?”

“Of course he knows!” Jenny exclaims, “He told Al, who told me!”

I can’t believe it – thirty-three! Not that I consider being in one’s thirties old. After all, Teddy is thirty and not too long ago I would have had absolutely no problem marrying him. Still, there’s something strange about a woman marrying a bloke ten years her junior, isn’t there? It just seems a lot odder for a woman to marry a man ten years younger than her than one ten years older. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, or sexist, or ageist or whatever you want to call it. But why would a thirty-three year old, successful career-woman want to marry an immature idiot like Scorpius? He’s hardly a catch. Yes, he’s quite good looking and he’s fairly tall and has good dental hygiene, but he also has a child and prides himself on the fact that he can beat James in a ‘who can burp the alphabet backwards the fastest’ competition. She must have an ulterior motive. Maybe she’s just after the Malfoy fortune. I mean, when she was my age, Scorpius was twelve. It's like me going out with a second year. 

Except less illegal.

“I know what you’re thinking,” says Jenny quietly, “She only married him because –”

“He’s a Malfoy with lots of money!” I cry, “That’s it! How could he be so stupid to fall for that?”

“No,” Jenny shakes her head, “Scorpius doesn’t even have that much money anyway, his parents do. But what do we both know he does have?”

I fail to come up with a satisfactory sarcastic reply because there are just too damn many.

“Working man bits!” she exclaims loudly. Everyone stops talking and stares at us. “Did I say that too loud?”

“No, I don’t think the deaf old woman in Brighton heard you,” I hiss.

“But think about it,” Jenny whispers when everyone else returns to their respective conversations, “She’s probably going through that phase that women go through when they hit their thirties. Her biological clock is ticking, you know?”

“She’s thirty-three, she’s hardly pushing menopause, Jen,” I say, but I can’t help considering Jenny’s point. Of course Daisy knew Scorpius has good swimmers – Aidan’s a fairly good ad for them. And if you were going to have kids with someone, why not a tall, blonde wizard from a wealthy background? The thought of Daisy becoming pregnant with Scorpius’s child is enough to make me feel sick. Not as sick as me becoming pregnant with another of his children makes me feel, but still quite queasy.

“Do you really think they’re going to start having children soon?” I ask, suddenly starting to panic. What happens to me and Aidan when Daisy Junior comes along? Will we just be distant memories for Scorpius? Are we just filling a gap until he starts his real family? I’m going to be stuck in that tiny little flat forever, while Scorpius, Daisy and their children live in some big fancy country house, eating caviar for breakfast and wiping their arses with solid gold toilet paper. Or maybe Aidan will want to live with his precious father who doesn’t make him wear shirts to family occasions and who has the time to play Quidditch with him. Maybe he’ll forget about me and embrace Daisy as his new mother.

I’m going to die alone.

“No!” says Jenny quickly, “No, they’re not going to start having children! I highly doubt Scorpius wants another after –”

“After the massive mistake he made with me?” I snap, feeling my eyes welling up. If I start crying, I might just have to flush my head down the toilet.

“Come on, bathroom,” Jenny demands and practically drags me the whole way up the stairs and into the bathroom, “Alright, you can cry now.”

“I don’t want to cry!” I yell, though tears are now actually running down my face, “He just acts so God damn casual about everything as if it’s no big deal that he’s married! Married! You and Al aren’t even married yet!”

“Well...” she starts uncomfortably, “Actually...”

“Do not tell me you’re married, Jennifer Louise Winters! If you’ve cheated me out of a hen night, I’ll skin you alive, mark my words!” I cry hysterically.

“No, no!” she says quickly, “But we’ve set a date.”

“That’s...great,” I say honestly, not wanting to let my own rotten love life shit all over hers, “When?”

“The beginning of March,” she says.

“The beginning of March? That’s only eight weeks away, Jenny!” I’m surprised – I always imagined Al and Jenny would have one of those three year long engagements. It’s only been three months.

“I know...but I wanted to get married before I start showing.”

I pause. She smirks.

“Showing what?” I have to ask.

“What do you think?” she says excitedly, “Rose, I’m pregnant!”

Oh. That sort of showing. I wasn’t even aware that Al and Jenny were looking to have a baby.

“Oh Jenny that’s brilliant!” I cry, but then pause, “Isn't it? You are happy about this? Because if you’re not I know some great ways of dealing with it. Have you contemplated hiding in the bathroom and breaking up your parents?”

“No, Rose, I’m happy,” she assures me, “I’m only a few weeks on, so we’re not telling anyone yet, but I just couldn’t keep it in any longer! It was a bit of a shock...”

I bet it was. I hug her, feeling half-happy for her and half-upset by the fact that everyone else’s lives seem to be moving forward, while mine is stuck in the one place. I hate myself for thinking this way. I’m happy for her, I really am. I’m also a little bit sorry for her. She has no idea what’s in store for her.

“Congratulations,” I say, letting my anger at Scorpius die away completely. Before we can discuss this anymore, Lily knocks on the door and lets herself in. I can’t help but feel sort of smug that I know about the existence of her future niece/nephew before she does.

“Eh, sorry to interrupt,” she says, “But Scorpius and Daisy are here.”

I say nothing, but take a deep breath and decide to be as fake as physically possible without turning into a piece of plastic. I go downstairs, practicing smiles and happy ‘hello!’s and other merry things that I would never do. They’re in the kitchen. People are gathered round, introducing themselves to Daisy. Bloody treacherous family I have. My own parents, who I hadn’t even realised were here, are shaking hands with her! I thought I could at least depend on Dad to be on my side.

“It’s true? He got married? I thought Vic was pulling my leg!”

I turn around at the sound of this familiar voice and find myself face to face with Dom, one of my many cousins, who has been in Australia for the six months and only came back a week ago. She looks amazing. Her used-to-be strawberry blonde hair is now a chestnut brown and much shorter. I hug her happily, glad that I heard a tone of disgust in her voice when she said the word ‘married’.

“Dom!” I cry, “How was your trip? Your hair is beautiful! I’m sorry I haven’t called round to see you yet I’ve been so busy –”

“Rose, forget my hair – he’s married?” Dom hisses, “How the fuck is he married?”

“I...don’t even know,” I sigh, feeling another lump rise in my throat.

I try my best to avoid Daisy, and I do quite well for the first hour. There are some benefits to having such a big family after all. I help Nana Molly with some of the cooking, I chat to some of my Aunts and Uncles and I try not to make eye contact with my mother, because she’ll give me one of her ‘I know what you’re feeling, and I feel sorry for you’ looks. I really do not need her sympathy. Everyone seems to be giving me those sympathetic looks – and you can’t spell sympathetic without ‘pathetic’. I didn’t realise that everyone knew about my feelings for Scorpius. Unfortunately, I can’t avoid Daisy forever. While playing with Dorie on the floor of the living room, Daisy arrives in with two glasses of Butterbeer, one for her and one for me. It would be incredibly rude to pour it over her, so I just imagine how that would feel. This helps me smile when I say ‘thank you’.

“This is Dorie?” Daisy asks me, looking at the ever-smiling child sitting on my knee.

“Eh, yes,” I reply, “She’s –”

“Victoire and Teddy’s,” Daisy finishes, “Yes, I know. I was talking to Teddy in the kitchen. He seems nice.”

He is nice, and there’s no way you’re taking him away from me too, bitch. Shit, I hope she doesn’t know Occlumency.

“Mmm,” I answer.

“We didn’t really get a chance to talk properly yesterday,” says Daisy, as I continue to avoid looking at her, “I know it must be strange for you –”

“Eh, look Daisy, I’m still trying to get my head around this whole situation,” I tell her, “I don’t really feel like discussing the ins and outs of your wedding right now.” I know I’m a bitch. I’m alright with it.

“Yes, I completely understand that,” she says. Why is she so bloody mature? “I’d just like it if one day you and I could be friends?”

I look at her. She obviously doesn’t realise that I only like one nice person, and that person is Jenny. I really can’t take on another. “I’m sorry,” I tell her, “but I have a lot of friends. I don’t need, nor do I want another.” I stand up, still holding Dorie (who is giggling at James, who is making faces at her from across the room) and walk away from Daisy, not feeling at all guilty about how horrible I’ve been to her. Usually I’m only horrible to people in my head – it’s a strange sensation to actually say what I’m thinking.

Daisy and Scorpius leave soon after for dinner at the Malfoys, and Scorpius hasn’t said a single word to me. I don’t particularly care, either. I have nothing to say to him. I’m starting to really abhor that man. And I mean it this time.

By the time dinner is ready here at The Burrow, Aidan is talking to me again. Everybody has been introduced to Ollie and they seem to like her much more than Daisy. We eat in the large dining room that Dad, Uncle Harry, Uncle George and Uncle Bill built last year for Nana Molly and Grandad, which is just off the kitchen. We finally have a non-cramped, roofed area to eat at family get-togethers. Dom tells stories from Australia, including one of an old warlock she ‘accidentally’ gave a lap dance to in a pub not unlike the Hogs Head – apparently she had run out of gold for her rent and the warlock was offering her quite a bit more if she did ‘something else’ (which she assures us, she didn’t). Aunt Fleur and Uncle Bill look shocked, disgusted and extremely pale after the story, but the rest of us can’t help but laugh at this typical Dom behaviour. Al and Jenny later announce the date of their wedding, though they keep the news of the pregnancy on the down low. And James tops everyone else’s news with his own – he has been made captain of the Chudley Cannons. Aidan ends up choking on his turkey upon hearing this.

After dinner, we break up into groups once more. This time Jenny, Dom, Molly, Lily, Roxie and I are in the kitchen discussing Scorpius and Daisy. It was not my idea, yet I can't help venting.

“She’s basically me,” I tell them my theory, “I mean, she’s tall, I’m tall. She’s Daisy, I’m Rose – flowers, see? Well, technically daisies are weeds. Who’d pick a weed over a rose? She even has a sort of witty sarcasm thing going on.” I’m fuming now, as if she’s deliberately copying me.

“Hmm, I suppose she’s sort of like you,” says Lily uncertainly.

“She has a nicer nose than you,” Molly observes, “And she’s much thinner too.”

“She didn’t have a baby!” I cry, “And it’s not my fault I inherited Dad’s stupid nose!”

“She’s not as bitterly sarcastic as you,” says Roxie.

“Yeah,” Jenny joins in, “She’s more jokey, while you’re more –”

“Hostile?” Dom suggests and everyone else sounds in agreement. I hate my family.

“And she’s not as insecure either,” says Lily, “She seems very confident.”

“Oh and her hair!” Roxie exclaims.

“Her hair is gorgeous!” Molly agrees.

“You can all shut up now,” I snap, “Why don’t you just adopt Daisy as your cousin instead?”

“I wish we could,” Molly sighs and everyone else agrees. I know they’re just saying this to piss me off, but I still want to curse the lot of them. Jenny and Dom wink at me to let me know that they’re just joking, but I still can’t help but feel annoyed. There is truth in everything they’ve said. And they don’t even know about how much of a bitch I was to her earlier on.

One of the many positive things of having Aidan in my life is that I can use him as an excuse to leave things early.

“I think Aid’s getting a bit tired,” I announce at around nine, “I better take him on home.” The truth is I’m the one who’s getting tired. Aidan could easily keep going for another few hours, but I’m not sure I could. I of course have to go through the rounds of hugging everyone goodbye and wishing them all a happy Christmas once more. Grandad slips a few galleons into my pocket as I hug him, as if I’m still six years old looking for money for sweets and trying to hide it from my parents.

“Don't spend it all at once,” he tells me.

“Happy Christmas, Grandad,” I kiss him and then move on to Mum and Dad.

“Are you flooing home?” Mum asks and then continues before I have the time to reply that yes, I am, “Here, it’s just a little something from your dad and I.” She hands me an envelope.

“Mum, we said we weren’t doing presents this year!” I protest. In fact, it was Mum’s suggestion that we don’t do presents. I think she suggested it because she knows I’m not exactly overburdened with cash at the minute. “I didn’t get you anything.” I feel even worse now than I did before.

“Oh, it’s only small,” she insists. I open up the envelope to find –

“Apparition lessons? Mum, you really shouldn’t have,” I tell her.

“Well I thought it was about time,” she says, “They’re every Saturday for four weeks and then you can take the exam.” I hug her in thanks and then Dad, who is in the middle of a game of Wizard’s Chess with Uncle Harry. I don’t know why Uncle Harry even bothers anymore – he always loses. Actually, I don’t think anyone has ever beaten Dad. Even when Hugo and I were kids, Dad wouldn’t do the nice, fatherly thing and let us win (“they have to learn to lose, Hermione!”) because he’s so competitive.

Aidan, Ollie and I floo home, Aidan carrying a rather large bag that he won’t let me look in. When we arrive back in the flat, he empties out the bag to reveal even more presents, all from the different members of my family. Ollie dances around them, barking happily.

“Who gave you these?” I ask.

“Al and Jenny, Teddy, Dom, Nana Molly, Nana Hermione –” I’m not sure if he understands that Nana Molly is in fact his Great Nana Molly, but he doesn’t seem too bothered. “– James, Gran-Grandad –” Gran-Grandad is Grandad Arthur. I don’t really know how he keeps up. “Grandad Draco –”

“What did Grandad Draco get you?” I interrupt.

“Gold,” he grins, holding up a bag full of golden Galleons. Always so thoughtful, Draco. Still, Aidan seems happy enough with it.

“We’ll have to put that in your Gringotts vault,” I tell him and he makes a face, but doesn’t protest. Really, what’s a five year old going to do with gold anyway? He’ll appreciate it much more when he’s in Hogwarts and completely skint.

“Oh, this one’s for you,” he says and hands me a rectangular black box, “It’s from me.”
“Thank you,” I grin and kiss him, wondering if it was Mum or Aunt Ginny who gave him this to give to me. I open it and there is a beautiful, colourful peacock-feather quill inside. “It’s lovely.”

“You can use it for work,” he tells me, now playing with a toy Ford Anglia that I know had to be from Grandad.

“Yes, it’ll come in very handy,” I say, and open the little note attached.

Mummy,
Happy Christmas,
Love,
Aidan.


There are two things that lead me to believe that Aidan didn’t write this note. Firstly, Aidan has never in his life called me ‘Mummy’ – I’ve always been ‘Mum’ and probably always will be. Secondly, it’s written in Scorpius’s handwriting.

Maybe today wasn’t so bad.
 

 










A/N - Apologies for the wait! I've been kind of busy and I had a bit of writer's block with this chapter. I'm still not that satisified with it, but I hope the next few will flow a bit better! Thanks so much to everyone has reviewed, I hope you're enjoying! Let me know what you think, I appreciate all feedback! :D
 


Chapter 5: New Years, Old Years, They're All The Same
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Chapter Five - New Years, Old Years, They're All The Same

Boxing Day, and I’m alone in the flat because Aidan’s spending the next few days with Scorpius and Daisy. With nothing better to do I decide to clean Aidan’s bedroom. This doesn’t take me long, considering the room is so small and all I really have to do is throw all of his toys into his toy-box and hang up his clothes. And when you do everything by magic, it’s even quicker. I even empty out his schoolbag of old food wrappers and pieces of paper. Aidan, like Hugo and I did, goes to a Muggle primary school. I don’t have the time to home-school him like most magical parents do. Besides, being sent to a school develops social skills. I’m not quite sure where I went so wrong.

When emptying out his bag, I find a letter with the words ‘Mrs Weasley’ on the front. I resent the fact that the person writing this letter just assumes I’m married. I open it and find that it has been written over two weeks ago.

Dear Mrs Weasley,
I wish to discuss with you your son’s recent behaviour in class. I consider this a matter of some urgency and would appreciate it if you could make an appointment to meet with me, at your convenience.
Sincerely
Mrs L. Murphy


“What did he do now?!” I hiss angrily to myself. This isn't the first time Mrs Murphy has contacted me about Aidan’s behaviour, except the first time she rang me to tell me that Aidan had called a fellow pupil a word that rhymed with “banker” (“you mean wanker?” I asked her at the time. She now thinks I’m a negligent mother). James was the one who taught him the word. I wonder what the hell James has taught him now. And now Mrs Murphy will think I’m an even worse mother for not making an appointment straight away. Shit.

A loud knock on my front door makes me drop the letter in fright. It’s an angry sort of knock. I creep to the door quietly and look out the spy-hole. It’s Draco Malfoy. I open the door – he’s fuming.

“Did you know about this?” he spits and barges into my flat.

“Hello Mr Malfoy, won’t you come in?” I say ironically.

“You knew, didn’t you?”

“Had a nice Christmas then?”

“Do not annoy me!” he shouts. I glare at him and he backs down a bit. I think he’s finally realised that I’m one person he can’t intimidate. “Did you know?”

“Did I know what?” I ask, annoyed.

He takes a deep breath. “You knew that my son was going to America to get married in some cheap Muggle casino!”

I stare at him. Is he for real? He thinks I knew?

“Oh yeah,” I say sarcastically, “I was maid of honour, didn’t you know?” He looks at me, as if trying to figure out if I’m being serious. You’d think after knowing me for five years he’d get me, but apparently not. “Of course I didn’t know!” I yell.

“Y-you didn’t?”

“Why the hell do you think I’d know about it? Did you inform all of your ex-girlfriends when you got married?” It’s sort of strange to think that Draco Malfoy ever even had a girlfriend. Maybe he didn’t. Maybe he just met Astoria and bribed her to marry him so people wouldn’t think he was a big loser.

“Well...no,” says Draco, “But it’s different! I didn’t have a child with any of my exes!”

“That you know of,” I add.

“I thought it was just some sort of joke,” says Draco, ignoring my last comment and pacing around my living room, “I thought Scorpius had a head on his shoulders. I thought he’d just marry you and be done with it!” Funny, a few years ago Draco Malfoy would have paid anything to cut me out of his son’s life. Now he wants Scorpius to marry me ‘and be done with it’. “How could he be so stupid?”

“I don’t know,” I shrug, “Perhaps it was his upbringing.” I really do love to wind up Mr Malfoy. He gets angrier faster than Scorpius does.

“He has a child to think about! He can’t just go around marrying random women!”

“Thank you!” I cry, “That’s just what I said!”

There is a few second’s silence. It’s the first time Draco Malfoy and I have ever been on the same side. It’s a very odd sensation. Have I turned to the dark side, or has Draco finally seen the light?

“So...what should be done?” Draco asks me.

“What do you mean?” I ask, taken aback, “There’s nothing we can do. They’re married.”

“And?” he says, as if marriage doesn’t even mean anything, “It’s not going to last! It’s better she found that out sooner rather than later!”

I can’t help but feel intrigued by what Draco is implying. They should be broken up – but no! That’s horrible! Surely I’m not that awful a person? But still, the thought of Scorpius and Daisy not being together is very appealing. But do I want them to break up because of something I did? It’s not as if Scorpius will thank me for breaking up his marriage and all of a sudden fall in love with me. He’ll probably never speak to me again, and win custody of Aidan on account of my insanity and everything. They’ll both be much better off.

“What are you suggesting?” I ask.

“I’m simply suggesting that you help me to help her realise that she’s made a huge and terrible mistake,” he says. Simply suggesting. Why doesn’t he just simply suggest we murder her and hide her body in Hagrid’s pumpkin patch at Hogwarts? That would be just as ‘simple’ as what he’s suggesting.

“I don’t think so,” I say, though half of me still wants to hear more. Well, maybe three-quarters of me. “Scorpius would hate us both. He’d never speak to us again.” I can’t believe I’m referring to myself and Draco Malfoy as ‘us’ – it’s as if we’re a team or something. I feel I may be going down a dark road...

“Scorpius would thank us, eventually,” says Draco.

“Like the time you thought he’d thank you for bribing me to have an abortion?” I ask, referring to the little meeting Draco and I had when I was pregnant. He looks slightly embarrassed at the mention of it.

“That was an error in judgement on my part,” he admits, “But surely you must be just as annoyed as I am? When I first heard, I immediately thought of you and how you must be feeling –”

“Okay, hold up a second,” I snap, “A few minutes ago you thought I was in on the whole thing! You can stop the arse kissing – I’m not going to help you break them up. And anyway...I don’t feel anything. I’m perfectly fine with it.” Draco doesn’t believe me. Nobody ever believes me. “And even if I wasn’t perfectly fine with it, I would be completely against what you’re proposing! Breaking them up would do much more damage than good!”

He narrows his eyes. I can tell he doesn’t like to be contradicted. Still, I stand my ground and glare at him until eventually he looks away.

“Alright. Fine. We’ll pretend this conversation didn’t happen,” he says and then walks out into the hall, “I’d better be off now. Happy Christmas.”

And with that, he leaves. Who in their right minds ends a ‘break-up-my-son-and-his-Vegas-wife’ conversation with ‘oh, and Happy Christmas by the way’? Daisy has no idea what she’s married into. Although maybe she does, considering she’s so old she probably went to school with Draco...

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating – slightly.

*

I think that two days holidays at Christmas is completely unfair, but apparently old Healer Wharton doesn’t think so. And I’d hardly even classify them as holidays, considering they were the most stressful days of the year so far. It doesn’t feel like I’ve gotten a break at all.

Gladys, Hazel and Linda agree, of course, but I still can’t help envying them as they discuss their nice, normal Christmases.

“I was at my sister’s,” Gladys explains, “I just had a quiet one.”

“Our Liam got me this necklace,” says Linda, “Isn’t it lovely?”

“Brendan booked us tickets to France!” Hazel tells us and we all stare at her blankly. “The Useless Shit,” she explains.

“Oh,” we chime together. This is the first time Hazel has used her husband’s first name since...ever.

“What about you, Rose?” Linda asks, “How was your Christmas?”

“I met Scorpius’s wife,” I say. It feels weird to say that – his wife. Suddenly Gladys’s sister, Linda’s necklace and Hazel’s husband don’t seem so interesting anymore. They all lean in to hear more. “She’s...” a cow, “she’s...” a bitch, “she’s...perfectly nice.” Unfortunately, I’m not even lying. That’s the most infuriating thing of all. “And she wants to be my friend.”

“What did you say?” asks Linda, her eyes widening by the second.

“I told her I have enough friends.” It sounds awful now that I say it. Maybe I’m the cow.

“Good for you!” says Gladys and Hazel nods in agreement. Linda looks down at the floor, avoiding my eye. She obviously thinks I was a bitch too. “Why would you want to be her friend? It’d be like me being friends with my ex-husband’s twenty-something year old wife!”

“Oh, that’s another thing!” I say suddenly, “She’s ten years older than him. And his father wants me to break them up.”

They all give me the same disbelieving look, as if wondering how much stranger my life can get. I stopped wondering that years ago, because every time I wonder, it just gets stranger.

“Ten years isn’t so bad,” Linda shrugs, “I wouldn’t mind dragging Damien Kennedy off to Las Vegas!”

“Speaking of,” says Gladys, and the other two suddenly look very excited, “Rose, we think you should ask him out.”

I stare at her. “Ask who out?”

“Kennedy!” Hazel cries, “Get back in the game, girl!”

Wow, this trip to France Hazel’s husband booked really has given her a whole new perspective. Two days ago she’d have said ‘fuck ‘em, they’re all just a shower of bastards anyway’.

“I agree,” says Linda, “You should definitely ask him out. You’re the only one of us who stands a chance.”

“I take offence to that, you know,” Gladys hisses at her, “But seriously, why not?”

I’m too shocked by this suggestion to even think up a legitimate reason not to ask him out. Aside from the fact that he more than likely has a girlfriend and aside from the fact that I’m me, there is no way someone like Damien Kennedy would ever go out with a twenty-two year old receptionist with a five year old child. Life, unfortunately doesn’t work that way.

“You lot are going senile, d’you know that?” I tell them, shaking my head.

“I think you’d be in with a chance!” Linda exclaims, “You know, if you just put on a bit of lippy.”

“Yeah, and bought some nicer clothes,” Hazel chips in.

“Maybe got a haircut,” Gladys adds.

“And lost a tiny bit of weight...”

“Okay! Enough!” I stop them, as they’re beginning to sound like Molly and the girls. “I’m not going to ask Damien Kennedy out! I don’t care if he has a nice arse,” I continue on loudly when Hazel tries to interrupt me, “and so what if he has the most endearing smile in the world? Does it really matter that his eyes could lighten up the darkest of nights?” Okay, I’m sort of losing myself here. “And maybe I do sometimes dream of what it might be like to run my fingers through his silky hair, or what he looks like without clothes on. And yes, I have referred to myself as Mrs Rose Kennedy on ONE occasion, and I was quite drunk at the time, so that doesn’t even count! But none of these are reason enough for me to ask out the most gorgeous man in this hospital – possibly in the world – because although I might have horrible hair and a flabby stomach and pasty skin, I also have my dignity!"

Gladys looks away from me, down to the floor and bites her lip. Linda turns scarlet. Hazel has buried her face in her hands and her shoulders are shaking wildly.

“Ahem.”

I spin around in my chair. There he is, all six foot three of him – Damien Kennedy.

“You were saying?” Gladys whispers to me and then cracks up.

Fuck. Why does the fucking universe hate me so fucking much?

“Eh, I’m just looking for Ms White’s file,” Healer Kennedy says, not looking at me. He apparently heard my entire spiel – his cheeks are as red as my hair. Because I can do nothing but sit there, open-mouthed, Gladys grabs the file and hands it to him and he walks off so quickly, I’m not sure he didn’t apparate.

There is no way I could be more embarrassed. I think I’m literally going to drop dead.

Gladys and Hazel are roaring with laughter and even Linda can’t stop herself from giggling at my misfortune.

Kill me. Kill me now.

*

The next few days are lonely in the flat without Aidan around. He is staying with Scorpius and Daisy until New Years Day now, so I find that I have very little to do and absolutely nobody to shout at. By the time New Years Eve arrives, I’ve watched five crappy Christmas films, cleaned the flat from top to bottom and eaten two whole boxes of mince pies. So, with the prospect of spending New Years Eve completely alone, I crack open a bottle of wine and sit down on front of the telly with an endless supply of peanuts and my last box of mince pies. I tell myself that I’m doing some good – Aidan is allergic to nuts, so by eating them all I’m eliminating all possibilities that he could get a reaction to them. And he doesn’t even like mince pies. See, I’m a fantastic mother.

However, half way through my pies, after sitting for an hour on the couch, completely engrossed in some chick-flick and extremely comfortable in the arse groove I seemed to have made in the cushion, there is a knock on the door. I hadn’t planned on leaving this spot, except in the case of a dire emergency - i.e. needing the bathroom or running out of food – so I just turn up the TV and pretend I didn’t hear anything. But the knocker is consistent and starts banging again.

“Rose, we know you’re in there!” I hear Dom shouting from outside, “We can hear the telly!”

I sigh, annoyed, and pull myself off the couch, leaving scattered crumbs and nuts behind me. I open the door to find Dom, some random bloke, James and James’s team mate, Trevor McArdle, a Chaser for the Chudley Cannons are standing there, all looking fabulous and ready for a night on the town. Normally I would try to look presentable around Trevor McArdle, considering Quidditch Weekly named him the third sexiest British Quidditch player (James was second), but seeing as I’ve already embarrassed myself to the furthest possible extent around handsome men this week, I really don’t care.

“Come on, get changed, we’re going out!” Dom tells me, “You’ve got a peanut on your face.”

“I’m not in the mood,” I tell her, “You go. Have fun.”

“We’re not taking no for an answer, Red,” says James and I shoot him a filthy glare. If he thinks I’m just going to forget the fact that he was Scorpius’s best man, he has another thing coming.

“Rose, we’ve got Al, Jenny and Molly waiting for us,” says Dom, “We’re going to a Muggle nightclub! You have to come!”

“Why on earth would Molly go to a club?” I ask.

“She says if she has to spend another New Years Eve alone, she’ll kill herself,” Dom explains, “And we don’t want to listen to Auntie Audrey piss and moan about that on top of everything else. You’re coming, Rose.”

“No, I’m not,” I say firmly, “I have a date with my remote control.”

“Come on!” Dom pleads, “Laura’s going to be there!”

“Laura?” I ask, “As in Laura Phelps?” Dom nods excitedly. Laura Phelps is my enemy, turned friend, turned estranged schoolmate I used to share a dorm with. I haven’t seen her in years. The last I heard she was living in Germany. “What’s she doing here?”

“I think she broke up with her boyfriend and moved back home or something,” says Dom, “Please come out! I’m sure she’d love to see you!”

I’m sure it’d just be plain awkward. Whenever I meet Mark Matthews or Chas Finch on the street it’s always very forced and uncomfortable. I’m sure meeting Laura would be no different.

“Come on, Rosie!” Dom whinges again.

“If I say yes will you stop whining?” I ask. I can’t believe I’m agreeing to this. I was looking forward to my fat night.

“Brilliant!” she exclaims, “Go get ready! And hurry up!”

Twenty-five minutes later I emerge from my bedroom, my hair still damp, wearing my best pair of jeans and a nice top I bought from Victoire’s shop. She gave me fifty per cent off, which was jolly nice of her.

Dom apparently is not impressed.

“You’re wearing jeans,” she says flatly.

“Yes,” I reply.

James shifts uncomfortably. Trevor looks like he really doesn’t want to be here. The random bloke is staring blatantly at Dom’s exposed legs. And Dom is glaring at me.

“What?” I sigh, “Why can’t I wear jeans?”

“It’s New Years Eve,” says Dom, “And this is a classy place we’re going to. You can’t just show up looking like you’re going out shopping for the day! Come on, I’ll help you...”

She drags me back into my bedroom and starts rummaging through my wardrobe, but I’m willing to throw her a party if she finds anything better in there. However, after only about five seconds she pulls out a rather short black dress. I can’t stop myself snorting.

“This is fabulous, Rose!” she tells me, “Wear this!” She reminds me of myself when I’m trying to get Aidan to wear his good clothes.

“Were you planning on wrapping it ‘round my thigh?” I ask, “That doesn’t fit and it’ll look crap if we try to adjust it. Can’t I just wear what I have on? I don’t even want to go out anyway!”

“Put it on,” she demands. I pull it on, just to prove to her how shit it looks, and I’m right. I look like a human blimp. Dom points her wand at it and expands it slightly so it’s no longer cutting off the circulation in my body, but I still look absolutely awful. “You look great!”

“Dom, you’re a shit liar,” I tell her, “I can’t go out looking like this. Can’t I just finish watching my film?”

“I’ll tell you how it ends – boat sinks, boy dies. End of,” she snaps, “Now put on some shoes and let’s get going!”

“He dies?” I cry, upset that she’s ruined it for me, “B-but –”

“Rose! We’re late!”

*

Sometimes I feel a bit sad that I never really got to do the going out to clubs and getting completely bladdered thing with my friends, due to premature motherhood and everything.

Tonight is definitely not one of those times.

As we queue up – Dom, James, Al, Jenny, Molly, Trevor, the random bloke (whose name is Hector, apparently) and I – outside the club in the freezing cold, watching loads of underage kids get turned away at the door, Dom hands us all fake Muggle ID cards.

“Eh, Dom, we’re all over eighteen,” Jenny, who comes from a Muggle family, points out, “We don’t need fake IDs.”

“Well we can’t use our Ministry-approved IDs around Muggles,” Dom points out, “We might as well just give them driver’s licences with pictures of Mickey Mouse on them!”

“Couldn’t you have just put our real names on them?” I ask, studying my own driver’s licence, which despite having my picture on it displays the name ‘Susanna Ryan’.

“This way is more fun,” Dom – or Crystal Baudelaire as her ID reads – grins.

When we approach the bouncer at the door, he barely even glances at our driver’s licences before letting us inside. Apparently we just don’t look under eighteen anymore – it’s depressing. Inside the music is thumping, the drunks are stumbling and the alcohol is flowing. I’m starting to wish more than ever that I stood my ground and stayed at home.

I allow Dom to drag me onto the dance floor with everybody else, but after a half an hour or so, people seem to be breaking away from the group. Al and Jenny, tired of dancing, go to sit on a leather couch in the corner and then start kissing like a pair of teenagers, not an engaged and pregnant couple. Trevor is dancing with a brunette girl, while Dom and Hector-the-random-bloke have paired off in the corner. Even Molly manages to partner up with some bloke who doesn't look a day over sixteen. Finally James is the last one to abandon me when a very pretty blonde girl starts dancing seductively around him. So I go to sit at the bar like a lonely old spinster lady.

“What can I get you?” the girl behind the counter asks when I sit down on a vacant barstool. She looks familiar – really familiar. It's -

“Laura?” I ask – well, I shout it because the music is so loud that I have to shout everything in order to be heard.

“Rose?” she cries, “Holy shit, it’s you!”

“You work here?” I cry, not knowing that this is what Dom meant when she said Laura would be here.

“Yeah,” she shouts back, “It’s my first night on the job! So how are you?”

We have a short conversation, leaving us both with sore throats and heads, until she spots her boss glaring at her and has to go collect some glasses. We say that we’ll arrange to meet up soon, but we both know it’s just one of those dates that neither of us have any intention of keeping.

I sit at the bar for the next hour or so, sipping on what the barman said was a ‘Sex On The Beach’. It’s disgusting, but I’m drinking it so slowly that it’ll last me all night. I know I look pathetic, sitting here in my dress that’s too small, sipping on an outdated cocktail and completely alone, thinking about my ex and his wife, and wondering what fun shenanigans they’re getting up to with my son. They’re probably having the time of their lives, even though they’re just stuck inside looking after a five year old. You’d think that they would be the ones who’d be jealous of me. After all, I’m in a hip new Muggle nightclub called ‘Fusions’.

“Someone sitting here?”

I jump at the sound of the man’s voice yelling over the music at me and turn to face him. He’s pointing to the stool beside me. I shake my head and go back to drinking my cocktail. It’s only an hour until midnight, and then I can go home without looking completely pitiable.

“I’m Richard,” the man tells me, as if I’ve expressed interest in knowing his name. Still, I don’t want to be rude, so I reply:

“Susanna Ryan.”

“D’you come here often?” he asks.

“D’you know a cheesier line?” I reply. Apparently Susanna Ryan is just as cynical and harsh as Rose Weasley. He smiles and I notice that despite his frankly awful way with words, he has got a nice smile. And his eyes aren’t bad either. Actually, his whole face is quite attractive.

“Sorry, that was a bit lame,” he admits, “You’re sort of intimidating.”

I shrug and turn away from him again, thus ending the conversation. However, he doesn’t give up that easily.

“Are you here by yourself?” he asks.

“No,” I reply, “My mates are around here somewhere.”

“Oh. Mine seem to have abandoned me too,” he explains, “So what explains your dark and depressing aura then? Ex-issues?”

“How did you guess?” I ask sarcastically.

“I bet they can’t be worse than mine,” he says. Suddenly I feel challenged.

“My ex-boyfriend got married in Vegas last week,” I tell him, but conveniently leave my son out of it, “Can you top that?”

“My wife slept with my brother,” he retorts, “Your issues have been topped.”

I look at him, trying to decipher if he’s joking or not. He looks too young to be married – then again, I probably look too young to have a five year old. He doesn’t look any older than me. I feel bad for him now.

“Sorry,” I say, “But I still reckon I have more issues than you do.”

“Is that a challenge?” he grins.

We start trading stories – all the while leaving Aidan out of it – and eventually start having fun with our cynicism. I tell him about Draco trying to get me to split up Scorpius and Daisy. He tells me that his wife of four years had been cheating on him for four months before he found out. I tell him I’m a twenty-two year old spinster – he retorts with the fact that he’s about to become a twenty-five year old divorcee.

We stop once the countdown to midnight begins.

10...9...8...

“Here’s to another shitty year,” Richard holds up his glass of beer and I toast him with my cocktail.

“Amen,” I reply.

7...6...5...

I’m suddenly reminded of the time Scorpius kissed me on New Years, while he was still with Dom. Now he’ll be kissing Daisy. I take a swing of my drink.

4....3...

Richard is cute. He is very cute. And after the embarrassing incident with Damien Kennedy this week, I really need to redeem myself somehow.

2...1...

“HAPPY NEW YEAR!”

I throw caution to the wind, throw an arm around Richard’s neck and pull him close for a kiss. I don’t care if Scorpius is kissing Daisy right now. I’m kissing this bloke. And while I’m thinking of Scorpius and Daisy, I know Richard’s thinking about his ex-wife and brother. If it eases the pain, then what does it matter?

“D’you want to come back to my place?” he asks me. I nod.

Like I said – if it eases the pain, then what does it matter?



A/N - Greetings! I know people are getting depressed about how depressed Rose seems to be these days, but she'll get better soon - hopefully! Also, I was really glad to read in some people's reviews that not everybody is against poor old Scorpius in this. It wasn't my aim to make you guys hate him! I hope he can redeem himself soon (and Daisy too!). Thanks SO MUCH for your reviews and feedback, I really appreciate them! 
P.S - Apologies for the lack of Scorpius in this chapter, but I felt it'd be pointless to add him in if he had nothing new to say.
 
Please keep on reviewing! :D

Chapter 6: Where Have All The Fishies Gone?
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Chapter Six - Where Have All The Fishies Gone?
The bloody light in the hall of my building is gone again, so I draw my wand and cast lumos. I’m not too worried about using magic, as it’s eight o’clock in the morning on New Years Day, so the chances of anybody being up this early are very slim. I creep up the stairs, my wand in one hand and my shoes in the other and am ready to collapse with exhaustion by the time I reach my floor. I don’t even bother looking for my key and use magic to open the door.

I throw my shoes down as soon as I get inside, with the plan of sleeping until well past midday. After the night I’ve had, I may never get up again.

“What are you doing up?” a voice asks.

Scorpius emerges from the living room holding a cup of tea and I jump at the sight of him. Ollie, who had been staying with Aidan at Scorpius’s, runs out to greet me too.

“What are you doing here?” I gasp, still breathless from walking up the stairs. I’m sure I look terrible too. I’m barefoot, my makeup is all over the place and my hair is mystifying.

“I was just dropping Aidan ‘round...got called into work –” he pauses and looks me up and down. “Why are you dressed like that? Wait – are you just getting in?” He looks extremely put-out by this thought, as if the mere notion of me staying out all night is completely unthinkable.

“Yes,” I say proudly. Of course if he knew about the utter catastrophe that was my New Years Eve, he’d have nothing to be shocked or put-out by. But he doesn’t have to know. Nobody ever has to know.

“Where were you?” he asks, sounding a bit like my dad.

“I was at a friend’s house,” I reply and then add, “A man-friend’s!”

He frowns at me. I’m expecting him to start waving his index finger at me and telling me I’m grounded. I don’t know what he’s frowning at – it’s not like I got married in Las Vegas.

“You were at a bloke’s house?” he asks, as if to clarify. I nod, not feeling so proud and confident anymore. He’s looking at me as if I’m a piece of dirt. “Did you sleep with him?”

“That is none of your business!” I cry angrily, outraged that he’d even have the nerve to ask such a question.

“It’s my business if I have to break it to Aidan that he’s going to have a baby brother or sister!” Scorpius hisses.

“Oh, as opposed to breaking it to him that he’s going to have a stepmother?” I snarl back, “You’re unbelievable, judging me! And just so you know, some men aren’t as thick as you – they know what a condom is!” Great, now I’m giving the impression that I did actually sleep with Richard-the-Muggle. This has to be the quickest argument ever started between the two of us – and that’s not an easy feat.

He’s opening and closing his mouth – sort of like a goldfish – waiting for words to come to him, but he has nothing. So he just keeps stuttering and shifting from foot to foot. “I know what a condom is!” he eventually splutters.

“Let’s not talk about this here,” I suggest, fully aware that Aidan is in the next room and is very likely to ask me what a condom is, “Why are you here so early?”

“Daisy’s going to her Mum’s and I got called into work,” he explains, still looking uncomfortable. I make my way from the hall to the living room so Aidan won’t be able to hear us from his bedroom.

“Major broomstick emergency?” I ask sarcastically, “It’s New Years Day.”

“They need someone to fill out some end of year paperwork that was supposed to be sent out the day before yesterday,” he explains, “So yeah, Major Broomstick Emergency.”

Silence. An awkward sort of silence. The kind of silence you wish somebody would fart through just to break it. I can’t help but feel nervous around him. In one way, I don’t want him to think I slept with Richard, but in another I want him to know that I’m not just sitting at home, yearning for him (even though I sort of am). He’s looking at me, studying me, as if willing me to fill him in on what happened last night. Part of me wants to tell him. I need to confide in someone. And over the last few years, Scorpius and I have become better friends than I would have ever thought possible. I never thought someone could have a friendship with someone they were sexually attracted to. His stare just makes me want to blurt everything.

“I –”

“I better go,” Scorpius interrupts me before I even start, “Have to work...”

“Oh...oh, right,” I nod, “I’ll see you...”

“Yeah. Bye.”

And like that, he disapparates. I collapse onto the sofa, on the brink of tears, but hold them back when Aidan comes running out of his room with stories of his New Years Eve. I suppose I’ll have to leave the crying until later. It bothers me that he just disapparated...like he doesn't even care anymore.

*

“Excuse me, I’m looking for Damien Kennedy,” a woman dressed in very smart robes says to me, as I sit behind the receptionists’ desk at St Mungo’s, staring off into space, still thinking about the massacre that was New Years Eve, even though that was almost a week ago. The woman looks very business-y. She’s not someone I’d like to mess with.

“Who will I say is asking for him?” I ask her, fully aware that Linda, Hazel and Gladys are listening, thinking about the embarrassing episode from last week. She’s probably his solicitor, ready to sue me for sexual harassment.

“His wife,” she says.

Oh fuck.

“Oh fuck,” Gladys blurts and Linda elbows her. Hazel snorts and then shoves her fist into her mouth to stop herself from laughing.

“His wife?” I splutter, “You’re his wife?”

She lifts up her left hand and shows me the massive rock on her finger. “My name is Amanda. May I speak to my husband?”

I scribble down the memo and send it off down the hall to the office I know Damien is in. I am so mortified that I keep my head down the entire time he is talking to his wife. I’m hoping he’s forgotten about last week, but what are the chances of that happening? He doesn’t even say the usual ‘afternoon ladies’ to us before going back to his office.

“Why is everyone married?” I cry after Mrs Kennedy leaves, “Am I the only one?”

“I’m not married,” Linda points out, “And I wouldn’t worry about it, love. Plenty more fish in the sea.”

“No, haven’t you heard? Fish are becoming scarcer and scarcer! That’s why salmon is so expensive these days! THERE ARE NO MORE FISH!”

“Calm down,” Gladys tries to soothe me.

“And anyway, I caught my fish and threw him back in,” I say, “I don’t deserve any more fish.”

“Fuck ‘em,” Hazel says. Apparently her man-loving mood didn’t last very long. Her husband’s back to being a ‘useless shit’. “Who needs fish anyway? Women don’t need fish for pleasure anymore.”

“Yeah, all you need is the right rod,” says Gladys, “Fuck the fish.”

Unable to think of an appropriate reply to this philosophy, I burst out laughing and the three girls follow suit. Sometimes all you need is a good laugh.

After work, I head into Diagon Alley on the Knight Bus to buy some more Floo powder. I haven’t had the chance to book my apparition lessons yet, but I keep promising Mum I’ll do it. On the way out of Forrest Flipper’s Floo Factory, I meet a very familiar face - Laura Phelps.

“Laura!” I exclaim, “Haven’t seen you for four years, and here we are twice in one week. How are you?”

“Alright Rose,” she grins knowingly, “What did you get up to with the cute Muggle on New Years Eve then?” I forgot she was there. Crap. She’s clearly been dying to ask me this. “Fancy grabbing a drink?”

We go into The Leaky Cauldron and find a table in the corner. I need to get this off my chest. I haven’t told anybody about New Years Eve, and I know that Laura won’t tell anyone. It’s probably stupid of me to trust this with the girl who told the entire population of Hogwarts when I was pregnant, but I’ve chosen to believe she’s changed since then.

“So how was your trip?” I ask, “I hear you went to Egypt –”

“It was fine. Now, what happened New Years Eve?” she presses.

“Can’t we catch up a bit?” I ask, “I mean, we haven’t spoken in years.”

She glares at me. “You want to tell me. I can see it in your face.”

Really, it’s like we were friends forever. I take a deep breath, ready to recall the painfully embarrassing memory.

“It’s mortifying,” I mumble, “It really is.” She looks even more interested now. “After I tell you this, you have to tell me about your trip!”

“Rose, spill.”

“Right...well, we were with each other at the countdown, the cute Muggle and me,” I begin and Laura nods, eager to hear more, “And we ended up kissing at twelve. He’d told me about his ex-wife and I gave him the basic outline of my relationship with Scorpius – leaving out the part about Aidan, of course.”

“Aidan is your relationship with Scorpius,” Laura points out.

“So we had this sort of bond, me and Richard – that’s his name. We had this bond of being lonely and pathetic. He was sort of funny. And he was nice –”

“Get to the juicy bit!” Laura cries.

“I’m getting there!” I reply, even though technically there is no juicy bit, “So I decided to go back to his place.” Laura gasps and then signals for me to continue. “So we went outside and tried to get a taxi, but of course it was so hard because of New Years and everything. Then he said his place was about a half hour walk, so we decided to walk instead. On the way we talked more about our exes. His wife slept with his brother, and I told him about Scorpius being married –”

“Hold on a second,” Laura stops me, “Scorpius is MARRIED?” Oh, I forgot she didn’t know about that. It almost seems like old news at this stage. “Are you taking the piss?”

“I wish,” I mumble, “He got married to a thirty-three year old Daisy in Las Vegas.”

Laura looks like she’s about to choke on all of this new information. “D-Daisy? Las Vegas? Do people actually do that?”

“Yes, that’s the general reaction,” I say, “Anyway, we’ll come back to that.” Laura nods, but still looks very shocked. “So Richard and I were walking, talking, joking and I really liked how much we were bonding. And he wasn’t half bad looking either.”

“What did he look like?” Laura asks.

“I...don’t really remember,” I admit, “I wasn’t drunk or anything. I just can’t really picture his face. But he was quite good looking. It took us about an hour to get to his place because we kept stopping to sit down – my feet were killing me. By the time we got to his place, we were both kind of tired. So we just ended up sitting on his couch, talking. Then he kissed me again.”

“And what did you do? Did you kiss him back?” Laura asks.

“I...I kept thinking about Scorpius. I kept on wondering what he’d say if he knew...I started feeling bad.”

“He got married in Las Vegas!” Laura cries angrily, “You’re not the one who should feel bad!”

“I know that!” I exclaim, “I know! But I just kept remembering what it was like kissing Scorpius and I just wished it was him I was with...”

“That’s pathetic,” Laura snarls, “Absolutely pathetic.”

“I know that!” I exclaim again, “So then I started crying, right in the middle of the kiss. I felt so bad for Richard, so I started crying some more. Then I thought about how pathetic I was being and cried even more! Then I just ran out of his place without another word. He’ll forever think of me as the overly-sensitive Susanna Ryan!”

“Susanna Ryan?”

“I gave him a fake name,” I explain, “And I didn’t tell him I’m a witch.”

“Rose, I really don’t know how that could have possibly gone worse for you,” Laura says bluntly, “You better hope you never see that bloke again.” 

"And then I spent the rest of the night wandering around, trying to find my way home! I didn't get home until eight the next morning!" The story is actually worse now that I hear myself tell it aloud. Even Laura can't help shaking her head in disapproval.

We spend another hour or so catching up. She tells me of her time living in Germany. Apparently she was going out with some famous singer, but I never heard of him. He’s a huge hit in Japan, according to Laura. But she dumped him when he asked her to move in with him. I think James may have forever damaged her trust in men. As if her crazy mother didn’t mess her up enough. She tells me she now has a restraining order against her mum. There’s never a dull moment with Laura Phelps. Finally we decide to leave The Leaky Cauldron when I consider it about time to relieve Nana Molly from babysitting Aidan. Luckily he goes back to school on Monday so I don’t have to keep leaving him with my unlucky relations. Not-so-luckily, I also have to meet with his bitch of a teacher on Monday to discuss his behaviour.

Aidan is hyper by the time I get him home. I have the sneaking suspicion that Nana Molly pumped him full of sugary food. I think it’s her aim in life to make those around her as fat as possible. It’s a wonder Dad stayed so skinny as a child. Ollie keeps Aidan entertained, which is a welcome relief to me. Maybe getting a Crup wasn’t such a bad idea. It’s like having a live-in babysitter.

*

On Monday morning, I bring Aidan to school. I have a meeting with the teacher, Mrs Murphy, before the class starts. I have my best speech prepared about how Aidan really is a good boy, he just gets a bit hyper from time to time. And I know he can’t control his magic yet, so if she mentions any weird stuff that happens around him, I’m just going to tell her she’s a crazy old bat and really should get her head checked.

The school is full of little children bustling around the place. The walls are covered in badly drawn, glittery pictures and the school has that real primary-school smell of glue, biscuits and anti-bacterial spray. Aidan runs off to his classroom, while I go to the reception desk.

“I have an appointment with Mrs Murphy,” I tell the receptionist.

“Oh, Mrs Murphy is out sick,” she tells me, “Mr Brian McDonald has taken over for her. He can see you.” Thank Merlin. Maybe Mr McDonald won’t be as harsh as her. He doesn’t really know how misbehaved Aidan can be if today is his first day.

“Thank you.”

“Room 4,” the receptionist smiles, “Just wait outside and he’ll be with you.”

I go and wait outside Room 4, which is Aidan’s classroom. I feel nervous, like how you feel before you go to the dentist. You just know he’s going to tell you you’re not brushing your teeth properly, except now I’m going to be told I’m not raising my child properly. I don’t care what this bloke has to say about my Aidan, I know he’s a good kid. And if he tried to disagree, I’m just going to clock him one.

“Mrs Weasley, is it?” The principal, Mr Jackson appears in front of me and shakes my hand. I don’t bother correcting him on the ‘Mrs’ part. “This is Mr Brian McDonald.”

“Susanna?”

I look at the teacher being introduced to me.

Fuck.

“Richard?” I splutter.

He looks around uncomfortably. Apparently I’m not the only one giving out a fake name...





A/N - A cliffhanger...because why not? :) I know this chapter seems kind of short and it also seems like I've omitted a lot of stuff (which is a writing technique I've learned in my English class - woo, education!) but I hope you liked the chapter. By the way - over 1,000 reviews on 5 chapters?! I think I'm going to faint! I seriously can't believe it! Thank you all so much! Please keep on reviewing, you've made my year (and it's only February!) :D
P.S - Apologies for any mistakes...it's 2am!


Chapter 7: A Case Of Foot-In-Mouth Disease
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Chapter 7 -  A Case Of Foot-In-Mouth Disease

It’s just typical. I shouldn’t even be surprised when stuff like this happens to me anymore. It will probably turn out that this so-called Brian bloke is actually a woman. Or maybe he’s secretly a spy working for the Ministry of Magic and is trying to find that potted plant I stole from the Department of Magical Law Enforcement last year – I thought it might look nice in my bathroom. And it does. Note to self – never ever let anyone into the bathroom who cannot be trusted.

My expression, I can only assume, is mirroring his – complete shock and embarrassment. Mr Jackson, the principal, is looking from Richard – no, Brian – to me, confused. 'Brian'’s eyes are so wide, it’s as if they’re about to pop out of their sockets.

“No, this is Brian McDonald,” Mr Jackson tells me again, “He is your son’s teacher...” I think he thinks I think he said Richard, not Brian. Now even I’m confused. “And this is Rose Weasley, Aidan’s mother.”

Brian-the-teacher’s eyebrows are in serious risk of disappearing into his hair at the minute.

“Oh, I see,” I nod and hold out my hand, “Sorry, I thought you were someone else.”

“Right...” says Brian, reluctantly shaking my hand. This is so utterly mortifying. I’m never going out to a club ever again. Ever. Is this what happens to everyone who meets blokes in clubs?

“Mrs Weasley,” says Mr Jackson, “Would you please come to my office? There is something important we’d like to discuss with you.” This is bad. If the principal is involved, it has to be bad. A teacher’s assistant stays with the children as Mr Jackson, Brian McDonald and I head for the principal’s office to discuss Aidan’s behaviour. What could he possibly have done?

Maybe they’ve discovered his magical ability. I’ll have some bloody explaining to do if he’s gone and turned another child’s hair pink. Or maybe he did something to Mrs Murphy and that’s why she’s out sick. Maybe he killed her. But surely they can’t throw a five-year-old in Azkaban?

Mr Jackson’s office is quite small and looks like a rundown old shack compared to the Headmaster’s office in Hogwarts. I know it’s unfair of me to compare anywhere to Hogwarts, but I can’t help it. I’m programmed that way. I’ve forgotten to feel uncomfortable around Brian now because I’m so worried about what they’re going to give out to me about.

“Have a seat, Mrs Weasley,” Mr Jackson tells me, as he sits down in his own desk chair. Brian remains standing with his arms folded, studying me with the trace of shock still evident in his eyes. “So, Mrs Weasley –” I swear if he calls me ‘Mrs’ Weasley once more, I’m going to jam his stapler in his eye. “You’ve been called here to discuss your son’s performance in class. Brian,” he stresses the name, “has been filling in for Mrs Murphy since the week before the Christmas break, so he is quite familiar with your son’s condition.”

The word ‘condition’ startles me. That makes him sound ill. He’s not ill. I’d know if he was. What kind of mother would I be if I didn’t? Or maybe they’re referring to his magical ability as a ‘condition’.

“What condition?” I ask warily, “Aidan doesn’t have a condition.” Brian looks down at his feet uncomfortably.

“Mrs Weasley...” Yes, this bloke is definitely going to get a stapler to the face. Seriously, how many times does he have to say my name? “Your son has what looks like early signs of dyslexia. Now, this isn’t anything major or serious, it will just mean that Aidan will have to see a special teacher for about twenty minutes a week to help–”

“That’s impossible,” I interrupt, “Aidan’s not dyslexic. I’d know. I read to him all the time. He’s extremely clever for his age...”

“We’re not questioning his intellect,” Brian speaks for the first time, “Dyslexia has nothing to do with intelligence.”

The two remain quiet for a moment to allow this information to sink in with me. Of all the things I thought they were going to tell me, this was the last one on my mind. Aidan’s always been smart for his age – sometimes a little bit too smart. His vocabulary really is outstanding for a five-year-old, and I’m not just talking about swear words. I worry about the boy twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Is he eating enough, or too much? Is that a chicken pock or just a freckle? What could he possibly be doing now to get into trouble? Did he brush his teeth? Where the hell did he get that rabbit? Dyslexia was never something I thought about.

“How could you possibly know he’s dyslexic?” I ask, suddenly feeling very defensive, “He’s five years old, he’s not exactly going to be an expert reader or writer, now is he? Give him a chance! Don’t just dump him on some special teacher because you couldn’t be bothered spending time on the slightly slower learners!”

“That’s the thing,” Brian-Richard tells me, “He’s not a slow learner, not by a long shot. I’ve only taught him for a week, but it’s easy to tell he’s a very smart kid.” He rests his palms onto the principal’s desk and stares me in the eyes, and I start to feel embarrassed again. “He mixes up his letters in the alphabet. He has difficulties recognising numbers. Ask him the capital of Scotland or Ireland and he’ll tell you straight away, but show him the letter ‘H’ and he won’t say a word.”

“Mrs Weasley,” Mr Jackson starts.

Rose,” I interrupt him, “Please call me Rose.” Before I gouge your eyes out.

“Rose,” Mr Jackson corrects himself, “These days you can tell if a child’s dyslexic from as early as three and four. Modern techniques enable us to diagnose it early and help the child. We’re not trying to dump your son on anyone. We just want to help.”

I nod, still trying to take this in. “Does Aidan know? About the special teacher, I mean.”

“Not yet,” says Brian, “We thought we’d let you know first so that you can decide whether you want to tell him yourself, or have us do it.”

“I’ll tell him,” I say straight away. I’m always the bearer of bad news. He’ll be expecting it from me. “Is that all?”

Brian McDonald and Mr Jackson both nod. I stand up and shake their hands. “Thank you both for your time.”

Then I get the hell out of there as fast as I can, before Brian has a chance to confront me and ask why the hell I go around telling people my name is Susanna Ryan. 

*

“Well, that’s embarrassing,” says Jenny, trying her best not to laugh when I meet her for lunch and tell her the whole story about Richard/Brian. We both usually have Mondays off, so we meet up to vent, rant, complain and any other synonyms for ‘bitch about our lives’. Today we’re in a small Muggle coffee shop. “I was wondering where you’d gotten to on New Years...”

“Didn’t think of giving me a ring to make sure I wasn’t dead though, did you?” I reply.

“Well...I thought you were with James...” she trails off pathetically, “Speaking of – have you two made up yet?”

“Who, me and James?” I ask. She nods. “Well...not really. No.”

Jenny sighs heavily. As if she’s one to forgive easily. I will once again refer back to the Robert Hitch Fiasco. Why should I just forgive James? I used to find his insensitive stupidity amusing – now it’s just downright cruel.

“Rose, I really don’t think he knew how you felt – or feel – about Scorpius. James is so protective of you. More protective than he is over Lily, even!” Jenny points out, “Maybe you should talk to him. You’re practically brother and sister.” Although it is the sad but true fact that I am closer to James than to my own brother, I still don’t know if I can just forget this. James has very intelligent parents – I’m not quite sure how he turned out so thick. “On top of this,” Jenny continues, “I can’t have my maid of honour fighting with the Best Man at my wedding!”

I stare at her. “Maid of honour?” I confirm, “Me?”

She nods happily, clapping her hands. “Oh Rose, don’t give me that face!” She sounds like my mother. “I know you’re not fond of the bridesmaid role, but who else could I have as my maid of honour?”

“Hmm, maybe you’re sister?” I suggest, “Or Al’s sister. Or anyone else’s sister!”

“Rose, you’re going to be my maid of honour,” she says firmly, “It’s not a request.”

“Fine,” I sigh. Well, at least I’m not in love with the groom at this wedding. Nor am I six months pregnant. “James is going to be Best Man? I thought it might be Scorpius...” I don’t know why I thought it would be Scorpius. James is Al’s only brother!

“I thought so too, but I think Al would prefer have his brother there. Scorpius is going to be a groom’s man I think,” she explains.

“Oh. Well it’s probably better that way,” I say, “James has more experience with the Best Man business...”

“Let it go,” Jenny sighs, shaking her head, “Let it go.”

After my lunch with Jenny, I contemplate going to James’s apartment (he gets angry if I call it a flat because ‘apartment’ sounds so much more glamorous, and glamorous is the only word for James’s place – why couldn’t I have been a professional Quidditch player?) and apologising to him for being such a bitch over the last few weeks. However, I end up at Scorpius’s. I tell myself that I’m only here to discuss Aidan’s dyslexia, but part of me just wants to speak to him. I haven’t spoken to him in a while.

How utterly pathetic am I?

I knock on the door. Although I have my own key, I find this formality to be much more polite. And I wouldn’t like to walk in on him and Daisy having some ‘afternoon delight’ right there on the floor of the kitchen. However, when there appears to be no sign of life inside, I let myself in, like a grade-A stalker.

“Hello?” I call out as I close the front door behind me, “Anybody home?” I get no reply, yet I continue walking down the hallway and into the kitchen. It’s absolutely spotless. For the last few years, I’ve become accustomed to walking into Scorpius’s messy flat and having to breathe through my mouth to stop myself from gagging at the stale, out-of-date and sour smell. The smell is now gone. Just like that, it’s gone, like Scorpius’s single life. I never thought I’d miss such a disgusting smell.

And there are flowers and plants everywhere – and they’re still alive. I’ve put every charm under the sun on my plants, but they just keep dying on me. I didn’t think Scorpius even knew what plants were. But there’s a huge bunch of lilies on the windowsill, and an assortment of flowers in the centre on the table. I can’t help but wonder if Scorpius actually likes all these clean changes she’s been making. I know I don’t. Who the hell wants a bunch of insect-ridden flowers on the kitchen table? Apparently wisdom doesn’t come with age.

Even the living room looks different. Again it’s tidier, but it’s brighter too. There’s a new mat on the floor and actual paintings on the walls. Scorpius only ever had one picture in his living room, and it was one of me and Aidan on Aidan’s first birthday. Now there are random pictures of Daisy and who I assume are members of her family dotted around the place. She’s even managed to dig out pictures of Aidan, but ones that I’m conveniently not in. In fact, I can’t even see that original picture that Scorpius used to have on his mantelpiece.

Right in the middle of the said mantelpiece is a rather new picture – of Scorpius and Daisy. They’re just sitting on the couch – the one right behind me – smiling for the camera, Daisy waving every now and again, and then kissing Scorpius’s cheek. It makes me feel sick. There are absolutely no pictures of their wedding. Apparently they were in such a rush to get married, they forgot the bloody camera. How touching.

Then I notice it, right behind the cheesy picture of Scorpius and Daisy, is the picture of me and Aidan. I knew Scorpius wouldn’t get rid of it. He loves that picture. It’s considerably smaller than the Scorpius and Daisy monster, so I bring it to the front and then smile in satisfaction – that’s much better. There I am, grinning (yes, an actual grin) out into Scorpius’s living room. Nobody puts Rose-and-baby in the corner. I can bet it was Daisy who moved it.

I hear a key in the door and start to panic. Here I am, breaking and entering and moving pictures around in my ex-boyfriend’s flat! This is going to be a hard one to talk myself out of. Please don’t be Daisy...please don’t be Daisy...

I try to creep out into the hall as quietly as I can, hoping whoever it is decides to go into the kitchen first, rather than in here. I peek out into the hall, and seeing that it’s now empty, I tiptoe out and open the front door as quietly as possible.

“Rose?”

Apparently I’m not quiet enough. Thank God it’s not her.

“Hello Scorpius!” I say in a very fake-happy tone, “Fancy seeing you here!”

He looks confused. I don’t blame him. Even I’m confused. Why on earth did I come in here in the first place?

“Eh, I live here,” he points out.

“Oh, yes,” I say stupidly, “Of course.”

He looks like he’s about to give some snide, sarcastic remark or start up another pointless argument. “D’you want a cup of tea?” But apparently not.

“Eh, yeah. Alright,” I answer.

I follow him back into the kitchen in silence. He turns on the radio and boils up the kettle. I have about a thousand things I want to say to him, but nothing is coming out. We sit down at the table – I can’t help making a face at the flowers again – and wait for the kettle to boil.

“So...” Scorpius begins, somewhat uncomfortably, “What are you doing here?” He doesn’t say it in a ‘what the hell are you doing in my house you crazy bitch?’ kind of way, more in an ‘I’m curious to know why you’ve chosen today to break into my house and move around my pictures’ kind of way.

“I had a meeting at Aidan’s school today,” I tell him.

“Oh?” he looks sort of relieved that I’ve brought up a topic of conversation. “Why didn’t you tell me? I would have gone with you...” Yes, that wouldn’t have been awkward at all.

“It’s alright,” I shrug, “You can go to the next one.” And all the ones after that. I’m never going back there again.

“So what did he do now?” Scorpius asks tiredly.

“Nothing, surprisingly,” I tell him, “Apparently he’s dyslexic.”

Scorpius doesn’t look as affected by this as I expected. He merely summons some cups and flicks his wand at the teapot, which pours some tea into our cups. “Oh, right.”

“Oh right?” I glare at him, the tension slowly drifting away as it does every time I do my glaring. “That’s it?”

“What do you expect me to say?” he frowns.

“Well, when I tell you our son is dyslexic I expect a little bit more than ‘oh, right’. How do you feel about it? I mean, here’s another hardship he’s going to have to face,” I vent, “How can this have no affect on you whatsoever?”

“I think you might be making a mountain out of a molehill here,” he says casually, and sips his tea, “D’you want a biscuit?”

“No I don’t want a biscuit!” I cry, “Why are you trivialising this?”

“It’s not that big of a deal,” Scorpius shrugs.

“It is a big fucking deal!” I cry, “He’s going to have to go to a special teacher – all the other kids are going to know about it! And do you think they’re going to see it as not a big deal? They’re going to laugh at him, tease him for it, even though he’s about ten times smarter than the lot of them! Don’t you care at all?”

“Yes, I care!” he says loudly, “Of course I care! But you making a big fucking deal out of it isn’t going to help anything!”

“He needs our support!” I argue, “We can’t just pretend it’s not there. He’s going to struggle if we don’t help him!”

“He’ll be fine,” Scorpius says, as if trying to end the conversation.

“He’ll be fine,” I echo, “Just like that, is it?”

“Yes.”

“And how the hell would you know? You’re not the one who’s going to have to face this every day. You’re not the one who has to see a special teacher while the other children are practicing the alphabet. You’re not the one –”

“Rose, I’m dyslexic.”

Well that shut me up.

He looks down at his hands, almost embarrassed. He has that look Aidan gets when I’ve discovered he’s wet the bed, mixed with anger and frustration. I feel awful now. Why did I have to make such a big deal of it?

“You’re...dyslexic,” I say, “Well...why didn’t you ever mention this before?”

“It’s not a big deal,” he mumbles insecurely, “At least, I didn’t think it was...”

“It’s not!” I cry immediately, “I – I mean, it’s not a big deal that you’re dyslexic. I didn’t even know you were dyslexic! You were still the top of our year – well, except for me - but that’s not important...I mean, nobody noticed it with you...it’s not a big deal, of course it isn’t! I wasn’t trying to belittle you or anything...”

“Rose, shut up,” he tells me. Thank God he stopped me. I could have gone on for days until I finally fit my two feet into my mouth. “You know, you’re really awful in these situations.”

“I know,” I say unhappily, “I’m sorry. I now know why you never told me.”

“I never told you because it was never a big deal for me,” he shrugs, “I had a special correction quill, and all my books and exam papers had special anti-dyslexia charms on them –”

“Anti-dyslexia charms?” I ask, “What did they do?”

“The Ministry puts them on so that the book sort of...reads to you...in a way...” he looks frustrated trying to explain it, “I mean, it kind of reads to you, but only you can hear it. It’s not that I can’t read,” he assures me, “I can just read a lot quicker with the charms.”

“Oh,” I say, “Right.” And I gave out to him when he said that. But really, there’s nothing else to say.

“I’ve never told anyone that,” he says, “Not even Al or Daisy. My parents are the only people who know.”

“I won’t tell anyone,” I tell him, “Even though it’s not a big deal.”

He smirks. “I think this is the first time I ever won an argument with you.”

“Don’t get used to it,” I warn him. We drink our tea in silence. I still feel terrible. It’s strange to see Scorpius so insecure about something. He’s always been quite egotistical, not unlike his father. Me, I’m insecure about absolutely everything, from my hair to my arse, from my nose to my knees. But I can’t imagine being insecure about reading and writing. I can only imagine the pressure Scorpius feels when he has to read some document at work that doesn’t have an anti-dyslexia charm on it. Or how anxious he might feel if he has to use a normal quill instead of a correctional one.

Still, despite the awkward tension between us, I can’t help enjoying this time with him, just the two of us. It’s like old times when we’d just hang out and watch a film together when Aidan was in bed, or when we’d spend hours upon hours arguing about things like who should be the next Minister for Magic, or more importantly, who should win the Quidditch World Cup this year. Because despite the fact that I’m quite inappropriately in love with him, we were good mates. Best mates, even.

“Do you miss hanging out?” I ask him and immediately mentally kick myself for doing so. How desperate do I sound? He probably won’t even know what I’m on about –

“Yeah,” he answers straight away. My heart does a somersault – I hit my chest to make it stop. Now I just look plain weird. “I miss...it.”

It. Not me. Maybe he wanted to say me, but then remembered he has a wife. We look at each other and we both know what he meant. Oh why did you have to get married, Scorp? It would be a bit inappropriate to lunge across the table, knocking over Daisy’s disgusting flowers, and kiss him, wouldn’t it? Technically it would count as adultery...

What’s a bit of adultery between friends?

“I can pick Aidan up from school,” says Scorpius, checking his watch. I check mine and realise that it’s just about time to collect him. “And if you want, I can explain to him about the...you know...”

“Yeah, that sounds good,” I nod. At least that’s one less awkward conversation I have to have with my son. If he hears Scorpius has dyslexia, he’s going to want it anyway. Scorpius can do no wrong in Aidan’s eyes. “If you want he can stay here tonight...if that’s alright with you –”

“Of course it’s alright!” says Scorpius enthusiastically, “Right, well I better go collect him then. You can stay here if you want –”

“No, it’s alright,” I say quickly, not wanting him to think I’m a complete weirdo, “I have some stuff to do at home.”

“Okay, well...I’ll see you tomorrow?”

I nod and he disapparates.

Sometimes, if I try really hard, I can convince myself that I have absolutely no romantic feelings for Scorpius whatsoever. Right now, trying as hard as I possibly can, I can’t get my heart to slow the fuck down. Stupid heart.

*
In reality, I don’t actually have stuff to do at home. I spend the entire day pacing around my empty flat, playing with Ollie and walking her. I feel bad about leaving her alone in the flat while I’m at work and Aidan’s at school, so Teddy and Victoire usually take her. They have a nanny to look after the kids, and the dogs, while they’re at work. One day, when I have loads of money and a massive house, I’m going to get a nanny for the dog.

Although I was apprehensive about getting a dog for Aidan, I’m glad we have Ollie. Even though she’s only been here a few weeks, she’s like one of the family now. In fact, she’s better than one of the family because she doesn’t give as much grief as they do. Lysander has written twice to see how she’s settled in. Poor Lysander – he has a heart of gold, but I can’t imagine why Lily ever chose him over Lorcan. I’ve always considered Lysander the uglier of the Scamander twins, even though they’re basically identical.

While Ollie and I are in the middle of watching a very addictive Muggle game-show, there is a knock at the door. They should really fix the buzzer on this building so that random people can’t just come up and knock on your door in the middle of your favourite game-shows. The stupid landlord is the stingiest git on the planet though – he won’t even stretch to a gardener to mow the front lawn. I begrudgingly get up and answer the door.

It’s him. It’s Richard-Brian-McDonald-the-Muggle-teacher. He’s here. He’s at my door. Just when I thought today couldn’t possibly get any worse, Richard-Brian-McDonald-the-Muggle-teacher is at my door.

“Hi there, I’m looking for Susanna Ryan,” he says. Urgh. Sarcasm. How bloody original.




A/N:  This was quite a quick update, even if it wasn't very funny. It was a bit too serious. Ah well, you can't be laughing all the time! I'm a bit unsure about this chapter, so please review and tell me what you liked/disliked about it. I love you all for reading and reviewing, you really have no idea how much it means to me! :D

Chapter 8: Confessions
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Chapter 8 - Confessions 
He’s wandering around my living room, looking at things. I didn't even invite him in, yet here he is. I’m scanning the room for any sign of magic. Ollie has stayed in her basket, but is growling at Brian with obvious contempt – Crups don’t like Muggles, after all. If I hadn’t ordered her to stay, she’d be chewing on his cord jeans by now. Also, I’m fairly sure he’d find it strange that my ‘Jack Russell’ has a forked tail.

“Was there something you wanted?” I ask, not bothering to mask my obvious rudeness. His showing up here isn’t just awkward, it’s completely inappropriate. I’m also getting increasingly nervous about the Mimbulus Mimbletonia on the mantle and the moving picture in the corner. I just hope he doesn’t notice. “How did you even find out where I live?”

“Looked it up in the school records,” he shrugs, as if it’s completely normal to do such a thing.

“Well that’s not creepy at all,” I say dryly.

“I should’ve known you were fake-naming me,” he says, clearly not bothering to beat around the bush, “I mean the ‘Susanna Ryan’ thing was quite believable, but you could have come up with something a bit more realistic than Scorpius.”

I couldn’t make it up if I tried. “Actually –”

“Scorpius, who’s married to Daisy,” he continues, “Do they happen to live on Sesame Street?”

I can’t figure out if he’s being sarcastic. Apparently it doesn’t take one to know one. I have no idea where Sesame Street is, because I’m so rubbish with street names, but I’d hate for him to know that. Geography is one of my many weaknesses. “Eh, no they live on Holden Street...” I trail off when he gives me a look. I don’t get it.

“Look, I just thought I’d clear the air between us,” says Brian seriously, running a hand through his curly brown hair, sort of nervously.

“The air is clear,” I answer immediately, “And by the way, I wasn’t the only one fake-naming people, Richard.”

“I technically wasn’t fake-naming you,” he tells me, “My name is Richard Brian McDonald, just everybody calls me Brian because my Dad’s name is Richard too.”

“Well, as nice as it is to hear the family history, I have work to do,” I say impolitely, “So is there something you wanted?”

He raises his eyebrows. I now feel like a bitch. As if I haven’t had a stressful enough day with finding out that both my son and my...Scorpius...have dyslexia, I really don’t need this self-righteous muppet coming in here, making me feel bad in my own house.

“I really enjoyed talking with you on New Years,” he says. I nearly snort, but I manage to restrain myself. I don’t think I’ve heard a more blatant lie since Molly told me she only weighs six stone. “I was just wondering if you wanted to...”

“Look, Richard – or Brian, or whatever you’re calling yourself,” I hold up a hand to stop him from interrupting my interruption, “I’m not looking for a relationship, and although I acknowledge that you’re a decent looking bloke, I’m really not attracted to you.”

“But –”

“And I’m sure you’re a very nice person,” I go on, “And I’m sure you’d make a very good boyfriend, but I think I need to nip this in the bud now – I’m about as sexually attracted to you as I am to a slice of bread.”

“Are you finished?” he asks and I nod, realising I may have been a bit harsh – again. “I wasn’t going to ask you out. No offence or anything, but you’re not my type.”

“Then what are you doing here?” I ask exasperatedly.

“I have an information pack on dyslexia for you,” he says, pulling a large brown envelope out of a bag, “And I just wanted to let you know that if you want to talk about it – or anything, really – my number’s on the envelope.” He hands the pack to me. “You rushed out of the school so quickly I didn’t get the chance to give it to you.” I look at him suspiciously. In my twenty-two and a half years on this planet, I’ve come to realise that men are never nice to you for no reason. And they certainly don’t give you their number just for a chat.

“What’s the catch?” I frown.

“There’s no catch,” he shrugs, “Just being friendly. Tell me, are you always this uptight?”

“Are you always this friendly?” I snap in reply. I’ve said it before, I know only one friendly person, not including Daisy, who doesn’t count as a real person. I just can’t deal with people being friendly.

“Yep,” he smiles, “No catches. Promise.”

*

It’s true that January really is the most depressing month of the year, but there’s one day in January that I’ve come to look forward to since James got on to the Chudley Cannons Quidditch team – the annual Christmas party. Yes, it’s the 22nd of January, but nobody actually really knows when Jesus was born, do they? We should celebrate it every day, we have a one in three hundred and sixty five (sometimes sixty six) chance of getting it right.

Anyway, this year James is hosting the party in his ‘apartment’. I love these parties mainly because only the likeable members of my family are invited to it, along with the exceptionally gorgeous team members (and unfortunately their exceptionally gorgeous wives and girlfriends) and some of James’s other friends. I drop Aidan round at Mum and Dad’s before heading over to Al and Jenny’s to get ready for the party. Even Jenny gets excited about the party, despite the fact that she’s pregnant and engaged. Just because she’s on a pregnancy-induced diet doesn’t mean she can’t look at the non-folic acid menu.

I took it upon myself to invite Laura too, even though that’s probably not the best of ideas given her past history with James. She and Jenny generally don’t get along either. Oh well, maybe a few punches will be thrown if the party gets a bit dull.

“I’m getting so fat!” Jenny complains as she appears out of her room in a black dress.

“Jenny, you’re what, six weeks pregnant?” I ask, “Believe me, you haven’t seen fat yet.” She looks scared. This is fun. “Wait until your arse gets big – it’ll never be the same again. And your fingers get all swollen. And you’re ankles too. And your boobs become huge – and not in a good way –”

“Stop it!” she cries, “It’s not that bad, is it Rose?” I’m unsure whether or not to keep taunting her. “I mean, you get the gift of a beautiful child at the end of it – all the pain is worth it, right?”

“Well, I suppose it is in the long run,” I tell her, “But you won’t think that when the brat is screaming at four o’clock every morning, draining all of your energy –”

“Stop talking,” Jenny snaps.

We meet up with Dom and Laura before heading off to James’s place. The party is already in full swing by the time we arrive. James has put his Christmas decorations back up and people are dancing to Christmas music. It’s so very sad. As I suspected, all of the good looking team members are paired up with model-like women, who probably don’t have two brain cells to rub together between them. The uglier team members are trying to cop off with anyone who’ll have them.

“Alright love?” Taylor Harman, one of the ugliest men on the team – no, in the world – approaches me as soon as I get in the door. “Kiss under the mistletoe?”

“I wouldn’t kiss you under an anaesthetic,” I tell him and allow Dom and the others to drag me away to say hello to James. James is standing up on his coffee table wearing a pointed wizard’s hat, singing some awful Christmas song to a crowd of his mates, who are cheering him on.

“Red!” James cries, jumping off the table and running over to me, “You came! I thought you weren’t speaking to me.” He reeks of drink already and it’s only half nine.

“I wasn’t,” I tell him, “But I suppose life’s too short to hold a grudge.”

“Too right,” he agrees, “And just so you know, I think Daisy’s a plank.” Part of me suspects he’s just saying that to keep me happy, but I throw my arms around him in a hug anyway. I really missed James’s bluntness.

“I invited Laura,” I tell him.

“I invited Scorpius,” he tells me.

We make a silent and mutual agreement not to kill each other. Not that I mind Scorpius coming – in fact, I’d hoped he’d be here – it’s just the old ball and chain will be with him. James bounces off to say hello to Al and Jenny. Laura is pretending she’s not looking at him, but I know she is. She’s doing the same thing I do when I’m pretending I’m not looking at Scorpius.

“Fancy seeing you here,” a familiar Scottish voice says from behind me. This racing heart thing is really getting old. I’ve been listening to this voice for years and the affect is always the same.

“Mr Malfoy,” I greet him, “Mulled wine?” There are only Christmas drinks here. Sometimes I worry about James, I really do.

“Nah, thanks,” says Scorpius, “I promised Daisy I wouldn’t drink.”

Oh Merlin. I wonder where she keeps her whip hidden.

“Wow, she runs a tight ship,” I observe, sipping my own wine.

“We’re having dinner at her parents’ tomorrow, I have to keep a clear head,” he explains, looking a bit embarrassed. I can’t help but frown. Since when does Scorpius do what anyone tells him? He’s a stubborn idiot – that’s just who he is. I didn’t think anybody could change that.

“Sweetheart, did you remember to lock the back door?” Speak of the devil, and the Daisy shall appear, slipping her arm around Scorpius’s waist. “Oh, hello Rose.”

“Hello,” I reply and take a rather large gulp of wine. I pour myself another glass.

“Yeah, I remembered,” Scorpius tells her and puts his arm around her. I try my best not to vomit. She calls him Sweetheart. This is worse than the time I found a chain belonging to Dad that said ‘My Sweetheart’ in the attic – I can’t believe Mum would give him something so disgusting. She must have been drunk. Or maybe she found it in a ditch. I finish my glass of wine and pour myself another one. “Eh, Rose, shouldn’t you steady on a bit?” Scorpius looks a bit concerned. A bit.

“I’m fine,” I tell him, “Don’t nag.”

“I’m not nagging,” he argues.

“You’re always nagging,” I snap.

“Okay!” Daisy interrupts before Scorpius can retaliate, “Let’s just drop it, yeah?”

“Fine,” says Scorpius.

“Fine,” I reply.

I stalk off, unable to take any more of Mr and Mrs Malfoy. I grab some more wine as I go. Dom is chatting to Tony Platt, a reserve Chaser, whose girlfriend couldn’t make it tonight. “She’s got Chlamydia!” Dom told me earlier on, excitedly. I really don’t know why this would be an incentive to chat up her boyfriend.

Al and Jenny leave early. They’ve become such an old couple recently. They used to be fun. Well, not that fun, but more fun than they are now. I spend the night talking to Laura, who is pretending she’s not at all bothered by the fact that she’s in James Potter’s flat – sorry, apartment. He’s the one person, I’m fairly sure, she swore she’d never go near again.

“And her hair is more straw-coloured than blonde,” I babble on to Laura, voicing my inner thoughts on Daisy. After a few glasses of wine, my thoughts aren’t so inner anymore. “I know my hair is red, but I could dye it you know. I could dye it any colour of the rainbow.”

“Yeah,” says Laura in a bored voice.

“Red...or orange...or pink –”

“Pink’s not a colour of the rainbow,” she tells me, “And you’re hair’s already reddish-orange.”

“Okay then – green! See, Teddy can have any colour hair he wants. I want Teddy’s hair. I used to want Teddy, but now I just want his hair,” I say. It’s nice to get things off your chest.

“Rose, you’re drunk,” Laura tells me, “This is the first time I’ve ever felt like the sensible one around you.”

“I’m not drunk,” I protest. I hate when people tell me I’m drunk when I’m not. “You’re drunk.”

“I’m going to get you a glass of water, alright?” she tells me and then walks towards the kitchen.

Anyway, even if I were drunk, which I’m not, I’m nowhere near as bad as the majority of people at this party. Everybody is at least a little bit tipsy. You can’t enjoy a Christmas party in the middle of January without being at least a little bit tipsy. Scorpius and Daisy are dancing, but unlike the people around them, they’re slow dancing. I can tell it’s not Scorpius’s idea because he hates dancing, and apparently nothing is Scorpius’s idea anymore. Apparently when you get married you just become one mind with somebody else and lose all opinions and thoughts. I’m never getting married. I’m having another drink – Laura hasn’t returned with my water. Clearly I should have more wine.

Slowly but surely, people begin to leave. I’m too tired to stand up at this stage. Dom has copped off with Tony Chlamydia, though thankfully she hasn’t moved it into the bedroom. Hopefully she’ll have more sense. Daisy leaves too, but Scorpius doesn’t go with her. I see him say goodbye to her at the door and then comes back inside.

“Are you alright?” Scorpius asks me tiredly, flopping down onto the couch beside me.

“Yes,” I reply, “Why wouldn’t I be?”

“You’ve had quite a bit,” he says.

“No I haven’t,” I say and pat him on the head. He has soft hair. I kind of want to smell it.

“Okay, you haven’t,” he grins, “You’re perfectly fine.”

“I love you,” I blurt. Something tells me I’m going to regret saying that. “I love Scorpius the most.” And that.

“Okay,” he laughs, “I love you too.” He says it in a jokey way.

“No, I really do,” I say, slapping his knee for some reason, “I really love you.”

“Rose,” he looks at me with those eyes. Those eyes that I just want to pluck out and keep in a box so I can look at them any time I want. Is that weird? “You’re drunk.”

You’re drunk,” I reply, “But I love you anyway.”

He’s half-laughing at me. Here I am, pouring my heart out and he’s just laughing at me! “You’re a lost cause, Rose Weasley,” he shakes his head, “Go to sleep.”

“Scorpius!” I frown. Why doesn’t he get it? “Scorpius, Scorpius! Scorp! Scorp-O!”

“Rosie Rose,” he replies, trying to catch on to this new ‘how many different ways can I say your name’ game, “You talk a lot of crap when you’re drunk, d’you know that?”

“You talk a lot of crap when you’re sober,” I reply, “But guess what?”

“What?”

“I love you.”

“You really are twisted, aren’t you?” he laughs, “I’ll get you home.”

We floo back to my place, which is a very fun experience after a few wines, but not so fun for Scorpius I can imagine as he has to hold on to me to make sure I get out at the right fireplace. We stumble out into my living room, casting soot and dust everywhere. Usually I would clean it up, but I’m just in the mood to lie down right now.

“C’mon, go to bed,” Scorpius tells me, “And drink some water, it might make the hangover a little less severe tomorrow.”

“I’m fine!” I tell him, “I’m not as think as you drunk I am.”

He leads me into my bedroom and it’s all I can do not to kiss him and drag him into bed with me. I kick off my shoes and climb underneath the covers, not bothering to undress. He summons up a glass of water and leaves it by my bedside. He then kneels down by my bedside and strokes my hair softly.

“Rose?” he asks quietly, checking that I haven’t completely conked out on him.

“Mmm?”

“Did you sleep with that bloke on New Years?”

“No,” I tell him, my voice muffled in my pillow, “On’y ever been you.”

He kisses my forehead, stands up and apparates away.

*

Pain. Bright lights. Pain. Oh the pain. Why is the sun so fucking bright in the morning? It’s January. It’s supposed to be miserable. It’s supposed to be dark and raining. I sit up in my bed, realising that I’m still in my green dress I was wearing last night at the –

Oh bollocks.

Oh no. No no no no! There is no way I could possibly...I mean, I couldn’t have...

I told Scorpius I love him, didn’t I? 

I should be locked up. I’m a hazard to society. I go around telling married men I love them. I’m never drinking again. Never ever. Ever. Not even water, just in case someone has spiked it.

I roll out of bed and check my clock – it’s past midday. No wonder it’s bright out. I need to talk to Jenny about this immediately, before I start overthinking things and eventually explode. She’ll know what to say. I get no reply from her, so I try both Dom and Laura, but I get nothing from them either. I even try Lily and Molly, but apparently nobody wants to answer their bloody phone! I clean myself up, desperately trying to remember my exact words to Scorpius, and more importantly, his reaction to them. I take a swig of some hangover potion that Dom left here a few months ago, which helps with my headache, but not with the tiredness.

I try the girls again, but get no reply. I even try Gladys and Linda. Who the hell am I supposed to talk to? I can’t possibly deal with this by myself. I’m ill-equipped for this kind of situation! I have a tendency to over-dramatise everything and make a big deal out of even the smallest of situations. Where is Jenny? She’s the only one who can bring me back down to earth!

Then I spot the brown envelope on the table; the same brown envelope Brian McDonald gave me with his number on the back. I bite my thumb-nail and look at it for a while. I really need to talk to someone about this. I pace back and forth. He’ll think I’m nuts if I ring him. He really will.

But he did say if I wanted to talk about anything...

Before I even know what I’m doing, I’ve picked up the receiver and dialled the number. He was quite good company on New Years, after all.

“Hello?”

“Eh, is this Brian?”

“Yes...”

“Hi...it’s Rose Weasley...”







A/N -
I hope you enjoyed the chapter, please keep reviewing, I love reading them and I find them so so helpful! 
I love you! (No, I'm not drunk!)


Chapter 9: Disaster
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Chapter Nine - Disaster
“Good Morning! This is Romilda Vane on the WWW Breakfast Show! It’s a beautiful Monday morning, it’s eight thirty and the sun is shining…” 

“Aidan, eat your breakfast,” I snap for the sixth time as I rush around the kitchen, late for work. He’s just stirring his soggy cornflakes around in the bowl, head on hand, sulking. He throws the spoon down, sighs and folds his arms. “Don’t make me force feed you,” I warn him.

“I don’t want it,” he complains, “It’s manky.”

“...coming up for you this morning, but first we go to Bobby Rawls for the News and Weather...”

“Stop being such a spoilt little brat!” I yell, “Eat your breakfast!”

“NO!”

I slam the Daily Prophet down on the table and glare at him in the most threatening way possible. “I mean it. EAT!”

“I hate you!” he cries dramatically.

“Am I bothered? No, so eat your bloody breakfast! I’ve had enough of your attitude!” I yell. He picks up the spoon and starts grudgingly shovelling his cereal into his mouth, purposely allowing the milk to dribble down onto his school uniform. “Don’t do that,” I warn him, wiping his face and cleaning his jumper with my wand, “It’s disgusting.”

“I don’t care,” he says, “I like being disgusting.”

“Well nobody else likes it!” I snap, “You won’t be disgusting as long as you’re under my roof.” Urgh – I’m an ‘under my roof’ parent. It’s not really the type of parent one aspires to be, but kids really do drive you to do awful things.

“Then I don’t want to live under your roof!” The typical reply. I’ve been known to give it myself.

“Fine, get your own place!” I challenge him. Aidan folds his arms and refuses to eat another bite of his breakfast, so I whip away his bowl.

“I’ll just go live with Dad and Daisy!” he cries.

“Fine,” I say, “Shall I tell your dad how bratty you’ve been over the last few days? Hmm? Should I tell him how you broke the radio? Or should I tell him about the rude word you used yesterday?” Oh yes, Mum can play dirty too. If there’s one person he’s afraid of, it’s Scorpius. Not that Scorpius ever really gets mad with him. I just threaten that Scorpius has this secret inner anger that explodes whenever Aidan uses a swear word, or if he won’t go to bed on time. In reality, Scorpius wouldn’t be bothered if I told him that Aidan broke the radio on purpose when he found out that I’ve befriended his teacher. Yes, that is what his behaviour stems back to. Apparently it’s a child’s worst nightmare to have your mother become friends with your teacher. Neville Longbottom was my teacher for years at Hogwarts and I never found it strange that he’s one of my parents’ best friends. When Aidan discovered ‘Mr McDonald’ in the flat, having just been dropped off by Mum, he threw a complete wobbly and Brian had to leave to escape the screeching.

“I don’t care!” Aidan bluffs.

“...there’s been a massive explosion at Zaria’s Wand Emporium. Three people have died with dozens more injured...”

“You’re the worst Mum ever –”

“Shh!” I demand and turn up the radio.

“The explosion happened just ten minutes ago at the Wand Emporium in Diagon Alley. Thirty people have been rushed to St Mungo’s Hospital, with at least another ten still trapped inside the rubble. The explosion is being treated as an accident and is said to have originated in the wand-testing room on the third floor. Again, for listeners just tuning in, there has been a massive explosion at Zaria’s Wand Emporium of Diagon Alley...”

“C’mon, get your bag,” I tell Aidan, “Work’s going to be hectic today, I don’t have time to listen to your whinging.”

*

I wasn’t wrong about work being hectic. As soon as I step through the door, it’s complete pandemonium. Patients are being rushed here and there on stretchers, while Healers are running around like headless chickens. The so called walking-wounded are sitting on plastic chairs, waiting to be seen. It seems like there are a lot more than thirty people injured.

“Rose, thank Merlin,” Gladys gasps as soon as she sees me, “Have you heard?”

“Yes, I heard on the radio,” I tell her, looking around. There’s a woman with one leg, screeching in pain on a stretcher. “I didn’t think it was as bad as all this –”

“It’s worse,” she says, “The wands are still going off. There’s been another explosion just a few minutes ago. Apparently it hit the Apothecary.” This isn’t good. I can’t even imagine the amount of damage an uncontrolled spell could do in the Apothecary. Heaven knows how many explosive potions they have in there. “The Ministry have sent Aurors and everything to see if the wands were tampered with, but it looks like some fool just didn’t take enough care designing the blasted things. There’s been a few different buildings hit. Anyway,” she shakes herself, “You’re needed on the fourth floor.”

“Me?” I ask, confused. I can’t imagine what use I’ll be in a crisis. Excuse me, may I file your severed leg?

“Yes, it’s all hands on deck today,” says Gladys, “Linda’s helping out with the burn victims and Hazel’s trying to contact families.”

I rush up to the fourth floor, the Spell Damage ward. It’s absolute chaos. There aren’t nearly enough beds for everyone. There are blankets laid out on the floor and those with the least amount of injuries are on them. Nobody takes any notice of me, so I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing.

“Excuse me, could you help me with something?” some asks, grabbing my shoulder. I spin around, to find myself face-to-face with Healer Kennedy. What I’d give to trade places with that nose-less man in bed three right now.

“Eh, yes, of course,” I splutter, still completely embarrassed to be in the presence of the man who heard me talk about his arse in such a lustful way. I follow him down to the bed closest to the window. There is a woman, clutching her stomach and groaning in pain. Her face is covered in blood, and there is a deep gash running down her arm.

“What’s your name?” Healer Kennedy asks me. I’d feel taken aback that he doesn’t know my name after two years if there wasn’t a crisis going on.

“Rose Weasley, Sir,” I tell him.

“Call me Damien,” he says, “Rose, this is Helen,” he nods at the woman, “Now, when I count to three, she’s going to take her hands off her stomach and you’re going to put yours there instead, alright?”

“M-me?” I ask, “You do realise I’m just a receptionist, don’t you?”

“Rose, look at me,” he says firmly. I look into his eyes. This really isn’t helping. “You can do this. I’ll talk you through everything, alright?”

“B-but, can’t you just use magic –”

“No, I need a pair of hands for this. There are things magic can’t do, and I need you to apply the right amount of pressure. Right, on the count of three Helen you’re going to lift up your arms.”

I brace myself.

“One...”

Deep breath, Rose. You can do this.

“Two...”

It’s just a bit of blood.

“Three!”

Without even thinking, I place my hands down onto the wound. I don’t even have time to look at it. I apply enough pressure to stop the blood from flowing, but not too much. I don’t want to hurt her any more than I have to.

“Brilliant,” Damien smiles at me, immediately calming me. He proceeds to heal up the cuts on her face and arms before turning to the more serious injury I have my hands over. She was hit by some unknown spell, making the wound hard to heal. After about ten minutes, Damien has managed to stop the bleeding and reduce the wound to a semi-serious cut. He gives her a douse of Pain-relief potion and leaves her. “Right, Rose, follow me.”

For the next few hours, I’m Healer Kennedy’s own personal assistant. After getting over the initial shock of the sight of blood, I’m quite a good little helper. I hold bandages, fetch potions, calm patients and soothe relatives. Even though I’m well aware of the horror of what’s happening, I can’t help enjoying the adrenaline rush. I’ve never had so much satisfaction at work before. There’s only so much enjoyment you get from filing charts and writing letters. Today I’m actually helping people to save lives. Today I’m actually making a difference in the world. Still, I can’t help but shudder every time I see someone pull white blankets over dead bodies. I know people die every day in this hospital, but I never actually saw it happen.

Nearing lunchtime, as I’m rushing down the fourth floor corridor after Healer Kennedy, he is called into the Potion-brewing laboratory by Healer Wharton, the Chief-of-Medicine. He signals for me to follow him in, and I do so. I love the smell of the Potions Lab. It reminds me of the Potions dungeons at Hogwarts. Healer Evil O’Satan McBitchface is in there too and gives me a horribly dirty look, as if wondering what on earth I’m doing up on the fourth floor. She doesn’t say anything, however.

“Damien, this Fracture Relief Potion isn’t working,” says Wharton, “We have no idea what’s going wrong!” This must be serious if even the Chief of Medicine can’t figure out what’s going on. And a Fracture Relief Potion – they must brew that every single day. Healer Kennedy takes a vial of the Potion and studies it.

“Shouldn’t it be a lighter blue colour than that?” I ask.

“Yes,” Evil O’Satan snaps, “We are aware of that.”

I remain quiet as the three Healers try to figure out what went wrong. Evil O’Satan suggests that it could be something to do with the Rat Tails, while Wharton thinks that they did not brew it long enough. Damien thinks that neither of those solutions would explain why it’s the wrong colour. If it were a problem with the Rat Tails, it would be too thick and if it wasn’t brewed long enough then it wouldn’t have turned blue at all, but would have remained purple. So they decide to re-brew a fresh batch. Evil O’Satan takes it upon herself to do the work, while the rest of us look on. When she has all the ingredients added, she allows it to boil for five minutes, as is standard protocol when making a Fracture Relief Potion.

“Now, it’s turned blue,” says Damien, “So we know it’s been brewed long enough.”

“And it’s just the right consistency,” Wharton agrees.

“But it’s still not sky blue,” says Evil O’Satan, “What a nice time Herbie McGuff chose to go on holiday!” Herbie McGuff is the Potioneer. Most of the Healers here haven’t brewed a potion since their training days. It’s up to old Herbie to do all the work.

“Why not try a clockwise stir?” I suggest, recalling a story my dad once told me of the so-called ‘Half-Blood Prince’, who added all sorts of off the beaten track suggestions to potion making. They usually worked out for the better.

“Because anyone with more than one brain cell knows that you’re supposed to stir it counter-clockwise!” Evil O’Satan spits at me.

“Yes, how’s that working out for you?” I ask, perhaps a little more cheekily than I should, “Just let me give it a go.”

“I don’t think so!” she snorts, “You’re a receptionist, you wouldn’t know anything about Potions!”

“Bonnie, let her have a go,” Damien says to her, “It’s not like you have any other suggestions.”

Oh why does he have to be married? Why does everyone have to be married?

She grudgingly hands me the long wooden spoon and stands back to watch me make a fool of myself. I begin to stir it counter-clockwise, then after three stirs, I add in a clockwise one. I don’t know why. I have absolutely no logic to back this up. I try it again, three and then one. It starts to look a little bit lighter. I do it again. And again. And finally it turns a sky blue colour. It could now be poison, but at least it’s the right colour.

“Wow, Rose, how did you know how to do that?” Damien asks, impressed. I impressed him.

“I...really don’t know. I suppose twenty-two years of going against the norm has to pay off at some stage,” I shrug and Damien smiles. They test the potion and find that it works. Thank you, Severus Snape.

By six o’clock, every patient has been seen to and I return to my regular post at the receptionists’ desk. Thankfully today is Scorpius’s day to pick up Aidan from school, so I don’t have to worry about getting him his dinner. Linda, Gladys and Hazel are already there by the time I return, each of them looking as exhausted as I feel.

“That Healer Ryan is the Antichrist,” Linda moans, “I’ve never done so much running in my life.”

“Well at least you didn’t have to tell seventeen different people that their loved ones died,” says Hazel miserably. 

“I was stuck with a bunch of people hit with vomiting spells!” Gladys cries.

“I was working with Healer Kennedy,” I grin. They all shoot me very vicious looks. I don’t speak again for the rest of the day.

*

It’s almost midnight by the time I finally arrive home. Ollie isn’t here. I presume Scorpius took her to his place. Now we have shared custody of the bloody dog. There are several messages on my phone.

“Rose, it’s Mum. We’ve just heard about the explosion in Diagon Alley. Was work busy today? Ring me back!”

“Hi Rose, it’s Scorpius. I’ve taken Aidan and Ollie to mine. They can stay the night, I’ll drop him to school in the morning. Oh, by the way, Daisy wants to talk to you about something. I’m not sure what it is. See ya.”

“Red, have you seen my broomstick-shaped toilet brush? It was here before the party, but I can’t seem to find it! Ring me back! Oh, it’s James by the way...” 


I don’t bother listening to the rest. What on earth could Daisy want to talk to me about? Has she heard about the drunken proclamation of love I made to Scorpius? I don’t see why that would bother her. It doesn’t even bother him. He hasn’t mentioned it since, and it’s been over a week. I can’t think about this now. Twelve people died today before my eyes. I feel like such a wimp, letting it get to me like this. How many people did my own parents, my aunts, my uncles or my grandparents see die? And they were people they knew, not just random passers-by who have nothing to do with me.

I crawl into bed, the faces of the twelve dead still in my mind. I toss and turn, but I can’t sleep. I pick up the phone and dial Scorpius’s number, not really thinking about what I’m doing. It’s nearly one in the morning. Daisy could pick up. I’ll wake Aidan. And yet I’m still letting it ring. I can’t exactly ring Brian, considering he doesn’t even know I’m a witch. I’d have a hard time explaining where and how the twelve people died.

“’Lo?” a very groggy voice growls. It’s definitely Scorpius. Or Daisy’s a werewolf.

“H-hi,” I say, my voice shaking. I’ve been crying and I can’t disguise it. Shit, this was a bad idea.

“Mum?”

Yeah, that’s really not the response I was looking for.

“No, you Muppet,” I hiss, “It’s me.”

“It’s one in the morning,” he says tiredly.

“I can’t sleep,” I tell him.

“Try a hot Firewhiskey,” he suggests and I hear him roll over in bed. Then I hear Daisy ask who’s on the phone. I start to panic – she’s going to kill me. She knows I’m in love with her husband. “It’s just my Mum,” Scorpius covers up. I then hear him get up. “Right, what’s wrong?” he says clearly. He’s obviously not in the bedroom anymore.

“I...” I don’t know what to say. I don’t want to sound pathetic. “Nothing. Go back to bed.”

I hang up. Well, that was a stupid idea. What did I think was going to happen? Did I really think he’d want to talk to me this late at night? Scorpius likes his sleep more than anyone I know. It’s not like he’d leave his warm bed, his loving wife, to listen to me go on about how bad a day I’ve had. I just continue to stare at the ceiling, hoping that I’ll fall asleep eventually.

Five minutes later, however, there’s a knock on the front door. I grab my wand, thinking up all the necessary spells in my head to get rid of an intruder as I creep down the hall to the door. I look out the spy-hole – I don’t believe it.

“What are you doing here?” I ask as I open the door.

“You sounded upset,” Scorpius shrugs, walking past me. He’s dressed in jeans, a t-shirt and a pair of socks, leading me to believe he apparated right onto my doorstep. Lazy bastard couldn’t even put on a pair of shoes.

“You didn’t have to come over,” I tell him. I go back to my bedroom to grab my dressing-gown and he follows me in. He lies on my bed, over the covers and shuts his eyes.

“Right, I’m listening,” he says. He’s on my bed. Scorpius is on my bed. Should I lie down beside him? Would that be inappropriate? No more inappropriate than him lying on my bed in the first place, I suppose. Shove it, it’s my bed. I can lie there too. I have every right to lie there. “Rose?”

“Eh...what?” I ask stupidly.

“Just get in the damn bed,” he yawns. Usually, I don’t take orders from him. This time I decide I will. I crawl under the covers. Technically we’re not in bed together. Technically I’m in bed while he’s on the bed. It’s completely different. Still, I imagine Daisy wouldn’t be too happy about it. “Now talk.”

“Talk?” I ask, “About...”

“Anything you like.”

“Alright...I saw twelve people die today,” I decide that might be a nice place to start. He opens one eye and looks at me, eyebrows raised. “I think that’s the extent of it.” He doesn’t say anything, but puts a comforting arm around me and closes his eyes again. That arm, that comforting arm, is just a friendly one, I know that. Still I can fantasise, can’t I?

*

I’m rudely awoken by a knocking on the door at eight o’clock the next morning. I’m not due in work until twelve, so I can’t imagine who’d be –

Oh crap. Scorpius is still in my bed. He stayed the night!

“Scorpius!” I hiss, “Wake up!”

“Mmpf,” he mumbles, still half-asleep, “Go away.”

“Get up, Malfoy!” I warn him, “Get up now!” He opens his eyes, frowns and then realisation dawns.

“Oh crap.”

“Yes, my thoughts exactly,” I snap. The person at the door keeps on knocking. “You stay here, I’m going to see who that is.”

I rush down the hall, my heart pounding furiously. I have a married man in my bed. Really, my parents did a rubbish job with me. They should be ashamed of themselves. I open the door. It’s Daisy and Aidan. Double crap.

“Daisy!” I proclaim loudly, hoping that Scorpius will hear me and stay in the bedroom, “Aidan! What are you doing here?”

“I live here,” Aidan replies. That is such a me thing to say. Cheeky git. I wasn’t nearly as cheeky when I was five.

“Sorry about this Rose, but Scorpius left for work early,” Daisy tells me, looking a bit flustered, “I was just taking Aidan to school, he says he left one of his books here...” Before she’s even finished explaining, Aidan has disappeared into his bedroom to fetch his book.

“Thanks for this, Daisy,” I say, trying to make it look like I’m not pushing her out the door, “Really appreciate it.” I have to be nice to her. I let her husband sleep in my bed last night, after all.

“Oh it’s no trouble at all,” she says, “And Rose, if you don’t mind, I thought I’d pop over later. I have something important to discuss with you.”

She knows! How does she know? She couldn’t possibly know.

“We could discuss it now?” I suggest. Rip off the band-aid. Get it over with. I’m pretty sure I could take this bitch, if it came to it. She might be a bit taller, but I have a good ten pounds on her, and I’m ten years younger too.

“I don’t think we should talk about this in front of Aidan,” she says seriously. Roughly translated: I don’t want Aidan to see his mother die at such a young age. I understand that – she doesn’t want a Bambi situation on her hands. Still, I’d rather she just shoot me and get it over with. Aidan runs out of his room, holding his book. “See you at around six then?”

I nod. What else can I do but nod? I then swoop down and give Aidan a quick kiss, before the two leave. Scorpius emerges from the bedroom, looking extremely guilty.

“Eh...I should go.”

He disapparates. And I begin writing my last will and testament – I’m a dead woman walking.






A/N - Apologies for the wait, people! It's now 3:15am and I've just finished my college assignments, so I decided to be a nice person and post this chapter for you impatient little pixies! Enjoy and please review! :)

Chapter 10: Unwelcomed Changes
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Michael Cera's so adorable...by the way, these Chapter Images are just for funsies. You can still keep your own individual ideas of what the characters look like. I was just bored!


Chapter 10 - Unwelcomed Changes
It’s the final countdown. In exactly five hours I will be dead. I wonder how Aidan will get along without me. I know I’ve probably messed him up good and proper at this stage, but hopefully he’ll get over it and actually grow up to be a normal person. Or as normal as someone who’s half-Malfoy, half-Weasley can be – and as normal as someone who’s stepmother has killed his mother can be.

Then again, maybe Daisy won’t kill me. Maybe we’ll duel and I’ll win, despite the fact that she has ten more years’ life experience than I do, and a NEWT in Charms. Well, I’m presuming she has a NEWT in Charms if she works in the broomstick-charming industry. Still, I have attitude – or what my mother calls shameless cheek – and you can’t really match that with a couple of stupid spells.

In conclusion, I’m a dead woman.

“Cheer up, love,” Gladys tells me, watching me twirl my quill around in my hands at super-speed. It’s the same quill that ‘Aidan’ got me for Christmas. I hope they bury it with me. “Maybe she just wants to borrow a jug.”

“If she wanted to borrow a jug, then why couldn’t she do that in front of the child?” Hazel asks logically, “Nope, Rose is dead.”

Cheers, Hazel.

“She is not dead,” says Linda fiercely, “Daisy has no right to say anything to Rose about Scorpius! He was hers first!”

I always liked that Linda.

“Well, yes, technically,” says Gladys, “But Rose did dump him.”

Why do they have to talk about me like I’m not sitting right here beside them?

“Yes, and Scorpius is Daisy’s husband, at the end of the day,” says Hazel.

“So?” Linda spits, “What Rose and Scorpius had was deeper than a piece of paper!”

“Yes, was deeper,” says Hazel, “Rose ended things with Scorpius. She can’t expect him to wait around forever.”

“It’s a good thing she can’t hear you,” I say dryly.

“He slept in her bed last night!” says Linda, banging her hand down on the desk, “What does that tell you?”

“That he’s a typical bloke,” says Hazel, “Thinks with his –”

“There was no thinking with anything last night!” I snap, “He slept on my bed last night, not in it!”

I should have called in sick today. There is so much work to be done after yesterday’s catastrophe, but I’m just not in the mood to do anything. The death count is up to thirty, and the thought just gives me shivers every time I think about it. We’re not even helping out today. We’re back to doing the boring admin work; in other words, Linda is back to reading Witch Weekly, Gladys is back to painting her nails, Hazel is back to raving on about her husband and I’m back to fantasising about goals I’ll never achieve and blonde hair I’ll never have. And of course my pending murder.

On top of this, we have families approaching us every few minutes, asking about their relatives who were injured in yesterday’s blasts, some of whom are dead. Gladys and Hazel deliver the bad news. I can’t seem to muster up the courage. How do you tell a woman that her daughter is dead? I can’t imagine what it’s like to lose a child. If anything ever happened to Aidan, I’m not sure what I’d do. Even thinking about it is too unbearable.

I get a letter from Nana Molly around lunchtime. Despite the fact that Al bought her a magi-phone for her 80th birthday, she insists on writing letters to communicate with people. She figures she got through eighty years of her life without semi-Muggle magic, so she shouldn’t start using it now. Grandad, on the other hand, thought it was the best thing since his flying car.

Dear Rose,
You haven’t written in almost a week, dear! It would be nice to know if you’re still alive. I realise you must be very busy at work, especially after yesterday’s disaster, but the odd letter for your dear old grandmother wouldn’t cut that much time out of your busy schedule.
Anyway, lectures aside – 


Lectures aside? That’s a first. 


- the reason I’m writing is to let you know – if you don’t already, that is – that the shop was destroyed in the explosion yesterday. Luckily your Uncle George wasn’t there at the time, but I’m sure you can imagine the amount of damage an uncontrolled spell would do to Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. 

It doesn’t bear thinking about the amount of damage that could be done in that place. Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes is a tinderbox at the best of times. I’m surprised that it didn’t blow up before now. Thank Merlin Uncle George wasn’t there. 


George is very upset by it. Your mother tried to get in contact with you yesterday, but you weren’t home. Some of us are meeting up in Diagon Alley throughout the day to help clean up the mess. Your father and Harry say that the last of the bodies have been found. I suppose we should count ourselves lucky that all we lost was a shop.
Anyway, if you’d like to come to Diagon Alley after work, we’d really appreciate your help. Andromeda will look after Aidan – she’s minding Remus and Dorie for Victoire and Teddy.
Hope to see you later, Dear,
Nana.
 


I’ve been so selfish. I never even thought of Uncle George’s shop, or of Uncle George. Have I become so self-absorbed that when a catastrophe happens right next door to my own Uncle’s shop that all I can think of is myself and how hard it is for me to see people dying? I make myself sick. I’m the kind of person that I’ve always hated. Even now, knowing that later on I’ll be going to help my Uncle pick up the pieces of his ruined business, I’m thinking of myself – because now, Daisy can’t kill me this evening.

“Rose, hi.”

It’s Healer Kennedy. Damien. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to call him. Linda looks up from her magazine and Gladys and Hazel’s expressions look far more enthusiastic than they did ten seconds ago. My ears are burning – I can feel them.

“Hello,” I reply.

“I just wanted to say thanks for your help yesterday,” he says, as if he’s in a rush. He always seems to talk like that. But then again, he’s always in a rush, being a big important Healer. Scorpius is the kind of laid-back person who never seems to be in a rush to go anywhere – except when it comes to rushing into having children and getting married, of course. He’s annoying like that.

“Oh, okay,” I say, a bit taken aback. I don’t want to point out to him that I really didn’t have any other choice but to help. “Eh...you’re welcome.”

“And I thought I’d give you this,” he hands me a pamphlet – Post-NEWT Potion Making. Gladys, Linda and Hazel try to subtly look at what he’s given me, but they’re about as subtle as a brick. “You seem to have a flair for Potions,” he continues, “There’s some Post-Newt night classes here on Mondays.”

“Oh,” I say. He looks disappointed by my indifferent response. “Well, thanks but I don’t really have the time – OW!” Gladys kicks me. Damien pretends not to notice.

“Oh?”

“Yeah,” I continue, rubbing my throbbing leg, “I have a child to look after, I don’t think I can afford to hire a babysitter...” I don’t bother mentioning that I could leave him with Scorpius. Because as embarrassing as admitting that I’m a single mother and the kid’s father got married on a whim is, I really don’t want to have to explain the real reason I can’t possibly take this class.

“Well, I really do think you have a talent,” says Damien, “It’d be a shame to let it go to waste. Haven’t you family who could look after your...”

“Son,” I inform him, “And no, I come from a very small family. And they’re all dead.” I’m going straight to hell. Linda shakes her head in disgust.

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” says Damien sympathetically, “Is there anything I can do?”

Now I’m stuck. I can’t lie anymore. Hazel looks like she’s going to burst out laughing and Linda still looks disgusted with me. And Gladys is ready to kick again.

“Look,” I sigh, “I have a family – a big one, that’s very much alive.” He raises his eyebrows. “The reason I can’t take this class is that I don’t have a NEWT in Potions. I don’t have a NEWT in anything.” Admitting your lack of education to a Healer really does feel like being kicked in the stomach. He probably feels really uncomfortable now. Not as uncomfortable as he must have felt when he thought my entire family were dead, though.

“You don’t have a NEWT in Potions?” he asks.

“No,” I admit, completely embarrassed and ashamed, “I dropped out of Hogwarts after my sixth year.” Gladys, Hazel and Linda all now pretend to be working. They can feel how uncomfortable I am.

“Really?” he asks, surprised, “Well then I’m even more convinced that you should take this course.”

“Excuse me?”

“Rose, you are clearly good at Potions. You knew how to make a Fracture Relief Potion without having done your NEWTs! There are other classes – Potions for Beginners, or Intermediates,” he tells me, “I really think you should consider it.”

“She will,” says Gladys.

“Most definitely,” says Linda.

“Great,” Damien smiles, “I’ll send more pamphlets down. Have a nice day, ladies.”

Not even fifteen minutes later, two pamphlets appear on my desk – Post-OWL Potions and Potions For Beginners. Honestly, I stir one potion and all of a sudden I should take night classes? It’s ridiculous. I mean, I was good at Potions when I was at school, but I don’t remember the half of it now. There is no way I’m doing this.

“You’re doing this,” Gladys tells me, “You’re not going to work here forever.”

I have no time for this. I’m starting apparition lessons soon, and I have to look after Aidan and I can’t really afford to take night classes. I think Gladys is wrong this time. I think I am going to work here forever.

*

Diagon Alley is packed by the time I arrive after dropping Aidan at Mrs Tonks’. Half of the Ministry is out, helping to rebuild Diagon Alley. The Aurors seem to be doing most of the work, being led by Uncle Harry. Some people have left flowers outside the ruined shops, with pictures of those who died. The windows in the Leaky Cauldron are smashed and the walls burned, but that seems to be the extent of the damage. Gringotts, at the opposite end of the street, seems to be the only place left unscathed.

Zaria’s Wand Emporium is, as I expected, completely burnt to the ground. What was once a lively shop, supplying wands to every single witch and wizard in England (since the death of Ollivander) is now just a load of rubble. Some people have lit candles outside it in remembrance, which is a bit ironic considering it’s been burnt to the ground.

Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes is – or should I say was – just across the way from Zaria’s. It’s worse than I expected. Although the basic frame of the building is still there, there is nothing left of what was Uncle George’s booming joke-shop. I see my brother, Hugo, standing outside, looking up at it with his hands in his pockets. I haven’t seen him in so long. It’s funny how Al, James and Dom are just my cousins but I see them far more often than I see my own little brother. I say ‘little’ – he’s six ft four. People generally think I’m his little sister. Once he hit fifteen he took a growth spurt and I could no longer bully him like I used to.

“Hi Hugo,” I greet him, unable to take my eyes off the shop. “Wow...it’s really gone.”

“Yep,” Hugo nods sadly. We spent so much of our childhood running around this place. Uncle George used to give us free Extendable Ears and Ton-Tongue Toffees to use on Mum and Dad.

“Are Mum and Dad here?” I ask.

“Mum’s still at work,” he tells me, “And Dad and Harry are inside.”

Fred and Roxie emerge from the remains of their father’s shop and join us. Roxie looks as if she’s been crying.

“It’s all gone,” Roxie tells us, her voice shaking, “There’s nothing left.”

“Except for those indestructible spiders,” says Fred and Roxie looks like she’s going to be sick at the thought of them. Hugo visibly shudders. The indestructible spiders are highly realistic fake spiders that can be used to scare arachnophobes – I always loved leaving them on Dad’s pillow. And on Hugo’s pillow.

“Is your dad alright?” I ask them, knowing the answer.

“No,” says Fred darkly, “I’ve never seen him so upset.”

“That big picture of him and Uncle Fred is destroyed,” says Roxie, “You know the one behind the counter?” There was a large framed picture of Uncle George and his twin brother Uncle Fred, who died when they were twenty in the war, behind the counter. It was taken the day they first opened the shop, and it would be impossible to tell them apart if they weren’t wearing Nana Molly-jumpers with their initials on them. I can’t imagine how Uncle George must feel – everything he built up with his brother is now completely wiped out.

“What can we do?” I ask them, taking out my wand.

“It’s crowded inside,” Fred tells us, “We should probably just help clean up some of the rubble out here...”

We get to work cleaning up outside. Various family members show up to help us every now and again, wandering in and out of the shop. We help other people too who are trying to repair their own businesses, but who don’t have families quite as big as ours. But no matter how many people turn up, it doesn’t change the fact that Reparo can only fix so much. Somebody has brought a wireless for us to listen to while we work. The Minister for Magic, Luca Livingston, a rather contrary old codger who always takes long dramatic (and inappropriately timed) pauses in his atrociously bad speeches, is on talking about yesterday’s disaster. He’s well over a hundred at this stage. They reckon he’ll resign any week now. The man looks like death reheated.

‘The blast in Diagon Alley yesterday was...unfortunate. I offer condolences on behalf of the entire Ministry...of Magic to the families of all the deceased. Ahem! It is a sad occurrence when people die...and this...is no exception.’ 


I have the sneaking suspicion his House Elf writes his speeches for him. 


‘Our thoughts are with those who...died. Death, is like...er...’ 


There is some rustling through pages. I can almost hear him pushing up his glasses.

‘...the final journey on the road to...nowhere.’ 


I feel a bit sorry for him. Even in this dire situation, the people around me can’t help but laugh at the poor man.



‘Death comes to us all...when we least expect it.’ 


“Well, that’s uplifting,” says James, who apparently has just arrived. He looks sort of tired, probably from all the partying he simply must do as a member of the first Chudley Cannons team to win the League Cup since 1892. At least he’s here. “When’s that barney old git going to just die and put us out of our misery?”

Suddenly, Livingston starts coughing erratically, and then there’s a loud crashing noise – and then silence. 


‘Oh crap! Does anyone know the CPR spell? - I think he’s dead! – Merlin, he is dead! – Are we still on the air?’
 


“I think you might have gotten your wish,” I say to James, as he turns up the radio, looking a bit guilty.

‘Eh, sorry about that listeners,’ says the presenter of the programme, ‘but I think...I think the Minister for Magic has just died, live on the air!’ 

“Well, there’s something you don’t see – or hear – every day,” Hugo shrugs, not looking too bothered by Luca Livingston’s sudden death, “The man was a walking corpse anyway.”

“You could have a little bit of respect, you know,” I say, as people around us start chatting among themselves about what’s happened, “A man’s just died.”

“Yeah, well, like he said himself,” says James, “Death comes to us all when we least expect it. And then he dropped dead. I find the irony highly amusing, personally.”

A few minutes later, the Minister’s death is confirmed and Uncle Harry, as Head of the Auror Department has to rush back to the Ministry, followed closely by Mum and Dad. Nobody seems to find the Minister’s death in any way shocking or upsetting – in fact, some people were surprised to find out that he wasn’t dead already. Some people even seem a bit cheered up by this fact.

However, thoughts of Luca Livingston are quickly pushed out of my mind when Scorpius appears right outside Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, followed closely by Daisy. It looks like I’ll be joining dear old Luca sooner than I thought.

“Crap,” I hiss as soon as I see them. James laughs quietly to himself at my reaction. “Hide me!” I command and jump behind him.

“Scorp, mate, over here!” James calls out and I jab my wand hard into his back, “OW!”

“I hate you!” I whisper fiercely. Scorpius and Daisy approach and I come out from my very bad hiding place. Daisy doesn’t look particularly angry to see me, so maybe she doesn’t know that Scorpius stayed at mine last night. Or maybe she’s just a really good actress.

“We thought we’d come help,” says Daisy, “We only heard about George’s shop today. I thought all the damage was done to the other side of the street.”

“Is he alright?” Scorpius asks.

“He’s doing alright. Better than Luca Livingston, anyway,” says James, “Just after popping his clogs live on the radio!”

“Seriously?” Daisy gasps, “He died?”

“I thought he was already dead,” Scorpius shrugs, and Daisy hits his arm in a sort of playful way, as if scolding him for making a joke that she wants to laugh at, but knows she shouldn’t. He wasn’t even joking – he obviously genuinely thought Livingston was dead.

“He might as well have been,” says James. As James recounts the story to Scorpius and Daisy, I edge away from them, hoping to avoid an awkward confrontation. She could easily kill me here and make it look like an accident. An unstable wall fell on me, another wand ‘accidentally’ went off and killed me, I impaled myself on a broomstick...the opportunities are endless. But she doesn’t try to speak to me, she just helps with the tidying.

A few hours later, around nine o’clock, we’re all much too cold and too tired to do any more work, so Nana Molly instructs us to go back to The Burrow. I apparate with James, who brings me side-along as if I’m a child – the sooner I pass my apparition test the better. The Burrow is packed when we arrive. Everybody’s here – even Hagrid, I can’t help but notice considering he’s towering so high above everyone else in the garden. He’s too big to fit in the house. I haven’t seen him since Al’s 21st birthday over a year ago. Since I left Hogwarts, there are so many people I rarely get to see anymore.

I follow James, Scorpius and Daisy inside where Mum, Dad, Harry and Ginny are gathered, discussing something serious. I can tell it’s serious because Mum is biting her thumbnail nervously, Dad has his arms folded and eyebrows furrowed, Harry is running his hand through his hair and Ginny is looking left out. That’s generally how it goes when they discuss Ministry business, which is what I’m presuming they’re discussing. Ginny works at The Daily Prophet, so isn’t really in with the Ministry gang. I can tell it bothers her a little.

“You have to do it, Hermione,” says Dad, “You’re the best person for the job.”

“Ron’s right,” Harry agrees, “You should definitely go for it.”

“Go for what?” Hugo asks, coming in at the end of the conversation. Mum blushes and looks down at the floor. Harry and Ginny look at her, as if waiting for confirmation that they can tell us what’s going on – Dad looks for no such confirmation.

“Your mum’s running for Minister!” he tells us excitedly. I feel my mouth drop open. There’s something you don’t hear every day.

“Minister of Magic?” Hugo asks in disbelief, “Are you serious?”

“No,” says Mum briskly, “I was just asked to consider it, that’s all. I’m sure lots of people are being considered. Luca’s not even cold yet, I don’t know why you’re all talking about this –”

“Mum, this is brilliant, congratulations!” I cry.

“I’m not!” she cries, “I said I might consider running, but that doesn’t mean anything!”

“Wow, my Mum’s going to be Minister!” Hugo says excitedly, ignoring everything Mum’s saying. The news buzzes throughout the house, lifting everyone’s spirits, even Uncle George’s who congratulates Mum. She looks embarrassed. She refuses to talk about it any further, saying that she’s not nearly experienced enough for the job and that she’d be rubbish at it. She’s just being her usual modest self; I can’t think of anyone better for the job. Still, I feel a bit sorry for Luca Livingston, who seems to have been completely forgotten just a few hours after his death. Auntie Audrey is super excited about the news – she’s already referring to herself as Mum’s ‘campaign manager’.

Nana makes scones and Pumpkin Pie for everyone. Mrs Tonks arrives with the kids, who are very hyped up with all the commotion going on around the Burrow. I’ll have a hard job getting Aidan to sleep tonight. Dorie is sleeping soundly like the perfect child she is (I have a sneaking suspicion she’s a robot), but Remus is just as hyper as Aidan.

“Kids, eh?”

Daisy lands herself down beside me in the living room as I’m trying to eat my piece of pie, while keeping an eye on the boys. They’re currently having a wrestling match in the corner.

“Yeah,” I reply uncomfortably.

“Listen, Rose, I really would like to talk to you about something,” she says seriously. Oh God, this is it. “Can we step outside for a few minutes?”

Yes, let’s take it outside. I don’t want Aidan to see me die. And I don’t want to make a mess on Nana Molly’s carpet. I nod and follow Daisy out the back, taking deep breaths as I go and checking to see I have my wand. She leads me to the garden furniture and we sit down at the small white table where Nana Molly and Grandad spend a lot of their summer days. Daisy doesn’t look angry. She looks worried. Maybe this isn’t what I thought it would be. She doesn’t speak for a minute and I’m starting to feel really nervous now.

“Look, Daisy, whatever this is about,” I begin, “Can you please just spit it out?” She probably thinks I’m really rude, but I don’t care.

“Right,” she nods and takes a deep breath. I honestly can’t see what Scorpius sees in this woman. She’s so bland, so boring. She’s pretty and everything, but she seems to be lacking a personality. Or maybe I just don’t know her very well, having only spent time in her company when it’s absolutely necessary. “It’s about Aidan.” Okay, that I wasn’t expecting.

“What about him?” I ask.

“Well,” she says, sitting up straighter, “I don’t think the system you have going on with Scorpius is working, to be honest.”

Now it’s my turn to sit up straighter. “It worked pretty well before you came along,” I say coldly.

“I’m not criticising you,” she says calmly, even though she says it in a very condescending way, “But I think that we need to sort out a legal custody agreement. Shipping him from your place to ours whenever is convenient isn’t fair on him. He needs regularity, a routine of some sort.”

“No offence, but it sounds like you are criticising me,” I frown, “And Aidan has regularity. We have our days worked out, but sometimes we change it around if needed. What’s the problem?”

“The problem is that there is no stability! Scorpius doesn’t have any legal access to him and I think it needs to be changed,” she tells me. I really hate this woman. “I get that you don’t like me very much,” she adds, “I know it’s hard to accept that I’m here to stay, but I’m part of Aidan’s life now whether you like it or not.”

“Just because Scorpius married you on a whim doesn’t mean you’re any more part of Aidan’s life than the homeless man who lives outside my building,” I say bluntly, keeping my voice down so none of my family can hear how rude I’m being. This woman brings out the worst in me. “Stop acting like you’re his mother.”

“Maybe you should start acting more like a mother,” she retorts quickly and then immediately looks like she’s regretted it. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean –”

“This conversation is over,” I say, standing up, “Aidan is doing fine with his mediocre mother. Thank you for your concern.” With that I walk away from her, knowing that every chance of us ever being friends has gone completely down the toilet.

How awful.
 

 











A/N: I know this chapter took a while to get out, but if you'd checked my author page you'd have known I was doing exams! I recommend you check my author page before sending rude reviews about how long it takes me to update. (By the way, I don't consider 'update soon!' or the likes as rude, just the very rare one I get. If you're worried you might have been rude, then it wasn't you, I promise! The rude ones are those who say 'I hate your story because you don't update!' and so on.) 
There will be more Brian-the-Muggle in future chapters and more of the lovely Daisy too. As for a Scorpius POV, I haven't one planned, but who knows what could happen! 
Please keep reviewing, I enjoy reading all of the lovely reviews you send in (and even the rude ones are kind of amusing). I know I'm so bad with replies, but I am so busy and I don't have time for replying and updating. I generally answer questions and queries and compliments in the ANs. The majority of you have been amazing so far, really. Thanks for reading! :)
padfoot4ever

 


Chapter 11: Disclosure
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Chapter 11 - Disclosure

Sometimes it’s nice to confide in a perfect stranger, which is why I find myself standing outside Brian McDonald’s house having just left The Burrow. I’ve left Aidan in Scorpius’s care, as it’s his night. I wasn’t too happy about it, leaving him with Little Mrs Cowface Malfoy. Still, I need to talk to someone who doesn’t know about the disaster at Diagon Alley, so they can’t put my problem into perspective and make me feel bad about it. I’m selfish, I know.

It’s almost ten o’clock, but I can see the light on in Brian’s living room, so I know it’s not too late to stop in for a chat. I like chatting with Brian. He doesn’t know all of my past history, all of the mistakes I’ve made, and therefore he can’t judge me by them. And he’s a terrific listener.

I knock on the door and it takes him less than ten seconds to answer. He’s holding a book, but I can’t see the title. He looks very surprised to see me – I usually call before organising a meeting.

“Rose,” he says, “This is a surprise...”

“Sorry to drop by like this,” I begin, “But I think I’m about to kill someone, and I need you to talk me out of it.” He stands aside to let me in, not saying another word. This is what I really like about Brian – he doesn’t ask awkward questions. He knows I’ll tell him what he needs to know and doesn’t pressure me for more information. This is probably why I’ve been able to keep the fact that I’m a witch from him for so long.

Brian’s place is like a mixture between an old English cottage and a bachelor pad – it’s as if Nana Molly was let loose in James’s apartment. There are all these classy paintings on the walls, bought in places like The Louvre in Paris, or The Met in New York. Despite the fact that they don’t move, there’s a lot to be said for this Muggle art. He has carpet too, giving the place a less bachelor-esque vibe. Although I’ve only been here a few times, I always feel welcomed, even though I do become thoroughly embarrassed at the memory of New Years Eve spent here. I try not to think about it, and Brian hasn’t brought it up since we decided to be friends.

“Right, who are you going to kill?” he asks, leading me into the kitchen. The kitchen is immaculately clean, leading me to believe that he doesn’t really do much cooking in here. He puts on the kettle and sits down at the table with me.

“Daisy,” I say shortly.

“There’s a surprise,” he says sarcastically, “What did she do now?”

I launch into the story of what has just happened. Ever since Teddy became so busy with his family and work life, I have had very little chance to sit down and talk to him about things. Brian is my new Teddy, and this time I don’t have an inappropriately awkward crush on him, so it makes things easier. Brian is like the gay best friend I never had – only straight. He’s like a gay straight Teddy who I’m not attracted to.

“So wait a second,” Brian says when I’ve finished my rant, “You’re telling me that she called you a bad mother?”

“Well...” I pause, “...not in so many words. But she may as well have!”

Brian nods and ponders the situation. He always the one to hear my rants about Daisy and I think he dislikes her nearly as much as I do. But maybe he’s just biased because he’s only ever heard my side of things. I think it’s better this way. “And she thinks that there should be a legal custody agreement?”

“Yes. She says that Aidan’s home life is unstable. Stupid cow.”

“Did Scorpius agree to this?” Brian asks.

“I presume so,” I sigh, “I mean, it sounded like she was speaking for him. Bloody coward is too much of a wimp to come and talk to me himself. Typical Slytherin...” I freeze. I’ve said way too much.

“Eh...what’s a Slytherin?” Brian asks, looking totally and completely confused. The kettle finally boils, but he’s still looking at me.

“It’s a slang word for a sly person,” I say quickly, “He’s such a sly person.”

I don’t think Brian believes me. He begins making the tea and asks no more questions about what a Slytherin is, but I feel bad at the same time. He’s been totally honest with me about his life, his work, his relationship issues. I haven’t shared the biggest part of my life with him, the basic essence of what makes me who I am. People tell Muggles about the magical world all the time. I remember when Hugo told his girlfriend, who is a Muggle, that he’s a wizard. She wouldn’t believe him for ages, and he had to build himself up for weeks to break the news to her. There have been books published on breaking the news to Muggles, a particularly popular one is called ‘Coming Out – I’m a Witch!’ And what’s the worst that could happen anyway? If Brian doesn’t believe me, then there’s no harm done. If he does believe me and decides to tell others about the wizarding world, who’d believe him? I can trust Brian. I can tell him.

“I’m a witch,” I announce bluntly. See, who needs a bloody book?

“No you’re not,” he says sympathetically, putting the mugs of tea down on the table, “Don’t be so hard on yourself. Biscuit?”

“Okay...” he puts a plate of Rich Tea’s down on the table too. This is not the reaction I was expecting. “But seriously, I am a witch.”

“Rose, you have a tendency to put yourself down,” says Brian, “It’s not healthy. I see it in kids all the time at the school –”

“No, you’re not listening to me!” I interrupt, “I’m an honest-to-Jesus, spell-casting, broomstick-flying, potion-brewing witch!”

He furrows his eyebrows and stares at me. “I’m not quite sure what you’re getting at.”

“I’M A WITCH!” I cry again. Seriously, how much clearer can I say it? He still looks confused. I sigh and take a deep breath. “I went to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I work at St Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Injuries and Maladies. My whole family are magical, except my Mum’s parents who are Muggles – as in people who don’t have magical powers. I carry a wand.”

He continues looking at me for a moment. “I really don’t get your sense of humour sometimes,” he concludes.

With a sigh of frustration, I draw my wand, point it at his teacup and turn it into a mouse. “There, happy?” He looks at the mouse, frozen to his chair. It’s as if I’ve cast Petrificus Totalus on him. His mouth is hanging open slightly. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea, dropping in on him late at night and revealing a secret wizarding world to him by changing his china into rodents.

“What did you...h-how did you...m-mouse...” he splutters. I change the mouse back into a cup. His eyes widen even further. He picks up the cup, examines it, and puts it back down onto the table. Then he looks back to me, just as horrified, with his mouth hanging open.

“I realise this is a lot to take in,” I say sympathetically, “But for as long as there has been human existence, there have been witches and wizards”

He remains silent.

“And I know that you probably stopped believing in magic when you were a child, but I promise, I’m not messing with you.”

Still nothing. I think I may have killed his spirit.

“And – eh – Slytherin is a house at the school of magic I went to. I was in Gryffindor, another house. It was a boarding school...”

He’s like a statue.

“I hope we can still be friends,” I say nervously, “I understand that this is a bit weird for you...”

“Y-you turned my cup into a mouse,” he croaks, “It’s more than a bit weird.”

“Yeah, I probably should have gone with a kitten or something,” I admit in hindsight. His eyes now look like they’re about to pop out of his head.

“You could do that?” he asks in awe, “You could turn a teacup into a kitten?”

I nod, point my wand at the cup and transfigure it. It’s basic transfiguration, but he seems totally mesmerised by it. These Muggles live such simple lives, really. I can see how Grandad and Al are so interested in them. After a few minutes, Brian seems to have accepted the fact that I’m a witch, but he still doesn’t quite believe it. Every time I show him even a simple spell, it’s as if he’s going to pass out with the shock of it.

“I knew you were different,” he observes, shaking his head in awe, “But this, I wasn’t expecting.”

*

Having talked with Brian for hours, answering all of his questions about the wizarding world, and after making him promise that he’d never tell anyone about it (“I don’t want to end up in the loony bin – I’ll take it to my grave,” he replied) I head home and flick through some of the pamphlets Healer Kennedy gave me. However, deciding that I’ll never have the time or motivation to actually go through with any of these classes, I leave them on the kitchen table and fall into bed, completely wiping them from my brain.

The next morning, I tell the girls at work all about my conversation with Daisy. As I expected, they’re horrified.

“What a conniving little hussy!” Gladys spits angrily, reminding me of a very frustrated cat, “I’d love to give her a piece of my mind!”

“Do you want us to sort her out for you?” Hazel offers. I suddenly get the mental image of three receptionists approaching Daisy in a dark alleyway in a sort of Mafia-style ambush. And believe me, Hazel, Gladys and Linda are not the kind of people I’d like to meet in a dark alley if they were angry.

“Eh, no, but thanks Hazel,” I tell her.

“She won’t get away with this,” says Linda, “Aidan has nothing to do with her. When Our Liam’s father got married, his missus couldn’t wait to see the back of us!”

“You know what she’s doing,” says Gladys simply and we all look at her, intrigued by her tone. She has something important to say. “She’s trying to get you out of the picture, Rose.” Linda gasps, as if this is some sort of courtroom drama.

“Elaborate, please,” I say.

“Think about it. If you have a legal custody agreement with Scorpius, then you don’t need to talk to him as often, arranging when Aidan will be picked up and so on. It limits your contact with her husband,” says Gladys, “I have to admit, she’s a clever little cow.”

“If she’s trying to get rid of me, why doesn’t she just kill me and be done with it?”

“Because then you’d be the dead ex-girlfriend and she’d be the wife who could never live up to your standards and the mother who Aidan will never love,” says Linda, “Gladys is right – she’s trying to faze you out of the picture! You’ll be the forgotten ex-girlfriend and the negligent mother when she’s done with you!”

“Cheers, Linda,” I groan, “So what you’re saying is I’m better off dead?”

“Yes! Eh, I mean no...”

It’s a good thing I only listen to half of what these women say to me. Brian’s advice was much more substantial – rise above it. Be dignified, calm, collected and don’t let her get the upper hand. She can try to erase me all she likes, but I’m not the kind of person to fade into the background of my son’s life. I plan to talk to Scorpius about this later when he calls around to drop Aidan off. Why, all of a sudden, after five years does he want a legal custody agreement? Is he afraid I’m going to run off in the dead of night with our son? I haven’t exercised properly in years, I don’t think I’d get very far.

We always have the radio on at work, and on the news I hear that the finance department of the Ministry is donating a huge sum to the rebuilding of Diagon Alley. It’s expected to take a few months to get it back to how it was, though we all know it’ll never be the same again. Uncle George’s stock for the next six months has been completely wiped out, along with his motivation to actually run the place. It’ll be a miracle if Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes is ever up and running again.

In other news, Deputy Minister Timothy Russell is standing in as Minister of Magic until the elections in the summer. The running candidates will be announced in the next few weeks, apparently. I hope Mum goes for it and doesn’t let her stupid inferiority complex stand in the way, as usual. I’m sure Auntie Audrey’s bursting with the excitement of getting in with all the most exclusive inner circles at the Ministry. That woman gives me a headache.

*

Scorpius drops Aidan home at the usual time of six o’clock. He acts completely normal, as if he hasn’t put his wife up to stealing our son away from me. He comes in, sits down and starts chatting away like there’s no tomorrow. I can’t say much to him while Aidan’s in the room, so I don’t say anything at all.

“Why are you so quiet?” he asks me, “Not like you.”

I can’t keep quiet much longer. I don’t do silence.

“Aidan, could you play in your room for a few minutes? I need to talk to Dad about something,” I tell him. Aidan doesn’t ask questions, but brings Ollie into his bedroom. He’s generally happier playing in there anyway.

“What did I do?” Scorpius asks nervously once Aidan is gone, “Because whatever it is, I’m sorry and I won’t do it again.”

Then it occurs to me – what if Scorpius really doesn’t know? What if Daisy just pulled this notion that Aidan needs more stability out of her arse? What if the girls at work are right and Daisy really is just trying to faze me out of Scorpius’s life? It makes perfect sense – she feels threatened. I mean, if Scorpius had a problem with our custody arrangements, he’d come to me himself and discuss them. He’s Aidan’s dad after all; why would he put his wife up to this?

“Do you have any problems with...our situation?” I ask him. The look of utter confusion on his face tells me that no, he doesn’t. “Never mind! I’m just being stupid,” I say quickly. No, this fight is between me and Daisy, and Scorpius never has to know about it. If she thinks she can fight sneaky, she hasn’t seen anything yet.

“Eh, okay. So I’m not in trouble then?” he asks.

“No. Christ, Scorp, I’m not your mother,” I snap.

He looks like he’s about to retaliate, but then shuts his mouth. I don’t even want to think about what he was going to say.

“Listen, Rose, about the other night,” he starts quietly, “It...I was stupid. I shouldn’t have come here.”

“Oh...right.”

“And Daisy can’t ever know about it,” he says, “I think she’d find it...inappropriate.”

No way.

“Why do you like her?” I blurt. This probably wasn’t the best thing to ask – in fact, he has every right to walk about without answering me. But I just don’t understand what a guy like Scorpius could see in a woman ten years his senior, who is something of a control freak with blonde hair so straight, it’s as if she was struck by an iron repeatedly.

“Rose,” Scorpius sighs, “Do we have to do this now?”

“No,” I say, “I was just...wondering.” I get up and walk into the kitchen, a little bit uncomfortable with the new air between us. We hardly ever talk about Daisy. I feel like if I ignore the fact that they’re actually husband and wife, I can just pretend she’s an overly-affectionate lodger in his flat. Unfortunately, Scorpius follows me into the kitchen.

“She’s probably the kindest person I’ve ever met,” he tells me. I have to stop myself from snorting sarcastically. “She only ever thinks of other people.” Yeah, like my child and how to steal him from me. “And she helped me through a lot of...stuff.”

“What kind of stuff?” I ask, suddenly feeling defensive, “Why couldn’t I have helped you?”

“Rose, you were the stuff.”

Oh. That stuff.

“We were good mates, me and Daisy,” Scorpius goes on. I wish I hadn’t asked now. “And when you and I broke up –”

“Which time?”

“All the times,” he admits, “She listened to me. She helped me move on.”

Yeah, I bet she did. No wonder she hates me so much. I’m the horrible bitch who broke Scorpius’ heart and drove him into the arms of a senior citizen. Sort of.

“Rose, we were seeing each other before we went to America,” he tells me.

“What?!” I yelp unintentionally in a very high-pitched voice, “You were going out with Daisy before? For how long?”

“I don’t know,” he mumbles, “A few months.”

“A few months?!” I squeak. What’s wrong with my voice? “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Because it was none of your business, frankly!” he exclaims, “And before you start on about Aidan and the fact that you’re the mother of my child, I have a life of my own too, you know. And it’s not like you run by me every man you’ve ever gone home with, like that bloke on New Years Eve!”

“Nothing happened then!” I cry, “And I thought we were supposed to be friends! Friends tell each other things!”

Silence. He doesn’t know how to respond to this. I don’t even know how to respond to this. I was much happier thinking that Daisy was just a random co-worker that Scorpius decided to marry because he’s such a prat. The fact that she was his girlfriend first, that he actually likes her – it makes me sick.

“So you really like her then?” I ask.

“Rose, I married her,” he sighs.

“Your Dad doesn’t like her,” I say childishly.

“My Dad doesn’t like anyone,” he responds.

“He likes your mother,” I tell him, “He must do.”

“Right,” Scorpius laughs, “He likes one person then.”

“And I’m sure he likes you,” I say, “And he seems fond of Aidan.”

“Okay, he doesn’t like anyone outside of his immediate family,” he says, “Where exactly are you going with this?”

“I’m not sure, I lost my train of thought.”

Scorpius shakes his head. I feel so tempted by Draco Malfoy’s offer to get rid of Daisy, but I mustn’t stoop that low just yet. Also, I’m fairly sure Draco attends Evil-a-holic’s Anonymous meetings and this would just cause him to fall completely off the wagon.

“What’s this?” Scorpius asks, picking up a piece of paper from the table, “Post-OWL Potions?”

“Oh, that’s nothing!” I say quickly and grab the pamphlet from his grip, “It’s just something a Healer at work gave me about night classes...it’s stupid.”

“Are you going to do it?” he inquires seriously.

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because...” I sigh, frustrated, “I don’t have the time with work and Aidan and everything.”

He looks annoyed. “Rose, come on. I can look after Aidan, your entire family could look after him – that crazy Muggle woman downstairs could look after him, if it came to it!” I think I’d have to be on the brink of death before I’d leave Aidan with Mrs McGuinness. “You were always good at Potions.”

“Not really,” I mumble.

“Yes, you were. You’re doing this,” he tells me.

“No, I’m not.”

“For God’s sake, Rose!” he says, almost shouting, “You’re constantly going on about how shit your life is, but when an opportunity comes along you just shoot it down because you’re so bloody scared of failure!” Why do I get the feeling he’s not only talking about the night classes? “I thought you were a Gryffindor! I thought you were supposed to be brave!”

“I can’t do it!” I tell him, “What’s the point?”

“The point is you’ll be actually doing something you want to do,” he tells me, “You’ll be doing something for yourself for a change.” He makes a good point. “And maybe you’ll stop bitching and pissing everyone off.” And there, he takes it a step too far as usual. “I’m going to go before I kill you,” he says, “You really know how to annoy me, Weasley.”

He goes into Aidan’s room to say goodbye to him and then disapparates. I pick up the pamphlet, turn to the admission form on the back and start filling it in. 



A/N - Yes, a complete filler chapter in which absolutely nothing happened, but a quick update nonetheless! Chapters like these are needed, if a little dull. Still I hope you liked it OK. I know it seems like there are a lot of random plotlines thrown around the place, but hopefully it'll all tie up nicely in the end. It's kind of messy at the moment. And hopefully the characters won't turn out as black and white in the end as they seem to appear. But who knows? I'm guessing this story will be 30+ chapters, even though I swore it'd be shorter than Delicate when I first started. Oh well! Thank you so SO much for your 2000+ reviews (I'm really in awe - I know I say it a lot, but I'm serious. Really serious. Seriously.) I have the best reader/reviewers in the whole world!
Thanks for reading my filler chapter - please don't be too harsh on me, it was necessary and hopefully the next ones will be better!


Chapter 12: Compromise
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A/N - Oh yes, a note at the beginning. This has to be bad, right? Right. I hate this chapter, but it's the best I can do for now. I have to get it out of the way before I can move on to bigger and better things. Try not to throw things. I'm apologising now in advance! Still, please read on. (",) (<<<I've brought Bob back due to popular demand to make things better. Aidan named is Quaffle after him. Bob makes everything better.)





Chapter Twelve: Compromise


“This is so fucking typical, Jenny,” Dom spits, “Why couldn’t Al just marry a normal person?”

“Auntie Dom said a bold word!” Remus giggles.

“Mum, Dom said a bold word!” Aidan tells me, as if I didn’t hear her.

“Oh keep your nappies on,” Dom snaps at them. She’s always been such a maternal person, our Dom.

“We don’t wear nappies!” Aidan complains, “We’re not babies!”

Dom is babysitting Remus for Victoire today. We are all over at Jenny’s house, helping her to plan her wedding, which is now only four weeks away. I’m the only one who knows about her pregnancy, so everyone else is curious as to what the rush is. Lily and Jenny’s sister, Gillian, are here too, watching Dom in amusement. She’s never been pushed on weddings since the massacre that was Victoire’s, but she generally doesn’t pass up the chance for a family get together.

However, she is highly pissed off at Jenny’s plans for the hen night.

“I think a weekend in the country would be really nice!” says Jenny, “We have a lovely cottage that we could stay in, with a sunroom and everything...”

“Hen weekends are not about sunrooms and cottages – they’re about strippers and tequila shots!” Dom claims, and I have to say, she has a point. Although strippers and tequila shots probably wouldn’t go well with a pregnant bride.

“What’s a tequila shot?” Remus asks.

“It’s a kind of gun like the Muggles have,” Aidan tells him. I don’t bother correcting him. The two boys seem to be having great fun sitting at Jenny’s dining room table with us, looking through bridal magazines and colouring in the dresses black.

“Jenny,” Dom says in her reasonable voice, “Think about it. This is your last chance to let your hair down. Do you really want to spend your last days of freedom in a fucking cottage?”

“Auntie Dom said a bold word!” Remus gasps again and Dom rolls her eyes.

“Dom, less of the language around the kids!” Jenny hisses and I nod in agreement. It’s bad enough James teaching them swear words without Dom doing it and all.

“Dom has a point,” says Lily, “I mean, shouldn’t we go a bit wild? This is the only Potter wedding I get to be a part of, except for my own!”

“What about James?” I ask.

“Oh please, nobody will ever marry him,” she says briskly. And she’s probably right.

“This is my wedding. It’s my hen weekend. We’re doing it my way,” says Jenny, making Dom mouth ‘bold words’, but not actually say them. “Now, so far for the hen weekend I have Rose, Dom –”

“Don’t count on it, I may be busy that weekend,” says Dom dryly.

“- Lily, Molly, Victoire, Gillian and Daisy. I just thought we’d keep it small –”

“Hold on a second,” I interrupt, “Who was that last one?”

Jenny looks at me nervously. “I couldn’t just leave her out, Rose. I mean, she’s quite lovely once you get to know her.”

I can see Aidan looking at me. I don’t want to say anything about her in front of everyone, but Jenny knows what I’m thinking – you backstabber. Dom raises her eyebrows at Jenny and scoffs.

“This weekend gets better and better,” Dom says sarcastically, “Rose, how about you and I head to a male strip club and do some tequila shooters that weekend?” Why does she have to talk that way in front of my child?

“Mum’s going to shoot some strippers!” Aidan cries excitedly.

“Cheers Dom,” I mumble, “And Aidan, why don’t you and Remus go play in the living room?”

“But Mum –” 

“Now.” 

The two boys run into the living room, casting make-believe spells at each other with their make-believe wands. I turn to Jenny, glaring.

“Rose, I know you don’t like her, but I can’t just leave her out,” says Jenny, “I think you and Daisy could really get along if you just tried.”

I’m so close to screaming right now, it’s not even funny. If only they knew what Daisy is up to. If it were my hen weekend, I wouldn’t invite some evil, conniving bitch that Jenny hates...

“Let’s invite Laura!” I suggest, smirking. Jenny glares at me.

“Why would I invite Laura?” she asks, frowning at me, “We’re not exactly best friends.”

“Well this would be the perfect opportunity to patch things up!” I grin, and then add, “I mean, she’s quite lovely once you get to know her.” Jenny and Laura have never gotten along. Jenny thinks Laura’s a selfish bitch, while Laura thinks Jenny an annoying little goodie-two-shoes. I’m not sure which one’s right. Sometimes I agree with both, sometimes neither. It depends what mood I’m in.

“Rose has a point,” says Dom, “Laura’s always a good laugh.”

Jenny looks fit to kill me. She’s always going on about giving people chances, so she knows it would be hypocritical of her not to invite Laura now. “Fine, she can come,” Jenny mumbles, “But so can Daisy.”

“Fine,” I mumble back. I hope I remember to catch Dragon Pox that weekend.

Jenny’s sister, Gillian, is very like her. She’s two years older, with the same brown hair and big eyes, and just as short. The biggest difference between the two Winters sisters is that Gillian is a Muggle, like the rest of Jenny’s family. Gillian is also quieter than Jenny, and her manners make Jenny look rude – and that’s saying something. She’s one of these people that I feel uncomfortably swearing around in case she judges me a bad person, even though she’s the kind of person who would never judge anyone. I’m completely intimidated by this five foot tall, nice, generous, kind person. And I’m pretty sure she’s intimidated by Dom, who doesn’t seem to have the same problem with swearing around her.

I sometimes wonder if Dom is actually Aunt Fleur’s daughter. I have this theory that Uncle Bill was at work in Gringotts one day and this ex-convict woman named Crazy Kym came in trying to rob the place. Uncle Bill talked her out of it, of course, after a heated confrontation, which led to a hot and heavy rendezvous in one of the vaults. Nine months later, a baby was left on the doorstep of shell cottage, and Aunt Fleur decided to raise the child as her own – only Uncle Bill saw the note attached to the baby’s cradle. She is yours – Crazy Kym. So really, Aunt Fleur doesn’t know that Dom is Uncle Bill’s biological daughter.

Of course, Dom looked very much like Aunt Fleur before she dyed her hair brown, so that throws my theory out the window. But still, something must have gone genetically haywire with Dom – she may be beautiful, but she has the grace of a wombat on drugs.

After the meeting at Jenny’s, Aidan and I go to Mum and Dad’s for dinner. We do this every second Saturday, whenever he’s not with Scorpius. Dad answers the door, looking supremely pissed off.

“What’s-”

“Audrey,” Dad says simply before I can even ask him what’s wrong. Aidan runs on inside before I can grab him and go home – I can’t deal with Auntie Audrey. She’s what you might call a complete and utter psychopath.

“She’s here?” I ask, as Dad stands aside to let me in.

“She’s helping your mother with her election campaign,” Dad explains, “She’s been here for six hours.” I notice he’s squeezing very tightly on that stress ball I got him for his birthday.

Audrey is sitting at the kitchen table with Mum, with about a hundred different posters of Mum strewn around the place with slogans like ‘Weasley’s Got It All!’ Mum looks just about ready to kill her.

“Hermione, I don’t see why you won’t let me put that lovely picture of you on the posters; it really is very flattering,” says Audrey.

“I’m in a swimsuit on a beach in Italy!” Mum protests, and then adds, “And it was taken on my honeymoon twenty five years ago!”

“Oh don’t be so picky...”

“Hello Rose,” Mum sighs wearily when she spots me, and stands up to hug me, “How did the wedding plans go?”

Audrey looks impatient and annoyed as I talk about Al and Jenny’s wedding, and she starts tapping her fingers off the table until I’m finished speaking. She is such a twat. Even Uncle Percy could have done better.

“Right, back to your campaign, Hermione,” Audrey claps her hands together, interrupting me, “I think we have the support of pretty much the whole Muggleborn community...”

“Audrey, aren’t we getting a bit ahead of ourselves?” Mum asks, “The running candidates haven’t even been announced yet. It’s up to the Wizengamot to decide who’s even going to run for election – I may not even be chosen!”

“Nonsense, Hermione, of course you’ll be chosen!” Audrey cries. To a normal person, this would seem like genuine support on Audrey’s part, but we know better. Audrey is by far the most selfish person I know, and the only reason she wants Mum to become Minister, or even run for the position, is so she can get her own name in the Prophet and bump herself up through the ranks of the ministry. She did the same thing when James got a place with the Chudley Cannons. Fame may be fickle, but it hasn’t met Auntie Audrey. I sometimes wonder if she married Uncle Percy because he’s a Weasley. Actually, I don’t wonder about it – I know it for a fact. She’s always had a massive crush on Uncle Harry too, due to the fact that he’s probably the most famous person in the wizarding world.

Dad starts making dinner, hoping that Audrey will take the hint and leave, but she stays until dinner is ready, helps herself to a plate and thanks Dad. When she finally leaves, taking all of her posters with her, Mum sighs in relief, looking incredibly tired.

“Are you really going to be Minister, Nana?” Aidan asks Mum.

“I don’t know, darling,” Mum sighs, “I’m going to try.”

“Will I still have to go to school?”

“Yes,” I answer him immediately.

“Will Mum still have to go to work?”

“Unfortunately,” I answer.

“Oh,” he says, disappointed. Clearly, Mum becoming Minister for Magic would have absolutely no effect on him whatsoever. What does seem to have an effect on him is my friendship with his teacher, Brian. Every time Brian stops over to the flat, Aidan runs into his room and slams the door like a moody teenager. Any day now he’ll dye his hair black and start wearing eyeliner, trying to be just like his Uncle Hugo – thankfully, Hugo grew out of that. I don’t see why my friendship with Brian is affecting him more than Scorpius’s marriage to Daisy.

Daisy. Even thinking about her name makes me want to stab something. Jenny would be the one I’d be stabbing, if she wasn’t bloody pregnant. Has she completely lost the plot? Why would she invite Daisy to her hen weekend? I’ve been doing my best to avoid Daisy for the last few days in the hopes that she’ll forget all about this legal custody agreement. I usually just drop Aidan to their flat, knock on the door and make a run for it as I hear the door opening. I know I can’t keep going on like this forever, but I’m hoping it will last until he’s seventeen. Or at least until he starts at Hogwarts.

*

Unfortunately, I can’t avoid Daisy forever. She’s waiting for me outside my flat when we return from Mum and Dad’s house.

“Damn, I forgot to put the garlic up,” I mumble audibly.

“Hello Daisy!” Aidan greets her happily

“Hello sweetheart,” she smiles. It’s so sickening. I open the door and Aidan runs inside to greet a barking Ollie. I feel sort of guilty leaving Ollie on her own all day, so I usually leave her over at Teddy’s or sometimes Mrs McGuiness downstairs takes her and pretends she doesn’t notice how vicious Ollie is – Crups hate Muggles by nature, but Ollie seems pretty tame compared to most of them. She doesn’t chew the legs of Brian every time he comes in, but she does her fair share of growling. Today, however, Mrs McGuiness was going to a funeral and Teddy was away at his grandmother’s, so Ollie had to stay at home by herself. Mrs McGuiness and her elderly friend, Tabitha, are serial funeral-goers. Whether they know a person well or not, they’ll go to their funeral for the free tea and sandwiches, and of course the limitless depressing gossip.

“What are you doing here?” I ask rudely when Aidan is out of earshot.

“Can I come inside?” Daisy asks.

“I don’t think so,” I reply.

“Come on, Rose, we’re both adults,” she says, folding her arms, “I just wanted to apologise for what I said the other day. It was out of order, I know that.”

I study her for a moment. She looks good for thirty-three, it pains me to admit. I mean, there’s not a line on her face. I must ask her which face-lifting spells she uses, because there’s no way she looks like that naturally.

“Does Scorpius know you’re here?” I ask.

“No,” she admits calmly, “I thought we should sort this out ourselves.”

“So he doesn’t know about this ‘legal custody’ business then?”

“Can I just come in?” Daisy sighs, “I have a feeling your next door neighbour is watching me.”

She wouldn’t be wrong in suspecting that. Old Frankie Rice next door tends to spend all day staring out the spy-hole at who’s coming past. Then he’ll pounce on you at the most unexpected of times, asking ‘where were you going at six o’clock this morning?’ The chances that he’s listening to this conversation are ridiculously high, so I step aside and begrudgingly let Daisy into my flat.

However, she only gets as far as the hallway. I stand there, arms folded, looking at her and waiting to hear what she has to say.

“I’m sorry for what I said to you,” she says.

“So you’ve said already. Is that it?”

“No.”

She looks a bit annoyed, but doesn’t say anything.

“I’m rapidly losing interest here,” I tell her, “Please just spit out whatever you’ve come to say and leave.”

“Why do you hate me so much?” she hisses angrily, “I’ve only ever tried to be nice to you –”

“By criticising my parenting? You have a strange concept of ‘nice’,” I scoff.

“I’ve already said I’m sorry, you could be polite and at least pretend to accept my apology!” she whispers fiercely. Aidan has turned on the TV now, so I hope he can’t hear us. “And I was only trying to help you with this custody agreement! You make it sound like I’m trying to steal your child or something!” I don’t say anything, because this is exactly what I think she’s trying to do. “Rose, I know you’re very busy with work and Jenny’s wedding and now these night classes –”

“Wait, Scorpius told you about that?” I interrupt, “He told you about the night classes?”

“Yes, he mentioned it,” she shrugs, “He’s my husband, he tells me everything.” Yeah, I bet he didn’t tell you he slept in my bed a few weeks ago. On my bed. Not in it. And I’m also betting that he didn’t tell her that he’s dyslexic either. “I just want to help you,” Daisy repeats.

“Why would you want to help me?” I ask sceptically.

“Because you mean a lot to Scorpius,” she says quickly, “And I’d like if we could get along. We sort of got off on the wrong foot. And...you know, we can just forget about the custody agreement.”

I’m still very suspicious. Why would she just drop this so quickly? Did she suggest this to Scorpius and he threatened to divorce her for it? Okay, that’s probably just wishful thinking on my part. Still, what could possibly have happened that she no longer wants to pursue this?

“I’m too upfront for my own good,” Daisy goes on, “I’m always sticking my nose into other peoples’ business. I really am sorry.” She holds out her hand. “Friends?” I keep looking at her. “Or at least not enemies?”

I nod and shake her hand, and then she leaves. Now I’m not sure what to think of her. All I know is that I don’t trust her. Still, I forget all about her and go help Aidan with his alphabet exercises.

*

“Why in the name of all that’s magic would I want to go to Jenny Winters’ hen weekend?”

Laura isn’t exactly pushed on the idea of coming out to the country with us. She’s even less enthused than Dom. Jenny gave me the task of asking Laura to come, because she likes to talk to her as little as possible. So I’ve called over to Laura’s place after work to beg her to come.

“Because if you don’t come, I won’t have anyone to bitch about Daisy to,” I tell her.

“What about Dom?”

“It’s looking unlikely that Dom’s even going to come,” I say, “She’s currently looking for cheap accommodation in Moscow for that weekend.”

“What about Lily?” Laura asks desperately, “Or Molly or someone!”

“Lily likes Daisy for some reason!” I cry, “And I’m not even going to dignify that second suggestion with a response. Please come, Laura!”

Laura rolls her eyes, sighs and thinks to herself for a minute. “Fine,” she snaps eventually, “On one condition.”

“Yes, anything!”

“We are now completely even. You can no longer use the ‘I saved your life’ thing against me.” She’s referring to the time in sixth year when James and I found Laura passed out in the bathroom after overdosing on Slimming Solution. I tend to use this against her when I want my way.

I never claimed to be a good person.

“Deal,” I agree.

“I can’t believe I’m agreeing to this,” Laura mumbles, “Jenny Winters is the Daisy to my Rose, I hope you know.”

“She’s not that bad,” I say, “It’s not like she’s marrying the love of your life or anything.”

“Al could have been the love of my life,” says Laura, “I never got around to him before she nabbed him back in sixth year.”

“That’s because you were busy ‘nabbing’ his brother,” I tell her. She frowns at me. 

It's probably best not to bring that up again. 






A/N - This is the definition of filler chapters, and I realise it's the second in a row (though most of you didn't consider the last chapter a filler, so this makes up for it!) so I am sorry about that. Also, Daisy is neither as good nor as bad as she seems at the minute. That's all I'm saying. Please review. I really appreciate them! (",)
Also, if you like Ron/Hermione stories, check out my new fic Between The Lines.


Chapter 13: Weekend At Jenny's: Part I
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Chapter 13 - Weekend At Jenny's: Part I
“...so now I have three boyfriends, not including Jason, who’s more of a work-friend who I occasionally kiss. So I said to Mummy, what should I do? Which should I pick? Martin is so handsome, but Kevin is so intelligent and Nathan is so successful – I just can’t choose! Being popular is so tiresome sometimes. You wouldn’t really understand, I suppose...”

“Gillian, any chance you could just drive straight into that tree?” Dom interrupts Molly’s speech that has been boring us for the last twenty-five minutes. Gillian, Jenny’s sister, looks slightly frightened of Dom. I don’t think she ‘gets’ us just yet.

We’re on our way to the cottage for Jenny’s hen weekend. It was Jenny’s idea to take her father’s minibus and drive down instead of using a portkey. It’s not turning out to be one of her better ideas. In fact, it’s just about the worst idea that’s ever been conceived by any human being, including those thought up by Theodore Froggs, who wanted to be the first wizard to fly naked on a broomstick across the Atlantic. I think he fell off somewhere over Ireland after a particularly nasty storm and was found in a field by a bunch of Muggles.

Yes, this is definitely a worse idea.

I managed to get today, Friday, off work, and I left Aidan with Scorpius for a ‘Boys Weekend’. I just hope they’re both alive by the time we get back.

Gillian is driving, with Jenny and her friend Kate in the front two passenger seats. I’m stuck in between Molly and Dom and behind us are Lily, Daisy, Victoire and Laura. Laura had been sitting in Molly’s place, but three minutes into the journey Molly complained that she felt sick in the very back, so Laura agreed to switch with her if it would shut her up. 

It didn’t.

“You’re just jealous that I have boyfriends, Dom,” says Molly haughtily. I’m not the only one to snort at this statement. Dom is part Veela; Molly is part Auntie Audrey. It doesn’t take a genius to work out who has had more boyfriends. Dom doesn’t even dignify this statement with a response.

“Are we almost there?” Molly whines.

“We have another three and a half hours,” Jenny tells her, “So get comfortable.”

“Kill me now,” Dom mumbles.

“Anybody up for some car games?” Daisy asks brightly from behind me. Seriously, the woman makes me sick. I actually feel physically sick now. Dom rolls her eyes at me, and I’m glad to know I’m not the only one sickened by this idea.

“Good idea, Daisy!” says Lily. Traitor. Then, like a bunch of children, they all start playing ‘I Spy’. Molly starts.

“I spy with my little eye, something beginning with ‘D’!” She looks really proud of herself, like we’ll never get what she’s thinking.

“Dog?” Dom asks.

“What? There’s no dog around here,” she spits back, clearly annoyed that Dom isn’t taking the game seriously.

“No, I just thought you looked into a mirror or something.” I have to high-five her for that one. A good comeback deserves a good high-five.

“Dom’s not playing anymore,” says Molly childishly.

“I spy with my little eye, something beginning with ‘A’,” I say.

“Arsehole?” Dom asks, pointing to Molly.

“Nice one, Dom!”

“Shut up!” Molly yells at us.

“Girls, stop teasing Molly,” Jenny calls from the front. Molly grins at us slyly, happy that we’ve been scolded. How is she related to us?

“I knew we should have apparated,” Dom mumbles, “Speaking of, how did your first apparition lesson go, Rose?”

I had hoped everyone would forget that I started apparition lessons last week. It’s bad enough that I’m the only one in my entire family – apart from Aidan – who can’t apparate, but I hate everyone knowing about it too. The car has gone silent to hear my response.

In truth, it went alright. It could have gone better, but it also could have gone much worse. When I arrived at the Ministry on Saturday morning for class, Auntie Audrey was there in the entrance foyer handing out flyers with Mum’s face on them and ‘Vote for Weasley!’ in bright red writing. I knew she shouldn’t have chosen red for the font. It makes her look like a communist. I didn’t manage to bypass Auntie Audrey, so she ended up giving me a whole pile of flyers to hand out in my apparition class.

She needn’t have bothered giving me the whole pile. There were a total of three people in the class, including myself. The other two were men in their forties. One of them, Mike, never passed his apparition test when he was at Hogwarts, and never got round to taking another one until now. He uses portkeys to get everywhere. The other bloke, John, had his memory erased after a duel with his brother and had to re-learn to do everything, including apparating.

The fact that there are so few people in the class means that whenever I splinched myself, everybody noticed. Luckily it only happened once, and it wasn’t too serious. I only lost part of my baby toe. However, by the end of the two hours, I had managed to apparate successfully. Thank God there are only three more classes left.

“They went fine,” I say.

After two hours of driving, and when everyone has had quite enough of Molly’s moaning, we stop at a picnic park to stretch our legs. Jenny has brought a whole mountain of sandwiches for everyone and flasks of tea. This has to be the oddest hen weekend ever. Forget pink feather boas and ‘L’ plates – we have ham and cheese sandwiches. And as nice as that might sound, stopping to eat lunch outdoors in the middle of February is about as fun as sliding bare-arsed down the Himalayas.

Dom, Laura and I break away from the group for a small walk around the park.

“I don’t think I can take any more of her,” Dom complains, “Why did Jenny have to invite Molly of all people?”

“I know,” Laura agrees, “I forgot how annoying she was at school.” We stop and sit down on a few large rocks, hugging our coats tight.

“Never mind Molly, what was she thinking bringing that other thing?” I ask, disgusted they haven’t brought her up already.

“You mean Daisy?” Dom asks.

“Yes, who else?”

“She’s not that bad,” says Dom, “And don’t kill me.”

“Not that bad?” I scoff, “The woman is a complete nightmare.”

“I don’t really know her,” Laura shrugs, “What makes her so nightmare-ish? Apart from the fact that she’s married to Scorpius, of course.”

“She’s a thundering bitch, for one,” I begin, “She thinks she’s better than everyone. Haven’t you noticed how snotty she is?” They both shrug. “And she wants custody of Aidan.” That gets a reaction. Even if it’s not strictly true.

“She what?” Dom cries.

“Fuck off,” Laura gasps.

“Well, she thinks Scorpius and I should have a legal custody agreement,” I admit. They look slightly disappointed now. “We got on just fine before she came along! Little Miss Cow-face thinks she knows what’s best for my son. The only reason Scorpius is even with her is because I turned him down.”

“Ahem.”

My heart literally stops beating at the sound of another person. The three of us spin around at the same time and find ourselves face to face with the woman of the moment.

Daisy.

“Jenny says we’re leaving in a minute,” she says, frowning, and then turns around and walks back over to the minibus. Dom and Laura look at me, eyes wide and completely mortified.

Shit.

“D’you think she heard me?” I ask in a whisper.

“Well if she didn’t she’s a deaf Little Miss Cow-face,” says Laura.

Double shit.

*

Daisy is completely silent for the rest of the journey. She sits in the very back, staring out the window with her arms folded. I know this shouldn’t bother me, but it does. I feel guilty now, even though I hate her. Dom and Laura keep giving me these looks, so I can’t look at them at all anymore. Molly doesn’t seem to notice any tension and continues on with her annoying antics until we finally arrive at the Winters’ cottage, which pushes all guilty thoughts temporarily from my mind as we pour out of the minibus.

“Oh bloody hell – you must be joking.”

I have to say, I think Dom’s reaction is quite calm, considering the structure that is standing before us. I thought she’d be tearing her hair out, cursing at the top of her voice and grabbing Jenny around the neck and strangling her to death. Because I’m very close to doing all of these things, and I pride myself on having a higher level of tolerance for things than Dom does.

“We are not staying here all weekend,” she turns to Jenny, “There is no way.”

The Winters’ family cottage is nothing more than a shack with a conservatory, putting it lightly. It looks like it might blow over if there is any hint of wind. It’s a tiny bungalow, with a sunroom sticking off the side of it looking completely out of place. The garden is overgrown, because it hasn’t been used since last summer according to Jenny. It looks like it hasn’t been used since the middle ages. Maybe they’re just playing a prank on us or something. Or maybe it’s magically enhanced on the inside.

But then again, Jenny’s family are all Muggles. I think this weekend might just be the thing to finish me off.

“It’s lovely inside,” says Jenny earnestly.

“Is there room for ten of us?” I ask, knowing the answer already. Jenny looks a bit worried, as if she didn’t realise she’d invited ten of us. I knew we should have left Molly at home. And Daisy.

“We’ll manage,” says Jenny, but not very convincingly.

“There’s a nice lake just a mile up the road,” says Gillian, trying to make the situation seem a bit brighter.

“Great, at least we have somewhere to drown ourselves,” says Dom glumly.

“Oh cheer up, girls,” says Jenny, “I’m sure we’ll have fun!”

Dom and I exchange looks and completely ignore her.

Inside is no better than the outside. In fact, it’s much worse. There is a living room with couches and a tiny kitchen, with the world’s smallest bathroom just off it. There is no shower, really, just a hose hanging off the wall over the toilet. There are two bedrooms, both smaller than Aidan’s in the flat. In fact, this cottage is smaller than my flat, which is pretty small for two people – well, one and a half really, because Aidan’s only little. There are ten of us staying here.

“Right, who’s sleeping on the roof then?” I ask.

“I call a bed!” Molly cries.

“Other bed!” cries Lily.

“Couch!” Laura and Dom shout at the same time.

“Eh, shouldn’t Jenny get a bed, seeing as it’s her hen weekend and everything?” I ask. People are suspicious of this generous side of me. And believe me, if she wasn’t pregnant, she’d be the one sleeping on the roof.

“Fine,” says Lily, seeing as Molly isn’t about to give up her bed any time soon.

Jenny lights the fire, because the heating isn’t working. We all sit in a circle in the living room as it begins to get dark outside, wrapped inside our blankets. I should have known this would be dodgy, considering we were told to bring our own sleeping bags. As everyone else engages in girl-talk and mindless gossiping, I can’t help but feel guilty again. I mean, I know I don’t like Daisy, and I don’t do a good job of hiding it, but I never actually wanted her to hear me saying stuff like that behind her back. It seems so sly. She’s been extremely quiet all evening, even though Victoire has been trying to include her in the conversations. Daisy and Victoire seem to get on really well because they’re near enough the same age – well, Victoire is twenty seven and Daisy is about a hundred, so Victoire is the closest in age she can get.

I can’t even talk to Dom and Laura about this because the house is so damn small, everyone would hear. So I just carry the guilt with me until it’s time for bed – at half ten. Jenny, Gillian and their Muggle friend, Kate, take one of the bedrooms, while Molly takes the other one. Victoire shoves Dom off one of the couches and takes it for herself, while Laura allows Daisy to have the other one. I think she’s feeling guilty about what happened too. As there isn’t much space on the floor of the living room, Lily reluctantly agrees to sleep on the floor in the bedroom with Molly. Dom, Laura and I then settle in on the freezing cold floor of the living room in our sleeping bags, with our coats on over our pyjamas.

“Fucking ridiculous,” Dom mumbles to herself as we all drift off into a very uncomfortable sleep.

*

Jenny bursts into the living room at half eight the next morning, flicking her wand at the curtains to open them. I join Dom, Laura and Victoire in an annoyed grunt as the daylight pours across our faces. Although the floor is hugely uncomfortable, I could still sleep for another few hours on it, given the chance.

Daisy, I notice, is sitting up on the couch, already awake. I wonder how long she’s been like that.

“Come on girls, up you get!” Jenny calls happily, “We’re going hiking!” She then skips happily into the bathroom. Laura lies back down to sleep, while Dom looks at me incredulously.

“She’s not serious,” says Dom in a scratchy voice, “If she thinks I’m going hiking, she has another thing coming...”

Jenny soon bounces out of the bathroom and into Molly and Lily’s room to wake them up. What the hell ever happened to morning sickness? Pregnant people are supposed to be miserable in the mornings, not going hiking! I puked all the way to lunchtime when I was pregnant with Aidan, and then sometimes in the evenings too. It’s official – Jenny Winters is a freak of nature.

Half an hour later, we are all up and dressed. Daisy completely avoids me as best she can in such a small space, and I’m half wondering if she’s planning to maybe push me off the side of a mountain when we go hiking. She doesn’t even look at me.

Jenny leads the group, telling us that the hill we’re going to climb is only an hour’s walk from the cottage. Only.

Dom, Laura and I trail behind everyone else, so I take the opportunity to talk to them about the Daisy situation.

“Should I apologise?” I ask, “Even though I was speaking from the heart?”

“You were a bit of a bitch,” says Laura, “Although I wouldn’t apologise for being who you are.”

Dom nods in agreement. Now I feel worse. I’m not that much of a bitch, am I?

“Should I do it now?” I ask.

“Do what you want,” Dom pants, “This hill is going to be the fucking death of me.”

Daisy is up ahead of us, walking with Victoire and Kate-the-Muggle, who I have yet to say two words to. I give Laura and Dom one last look, a look that a soldier gives when going into battle.

“If I’m not back in ten minutes, tell Aidan I love him,” I say.

“And Scorpius,” Laura says. She thinks she’s so funny.

I summon up all of my energy and jog forward to catch up with Daisy. I hate apologising. Even when I’m in the wrong. It’s so much worse when I’m in the wrong.

“Eh, Daisy?” I call when I’ve nearly reached them. I swear, if I don’t lose a stone after today, I’m going to cry. I’m completely breathless after running this short distance. Daisy seems fine – bitch. She turns to me, looking mildly surprised that I’m speaking to her, and stops. “C-can I talk to you for a minute?”

“Alright,” she says unenthusiastically. Kate and Victoire venture on, and she tells them she’ll catch up. “What’s up?”

“About yesterday,” I say, still sort of breathless from the run and from nerves. She looks down at her feet. “Erm...I’m sorry you heard that.” She now looks up from her feet and stares at me with a look of disbelief.

“That’s what you’re sorry for?” she laughs, though not in a pleasant way. “You’re sorry I heard you? You’re not sorry for what you said?”

Suddenly, I get this surge of anger from the way she’s looking at me, as if I’m the only bitch in this situation. She’s the one who started this rift. She’s the one who called me a bad mother. She’s the interfering cow. She has no right to make me feel bad.

“No, I’m not sorry for what I said,” I say defiantly, “In fact, I could have said a whole lot more if you hadn’t so rudely interrupted.”

Now she looks really shocked. I don’t think she believes my nerve. I don’t even believe it. I never used to be this brazen. Dom and Laura are coming closer to us now – at least I have backup if she tries to kill me.

“I don’t know what Scorpius ever saw in you,” says Daisy cruelly, “You’re nothing more than a spoiled, selfish little brat who thinks she’s so much better than everyone else.” Now it’s her turn to get stuff off her chest, apparently. “I gave you a chance, but you’ve been nothing but an insufferable bitch to me since I met you! You shoot me the dirtiest looks when I haven’t done anything, you twist my words when I’m just trying to help you! You know, Scorpius was messed up for a long time because of you.” I raise my eyebrows. There’s no way she could know anything about me and Scorpius. “He confided in me for months and months before we started going out together, you know. And I tried to give you the benefit of the doubt after he and I got married, simply because you’re Aidan’s mum and in our lives whether I like it or not, but now I realise that you’re nothing more than the bitch who broke his heart.” Dom and Laura are getting very close to us now.

“Who the hell do you think you are?” I cry in exasperation, “Why do you think Scorpius is even with you? You’re his rebound wife!” I realise I probably sound ridiculous. Daisy even laughs at this. She then turns around to catch up with Victoire and Kate. “HE PROPOSED TO ME FIRST!” I shout up the hill.

Everyone stops talking and turns around to face me. I apparently shouted louder than I intended. Daisy frowns at me, as if she’s torn between hating me and believing me. I never intended to tell her, although I thought Scorpius might have. Apparently not. Dom and Laura have now caught up to me, both looking shocked and embarrassed at my outburst.

“You’re lying,” Daisy says quietly.

I stare back at her. “Believe what you want. I’m going back to the house.”

I turn back and head off down the hill by myself, refusing Dom and Laura’s offers to accompany me. It’s starting to rain by the time I arrive back, so I know I won’t be alone for long. In fact I’m alone for a total of about five minutes, because Jenny arrives back shortly after, looking extremely pissed off.

“Jen, I’m sorry,” I start, “I didn’t mean to ruin your weekend –”

“Shut up,” she snaps. I’m gobsmacked – Jenny has never told me to shut up before. “Why do you insist on being so rotten to Daisy? It’s not her fault you’re still into Scorpius!”

“Don’t you start on me too,” I say, “And by the way, you’re supposed to be on my side.”

“I’ve always been on your side,” she says angrily, “But it’s getting harder and harder when you insist on being so cruel!” She sits down on the couch and makes me sit down beside her. “I’m sorry Rose, but you let Scorpius go. You can’t expect him to be single forever, and you can’t hate Daisy just because she married him. It’s not her fault.”

I know she’s right. Of course I do. I’ve always known it. Just like I knew I couldn’t blame Victoire when she married Teddy – it just seemed like the easiest thing to do.

“Let him go,” Jenny tells me. This hurts. The mere thought of letting go of Scorpius is just unbearable. How would she feel if I told her to let Al go? “He’s Daisy’s now.” And that hurts even more.

Everyone else arrives back soon after. I say nothing to Daisy and she says nothing to me. Everyone seems to be distracted from my outburst on the hill by a more amusing incident – Molly falling head-first into a small bog. I can’t help but laugh in union with everyone else when I see her. Maybe it’s a good thing Molly came – for the comic relief, if nothing else. 




A/N - I know. It's been ages. Shoot me. I had some writers block and re-wrote this chapter three times, so that's why it took so long! I'm sorry. Hopefully the next update will be quicker. Thanks so much anyone who is still reading this story! Please review. Oh and a shout out to Voldy Needs A Hug - not only for the cool screen name, but also because she is (one of) the story's greatest fans! Thank you all! (",)

Chapter 14: Weekend At Jenny's: Part II
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Chapter 14 - Weekend At Jenny's: Part II

“Molly, throw the bloody Quaffle!” Dom shouts angrily, baring a very strong resemblance to one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, if they flew on broomsticks. There are times that I feel like I missed out on something huge by not going back to Hogwarts for seventh year, like playing on the Gryffindor Quidditch team for one last time. Then I remind myself that had I done seventh year, and had I remained on the team, Dom would have been my captain. And as bad as James was, he was nothing compared to her.

Dom, Laura and I are playing a “friendly” game of Quidditch against Molly, Lily and Victoire. Laura is desperately bad, as is Victoire, while Lily and Molly are quite good, so the teams are well balanced. Molly keeps hanging on to the Quaffle, even when she’s cornered by me and Dom, but she will not pass it to Lily. It’s as if she wants to retain the glory of being in possession for as long as possible. Jenny, who is on the ground watching, keeps yelling up at us not to fly higher than the trees in case we’re spotted by Muggles. She’s worse than Mum.

“Pass it, Molly!” Lily cries, “I’M RIGHT HERE!”

Molly, shooting Lily daggers, deliberately drops the Quaffle, and then flies down to the ground, dismounts and storms off into the cottage in a huff. Lily rolls her eyes at me and we all decide to call it a day, now that the baby's thrown her rattle out of the pram. Victoire looks extremely relieved to have stopped - the only reason she agreed to play was because Dom nagged her into it and because there is literally nothing else to do. We’ve explored the lake a mile up the road, we’ve taken a wander into the nearby village and we’ve confirmed what we knew all along – we are holidaying in the most boring place in the world.

"Good game," I say to Lily as we place the brooms carefully up against the wall. It was Dom's idea to bring the brooms along, just in case we got bored. Apparently she predicted just how dull this weekend would be.

"She didn't get much sleep last night," says Lily, nodding towards Molly, who is sitting down inside with her arms folded, "She stayed up all night talking about her imaginary boyfriends."

"Imaginary? D'you reckon?"

"Definitely," says Lily, "Not to be mean, but who in their right mind would go out with her?"

I call to mind the bloke who used to spend his days sitting in the corner of the library at Hogwarts, John Lawson (cleverly christened 'Library Man' by me and Dom). He is the only person I can think who would want to go out with Molly, but he wasn't exactly in his right mind. I'm not quite sure when they broke up. I have the feeling he just turned into a stapler after years of being the most boring person in the entire world. Molly probably still keeps him in her drawer.

Molly doesn't speak to us when we go back inside, which brings the number of people currently not talking to me up to two. Daisy has yet to say one word to me since yesterday's fiasco on the hill. I haven't tried talking to her, or apologising. Jenny keeps giving me looks, like I should make an effort to get along with her. Apparently Jenny thinks I should respect the sanctity of Scorpius’s marriage. All of a sudden, just because she’s getting married, she is even more Miss Goody Two Shoes than usual.

Daisy does look like she's having a completely miserable time of it - more of a miserable time than the rest of us, I mean. She gets these sudden flashes of anger appear across her face and then they disappear as quickly as they come. I find it kind of frightening, and I'm back to thinking that she's plotting my death. Again.

It certainly doesn't help that Scorpius rings me while I'm in her company. We're sitting in a circle in the living room, talking, because there is literally nothing else to do. It's raining now, so Dom, Lily and I can't even go out and throw the Quaffle around amongst ourselves. So we have to participate in the mindless girl-talk. I'm quite happy to have the excuse to talk to a bloke - too much of female company can drive you mad fairly quickly.

"Just letting you know that I've managed to keep the child alive," Scorpius informs me.

"Well that's good to know," I respond, trying to keep my voice as neutral as possible. I can see Daisy glancing at me, as if she has a fair idea who is on the phone, but is trying to figure it out for sure.

"We went over to James's yesterday. There was a half naked girl on his couch. No more surprise visits to your lovely cousin, I think," says Scorpius. He's clearly trying to have a laugh with me. I don't let any expression cross my face.

"Yes, I think that'd be best," I reply.

"Are you alright?" he asks, "You have your work voice on." I have a work voice that I use when answering the Magi-phone at St Mungos.

"No I don't," I tell him.

"Are you imperiused?" he asks next.

"No!" I reply. I then get up and leave the circle, and go outside so I can talk properly. I keep my voice down, though. I think Daisy has overheard enough conversations this weekend. "Right, I can talk now."

"Why couldn't you talk before? Who was there?" he asks.

"Oh, it was just Molly trying to listen in," I lie easily.

"Oh, right," he replies, "So are you lot having fun then?"

"Yeah, it's a gas," I say sarcastically.

"Do I detect a hint of sarcasm?"

"You're so perceptive."

He laughs. I smile. I just can't help it. Scorpius doesn't laugh very much, but when he does, I can't help smiling. Nobody makes me laugh like Scorpius. We have loads of private jokes, jokes that nobody else ever seems to get, even if I try to explain them. We have inside gags that make us laugh at the most inappropriate of moments.

"Aidan wants to say hi," says Scorpius, "I'll put him on."

I hear Aidan take the phone from Scorpius. "Hi Mum!" he chirps, "I'm having loads of fun at Dad's! We had ice-cream late at night and I didn't have to go to bed until ten!"

I can hear Scorpius in the background saying, "How is that not telling your Mum?!"

"You're spoiled," I tell him, "Don't get used to it."

"And we watched a scary film too, one with lots of blood and guts and killing!" he squeals happily. Scorpius deserves a pat on the back for succeeding to screw up our son in just one weekend.

"Sounds like you're having fun," I say, "Do you miss me then?"

"Nope!"

"That's lovely."

"Dad's going to talk to you now. Bye!"

"Bye love - and be good," I add, knowing my words are completely pointless. He never listened to me before, he's not going to start now. Scorpius comes back on.

"Eh, he's a compulsive liar, I hope you know," Scorpius tells me, "He was in bed by five."

"Compulsive liar? I wonder who he took that from," I say. I peek in the door into the living room and see Daisy staring straight at me, clearly trying to listen in. "Look, I better go."

"Missing out on all the drinking and partying?"

"Don't you know it," I sigh, "I'll see you tomorrow."

"Bye Weasley."

I return to the living room. When Molly asks me who was on the phone, I tell her it was Mum and resist the urge to tell her to mind her own sodding business.

I’m so glad that this weekend from hell will be over tomorrow. I’ll be happy once I can breathe again in my own flat. And I’m really missing Aidan too, even though I was looking forward to the break from motherhood. But I’ve come to realise that no matter how far away you go for a weekend, you never get a break from motherhood. You’re always carrying the worry and stress around with you, even if you have left your child in the best hands possible.

“So Jenny,” Dom says wearily, “Are you happy with this send-off into married life?”

“I’m not getting married for another two weeks!” Jenny points out, “And yes, I’m delighted with it. Despite some hiccups.” She looks at me as she says that last part. I frown back. Why is this all my fault? Daisy said some horrible things too. It’s not like I made a completely unprovoked attack on her. I’m not a bully, I just stand up for myself. What’s wrong with that?

Daisy even looks uncomfortable at Jenny's words, along with basically everyone else, except Molly.

"Look, why don't we just address the elephant in the room?" says Laura bluntly. I glare at her.

"I think that would be best," Jenny agrees. Great, the one time in their lives Laura and Jenny agree on something, I come out the shit end. "Rose, Daisy, I know you two didn't get off to the best start, but don't you think you're both being a bit childish?"

I feel like I'm five years old and Mum's giving out to me for fighting with Dom over who gets to play with my favourite doll. Jenny has that influence when she's scolding people. She's going to make a terrific mother, but she's turning into a pain in the arse of a friend.

"I suppose you're right," says Daisy.

"Sorry," I say quietly.

"Me too," says Daisy.

Neither of us are sorry. At least, I'm not. I think we're both just saying it to get rid of the awkward tension and to allow everyone else to get on with their weekend. I'm sick of everyone knowing how relations are between me and Daisy. I'll be much happier when I can go back to my silent hating of her, while still looking like a nice person. Jenny looks satisfied with our non-heartfelt apologies.

"I know it must be difficult for you, Daisy, to be here with your husband's ex," says Jenny, "But I'm glad we can all be friends again."

"Two of his exes," says Molly. Everyone now looks at her. Daisy looks particularly confused, and even I have to think for a minute who the hell Molly is on about. Then the sickle drops and it all comes rushing back. "He went out with Dom and all, you know."

Oh why did we have to bring Molly?

"Thanks for bringing that up, Molly. Things weren't awkward enough," Dom snaps at her.

"Scorpius went out with you?" Daisy asks. She is making it sound like just a friendly inquiry, but she looks very put-out by this notion. I would be too if I found out my husband used to go out with a part-Veela.

"It was ages ago," says Dom, "A million years ago. It was back in our Hogwarts days."

Daisy looks quite relieved by this.

"Yeah, until Scorpius fell madly in love with Rose and got her pregnant," says Molly. She is so spiteful, just like her mother. And she is only doing this because we shouted at her during the Quidditch match.

"That's not what happened," I mumble, "So drop it, Molly."

"Yes it is," says Molly, "I remember!"

"Well you remember wrong!" I snap.

"Yeah, Rose got pregnant before I started going out with Scorpius," Dom points out, as if that makes me look better. It really doesn't. It makes me look like a big pregnant cousin's-boyfriend-stealing whore. Daisy now looks very uncomfortable by this whole conversation, but not half as uncomfortable as I'm feeling.

Then again, I can't help but wonder why Scorpius never told her all this before.

We let the conversation die, and eventually head off to bed. Our last night at Jenny's cottage is turning out to be the worst one yet.

*

We head off on the road at nine o'clock the next morning. We put Molly in the front with Jenny so we don't have to listen to her waffle on for four hours. The tension has lifted slightly now that nobody has mentioned Scorpius, Aidan or anything to do with relationships that blossomed at Hogwarts. Most of us sleep the whole way home, due to the fact that none of us got a proper night's sleep in that drafty old cottage all weekend.

Because of traffic, and after we've done the rounds dropping everyone home, it's almost three o'clock by the time I get back to the flat. Scorpius is dropping Aidan and Ollie home later on, so I have a few hours to myself before they arrive. There is a letter from St Mungo's waiting for me when I get in the door, indicating when my nightly Potions classes will begin - the beginning of March - and what books I should buy.

I almost forgot about my Potions classes between everything that's been happening lately. When I told Brian about them, he got so excited at the thoughts of magical potions, he insisted I tell him everything I learn from the classes. It's kind of funny how interested he is in magic. I suppose it must be weird for Muggles, not knowing how simple life can be with the flick of a wand. Sometimes I get random phone calls from Brian, asking me questions about the magical world such as 'is it possible to turn back time?' and 'what would happen if I tried to use your wand?' He's like Grandad Arthur, except in reverse.

I decide to pop over to Mum and Dad’s, to see how things are going with Mum’s campaign for Minister. I feel quite bad that I don’t check in with my parents more often. It’s always them ringing me, visiting me, writing to me. Even Hugo keeps in touch more than I do.

Hugo is there when I arrive, with his girlfriend, Robin, who is very quiet. Quiet people generally don’t get noticed in our family, which is why I usually forget that Dom has a younger brother. Poor Louis is so frequently forgotten by everyone. Robin is like Louis – she blends into her surroundings. She speaks very quietly, and only speaks when spoken to.

Audrey is also here, again. Dad is gone to the pub with Uncle Harry, according to Hugo, and Mum looks just about ready to snap. She doesn’t even ask me how the hen weekend went – it looks like she hasn’t slept in days. It’s easy to tell when Mum is really frustrated. Her hair gets much more out of control than usual, and she gets a look on her face reminiscent of a bulldog chewing a wasp.

I help myself to a bottle of Pumpkin Juice and join Hugo and Robin in the living room. There are campaign posters everywhere, newspaper cuttings, photographs – just about anything you can think of that makes Mum look good. I haven’t seen the house this messy since the brief period a few years ago when Mum and Dad split up and Mum moved out.

“How long has Audrey been here?” I ask Hugo.

“Since Saturday,” he replies darkly, “She never went home. They’re announcing the running candidates tomorrow, so Audrey’s on super-bitch mode at the minute.”

“ENOUGH!”

We all jump at the sound of Mum’s scream from the kitchen. I rush in to stop my mother from committing first degree murder and ending up in Azkaban – I’m sure it wouldn’t look good for someone hoping to be Minister.

“I’m just trying to help you, Hermione! You’re being most ungrateful!” Audrey says snootily.

“I – DON’T – WANT – YOUR – HELP!” Mum screams, “You’re driving me up the wall, Audrey! I’m sorry, but you can’t be my campaign manager anymore!”

“But Hermione –”

“NO!” Mum yells, tears of anger brewing in her eyes, “I can’t take it! I haven’t slept in two days! My house is a bloody tip! I haven’t had time alone with Ron in ages! NO MORE!”

“You’re being unreasonable!” Audrey complains, “The candidates are being announced tomorrow! You need me!”

“No I don’t,” says Mum in a viciously quiet voice, “Now please leave.”

Audrey looks tremendously offended. She stands up, not taking her eyes off Mum, waves her wand and makes all of the stray papers and posters disappear. Robin, who is a Muggle, looks quite amazed by this, while still looking quite terrified of my mother. “You’ll live to regret this, Hermione,” says Audrey, “Good-day to you.” She disapparates. Hugo snorts. I manage to restrain my laughter. I’ve always wanted to say ‘you’ll live to regret this!’ to someone, but I would never say it in a serious context. Audrey has just succeeded in making herself look a bigger tit than usual with the most ridiculous empty threat I’ve ever heard.

“Percy should have just stayed single!” Mum cries.

“Amen to that,” I agree, envisioning a life without Molly.

I make Mum a cup of tea, and then tell her to take a nap, as she looks exhausted. I’ve told her that I’ll help her out with her campaign, if she needs me. Hugo and I are going to the Ministry tomorrow for the election candidates’ announcements in support of Mum.

I head back to the flat after I’ve put Mum to bed. Shortly after I arrive home, Scorpius drops Aidan off, looking very disgruntled and not at all as cheerful as he sounded on the phone yesterday. I wonder what could have changed. Perhaps he and Daisy are getting divorced.

Aidan is very cheerful, however. He and Ollie are so hyper that they just run around the living room, Ollie barking loudly and Aidan playing with an invisible wand. Ah, to be young again. If I did that, I’d just look mental.

“Fun weekend?” I ask Scorpius.

“Yeah,” he replies in a dull voice.

“Well, you sound like you had fun,” I say dryly.

He gives me a very dark look, one that makes me feel quite intimidated. It’s as if he’s deciding whether or not it’s my fault that he’s in such a bad mood.

“What did you say?” he asks very quietly. Aidan turns on the TV now, and is not listening, but we still have to be careful what we say.

“I said it sounds like you had fun,” I say, confused.

“You said something to Daisy,” he says, “What did you say?”

Oh crap. I didn’t think she’d tell him. I thought it was all water under the bridge – apparently not. I bet she made me look worse than I actually was.

“She told you, then,” I mumble.

“Told me what, exactly?” he whispers fiercely, “She hasn’t told me anything! See, to tell me things she would have to actually speak to me! What did you say to her, Rose?”

“Why is everything always my fault?” I snap at him.

“You’re saying it’s not your fault? It’s always your fault!”

I have no response to this. Really, it is my fault Daisy is in such a mood. But he doesn’t know the full story, and I’m not sure which way I can swing it so I don’t look so terrible. “I’m not the one keeping secrets from my spouse,” I whisper.

“What are you on about? I have no secrets from Daisy,” he says, frowning at me.

“So you told her that you proposed to me two years ago, then?” I ask slyly. I do feel bad bringing it up, not to mention extremely awkward. We’ve never spoken about that night – we just like to pretend it didn’t happen.

“You told her?” he gasps, “I can’t believe you’d be so manipulative!” You know you’ve gone down a dark road when a Slytherin is calling you manipulative. Not just any Slytherin – a Malfoy. “Why the hell would you tell her? What’s wrong with you?”

“It sort of...slipped out,” I say, “I am sorry, you know. I didn’t mean to –”

“Don’t give me that,” he says loudly, suddenly forgetting to keep his voice down for Aidan’s benefit, “You never liked her! I thought we were getting on alright, you and me! I thought you could actually be happy for me, but it seems you won’t rest until I’m completely miserable! You don’t want anyone to have me, and you sure as hell don’t want me for yourself! You are so twisted, d’you know that?”

Will you keep your voice down?” I hiss, nodding over to Aidan, who is glancing over at us, “It’s not like that -”

“Why do you hate her so much?” he asks, “What could she have possibly done for you to want to hurt her like this? Why can’t you just be nice to her, for Merlin’s sake?” He’s using ‘Merlin’ because of the child. If Aidan wasn’t here, I’m sure his language would be much stronger.

“Because she has you, Scorpius, that’s why!” I say frustratedly, “I hate her because she is married to you. And I know that’s stupid and childish, but it’s just how I feel!”

He’s momentarily lost for words, trying to contemplate what I’ve said. I can’t believe I’ve said it, even though I’ve just voiced what he – and everyone else – already knew. “What are you on about?” he asks.

“What do you think I’m on about?” I reply, with tears running down my cheeks. “You know how I feel about you –”

“Don’t do this, Rose.”

“And you got married so suddenly without even thinking how I might feel –”

“Stop!” he shouts. Aidan jumps and stops watching the TV completely. He sees me crying, so I wipe away my tears as quickly as possible and pretend nothing is wrong.

“Are you fighting?” Aidan asks, frowning.

“Of course not,” I say quickly. He looks to Scorpius for confirmation.

“We’re not fighting, mate,” says Scorpius.

Unfortunately, Aidan is more perceptive than we give him credit for. “You usually wait until I’m in my room to fight,” he says, “You think I don’t hear you.” Scorpius looks as guilty as I feel.

“We don’t fight,” I lie, “We’re just messing about.” Scorpius frowns at me.

“Why are you crying?” Aidan asks me.

“It’s nothing,” I tell him softly, “Don’t worry about it, okay?”

He looks very sceptical, but nods anyway. He takes Ollie into his bedroom, clearly not wanting to listen to us lie to him any further. There are some lies that parents just need to tell for their child’s own good.

I turn back to Scorpius. Scorpius, who has finally realised the extent of my feelings for him. He gives me a look that is saturated in pity and anger. “Don’t say anything, Rose,” he says, as I open my mouth to speak, “Please. I have to go.”

“But Sc-”

He’s gone before I can finish calling his name.

*

I meet Hugo and Al at the Ministry the next day on my lunch break from work. The candidates announcement will be made live on the WWN network by the stand-in Minister. The Wizengamot have been debating all morning on which of the nominated Ministry workers are the most promising. The candidates’ names were put forward by random Ministry workers – for example, Mum’s name was put forward by Audrey and seconded by Uncle Harry. Now it’s up to the Wizengamot to decide which two or three candidates will go forward to the elections.

“Your Mum looks nervous,” Al observes as we take our seats in the main hall of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. There are a few families of potential candidates gathered here. Dad and Uncle Harry are here, and we are very surprised to see Auntie Audrey and Uncle Percy in the front row in support of Mum.

“Wow, Audrey is a bigger person than I gave her credit for,” I say, “I didn’t think she’d come.”

“Maybe she’s hoping Mum will re-hire her if she’s chosen,” says Hugo, “I wonder who else is up for it.”

“I think I heard someone nominated Dean Thomas from the Department of Games and Sports,” says Al, who works in the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Office, “And someone nominated Dad too, but he pulled his name out. Said he’d be a rubbish Minister. Doesn’t like talking to big crowds.”

The Deputy Minister, Timothy Russell, stands up behind the podium to address the crowd, and the hall falls silent. I cross my fingers for Mum – she looks so nervous. I know she wants this more than she lets on.

“Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for being here today,” says Russell, “Before I get to the announcements of the candidates who will be running for Minister of Magic in the coming months, I would like to remember Luca Livingston, who passed away recently.”

Al smirks at me and I look away. He’s always trying to make me laugh at the most inappropriate of moments – not this time.

“He was a true leader, a fantastic Minister and it is a great loss to the wizarding community. Let us bow our heads in a minute’s silence for Minister of Magic, Luca Livingston.”

The minute seems to drag on for a lifetime. Just get to the bloody announcement!

“Now, on to the issue of the day. Two candidates have been chosen to run for the post of Minister for Magic. They have been carefully selected by the Wizengamot to run, and one of them will be elected by you to represent the whole of the British Wizarding Community. Both candidates are more than capable of the job. They are as follows: Hermione Weasley –”

There are lots of cheers and applause. Hugo, Al and I stand up and whoop loudly, and Mum blushes furiously, looking quite pleased with herself. Thank Merlin!

Audrey, on the other hand, looks disgusted with the announcement.

“Yes, yes,” says Russell, looking a bit put out that we interrupted his speech, “Congratulations to Mrs Weasley. She will be running for election against...” he looks down at his piece of paper, “...Mr Percy Weasley.”

This comes as a shock to everyone. Al and Hugo look at me in disbelief. Hardly anyone has started clapping. Mum looks livid.

And Audrey – well, she looks like Christmas has come early. Apparently her threats weren’t so empty after all. 





A/N - Percy up for Minister! Scorpius finally knows about Rose's feelings! Al and Jenny's wedding coming soon! Stay tuned!
Hope you liked the chapter - it's a bit choppy in places, but it's not too bad, I hope! Thank you so so so so so so so much everyone who has reviewed - you are so amazing! And thanks for everyone's constructive criticism on my new banner(s), I was well sick of the old one! :P Please review
P.S - Hope you enjoyed the HBP movie - I did! :)


Chapter 15: Build Up
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Chapter 15 - Build Up
“What the hell are you playing at?” Dad shouts at Percy, poking him in the chest. The two are about the same height, but I’m sure Dad could beat him, if it came to a fight. I think Uncle Percy would be more likely to bore someone to death, than to beat them to it. “You’re a sly git, d’you know that? Hermione would be perfect for Minister, you said so yourself! Why the hell are you running for it, you tosser?”

“Ron, leave it,” Mum tells him quietly, “There’s no point –”

“He’s a git!” Dad repeats, drawing his wand and pointing it at his older brother, “Always has been!”

“What’s going on?!”

The sound of Nana Molly’s voice causes Dad to lower his wand slightly. We decided to take the family dilemma to The Burrow, instead of brawling in the Ministry, where it would be sure to be printed on the front of the Evening Prophet. Hugo looks ready to kill Uncle Percy, who has yet to say anything at all about his extremely sudden decision to run for Minister, but Mum and I know who is really behind this – the infuriatingly smug woman by his side, Auntie Audrey.

“Ron, put your wand away,” Grandad snaps, entering the living room, where we have all congregated.

“He’s a backstabbing little –”

“We were listening to the announcement,” says Nana Molly, “Percy, we didn’t know you were going to run for Minister.”

Everyone now turns to Percy to see what he has to say for himself. He straightens himself up pompously, but pauses a moment before he begins speaking.

“I thought it would be a good career move,” he says. Even I want to hit him now. How is it that it’s only in the past twenty four hours that he’s realised being Minister for Magic would be good for his career?

“Rubbish!” Mum snaps, losing control, “You weren’t even interested in running until I fired Audrey from being my campaign manager!”

“What are you implying, Hermione?” Audrey asks.

“You know fine well what I’m implying,” Mum growls furiously.

“Why don’t we all just calm down?” says Nana Molly, trying to remain impartial, “Would anyone like a cup of tea? I have an apple tart in the oven...”

Bless her. Even during a family crisis, Nana Molly still wants to feed us. Mum, though furiously flustered, helps Nana Molly with the tea, while the rest of us sit down in the living room and try to calm ourselves. Al looks ready to burst out laughing at the tension that is mounting.

And James’s arrival definitely doesn’t help matters.

“I just heard from Dad!” James laughs after apparating into the hall, “Congrats, Hermione!” He comes into the living room, and I notice that he looks much thinner than usual. Not to sound too Nana Molly about it, but I do hope he’s eating properly. His hair needs a good cut too. “And congrats to you too, Percy, I suppose,” he comments in a somewhat teasing way, “No offence, but who’d nominate you?”

Percy shoots James a rather dirty look and does not dignify his question with an answer. Percy has always somewhat disapproved of James’s existence. I think he expected Aunt Ginny and Uncle Harry to produce a much more gracious and bright first born. I think everybody did.

“I nominated him,” says Auntie Audrey proudly, “And my nomination was seconded by Timothy Russell himself!”

“How much did you bribe him?” Dad asks bitterly. James sits down on the floor beside my chair with the usual ‘alright, Red?’ and now that he’s this close, I’ve noticed how tired he looks too. He has dark circles under his eyes. He obviously hasn’t been sleeping. Sometimes I wonder if he does a bit too much partying.

“Percy has worked at the Ministry for over thirty years,” says Audrey haughtily, “He was Junior Assistant to the Minister of Magic himself, and a very high-ranking official for many years. Frankly, he has more experience than Hermione.”

“More experience?” Dad scoffs, “Are you forgetting that while Percy was working for the Death Eater-controlled Ministry, Hermione was out fighting Voldemort with me and Harry? Hermione has more real life experience in her little finger than Percy has in his whole body!”

“Ron,” says Grandad tiredly, “Please, don’t bring that up...”

“Why not?” Dad cries, “I never thought Percy would do this again. I actually had a bit of respect for you, Perce.”

“Do what again?” Al asks. Dad seems a bit surprised by Al’s question – I think he forgot we were here.

“Choose the Ministry over his family,” says Dad, “Fred would turn in his grave.”

Percy looks like Dad’s hit him. James, Al, Hugo and I all look at each other uncomfortably, knowing that Uncle Fred is always dangerous territory to venture into. Tears are beginning to well up in Nana Molly’s eyes.

“Stop it, Ron!” Nana Molly cries, her voice shaking.

“We better go,” says Percy quietly, “I’ll talk to you soon, mother.” He disapparates.

“You should be ashamed of yourself, Ronald,” says Audrey, “Using your brother’s death like that.” She disapparates just before Dad sends a curse at her, which hits one of Nana Molly’s vases instead. Nana Molly weeps as Mum repairs it.

“I hate them both!” Dad shouts.

“Ron, calm down!” Grandad roars at him. Grandad can be very scary, despite being very old, he still has complete control over his children.

“We all know this wasn’t Percy’s idea,” Mum points out.

We drink our tea and eat our tart in silence, Dad wolfing his down angrily. You can tell Dad’s mood by how he eats. If he eats silently, but quickly, then he’s angry. If he eats quickly and talks with his mouth full, he’s excited. If he eats slightly slower, he’s tired. If he doesn’t eat at all, he’s dying.

Mum and Dad return to work after finishing their tea and apple tart. Al is finished for the day, and so James drags him off to plan his stag night, asking him what kind of stripper he’d like. At least they are sticking to tradition for the stag night – no dreary weekends in the country for them.

I return to work too, where Linda, Hazel and Gladys congratulate me on my mother’s success. I’ve decided not to tell them about what escalated between me and Scorpius yesterday and have mentioned very little about the hen weekend. As far as they know, I had a perfectly nice time with my friends. As much as I appreciate having Linda, Hazel and Gladys look out for me, it can get quite annoying when they know absolutely everything about my life.

Today, Linda has decorated the receptionists’ desk with red and pink decorations for Valentine’s Day. She even has red love-heart shaped clips in her hair and Hazel has put up the card she got from her husband. I have my card up too. Aidan made me one at school yesterday. Brian obviously helped him with the writing. It just said ‘To Mum, Love From Aidan XXX’ on it. Linda has been cooing over it all day. I had completely forgotten about Valentine’s Day until Aidan gave me the card.

Healer Kennedy is even joining in on the festivities and is wearing a bright red tie underneath his robes. He approaches the desk with a box of heart-shaped chocolates.

“Happy Valentine’s Day, ladies,” he says, handing them to us. Gladys giggles. It’s a strange and gruesome sound.

“Thank you, sir,” Linda smiles, batting her eyelids.

“Oh, call me Damien,” he says, embarrassed. I suppose it must be weird for him to hear women older than himself calling him ‘sir’. My heart doesn’t even flutter slightly at the sight of him today because my mind is elsewhere. It is with someone who is celebrating his first Valentine’s Day with his new wife. How utterly depressing.

“I like your tie, Damien,” says Linda flirtatiously, suddenly very comfortable with being on first name terms with him.

“Thank you, Linda,” he replies, “My wife bought it for me.”

Linda looks thoroughly disappointed with this. “Damn,” she hisses when he’s gone, “I was hoping he was getting divorced.”

“Would you divorce that arse?” Gladys asks, “If my ex-husband had an arse like that...”

“Why do our conversations always have to take such a low tone?” I ask.

“We can go much lower,” Hazel points out.

“Speaking of divorce – how are Scorpius and Daisy?” Linda asks.

I change the subject very quickly to something else, hoping that they won’t notice how red my ears have gone.

Sitting at home, alone, on Valentine’s Day is something I’m very used to, but it doesn’t make it any less depressing. Brian has a date with some woman his friend set him up with, Scorpius and Daisy are going out to some very exclusive restaurant in London, according to James, who also has a date with a mystery woman. Laura, Dom and Lily are all busy tonight too. Even Aidan has received a Valentine’s Day card! I found it in his bedroom, and being the nosy mother I am, I had a peek. It read:

To Adan,
Happy Valentines Day,
From Mia xxx


I think it’s odd how this Mia person obviously got someone to spell ‘Valentines’ for her, but couldn’t discover the proper way to spell her love interest’s name. Still, I can’t be that critical of a five year old, but even my dyslexic son can spell his name. I didn’t bother asking Aidan who Mia is, because I know he’ll just get angry with me for reading his card. It’s very sad, however, that a five year old has a more interesting love life than I do.

My bitter attitude somewhat fades when Dom shows up at my flat at ten o’clock, having just escaped a horribly bad date. The bloke, who she met through a mutual friend, turned out to be a complete weirdo and actually asked her if he could look up her skirt during dinner. Apparently some guys just have very bad table manners.

“That date was a total waste of make-up. Why are all men so fucking annoying?” Dom growls, kicking off her high heels and throwing herself down on the couch beside me.

“They’re not all annoying,” I tell her, “Some are dead.”

“I’m telling you, I’m so close to becoming a nun, it’s not even funny.”

And so we spend our Valentines’ Night watching the telly and drinking cheap wine. It’s times like these when I wonder why we get so hung up on men, and why we think we need them to make us happy. When you can have a good laugh with your friends, a heart-to-heart with your cousin, babies from a cup and satisfaction from chocolate, who needs a bloke anyway? Men are definitely overrated.

*
Over the next week, Scorpius avoids me completely. He makes excuses not to come to my place to collect Aidan and sends Daisy, James or Al to get him instead. It’s so pathetic. He even makes Daisy answer the door to me when I go over to their place. Daisy and I hold very forced polite conversation for no more than thirty seconds, but at least we’re on semi-civil terms.

It goes on like this for days. Jenny starts getting suspicious as to why Scorpius is sending Al back and forth with our child, but I tell her that he’s just busy with work. I can’t tell her what I said to him – she’d kill me, and I couldn’t even defend myself because she’s pregnant. Luckily Jenny is so preoccupied with the wedding that she doesn’t press me for more information concerning Scorpius’s absence from my life.

Friday, exactly eight days before the Potter-Winters wedding, I’m supposed to go to Jenny’s to help with the preparations, and Scorpius is supposed to be taking Aidan for the weekend. I’m already twenty minutes late, and Aidan is sitting on the floor, petting Ollie boredly as we wait for the next messenger to come collect him. At half one, someone finally knocks on the door.

This time, he’s sent his parents.

Draco and Astoria Malfoy are at my door. How I wish he’d sent Daisy.

“Hello Rose!” Mrs Malfoy greets me happily, “I’m sure Scorpius told you we’d be coming.”

“Er, I’m sure he didn’t,” I reply.

“We’re taking Aidan for the weekend,” says Draco Malfoy, completely avoiding my eye line. I’ve never seen anyone less pleased to be at my flat as him. Our last confrontation was quite a strange one, what with our evil scheming and absurd bonding over our hatred for Scorpius’s wife – I don’t think we quite know what to say to each other.

“Well, Aidan is staying with us this weekend,” says Astoria, “I thought Scorpius told you...”

“Why is he staying with you?” I ask, not meaning to be as rude as I sound. I’ve always quite liked Astoria and got on quite well with her. I can’t say the same for her husband.

“It’s not unheard of for a child to visit his grandparents every now and again,” says Draco dryly.

I stare at him blankly and wait for a more satisfactory answer. I know he’ll get so uncomfortable under my stare that he’ll have to tell me eventually just why the hell Aidan isn’t staying with Scorpius this weekend, as planned.

“Scorpius and Daisy are gone away for the weekend,” he states, that disapproving look he usually saves for me plastered across his face.

“They are?”

Aidan runs out from the living room. “Grandad! Granny!” he cries happily. I can’t say very much now that Aidan is here, as I’ve made a promise to myself not to argue with people while he’s in earshot. I invite the Malfoys in for a moment, trying to pry some more information about Scorpius and Daisy’s whereabouts without seeming overbearing or jealous. However, they’re both too interested in Aidan to even acknowledge me. When they do, it’s to talk about Mum.

“We heard about your mother’s nomination for Minister!” says Astoria, “She must be so excited. She has our vote!”

Draco once again looks very uncomfortable. It’s common knowledge that he has a strong dislike for my parents, and my whole family in general, but it’s clear now that he is facing a huge dilemma now – who does he hate more, Mum or Uncle Percy?

“Thank you, Mrs Malfoy,” I say. I then look at the clock and realise that I was supposed to be at Jenny’s half an hour ago. I’m sure I’ll be receiving a howler from her any minute if I don’t get a move on, so I kiss Aidan goodbye and let him go with his grandparents, who are taking him to the zoo, apparently.

*

And so Scorpius continues to dodge me for days and days. I don’t know what he’s hoping is going to happen by avoiding me – does he think I’ll just go away? Or that my feelings will go away? If I thought that, I’d have moved to Japan at this stage. Whoever made up the phrase ‘out of sight, out of mind’ was full of crap.

“Maybe it’s a coincidence,” says Brian when I confide in him about the whole situation, “You know, maybe he’s just busy.”

“He’s a broomstick charmer,” I say flatly, “How busy can he be?”

Brian, still looking very amused by the notion of a broomstick charmer, places a cup of tea down in front of me. I’m at his house upon invite – he wanted to complain to me about his crappy Valentines’ date with a woman named Greta, and I want to complain about the same person I always complain about.

“You did sort of just spring it on him,” says Brian, “I’d probably hide from you too.”

“Cheers, Brian, you’re so helpful.”

“I wish Greta would avoid me,” he says darkly, taking his phone out of his pocket, clicking a button, and putting it back, “She won’t stop texting me. I wish she’d take the hint.”

“Poor Greta,” I say, “You know, you ought to be more sensitive. I know what it’s like to be on Greta’s end of things!”

“It’s not the same,” Brian laughs, “I don’t have a kid with her. Thank God. You know, one of these days I’m actually going to go on a good date...” He looks sort of depressed about it. I feel sorry for him.

“Yeah, I know what you mean. My cousin Dom –”

I stop suddenly. It hits me like lightening. Why haven’t I thought of it before?

“Brian, how would you like to come to a wedding with me?” I ask, “My cousin, Al, is getting married on Saturday.”

He looks slightly suspicious at my sudden change of subject. But he has no idea of my ingenious plan.

“I’m going to need moral support,” I tell him, “Plus, you’ll get to meet lots of witches and wizards.”

This seems to seal the deal. And just like that I have a new project, as if I didn’t have enough of them. On top of Potions, apparition classes, motherhood, work, Mum’s Ministry campaign, not killing Daisy and preparing for Jenny’s wedding, I am now bound to play matchmaker between my friend Brian and my cousin Dom.

*

On the eve of Al and Jenny’s wedding, the boys are having the stag night, while Dom, Lily, Jenny’s sister and I all stay at Jenny’s parents’ house. Her parents are staying at the hotel the reception is in tonight - they don't want to be here for the massacre that is the morning of the wedding. 

The place has already been converted into a bridesmaid- refuge. Jenny has laid out all of the make-up in the bathroom, in the order it goes on, so that the beautician will be able to navigate it properly in the morning. Nana Molly dropped off the wedding cake earlier, and it is in the kitchen, to be brought to the reception hall tomorrow morning by Teddy.

It’s so hard to believe that the wedding is here already. Their engagement party seems like just yesterday. Actually, their first date seems like just yesterday – it’s so strange to think it’s been over five years. And Jenny just seems so calm about the whole thing. It’s like she was born to be a Potter.

We go to bed early, to look our best tomorrow. However, I’m shaken awake at one o’clock in the morning by a very frantic Jenny, whose tranquillity seems to have disappeared completely.

“I don’t have my veil!” she screeches, “I left my veil back at the flat!”

“Calm down,” I croak, sitting up in the bed, “Are you sure?”

“YES I’M SURE!” she shouts, “Rose, what am I going to do? I don’t have my veil!”

I get out of the bed, and grab her shoulders. It’s not often that I’m the rational one between the two of us, but weddings can do awful things to people, particularly when there is a pregnant bride involved.

“Jenny, you need to calm down,” I tell her, “It’s fine. We’ll get James to bring it over in the morning.”

“Now!” Jenny cries, “I need it now! Everything has to go perfectly in the morning, Rose! I need everything together!”

“Well then pull yourself together!” I shout. I’m a fan of tough love. “You are pregnant, you don’t need any added stress. Now I’m going to ring James and have him bring the veil over. Go to bed.”

She doesn’t go to bed until after I’ve rang James and assured her that he’ll be over in ten minutes. I then go downstairs and wait for him to arrive, wondering why the hell I was saddled with the job of maid of honour. Lily is Jenny’s future sister in law – Gillian is Jenny’s sister! I think she’s doing it to punish me for something I’ve done to piss her off.

But it’s not James who arrives with the veil. It’s Scorpius.

It’s strange how Scorpius will send our son from pillar to post with any Tom, Dick or Harry, but he must deliver Jenny’s veil in person.

“The others were too drunk to apparate,” he explains straight away, “They would have splinched themselves.”

I can’t imagine what Jenny would say if the best man turned up to the wedding without a nose.

“So...eh, here,” he says, handing me the veil. I take it from him, and stare, waiting for him to bring up something about what I said the other week. He doesn’t. “Right, I’m going to head off...”

“Seriously?” I ask, “That’s it? That’s all I get?”

He’s a little bit tipsy, I can tell, but he’s not half as bad as I thought he’d be, given the fact that he’s been at Al’s stag night. “What do you want me to say?” he shrugs.

“Why have you been avoiding me?” I ask him.

“I haven’t –”

“Please don’t insult my intelligence,” I snap, “I haven’t seen you in nearly two weeks. Why?”

He pauses for a moment. “You know why,” he says angrily, “I’d rather not get into this now, Rose, it’s nearly half one in the morning.”

“Look, I’m sorry,” I tell him, “I know I shouldn’t have just come out with it the way I did, but you have to understand –”

“Just shut up, would you?” he snaps, “You sound pathetic!”

It burns, cuts and stings all at the same time. The look he’s given me, I’ve only ever seen on his face once, and it was aimed towards his father. It’s hard being on the receiving end – perhaps this is why Draco Malfoy is always so miserable.

“Please, just hear me out,” I go on, sounding even more pathetic.

“No,” he hisses.

“I didn’t mean to spring it on you, really I didn’t!” I tell him, “But it’s been eating me up. I can’t think of anything else –”

“You’re only saying this because I’m with someone else!” Scorpius snarls, “When I was available, you couldn’t be bothered with me!”

“It’s not true!” I cry, “I was going to tell you, but then you told me you were married and it’s all been downhill from there...”

“Rose –”

“I really do love you, Scorpius!” I tell him, “I do! And I was so gutted when I heard that you were married – that’s why I’ve been so horrible to Daisy all this time.” It’s like someone has stuffed me full of Veritaserum. “I know I’ve been a bitch, but you really hurt me this time, Scorp.”

“Good,” he snaps coldly, and takes a good look at me, “At last you finally know how it feels.”

He leaves. Before I can burst into tears, I go to leave the veil upstairs, and find Jenny standing at the top of them, glaring at me, having just heard the whole conversation. 

 

 








A/N - I know, I've taken ages, but believe me, nobody is happier that this chapter is finally up than me! I've changed it a few times, and I've been busy with other stuff, so they are my excuses. The good news is that work is underway for a dramatic chapter 16, so stay tuned! And by-the-by - 3000 REVIEWS!!!! SQUEE!!! I squeed out loud when I saw! You guys are such total legends. I have the best reader/reviewers in the whole world. I'm so grateful!! I know I'm so unbelievably bad at answering reviews, but you can contact me  on my HPFF author page. And as always, I do read every single review, and I appreciate them all. *HUG* (",)
 


Chapter 16: Nuptial Catastrophe
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Chapter 16 - Nuptial Catastrophe
This is the worst start to a wedding day in the history of weddings. I never thought I’d say that after the start to Teddy and Victoire’s wedding – back when I was up all night, thinking about an argument I’d had with Scorpius the night before, wondering just how the hell we would ever get past it.

Some things never change, apparently.

Throughout the night, my distress turns to depression, and rapidly to rage. Complete and utter blind rage. How dare he say those things to me? He called me pathetic – he is the reason I’m so pathetic! I used to be so strong and independent, now I’m inwardly cringing every time I think about the argument we just had. Could I have sounded more desperate?

After a number of threats from Jenny, I decided to try to get some sleep, because if I woke up with red, puffy eyes and dark circles under them, she would (and I quote) “make sure Aidan would never see his mother alive again.” Pregnant brides are a hoot.

So I took Jenny’s advice and forgot about Scorpius, to concentrate on the day ahead. By the time morning comes, it’s a lot easier to forget about it than I thought it would be. Because, like I said, today is a bloody disaster already.

Lily rushes into my room at half eight, panicking. Lily isn’t one for early mornings, so I can tell it’s an emergency if she’s up before me.

“Rose! Rose, wake up!” Lily cries, obviously not seeing that I’ve been up all night and am already awake, “Rose, Jenny’s locked herself in the bathroom!”

I groan. It’s one of those situations where you can’t sleep until the moment you have to get up, when you feel like you could sleep for days. I drag myself out of bed and follow Lily out of the room.

Jenny’s sister, Gillian, is standing outside the bathroom, knocking on the door and speaking in gentle tones. Dom is up too, falling asleep against the wall, not looking at all bothered that the bride has locked herself in the bathroom.

“Jenny, love, it’s all going to be fine,” Gillian is saying soothingly, “Just come out. The hairdresser will be here at nine, and we have to have breakfast yet...”

“Move,” I grumble at Gillian. I bang on the bathroom door, hard. “Jenny Winters! Get your arse out here, NOW!”

“Go away!” Jenny calls, “I c-can’t do it!”

Lily looks like she’s going to cry.

“Jenny, we’ve spent weeks planning this wedding. Everything is ready. You can’t just back out now!” I snap angrily.

“Just leave me alone, Rose!” Jenny sobs, “I’m not coming out!”

I turn around, looking for help from the others. They all shrug at me. I sigh in frustration. If Jenny stands my cousin up, she can kiss goodbye to our friendship. “Fine,” I tell her, “Stay in there. See if I care. But I can tell you something – I’m not going to be the one to tell Nana Molly about this.” There is a silence. “Or Aunt Ginny and Uncle Harry.”

It hasn’t worked. She’s not budging.

“I think you played the Ginny card too early,” says Dom.

I tell the others to go start getting ready. We should be dressed when Jenny comes to her senses, so that we can all concentrate on getting her ready. Victoire comes by at half nine, with Remus and Aidan. Aidan is to be page boy, and is already dressed in his suit, looking very smart indeed. Remus has morphed himself to look exactly like Aidan.

“Any luck getting Jenny out of the bathroom?” Victoire asks me.

“Nope. You’re welcome to try,” I tell her. She nods and goes upstairs to relieve Lily of her duty of convincing Jenny to come out. The two boys then run off to play, and I warn them not to get their clothes dirty.

The hairdresser, make-up artist and manicurist are all here now, looking very confused. I’m sure they’re wondering if they’ll still get paid if the bride stays in the bathroom throughout the whole ceremony.

Dom has tried yelling at her for fifteen minutes straight. Lily has tried singing ‘1000 bottles of Butterbeer on the wall’ to annoy her out. Gillian has tried appealing to her rational side. Victoire has tried blasting the door open with her wand, but it has been magically sealed. We’ve warned that we’ll get Molly over. Jenny will not budge. We’ve even made Aidan and Remus ask her to come out, but she’s just staying in there, crying.

“Mum, why won’t Aunt Jenny come out of the bathroom?” Aidan asks me.

“She’s...just changing,” I say. Even Aidan doesn’t believe this.

“Why do you want her to stop changing?”

“Dom needs the bathroom,” I tell him.

“Why?”

“Why do people usually need the bathroom?” Dom snaps at him.

“Why can’t you use the bathroom downstairs?” Aidan snaps back.

Dom stares at him. “Touché.”

“I’m going to give James a call,” I announce, “See how Al’s getting on.”

The others nod in agreement, simply because they have absolutely no idea what else to do. We are all dressed in our yellow bridesmaid dresses, with our hair and make-up done. Perhaps if we all show up to the wedding, nobody will notice Jenny’s absence.

I rush downstairs and dial James’s number. It rings out for a whole two minutes before James answers.

“’Lo?”

“James? Why do you sound like you’re still in bed?” I snap angrily.

“Mum?”

“It’s Rose you idiot!” I hiss.

“Oh. Morning, Red.”

“I’m just phoning to see how you lot are getting on,” I tell him, “Please tell me you’re up.” I can tell that this is one of those moments where I come so close to killing James Potter, it’s scary.

“I’m not going to lie to you, Red...”

“James!” I shout, “GET YOUR ARSE OUT OF BED! Is everyone else up?”

“Eh...just a second...” I hear him drag himself out of bed and call out Al and Scorpius’s names. “Nope. They’re still asleep.” My blind rage makes me momentarily put aside the fact that Scorpius clearly got some sleep last night.

“It’s past ten!” I cry, “The ceremony is at twelve!” I’m not quite sure why I’m getting so worked up about the fact that the groom has overslept. At this rate, it’ll be a miracle if the bride shows up at all.

“So? We just have to put on our tuxes. We’ll be there,” he assures me.

“The car is picking you up in an hour, James,” I snap, “Get Al out of bed right now, or I swear to Merlin I will kill you dead.” He laughs. “James, do you think I’m joking?”

“Eh...right...I’ll just...I have to go now. We’ll see you at the church, Red!” He hangs up rapidly.

Due to the fact that Jenny is Muggleborn, this is going to be a Muggle ceremony. This means that we have to keep our magic hidden from the other Muggles at the wedding, so everything is being done without the use of magic – including hair and make-up. If Jenny doesn’t get out of the bathroom soon, she is going to be really late.

As I go to make my way back upstairs, Aidan and Remus are coming down, playing ‘Death Eaters and Aurors’ – Aidan is the Death Eater, Remus is the Auror. Aidan is currently winning.

“Keep out of the kitchen!” I warn them, as that’s where the wedding cake is residing. Victoire is taking it to the reception hall in a few minutes, after her last try at getting Jenny to come the hell out of the bathroom.

Even Dom has started looking panicked now.

“Jen, please come out,” Gillian says softly to the bathroom door.

“I can’t do it!” Jenny shrieks, her voice echoing around the bathroom, “T-tell him I can’t do it! T-tell him I can’t become a P-Potter! I’m too young to get married! I’m only twenty-two! Who gets married that young?” This is coming from the girl that was telling me to be happy for Scorpius and Daisy. Bloody hypocrite.

Gillian sighs and shrugs at us.

“What are we going to do?” I whisper fiercely at them.

“Shall I call James?” Lily suggests, “Tell them she needs more time?”

“No,” I say, “It’ll only panic Al. There’s no point in him being in a state too.”

“Well we have to do something!” says Gillian, on the verge of tears.

I roll my eyes. It’s so bloody typical of our family that this would happen.

“She’s just getting a few pre-wedding jitters,” I say, trying to convince myself as well as the others that everything will be alright, “Let’s leave her be for a while. The bride’s supposed to be late anyway, right?” Lily, Dom and Gillian nod in agreement. “Right, I’ll go downstairs and get her dress, you two set her make-up out and attack her with the brushes as soon as she comes out of that bathroom, okay?” They nod again. I rush back down the stairs of the Winters’ house. Jenny’s dress is hanging up in the dining room, just off the kitchen. I have to say, it’s a gorgeous dress. It would want to be for the price she paid for it – I could have bought two Firebolts with that money. I stare longingly at the white, ridiculously expensive, flowing dress for a moment. Even on the hanger it looks amazing. It kind of makes me wish I was getting married...

CRASH!

A very loud noise from the kitchen makes me jump, and I hear the door of the bathroom opening upstairs. “What was that?!” Jenny shrieks. I then hear her being tackled by the girls, who are apparently following my command to attack her with the make-up as soon as she left the bathroom.

“Nothing!” I call back, “I’ll sort it out...”

I rush into the kitchen to find the cause of the loud crashing sound, trying to reassure myself that it’s not what I think it is.

It’s worse.

There are two identical blonde boys covered from head to foot in wedding cake, standing in the middle of the kitchen.

“What is it?” Jenny calls from upstairs.

“N-nothing!” I call back, “It’s nothing! You just get ready!”

I hear Jenny being dragged into her bedroom by the girls, and I turn back to Remus and Aidan. I’m in such shock that I cannot possibly think of what to say to these two little antichrists standing before me.

I take a deep breath, and prepare myself for a Nana Molly-style rant.

“Look what you’ve done!” I hiss at them, “I told you two not to play in the kitchen! You’ve completely ruined the wedding cake! Have you any idea how long Nana Molly spent making this? Al and Jenny are going to be devastated!” They look slightly ashamed of themselves now. “And you’ve completely ruined your outfits! You’re going to have to have another bath now to get all this out of your hair!” They look outraged at the thought of another bath. “What do you have to say for yourselves?!”

They both look down at the cake-covered floor. “Sorry,” they say in union.

“You will be,” I assure them, “Aidan, you’re grounded!” I say it to the one I’m almost sure is my son. It’s very hard to tell. Remus is very good at morphing into Aidan. “No TV, no Quidditch and no sweets for two weeks.”

“But Mum-”

“Don’t push your luck,” I snap at him. Just then, Victoire comes into the kitchen, stops and looks around at the mess and the two boys, and her face turns so red, even I’m afraid of her.

“What on earth happened here?” she hisses, slamming the door behind her so that Jenny won’t hear from upstairs. I fill her in on how our two sons are complete idiots. She starts swearing in French, like her mother does when she’s angry. The boys look much more frightened of her than they are of me – all of a sudden I’m the lesser of two evils. Victoire knows which of them are Remus straight away, without even asking. It must be nice to know your child that well – I wonder what’s wrong with me that I couldn’t tell them apart at first?

She gets out her wand, points it at the two boys, and immediately their tuxes begin cleaning themselves. I’m very impressed by this bit of magic – they look brand new.

“It’s a handy trick when you work in the clothes-making business,” Victoire shrugs at me. “Right, you two go sit down in the living room and do not move a muscle until it’s time to leave, do you hear me?” They nod and walk out of the kitchen with their heads hung in shame.

“What the hell are we going to do Rose?” Victoire asks me in panic, “Jenny is going to flip!”

While we’re debating just how the hell we can fix this in the next fifteen minutes, Dom joins us. Her response is even less dignified than ours.

“Fucking hell,” she sighs, “It looks like you set a pissed off Hippogriff loose in here.”

“A pissed off Hippogriff would have done less damage,” Victoire replies, “Do you know any spells that can fix this?”

“Did you try Reparo?” she asks. The idea is so ridiculously simple that we haven’t tried it. I shrug at the two, point my wand at the mess and hope for the best.

“Reparo,” I command.

The three-tiered cake comes together in one big mush, but at least it’s not all over the kitchen anymore. Still, it looks nothing like a wedding cake, or any other food for that matter. Except for maybe a huge bowl of porridge.

“It looks...fine,” Dom lies through her teeth.

“It’s passable,” Victoire agrees uncertainly.

“They may not even notice,” I say.

“Yeah...maybe Al went blind. And maybe Jenny won’t show up to the reception,” says Dom.

“Why did I have a child?” I moan.

“My thoughts exactly,” Victoire agrees.

I check my watch. It’s already half ten. We have exactly an hour and a half before we have to be at the church, and Dom and I will be expected to be there early as bridesmaids.

“How long did it take Nana Molly to make this?” I ask them.

“A week,” says Victoire, folding her arms, “There is no way we can make another one in time. You have to leave it sitting for a number of hours before you can ice it, and then you need to do another layer of –”

“Okay, we get the picture,” Dom stops her, “We could just make one that looks like it? You know, it doesn’t have to taste nice, it just has to look like a wedding cake.”

“Yes, but aren’t they going to notice when everyone goes to eat it and ends up throwing up?” Victoire points out.

“What choice do we have?” I ask.

The three of us stand in silence for a moment and ponder Dom’s idea. None of us can come up with anything better.

“Right, turn on the oven,” says Victoire, taking off her cardigan and putting on an apron, “We have a lot of work to do. Dom, get the ingredients – eggs, milk, sugar, butter, flour. And whatever else you can find. Rose, ring around and get as many people as you can to help us out – make sure Nana Molly and Jenny never know.”

I set to work. I ring Hugo first, and then Fred and Roxie and tell them to apparate straight into the kitchen so nobody notices them. I get Louis too, but I don’t bother ringing Molly or Lucy. I get the impression that they aren’t speaking to me after what went down at the Burrow the other day. I leave Lily and Gillian with Jenny, and fill them in on what’s happened, so that they know not to let Jenny anywhere near the kitchen.

And so we mix, beat, sieve, bake, ice and decorate until our hands are sore. Lily comes down to warn us several times that Jenny is getting suspicious, so Dom and I take turns in going upstairs and making excuses for our absence. After ‘we were on the phone to Al making sure everything’s alright’ and ‘we were just getting some fresh air’, we’re rapidly running out of believable ones.

When the cars pull up outside the house, Dom and I look at each other in panic. Victoire tells us to go on ahead, she, Fred and Roxie will finish off.

Jenny appears to have pulled herself together. Looking at her now, you wouldn’t think that she’d spent the whole morning in the bathroom, crying, or that she spent half an hour telling me off last night. Thinking about that just makes me angry again, so I push last night from my brain.

After many pictures outside the house, Dom, Lily, Gillian, Aidan and I clamber into the first car, while Jenny and her father get into the second one. We each breathe a sigh of relief that we are finally on the way to the church. As long as the car doesn’t break down, and as long as Al turns up to the church, we should be fine. Famous last words, I know.

When preparing to go into the church, I give Aidan one last minute lecture on how to walk down the aisle – not too fast, not too slow, and for the love of god, don’t drop the rings. Dom goes in after Aidan, then Lily, then Gillian, and then me. Before I go, Jenny grabs my arm and holds me back.

“Rose, I’m sorry about last night,” she says quietly, “I know I overreacted a bit.”

“It’s fine, Jen,” I tell her, “Forget it.”

“It’s just...he’s married now,” she says, “And I’m about to be married. And I wouldn’t like to think that someone would say things like that to Al...”

“Jenny, Al loves you,” I assure her, now completely realising Jenny’s insecurities, “He always has. Don’t worry about it. And after last night, Scorpius is forgotten. I promise.”

She smiles at me and nods, and I head off down the aisle with my head held high, feeling anything but pathetic. On the way, I see Molly give me death glares, Brian give me a thumbs up (I’d almost forgotten I invited him) and James pull a stupid face up at the altar beside a very nervous looking Al. It truly is bewildering how they won’t even make their hair lie flat on a day like this. Then again, by the look of Uncle Harry and Auntie Ginny’s wedding pictures, I don’t think Harry did either.

Victoire, Roxie and Fred have all made it here in time, given that they apparated. Fred has icing in his hair, Victoire looks ready to kill someone, and Roxie is reapplying lipstick – I think they’ve only just arrived.

Harry and Ginny look like such proud parents, sitting in the second row, smiling up at Al. Jenny’s Mum has started crying already, as has Nana Molly. Al is literally shaking with nerves, and when Jenny starts walking up the aisle, he visibly pales. I’m really hoping he’s not about to faint.

Throughout the ceremony, I glance at Scorpius, who looks like he might be feeling guilty. Or maybe it’s just my imagination. When Jenny catches me looking at Scorpius, I make sure to look nowhere near him again. I made a promise to her and I’m going to stick to it. And I’ve made enough of a fool of myself around him for one year.

And as my anger towards Scorpius rises again, I calm it by looking at Dorie, who is sitting on Teddy’s knee, smiling.

The ceremony goes well, aside from one minor blip when Al accidentally drops the ring before placing it on Jenny’s finger. And it would have gone relatively unnoticed if James hadn’t snorted loudly, a snort that echoed around the church.

I think everyone is happy to start drinking as soon as we reach the hotel for the reception. Audrey and Percy seem to be distancing themselves from the rest of the family, and whenever Percy makes the effort to talk to someone, Audrey tugs on his arm and drags him off somewhere else.

As soon as the pictures are finished, I go to rescue Brian from my mother. I think he’s disappointed that there is absolutely no magic at this wedding – I left him under the impression that this wouldn’t be a solely Muggle affair, which it basically is. If I told him the truth, he may not have come.

“Rose, why have we never met Brian before?” Mum asks me as soon as I come over. I hate when mothers ask this question. I don’t think ‘because you lot are a bunch of idiots’ will be acceptable to her.

“Oh...you know...” Apparently this is far more acceptable.

“So where did you two meet?” Mum asks. Again, will ‘a crazy Muggle nightclub where we gave each other fake names, only to later realise that Brian is my son’s teacher’ suffice?

“I’m Aidan’s substitute teacher,” says Brian, and Mum seems impressed by the fact that he’s a teacher.

“Rose, I don’t see why you felt you had to keep it from us that you have a boyfriend –”

“No!” I exclaim quickly, “No no no no no no no....”

“No,” Brian adds.

“No. We’re just friends,” I tell her firmly. She looks disappointed.

When I finally drag Brian away from Mum, I fill him in on last night’s events. Thankfully, he’s on my side. I think this is the reason I never really wanted to introduce Brian to my family. He’s always on my side – maybe if he heard other people’s stories, he wouldn’t be so generous.

“He called you pathetic?” Brian frowns, “That’s a bit harsh.”

“I know,” I agree.

“I mean, I’d never say it to your face -” I smack him.

“Sorry,” he laughs, “But maybe he was just in shock. You had just told him you’re in love with him, after all. Which one is he?”

“He’s the blonde one who’s holding hands with the eighty-year-old,” I reply, nodding over to Scorpius and Daisy.

“She’s a very pretty eighty-year-old,” says Brian. I smack him again. “Oh and by the way, Aidan’s glaring at us.”

I turn around and see Aidan staring, looking very angry. He’s never accepted Brian as my friend, and I completely forgot about this when I invited Brian to the wedding.

“I’ll be back in a minute,” I tell Brian, and head over to Aidan, still angry with him for destroying the cake, but now also feeling guilty for not consulting with him before inviting Brian to the wedding. He turns away from me as I approach, so I hold onto his shoulders and spin him back around.

“Stop frowning,” I tell him, “You’ll get wrinkles.” This doesn’t seem to bother him. “Look, I know you don’t really like Brian –”

“He’s my teacher,” Aidan frowns, “You should have come with somebody else.”

“Like who?”

“Like Dad.”

I frown back at him. “Dad came with Daisy,” I tell him.

“I know,” he replies, “He should have come with you instead.”

I really don’t want to have to get into this here. I tell Aidan to run along and play with Remus, that we’ll discuss this later on. First I reassure him that Brian and I are nothing but friends, and that is all we ever will be, and he seems happy enough with this explanation.

When dinner is announced, we all make our way into the large dinner hall.

“That’s not the cake I made!” I hear Nana Molly exclaim from behind me. Crap.

*

After dinner, there is dancing. I’m completely unable to get out of it, being maid of honour, so I force Brian onto the floor to dance with me. While dancing, I tell him the story of each of my relatives – he laughs at my description of Molly, and stops when he realises I’m deadly serious about every last detail. Now he just looks disturbed.

“So who’s that?” he asks nodding over to Dom.

“That’s Dom,” I tell him, “I’ve told you about Dom?”

“Yeah...” he drifts off. And then it strikes me just who Dom is. She’s part Veela. At the end of the day, while I just see my incredibly sarcastic and surly cousin, most men see an incredibly beautiful woman, and apparently that is what Brian is seeing. It doesn’t matter to him that Dom laughs at the most politically incorrect jokes, or tells beggars that she has no change and then jingles the coins in her pockets at them. Like most straight men, he just doesn’t see past the pretty face. Dom is like Snow White with a drinking problem, and instead of having seven men on the go, she has seventeen. “She’s...”

“Gorgeous?” I finish for him, “Yeah, she’s part Veela.” He looks at me questioningly. “Veelas are magical creatures – really beautiful. They can pretty much hold men under spells. Victoire is her sister.”

“That explains a lot,” Brian nods, still blatantly staring at her. I think my plan to get those two together is going to be easier than I thought.

“You should ask her to dance,” I tell him.

“Me?” he snorts, “Yeah, like she’d dance with me...”

“I’m sure she would. Believe me, Dom’s done a lot worse.”

“Cheers,” he says dryly. I force him to go over Dom, and he does, running a hand through his hair and fixing his jacket on the way. I can’t hear what he’s saying, but Dom looks very wary of him at first, looking him up and down with that very intimidating look she can give. However, after a moment she laughs and then she nods and accompanies him onto the dance floor.

Ah, my work here is done.

Turning around triumphantly to find someone else to talk to, I walk straight into the one person I’ve been avoiding. Scorpius. And that rage that I’ve been suppressing all day rears its ugly head again.

“Do not speak to me,” I hiss at him, “Just don’t even think about it.”

“Come on Rose –”

“I swear to Merlin I will jinx you. I will jinx you in front of my whole family, in front of all of these Muggles and in front of our son.” I don’t know if I’ve ever felt such anger rise inside me so quickly. “Don’t ever speak to me again, unless it’s about Aidan. Do you hear me?”

I knew I was angry with him, but not until I heard his voice just now did I realise just how angry I am. I think I could actually punch him in the mouth quite easily. The mouth that called me pathetic. I storm off into a room off the dinner hall, which is now the dancing hall, where all the wedding presents are.

I sit among the presents, wondering what could possibly be in each of the beautifully wrapped boxes. Salt and pepper shakers, toasters, saucepans and other such useless Muggle contraptions that Al and Jenny will probably never use. I'm finding it hard to concentrate on anything, except not crying.

I can't stand this anymore. I can't stand the way he looks at me and speaks to me these days. He makes me feel like vermin. He never used to make me feel like this. I used to feel like a princess when he looked at me. Now his mind has been warped by marriage. Has he changed, or have I changed? I know it's my fault. Well, I know it's partly my fault. I shouldn’t have told Daisy about the proposal, but I thought that was water under the bridge now.

He was probably embarrassed.

This makes me feel even worse, if possible.

I can hear a slow song coming on, so I decide to stay in the present room for as long as possible to sit it out. I don’t feel like watching the happy couples dancing together, especially now that I don’t even have a date to dance with. I'm in the mood for bed. I can't wait for that point in the evening when Aidan gets cranky, so I'll have an excuse to get the hell out of here.

The door of what I'm now referring to as the "present room" opens. It's Scorpius. Part of me is surprised to see him, while another part of me kind of predicted he would come. 

He looks like he's in pain. He looks as if he's just received some awful news. He looks as if he's fighting an inner battle with himself, torn between two feelings. He looks, in short, exactly how I feel.

“I really can’t talk to you, Scorpius,” I tell him, slightly calmer now, “You were a right prick last night.”

“I know,” he replies, “But you were a right bitch to me for the majority of the time I’ve known you, so I’d say we’re about even.” He pauses. "I can't dance," he says quietly, leaning back against the door. He is looking up at the ceiling, not at me. "I can't dance at all. I'm rubbish at it." He doesn't have to tell me. I know just how crap a dancer he is. "Your mate Brian can dance."

"So?" I mumble. Is that supposed to make me forget all about Scorpius? Should I want Brian more because he can throw some moves on the dancefloor? "What's your point?" 

He continues staring at the ceiling. I even look up to see if there is something interesting there, but there isn't. Just plain white. And apparently it's more interesting than me.

"My point is you deserve someone who can dance," he says, "And I can't."

This angers me. If he doesn't love me anymore, he should come out and say it and not pull the 'it's not you, it's me...I can't dance' crap on me. He is so infuriating sometimes.

"I can't dance either," I tell him.

"You looked like you could out on the dancefloor with Brian," he says, in that same eerily quiet voice.

"Scorpius," I start and he visibly flinches as I say his name. It hurts like a knife in the chest.

"Do you really hate me?" I have to ask it. I know it sounds needy and obsessive and shrill, but I need to know just how much he hates me since I broke his heart. I have to know. Last night all I could feel was hate.

"I wish," he says, still glaring at the ceiling, "You have no idea how much I want to hate you, Rose."

That's comforting. I think.

"I hate that you told me you still love me," he admits, "And I hate that you're such a bloody bitch to Daisy all the live long day." He finally looks at me. "I hate the way you behave most of the time. But I don't hate you. Unfortunately."

I stand up and approach him. He looks like he wants to back away, but he can't because he's backed up against the door. I study his face as he frowns down at me, hating everything about the way I act, but not hating me. I've always thought a person's actions defines who they are. What else does? Certainly not their looks, because that's far too shallow. It's our choices and our actions that make us who we are. And I am a pretty awful person, as he as just established, and if he hates the way I act, then how is it that he doesn't hate me? Scorpius Malfoy is such a complicated person. I don't know why I love him so much, when I hate the way he acts most of the time too.

"I'm sorry, Scorpius," I say, and he flinches as I say his name again, "But stop looking at me like I'm something you just wiped off the bottom of your shoe! I’m sorry about how I told you, but come on! I just told you something you already knew!”

"I don't want to hear any more about that," he says, "I'm done with it. I'm done with you." He turns to leave but I grab his hand to stop him. He turns to face me again. "Seriously Rose, please let me go."

"No," I tell him, "I can’t.”

He gazes deep into my eyes. It's so electric I want to wrap my arms around him immediately and kiss him, but I restrain myself. "We need to talk about this," I tell him firmly, "We need to sort this out before we end up killing each other. So you don't hate me. Do you love me, then?"

He looks down at the floor. "You deserve to be happy, Rose," he tells me, "I don't think I can make you happy. I think you were right to turn me down."

"Is this because you can't dance?" I ask.

"No," he says, "It's because I was bad for you."

"No you weren't!" I cry, "You're the best thing that ever happened to me, apart from Aidan! And the only reason Aidan happened to me is because of you! We're good together, Scorpius."

"We're disastrous together," he argues.

"No, we were great together," I tell him firmly, "You know we were. Physically and emotionally."

He looks at me. He knows we were great together in bed. There's no denying it. As we gaze into each others eyes, I know it's going to happen. There is no way it can't. I back away from him at first, because I know it shouldn't happen, but my attempt to stop it is futile. Scorpius finally moves away from the door and comes towards me. And there, amongst the mounds of white and gold and silver wrapping paper and bows, he kisses me for the first time in months.

I feel like I've been trekking through the desert for months and this is my first drink of water. This is my relief from the excruciating pain I've been feeling in my heart for the last few months. His arms wrap around my waist tightly, and I pray he'll never let go. His kiss deepens, and I run my fingers through his soft hair, which would usually be softer, only he put hair gel in it for the wedding.

This kiss is just so familiar. It's so like those kisses we used to share in darkened corners of the Hogwarts castle, or in the Quidditch stadium after practice, or on the grounds at night when I was patrolling and he was looking for an excuse to be out of his dormitory at night. It's as if we have absolutely no other worry in the world except each other. No children, no spouses, no jobs, no mortgages, just each other. And I know we're going to regret this kiss sooner or later, and I know it's wrong, and I know no good can come of it, but the thought of breaking it is so utterly incomprehensible to me at this moment.

I can smell him. He smells so wonderful. The smell that makes my heart beat so fast it's as if I'm about to pass out. I wouldn't care. This is definitely the best way to be put to sleep. I know this is so wrong of us, I know it makes us evil, but if this is hell, then sign me up. 

He pulls away for a moment, as I feel my heart break, but only to turn his head to the left and start kissing me again. Yes! This is it. This is what I've been waiting for. I honestly couldn't give a toss where I am at this moment because I'm in Scorpius's arms –

"What the hell is going on here?!" That brings us back down to earth with a bang. We unwrap ourselves from each other as quickly as we became tangled up and turn to face Jenny, who is staring at us from the doorway with a look of horror on her face. 










A/N - I really have to stop ending chapters with Jenny walking in on Rosius, eh? This was a very long chapter, I hope you liked it! And a quick update! Yay! 
Thank you to everyone who nominated me for a Dobby award this year! I appreciate all support! It's just as exciting as last year, if not more! I really love everyone for doing this for me. Seriously. I know I say it a lot and it seems like empty words, but you have no idea how much it means knowing that people like what I write. 
Thanks so much! As always, I always read reviews, and enjoy them immensely - favourite quotes, what you liked/diskliked, anything! 
(",) xx


Chapter 17: Repercussions
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Chapter 17 - Repercussions
I have decided that the next time I have a gut feeling, an instinct, an impulse, a whim or a desire, I am going to take that feeling, put it into an imaginary box and lock it away in an imaginary wardrobe. I will then proceed to burn said imaginary wardrobe and scatter the ashes in a far away mystical land, lock the door to that land, and throw the key into the ocean. Then I will erase my own memory, in case I feel the urge to go and find the key.

My instincts are wrong. When am I ever going to learn that?

It’s funny, but I am strangely calm on the outside. I feel like I’ve drifted out of my own body and am looking down on what is happening – I have a sudden urge to start laughing at the whole thing. But then I remember my new ‘instincts’ plan, and how I should never follow them ever again.

Deep down I know that this will end in tears – my tears – but I just can't seem to work up the energy to be worried about what has just happened. I think the kiss has numbed me into a state of euphoria, and I won't snap out of it until some time next week. Or next year. Or next century. If I live to be two hundred, I'm not sure I'll ever forget it.

Scorpius is blocking the door of the ‘present room’, looking more terrified than I’ve ever seen him look. Being about a foot taller than Jenny, it is sort of strange for him to be afraid of her. It’s like a Hippogriff being afraid of a Flubberworm.

“Jenny, you can’t tell her,” Scorpius is pleading with her. Jenny looks so enraged, but talks in a very cool, collected tone. It’s terrifying.

“Move,” she commands. She does not have her wand with her, due to the fact that this is a Muggle wedding. She didn’t think she’d need it. She didn’t think she would have to kill the maid of honour and groomsman – or she just figured she’d use her hands for that.

“Look, Jenny, if you tell Daisy it will devastate her,” says Scorpius, staring deeply into Jenny’s eyes as if wishing to control her telepathically.

“I can’t believe you,” Jenny hisses angrily, “I really expected more from you – you cheated on your wife!”

Neither of them has said a word to me. I am just standing in the background, watching the two of them argue. Maybe I’m getting off lightly.

“I know, what we did was unforgivable!” Scorpius agrees with her, “But I can promise you it will never happen again.”

“Scorpius, I remember yesterday and I was not born during it!” Jenny snaps, “I know this wasn’t just a spur of the moment! And you can’t just pretend that this was an innocent little one-time occurrence!”

And so I have finally been brought back into it. Jenny turns around to face me, and gives me a look that I have never seen her give to anyone. It is one of pure, raw hatred and in this moment I can tell that our friendship will never be the same again.

“You lied to me,” she tells me quietly, “Right to my face. You said this was over and you lied! In a church!” She adds that last bit as if that's what's going to make me feel guilty in all of this. But again, my euphoric numbness has completely washed out any bit of guilt my head knows my heart should feel. I am a bad person, and I'll just have to learn to deal with it.

"I'm sorry," I say, just for something to say. I know I can't just stay quiet or she really will clock me one.

"You're not sorry!" Jenny shrieks, "You're not even a bit sorry, look at you! You're still bloody SMILING!"

I stop. I hadn't even realised I was smiling.

"It was just a kiss, Jen," I tell her. I then look to Scorpius for a reaction, hoping that he'll oppose this statement and say it was so much more, but he's nodding frantically.

"It was a stupid mistake," says Scorpius, "Really."

"It always is with you two!" says Jenny, "Everything is a stupid mistake! Getting pregnant at sixteen? Cheating on Daisy? Cheating on Dom?"

Now my euphoria is wearing off rapidly. I can’t believe she is bringing that up again.

“I told you that in confidence!” I snap. Dom doesn’t even know about that, officially, though I’m sure she suspects that something went on between us. “That was a lifetime ago and Dom was cheating on Scorpius anyway!”

Jenny looks furious. Because she cannot get out, as Scorpius is still blocking the door, she starts pacing the room angrily. "Jenny, you should really calm down," says Scorpius, "You shouldn't get so stressed in your condition."

I momentarily forget all about the adulterous kiss. "Wait a second, how do you know about her condition?" I ask quickly. I thought I was the only one who knew about Jenny's pregnancy.

"If Jenny's allowed tell you, Al's allowed tell me," Scorpius shrugs.

I don't agree with this reasoning. Surely Al would tell James, if anyone. Then again, James isn't renowned for keeping secrets.

"Do not get off the subject!!" Jenny cries, "YOU TWO ARE CHEATERS!"

"BE QUIET!" Scorpius hisses, "Why don't you just cast a sonorous charm??"

"I would if I had my wand," she replies, folding her arms, "Daisy has every right to know."

"And you have no right to tell her," I say, "This is really none of your business."

As soon as I say it, I can tell it's a huge mistake. Monstrous, in fact. The look she gives me takes away that last bit of dizziness from the kiss - I'm back down to earth, with an explosive bang.

“None of my business?” she scoffs, “You ruin my hen weekend by starting a fight with Daisy. You ruin the night before my wedding by starting a fight with Scorpius. You ruin my wedding day by kissing Scorpius. How is this none of my business?”

“You could easily ignore it if you weren’t so bloody nosy!” I tell her, somewhat unfairly.

“Don’t make me laugh! For the last few months all I’ve heard is you bitching and moaning that Scorpius doesn’t love you anymore – you’ve made yourself out to be the victim in this when really you’re just a sneaky little cheater! I’ve never come across anyone as selfish as you in my whole life! Today was supposed to be about me! Is it that much to ask for a bit of attention on your wedding day? But no, you turn it into yet another Scorpius problem! 

"Like last night for instance – I was panicking out about my veil, about getting married, and you barely even noticed because you were too busy making everything about you and SCORPIUS! So yes, this is my business, because I'm making my business! I'm sick of you making everything about YOU!”

"I do not make everything about me!" I cry, even though I can find absolutely no flaw in what she has just said. Am I really that self-absorbed?

"Really?" she snorts, "Okay then - tell me, have you asked George how the rebuilding of Weasleys Wizard Wheezes is going yet?" She doesn't give me time to answer. "No, you haven't. Have you asked James how Quidditch is going? No, you haven’t! Have you once asked me anything about the wedding, without me having to bring it up first? NO YOU HAVEN’T! You are the most selfish person I know. I can't even remember why we were ever friends in the first place."

Scorpius is looking between the two of us, clearly very uncomfortable with a situation that has now gone far beyond him.

“I think it’s time you got down off your high Hippogriff,” I snap at her. “We were friends because you felt the need to be Little Miss Goody Two Shoes when you found out I was pregnant, just so you could get on Al’s good side. You never wanted to be my friend, you just wanted to get in with the Potters!” I know that this is unfair, but right now I am so angry with her that I am convincing myself it is true. “I have no idea why I’m here as your bloody maid of honour, or why I made you Aidan’s godmother. In fact, I don’t even know why I’m here at all! Do me a favour - if my business pisses you off so much, keep your goddamn nose out of it. This -" I gesture between me and Scorpius " has nothing to do with you."

And just like that, I put the final nail in our friendship’s coffin.

“To hell with the pair of you,” says Jenny, her voice shaking with the same hurt and anger I’m feeling. She pushes past Scorpius and goes back out into the dance hall. Scorpius runs after her, and I stay in the room for a short while.

I am upset, but my anger allows me to hold back tears. On one hand, I hate Jenny for saying everything she said, but I think that is because I can find no flaw in it. Maybe I hate myself more.

Scorpius returns after a few moments.

“Jenny won’t tell, for now,” he says, “She’s giving me time to tell Daisy myself.”

“Are you going to?” I ask.

“I don’t know.” He pauses. “This can never happen again, Rose.” I knew he’d say that, but it hurts just the same. “I need to make it work with Daisy – I married her.”

“I know,” I reply.

“We can’t see each other anymore,” he continues.

I look at him. He looks broken. “What are you saying?” I ask.

“I’m saying...I think we need to discuss a new custody arrangement.”

My heart stops, and realisation dawns on me. “Excuse me?”

“I’ve been thinking about this for a while, I think it would be better for everyone –”

James’s voice suddenly fills the room outside. “Ladies and gentlemen, the bride and groom will now cut the cake, if you’d like to gather ‘round! And what a...er...nice cake...if not Nana Molly’s best work –”

“That’s not the cake I made!” Nana Molly exclaims again.

I look at Scorpius. “We better get out there,” I say.

“We need to talk –”

“Not here,” I tell him firmly, and walk out the door back through to the dancehall.

Jenny and Al are surveying the very shoddily made wedding cake with some scepticism. Victoire looks very embarrassed, while Teddy and Remus look like they are stifling some laughs beside her.

Daisy is talking with Aunt Angelina, and smiling at the seemingly happy couple, completely oblivious to what has just gone down only a few feet away from her. I feel sorry for her in one sense, and I even feel guilty – but I still can’t help but think that she is the one who put the idea of the custody arrangement in Scorpius’s head. And for that I will always resent her.

Jenny is better at putting on a front than I thought. She is smiling away, ever the beaming bride, but she will not look at me. I don’t expect her to. I can barely even look at her without feeling guilt and anger all at once. And I can’t help but wonder how long it will be before she tells Daisy. If Scorpius doesn’t do it first, that is.

However, after the cake has been cut, Al makes an announcement and presents Jenny with a wedding gift – a honeymoon. In their rush to get married before Jenny starts showing, they hadn’t bothered to plan one.

“A month in New Zealand?” Jenny squeals happily and throws her arms around Al. I feel like puking at the sentiment, but at least I don’t have to deal with her for another four weeks. I am just about the only person who doesn’t clap and shriek at the announcement.

They are leaving tomorrow. I feel a sudden pang of sorrow at the thought of not seeing my cousin for a whole month. Al is like a brother, and ending my friendship with Jenny so abruptly will definitely take its toll on my relationship with him. If it comes to taking sides, Jenny is always going to trump annoying slightly-older cousin.

“Why do you look so depressed?” Brian appears beside me so quickly, it’s as if he’s mastered apparition. And that would seriously depress me if a Muggle learned to apparate before I do. I’m still one class away from taking my apparition test.

“I really can’t tell you here,” I mumble. Brian nods and does not push it. “How is it going with Dom?”

Brian’s face lights up like a Christmas tree. “She is amazing, Rose!” So she clearly hasn’t told him about the time she and James went killing rats in the alley beside the Leaky Cauldron then. “She is so funny and pleasant and intelligent –” I try to stop myself from snorting, really I do, but it just comes out, followed by a loud and hearty laugh. I definitely needed something like this to pick me up again.

“Thanks Brian,” I laugh, “That’s exactly what I needed!”

“I’m serious,” he tells me. And that just cracks me up even more. I notice Jenny glaring at me from the front of the room, clearly pissed off that I am now laughing and not buried in a deep pit of shame inside some church – so I carry on laughing. And maybe if I just keep on laughing, everything will be fine. Or I’ll just be institutionalised in St Mungo’s – which really sounds very relaxing to me at this point.

*

Al and Jenny leave for their honeymoon the next day. Al asks no questions when I say absolutely nothing to Jenny while waving them off from their flat, but James corners me as soon as the pair have disapparated.

The only reason I’m even here is because Aidan wanted to say goodbye to them.

“So what was that about, Red?” James asks me. Up close, I notice just how old he looks these days. His skin is paler than usual, making his eyes look darker, and the bags in under them make him look constantly exhausted, even if he doesn’t act that way. His cheekbones are so much more pronounced; he looks sallow, thin and ill.

“Are you alright?” I ask him, “Are you sick?”

He looks at me as if I’m crazy. As if there hasn’t been a dramatic change in his appearance in the last few months. How can he not notice how thin he’s become? “Fit as a Flobberworm, my dear cousin!” he tells me. “And don’t get off the point. Why was Winters throwing daggers at you just now?”

“Winters is now Potter, remember?” I remind him, “And it’s nothing...just forget it...”

James might be stupid, but he knows when to keep his nose out. He simply nods and invites me to his next Quidditch match, handing me three tickets. The match is in a few weeks against the Holyhead Harpies men’s team.

The next stop is Mum and Dad’s. Expecting a rather nice afternoon of tea and chatter, James and I rather naively let ourselves into my old house, talking idly about Quidditch and the weather, when we realise just what we have truly let ourselves in for by coming here –

Campaigning.

Plotting the demise of Auntie Audrey, in other words.

Aunt Ginny and Uncle Harry are here. Looking at them now, you wouldn’t think that their youngest son has just been married. They should be happy, celebrating the new addition to the family (despite her being a nosy cow), but instead they are here looking incredibly serious and thinking of ways to defeat another member of family – and another nosy cow at that.

“He’s such a prat!” Dad is venting about Uncle Percy again. “I thought he might have stood down by now once he realised how stupid he’s being.”

“Ron we’ve been over this,” says Mum, “He’s being brainwashed. Can’t you tell?”

“I’m sorry, but I refuse to believe that any self-respecting man could possibly be that much under his wife’s thumb! Does he just do everything he’s told?” Dad grumbles.

“Oh I don’t know,” Mum sighs, “Now make a pot of tea for James and Rose, would you?”

“Yeah, alright.”

I’d laugh, but this is generally how most of Mum and Dad’s conversations go. Dad flicks his wand at the kettle and fumbles about looking for the teabags, while James and I pull up a chair at the kitchen table. I flick through Mum’s very organised folder of campaign ideas, and see that her main idea is to paint herself as a loving, family person.

It probably won’t look so good when she impales Auntie Audrey on the fence outside.

“‘Hermione Weasley – the Family Woman’,” I quote from her list of possible slogans. I raise my eyebrows at her. “Seriously?”

“It’s the best we could come up with!” Mum cries dejectedly, “She may be a thundering bitch, but Audrey knew how to canvas...”

It takes a lot for my mother to swear. This means she’s really ticked off.

“Hermione Weasley – Empowering People ... ‘Satisfaction’ is her middle name...” James reads. “Wait, I thought Jean was your middle name?”

“Give me that!” Mum snaps the folder out of James’s hands. Ginny gives James a very severe look, telling him that this really isn’t the time to joke around.

Mum’s campaign, to put it lightly, is crap. It sounds like she’s trying to advertise some cheap potion to cure colds. I don’t want to say this to her, of course. I do however offer my services to help her out more, partly to take my mind off all the other crap in my life.
Aidan is on at me to let him go to Scorpius’s today. I can’t very well say no to him in front of everyone, or they’ll know something is wrong. James is watching me closely too, still trying to figure out just why Jenny was so cold to me earlier on. I consider telling him what happened – I know he’d be on my side – but then I decide against it. I think it would probably be best if we all just pretended nothing happened.

Luckily I get a message from work while at Mum and Dad’s place asking if I can come in and fill in for Hazel today, who rang in sick. So I very nicely ask James to drop Aidan to Scorpius’s, and head off for work while still looking totally and completely innocent.

I arrive at St Mungo’s and am greeted by an enthusiastic Linda and a weary-looking Gladys – Gladys doesn’t like being left on her own with Linda for too long. She says it gives her more grey hairs.

“So how was the wedding?” Linda asks me excitedly, “Did Jenny look beautiful?”

“Suppose,” I reply sourly. I think it might be this receptionist desk that makes me so bitter all the time.

“Anything to report?” Gladys asks, with that look on her face that shows she wants gossip, and she wants it to involve Scorpius. Linda wants it too, but she’s not quite as upfront about asking.

“Nope,” I reply, “Not a thing.” 





A/N - First off, Happy Birthday Marina!! (Okay, I'm a day late, but whatever!) Secondly, I am so sorry everyone about this chapter taking so long, but it's a busy time of year! I hope to get the next one up sooner, but it will be at least a week to two anyway. I know, I'm a bad person!
Finally, a little rant:
I thought after the little plagiarism incident last year with Delicate that it was over and done with. Nobody would be dumb enough to do it again. But I underestimated the stupidity of some people, and for that I apologise. Somebody started posting Delicate on another website - again. The story has been removed now, but it still annoys me that people think it's okay to take someone elses work and pass it off as their own, and put stuff like "should I continue?" at the end of the chapter. In other words 'I dont want to continue copying and pasting if you dont like it, because it just takes so much out of me'. So I'm asking, PLEASE dont copy this story, or any other. You're not fooling anyone and you WILL be caught. 
Thanks so much for reading my story all you lovely people! I adore you all.
 
(",) << Bob hates copycats.

Chapter 18: A Time For Wine
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Chapter 18 - A Time For Wine

She’s kind and caring,
Loving and giving,
A devoted mother and grandmother,
A hard worker,
A brave colleague
A loyal friend –
Vote Hermione Weasley for Minister of Magic.


**

Hermione Weasley talks about family values –
Did you know her daughter got pregnant at sixteen?
Hermione Weasley talks about being a loyal wife –
Did you know she cheated on her husband?
Hermione Weasley talks about equality for House Elves –
Did you know she has five of them working for her?
Vote for Percy Weasley – the honest candidate. 


“I don’t believe this! Half of this crap isn’t even true! I do not have five house elves working for me!”

“Honest candidate, my arse,” Dad growls, casting a very dirty look at The Daily Prophet, “That woman is the devil. Come back Voldemort, all is forgiven!”

While I think that Mum’s pitch was somewhat over the top, it seems Auntie Audrey has resorted to downright lying in Uncle Percy’s campaign. Okay, so I did get pregnant at sixteen, and Mum may have kissed another man while she and Dad were engaged, but I’m fairly sure that there are no House Elves working here.

“Mum, I think it’s time you started playing dirty,” says Hugo, who has been playing with Aidan in the corner, “You know, spread some rumours, dig up some dirt.”

“I don’t think you’d have to do much digging,” Dad chips in darkly.

Mum bustles over to the oven and turns it on for dinner. “I am not stooping to her level,” she says, “And anyway, saying bad things about Audrey isn’t going to get me very far. Are we forgetting that it’s Percy running for minister?”

“I have dirt on him too,” Dad tells her.

“And I have some on Molly,” I add. Not many people know about her heavy-drinking marijuana-smoking phase that lasted all of a week, and if Audrey found out she’d throw a complete shit fit.

“Why don’t they just take a bath?” Aidan asks. Sometimes I can’t help but smile at his innocence. I hope it lasts forever. I hope in a couple of years he’s not trying to dig up dirt on his family members. Because like Dad said, he wouldn’t have to do much digging, especially where I’m concerned.

I suddenly get a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach when I remember the letter I got this morning from Scorpius. He couldn’t even bare to ring me, he had to write. And he didn’t write very much.

I’m coming over tonight at 7. We need to talk.
Scorpius.


I have potions class at eight, however, so he can’t keep me too long. And Aidan is staying here with Mum and Dad tonight so at least I don’t have to worry about him hearing us arguing again. Especially considering we are going to be arguing over him.

I haven’t told anyone about Scorpius asking for a custody agreement. The one person I would consider telling is currently in New Zealand and not speaking to me. And the other two people I would consider telling are spending so much time together recently that I haven’t seen either of them in days. Brian and Dom are the new Al and Jenny – where you see one, the other isn’t far away. I’ve created a monster.

And as for Laura, I haven’t heard from her since after the hen weekend. I don’t know what she’s been doing – or who for that matter – and whenever I try to ring her it goes straight to voicemail.

“Well you have to do something, Hermione,” says Dad, “You can’t just sit back and let her get away with this.”

“What do you want me to do, egg their house?” Mum snaps.

Dad and I look at each other and nod. Mum rolls her eyes. “I don’t know why I even bothered running. I should have known it would just cause trouble for everyone. Maybe I should stand down –”

“NO!” Dad, Hugo and I together can be very loud when we want to be.

“You can’t let Audrey win!” Hugo exclaims, “Evil does not triumph over good, I don’t care what you say! You beat Voldemort, you can beat that bitch!”

“Language, Hugo!” Mum hisses, “And for the last time, it’s not Audrey that I have to beat!”

“Come on Hermione, everyone knows that behind every pig-headed man there’s a devil woman pulling the strings,” Dad tells her, “Percy wouldn’t be half as evil without Audrey.”

“On that note, I must leave you all,” I say, getting up to leave, “I have potions class in a while.” It’s half six now. Scorpius will be at the flat soon. After saying goodbye to everyone, I floo home and wait for him to arrive.

He arrives early. Scorpius is rarely early for anything, so I know this can’t be good. And he has a briefcase with him. There’s something odd about a young man in a pair of jeans and a red hoody carrying a briefcase. It’s like a Ministry worker using a skateboard.

“Right, let’s just get this over with shall we?” He says this before he says hello. He walks right into my kitchen, puts the briefcase on the kitchen table and opens it up. He then proceeds to take out lots of different forms and complicated contracts and lays them out. “So have you thought about the agreement?” he asks.

“Yes,” I reply. But I don’t know what else to tell him. Aside from the fact that I don’t want any agreement other than one that would involve Aidan living with both of us all the time – the three of us together. He clearly doesn’t want the same.

“So have I,” he tells me, “I’ve thought about it a lot actually. And I’ve come up with an arrangement that I think will suit us both. And I think it’s more than fair.” He’s talking very quickly. It’s almost as if he’s nervous.

“Right...well that’s good.”

He nods. “Okay, well here it is then.” He takes a deep breath. How nervous is he? He hands me a document with a lot of legal jargon. I have absolutely no idea what it says.
“I don’t have all day Scorpius,” I sigh, “What is this?”

“Well, I went to see my solicitor,” he tells me, “And I asked him to draw up this agreement. All you have to do is sign.”

I frown. “What exactly am I signing?”

“Basically...I get Aidan from Thursday to Sunday. And you have him Monday to Wednesday. Joint custody.”

I feel like I’m about to get sick. Suddenly the person standing before me isn’t the same one I’ve known and loved all these years – in fact, at this moment, I hate him. How could he possibly ask this of me?

“Let me get this straight.” I’m struggling to keep my voice steady. “You want me to give you my son for four days out of the week?”

“Our son,” he answers. “He’s our son. Not yours. And you know, you’ve had him full time for so long...”

Don’t hit him. Don’t hit him. I clench my fists. “Tell me, when he woke up at three in the morning, whose son was he? That time he got the chicken pox, whose son was he? When he took his first steps, who was there to hold his hand?” Don’t cry. “He has lived with me for six years –”

“He’s five,” Scorpius tells me.

“He lived in me!” I yell, “He lived in me six years ago! I was the one with the morning sickness and I’m the one with the stretch marks!” Don’t cry!

“I knew you were going to pull that one on me!” Scorpius snaps, “I’m sorry I don’t have a fucking uterus, but that doesn’t make you a better parent than me!”

“Oh, and marrying some woman in Las Vegas does?” I snort.

“I’m offering him a stable home, Rose. I’m offering him a bigger bedroom, two parent figures, a better income.” That does it. I can’t hold back the tears anymore.

I can’t believe I’m crying. Pull it together, for the love of God!

“D-don’t cry...” Scorpius mumbles uncomfortably.

“Get the hell out of my flat!” I cry, “I am not signing that! You are not getting him for four days out of the week –”

“You still get three!” Scorpius tries to reason with me. I’m so close to hitting him right now.

“Lucky me! I get the three days I’m working and he’s at school!” I spit, “Get out of my flat, Malfoy! We are keeping the arrangement we have –”

“No, we’re not,” he tells me. “And if you don’t want to settle this outside of court...then my solicitor will be in touch.”

He gathers up his documents and puts them back in his pathetic little briefcase. Without another word he disapparates, while I try to pull myself back together before I have to leave for Potions class.

I’m actually stunned. I thought I knew him. How could he possibly ask me to give up my son? Doesn’t he realise that Aidan is just about the only good thing in my life?

*

When I arrive back from my class, there is letter from Scorpius waiting for me. Well, it’s not a letter as much as a single word written on a piece of parchment.

Sorry.

I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean. Is he sorry that he brought the whole issue up? Is he sorry that he’s planning on taking me in front of the Wizengamot? Or is he sorry that he got married? There are so many things that man needs to be sorry for.

Apart from the letter, there are two other things waiting for me when I arrive home – Dom and Laura. They are both sitting in my living room, eating my crisps and watching my TV.

“You do realise you have homes of your own, don’t you?” I sigh tiredly, throwing my bag down in frustration. It’s not that I don’t want them here, it’s just that I had planned on crying myself to sleep and eating a piece of Honeydukes chocolate the size of a rather large child.

“Yeah,” Dom shrugs, “We find that here is more peaceful.”

I frown at her. “Who are you avoiding?” Dom is always avoiding some crazy bloke who won’t stop ringing her. “It’s not Brian?”

Dom and Laura look at each other guiltily.

“Not you and all!” I look at Laura.

“We just need a break from certain men,” Laura tells me.

“What’s wrong with Brian? He’s really nice, he’s good looking, he’s funny –”

“Then why don’t you go out with him?” Dom snaps. A tense silence fills the living room. Laura stares at the TV uncomfortably.

“Where the hell did that come from?” I ask.

“Doesn’t matter,” Dom mumbles, and also pretends to watch the TV again.

This pisses me off.

“Okay, you can’t just come in here and start snapping at me for no reason!” I snarl, “This is my flat, Dom! If you don’t like Brian then just tell him and stop avoiding him like a child! And you!” I turn to Laura. “I haven’t heard from you in weeks! Why don’t you ever answer your bloody phone? It seems like we’re only friends when you feel like it, and then you just disappear!”

“My God, you woke the beast,” Laura whispers audibly to Dom, who laughs.

This isn’t funny!” I cry angrily, my voice now shaking.

“Rose, what’s wrong?” Dom asks seriously and switches off the TV. I tell them everything, from the kiss at the wedding, to the fight with Jenny, to the custody arrangement that Scorpius is seeking. They stay quiet through the whole explanation. And when I’ve finished talking, Laura summons a bottle of wine and some glasses from the kitchen and cracks it open. This is definitely the time for wine.

“I can’t believe you two kissed,” says Dom, “Not that I didn’t see it coming of course.”

“Well obviously,” Laura shrugs, “A blind man could’ve seen that one coming.”

“I bet Daisy didn’t,” I add, “She doesn’t have a clue.”

Laura and Dom look at each other with an annoying knowing look on their faces. “I don’t know about that,” says Dom.

“What do you mean?”

“Well,” Dom sighs, “She’s not thick. There is always a certain tension between you two. You argue like an old married couple, and there is always, always drama with you. While she mightn’t know that you and Scorpius were kissing in the hotel at Al’s wedding, she knows that there’s something between you. Everybody knows.”

I don’t know what to say back to that.

“I bet it’s her putting the custody thing in Scorpius’s head!” Laura exclaims, as if she’s just solved the world’s greatest mystery. “Think about it! It was her who brought up the custody thing in the first place. And she knows that this custody arrangement will keep you and Scorpius apart more – I’m telling you, she’s a crafty bitch.”

“How do you know that?” I ask cynically.

“Takes one to know one,” Laura shrugs.

“You know, as odd as it might sound, I think Laura might be right,” says Dom thoughtfully, “I mean, you can see why Daisy would be insecure. I know – I’ve been the Daisy.”

It’s not very often that Dom refers back to the time when she and Scorpius went out, and when it happens, I feel very uncomfortable. Mainly because I know things that she doesn’t. While she thinks that Scorpius was just emotionally cheating on her with me, I know of a few stolen kisses that should not have happened, but did. Maybe she knows deep down that those kisses happened, but I never told her, and I know Scorpius didn’t. On paper if you asked how Dom and Scorpius’s relationship ended you would discover that Dom cheated on him with the boy who turned out to be her Hogwarts sweetheart, Mark Matthews. In reality, their relationship ended the day she found out I was pregnant.

I decide to awkwardly change the subject. “So why are you two hiding here? Or should I ask, who are you hiding from?” Laura and Dom look at each other again. I hate being left out of this; it’s obvious they both know each other’s secrets, but I’m just the outsider. “You have to tell me. Or else maybe I’ll just take back my remote...”

“A bloke from work,” Laura says, though not at all convincingly. I raise my eyebrows at her. “He’s pissing me off. Won’t stop ringing me. Last time I sleep with a Muggle.”

Too much information. I should really stop asking Laura things.

“And you?” I turn to Dom again. “Come on, what did Brian do?”

“Nothing,” she mumbles.

“Don’t you like him?”

“I suppose,” she shrugs.

“So...what’s the problem?” I get the feeling that I might be pushing boundaries and treading back into uncomfortable territory. But I can’t seem to stop myself. “Brian’s really nice. You just have to get to know him.”

“I know he’s nice,” says Dom shortly.

“And...you’d prefer them to be bastards?” I only ask this because this tends to be the kind I go for. The ones who want to take your kids away – you know the type.

“No,” she sighs, “I’m just not sure yet. That’s all.” I can tell by her tone that the conversation is finished. I don’t push it. And now I’m even more pissed off because I know they are both hiding things from me. I don’t see why they came here if they were just going to keep me in the dark. Annoyed, I tell them I’m going to bed and retreat to my room to do my Potions homework.

I sort of feel like a teenager again. With much bigger issues.

*

“So here are your tickets...best seats in the house.”

James hands me an envelope with two tickets for the coming Chudley Cannons match against Puddlemere United. I’ve promised to take Aidan, and Dad, Harry, Teddy and Remus are coming too. We used to go to see James play all the time when he first joined the team as a reserve player, but once he became permanent and played almost every week, we decided to just attend the really big matches. Like this one for the League Qualifiers.

James’s apartment is unusually tidy. He’s usually far too lazy to flick his wand and clean up the place, but today it’s squeaky clean. In fact, it’s even cleaner than the day he moved in.

“James...why is your apartment so clean? Was your Mum here?”

“Nope.”

“Nana Molly?”

“Nope – she stopped visiting after the rat incident.”

“Oh yeah,” I say pensively, “Didn’t Dom shoot that though?”

“Nah, she missed and got the hamster.”

“Oh that’s right...”

“Poor old Bubbles just didn’t see it coming,” James shakes his head sadly. We have a moment’s silence for his dead hamster. I can’t even remember where Dom got her hands on a gun. I have a feeling she was going out with a dodgy character at the time, who may have given it to her for her birthday.

“James, are you shaking?” I ask. He’s shivering like mad, even though it’s nice and warm in here.

“What? Oh, yeah, a bit chilly,” he shrugs, “So how’s Little Red?”

James calls Aidan ‘Little Red’ because he had reddish hair when he was a baby. Despite the fact that he has extremely blonde hair, he remains ‘Little Red’.

“Fine. Except for his father wanting full custody,” I grumble. I then instantly regret telling him. I had thought not voicing this would make it go away. And the fact that Scorpius has said nothing to me since his pathetic little ‘Sorry’ note just strengthened my delusion.

“What? Are you shitting me?” he splutters in disbelief.

“I wish I was,” I mumble, not failing to notice that James has successfully changed the subject from his obvious shivering.

“Well...he’s a twit!”

“Wow, that was tame for you, James,” I observe.

“This is ridiculous, Red! He wants full custody? I’ll kill that little –”

“Let’s hold off on the killing for a few days, shall we?”

James is now pacing back and forth quickly. I haven’t seen him this angry in quite some time. He usually laughs things off, or tries to put a positive spin on things. Right now, I’m sort of afraid of him. “I knew I hated that git for a reason...”

“You were best man at his wedding!” I exclaim. Yes, I still haven’t forgotten that one.

“Yeah, but I hated him back in second year. I should always go with my instincts...”

After calming James down and making him drink a cup of tea, I go to collect Aidan from school. It’s funny how when somebody else is worked up about something, it calms you down more. I found myself convincing him that Scorpius wouldn’t take this any further, and that it was just a spur of the moment decision that I’m sure he’s regretting. Now I sort of feel better about the whole thing.

Thinking about it, I can see why he panicked. What we did at the wedding was wrong, I know that, and I suppose he just thinks distancing ourselves from one another is the only way to rectify the mistake. And the only way to distance ourselves from one another is to spend as little time together as possible, and only face each other when it’s totally necessary. Maybe if I show him that we can spend time together without playing a heated game of tonsil-tennis, then he’ll just drop the whole thing.

Aidan is in a happy mood when I collect him due to the fact that his reading teacher gave him a gold star. Usually he comes home in a bad mood because he has ‘special’ classes at the end of the day to help with his dyslexia, and also because he still hates Brian.

“Mia asked if I wanted to go to her house on Saturday,” Aidan tells me as we walk home from the school.

I’m thinking this may be the main reason for his happy mood.

“Can I go?” he looks at me hopefully.

“I don’t see why not,” I shrug, inwardly making plans to meet her mother to make sure she’s not a crazy junkie or weirdo. I am also inwardly making plans to sit Aidan down and tell him that he is completely forbidden to kiss a girl until he turns seventeen. Or until after I die – whichever happens first.

“Mrs Murphy is coming back to school on Monday,” Aidan tells me, “So Mr McDonald won’t be my teacher anymore.”

I wouldn’t think Brian will be too upset about not teaching Aidan’s class anymore. I imagine my son can be quite intimidating when he wants to be.

“So will you finally stop sulking when he comes to the flat then?”

“Is he really going out with Auntie Dom?”

I change the subject.

When we arrive home, there is an envelope addressed to me on the floor. I wonder if it will be another pathetic ‘sorry’ note from Scorpius.

It isn’t.

It’s quite the opposite.

It’s from his solicitor.

Dear Ms Weasley,
This letter is to notify you that Mr Scorpius Malfoy will be seeking a legal custody agreement in regards to your son, Aidan Ronald Weasley. The Family Law Wizengamot shall meet at a date to be decided in order to discuss this arrangement, and your attendance at this meeting is essential.
Yours sincerely,
Mr Henry J. Summerville
Department of Magical Family Law


I should have just let James kill him. 





A/N - In defence of Scorpius - you are only seeing him from Rose's POV! He isn't evil, and I hope you all don't hate him (even if he is kind of annoying). I know things are quite sucky for Rose at the minute, but they are going to keep getting worse for a while. But I'm still going to try to keep the humour alive! 
Sorry this chapter took so long. Thank you all for your support and your constant reviewing! It makes me so happy! *LOVE!*
Oh, and about the Magical Family Law - I know that there isn't a department of magical family law in the Harry Potter books, but this is 30 years later than DH so I imagine the Ministry would have developed and expanded in those years...


Chapter 19: Dirt
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Chapter 19 - Dirt

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?”

He shrugs.

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.”

“Oh, right.”

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.

“Don’t bother.”

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 know.”

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.”

“But –”

“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. ;)


Chapter 20: Daughter Dearest
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Chapter 20 - Daughter Dearest


I’m pacing the waiting room outside Tom’s office, wondering just what the hell he could have on Daisy. Of course I always knew there was something fishy about her. After all, she showed up out of nowhere, basically, and all of a sudden she and Scorpius are married? Perhaps she’s an illegal immigrant, and Scorpius married her so she could stay in the country. And then he taught her how to speak with an English accent...despite the fact that he has a Scottish accent and his English accent is actually quite poor...

Okay, well there’s that scenario out the window.

Perhaps she has children of her own somewhere? Maybe she was married before and she left her husband to marry Scorpius – only she didn’t actually divorce her husband and now she’s a bigamist! And she’ll have to go to prison and her marriage to Scorpius will have been a sham all along!

I really do watch too many Muggle soaps.

Maybe she’s a murderer on the run and she changed her name to Daisy. I mean, she could hardly have been named ‘Daisy’ at birth. Although if she is a murderer I doubt Tom would have called me to tell me – I imagine he would have just contacted the Ministry.

Then it hits me – what if she’s having an affair? What if Tom has discovered that Daisy is having an affair with someone, and he knows that this will inevitably destroy Scorpius’s ‘safe stable home’ argument? It would be too perfect. I would no longer have to feel guilty about kissing Scorpius at the wedding, because Daisy would be responsible for the disintegration of their marriage, not me.

But I can’t help having a worrying feeling in the pit of my stomach. This woman has been in contact with my child for the last three months, maybe even longer, and there is so much I don’t know about her. What if she’s dangerous? How could I have been so stupid to just trust Scorpius’s judgment of her when he has made some disastrous decisions in the past? Maybe I am a bad mother after all, allowing a perfect stranger to look after my son so often.

Tom opens the door of his office and beckons me inside. I’m starting to feel nervous now.

“How’re you today then Rose?” Tom tries to make small talk.

“Just tell me,” I demand, “I’ve been going over this in my head nonstop since yesterday – please, just cut to it.”

Tom nods. “Have a seat.”

I do as instructed, fold my arms, and wait for it. This chair is so bloody old and uncomfortable, but I barely even notice.

“Right…in our last meeting you told me you didn’t know much about Daisy,” Tom recollects.

“Yes,” I say, feeling so ashamed of myself.

“Tell me, do you know her maiden name?”

I pause for a moment, and realise that I don’t even know that much about her. Did I really think knowing as little about her as possible would make a difference? She’s not just going to disappear.

“No, I don’t,” I admit, looking down at my lap.

“Scorpius never mentioned it?”

“I never asked. I try to have as little to do with her as possible.”

Tom nods again.

“What is it, Tom?” I ask, “Is she…dangerous?” I will never forgive myself for this. How I wish I had done some digging of my own when she first came crashing into our lives.

Tom doesn’t answer straight away. Instead he flicks through some papers on his desk, and pulls out a sheet of parchment. “I have an old friend at the Ministry who owed me a favour. I asked him to do a background check on Daisy Malfoy. ‘Course he couldn’t find a Daisy Malfoy, mainly because she hasn’t officially changed her name yet.” He stops looking at the piece of parchment. “I’m sorry Rose, I never offered you a cup of tea –”

“Forget the tea!” I snap, “What did your friend at the Ministry find out?”

Tom grins to himself, leading me to believe that he only offered me tea to wind me up. “Mrs Malfoy’s maiden name before she got married was Peters. Diane Peters.”

“Diane?” I ask in confusion.

“Daisy is a nickname she took on when she was at Hogwarts,” Tom explains.

“Oh.” Really, she could have picked a better name. Daisy is her name by choice. “Well, lots of people go by different names than their Christian one. How is this going to help my case?”

Tom looks at me darkly. “She wasn’t always Diane Peters either.”

“She wasn’t?”

“Peters is her mother’s name. Lyla Peters was a pureblood witch, died when Diane – well, Daisy – was only nine. Had to go live with foster parents after that.”

“What about her father?”

“Well, that’s the thing,” says Tom, his face getting darker and darker, “He couldn’t very well take care of her from Azkaban.”

“Azkaban!” I exclaim, “Her father was in Azkaban?”

“Until just a few years back when he finally kicked the bucket,” Tom tells me, “About time and all. See Rose, before Daisy Malfoy and before Diane Peters, she was called Diane Dolohov.”

The name makes my heart stop dead in my chest. I don’t have to ask what the significance of this is. I don’t even have to ask if it’s the same Dolohov I’m thinking of, because I can tell by the look on Tom’s face. Daisy’s father was one of the Voldemort’s most devoted followers. Antonin Dolohov was a Death Eater.

Antonin Dolohov killed Teddy’s dad.

“She’s the illegitimate daughter of Antonin Dolohov,” Tom clarifies unnecessarily, “Conceived after Dolohov and the other Death Eaters escaped from Azkaban in 1996. Doubt he ever even knew about her, to be honest.”

I take a moment to process this. There is absolutely no way this can be true. I know she’s a cow, but she couldn’t possibly be Dolohov’s daughter! How could Scorpius take up with the Dolohov’s daughter? Dolohov was up there with the worst of the Death Eaters, like Avery and Nott and Mulciber and Malfoy –

Then I remember that I too took up with the child of a Death Eater. And that my son is the grandson of a former Death Eater.

“With all due respect,” I begin, “It’s not going to come as a shock to the Wizengamot that Aidan has been living with the daughter of a Death Eater – his surname may be Weasley, but Aidan’s just as much a Malfoy.”

Tom leans forward, placing his elbows on his desk. “Rose, I’m well aware of Scorpius’s background. And I’m not saying the Malfoys were angels, but at least they redeemed themselves. Dolohov was scum to the bitter end.”

“But will that really make a difference? She’s not her father.”

“Apples and trees,” Tom shrugs, “Dolohov murdered Remus Lupin.” I nod sadly. Anger bubbles up inside me for all the pain Dolohov has caused Teddy over the course of his life. “And don’t forget he killed your grandmother’s two brothers during the First War. Fabian and Gideon Prewett were two great wizards – won’t see the likes of them again. And he tried to kill your parents on several occasions.”

“A lot of people tried to kill my parents,” I point out. Even I’ve tried to kill my parents.

“Really, Rose, how good is it going to look to the Wizengamot that Daisy has not only been lying about who she is, but that she is the daughter of one of the most evil wizards of the last hundred years? A wizard who killed members of your family, and seriously hurt hundreds? Do you really think the Wizengamot would place a child in the custody of two children of Death Eaters?”

I can suddenly see why Mum thinks Tom is such a good lawyer – he is absolutely ruthless. I can’t help but feel slightly uncomfortable with all of this. I know Scorpius, and while he can be an utter prick at times, I would never imply that there is any kind of evil in him. Merlin knows we can’t choose our parents. And while I can’t stand Daisy, I know she can’t be evil either. Not truly evil. Not evil enough to kill someone in cold blood, as her father did so many times.

“I told you I’d win this case for you Rose,” Tom says, “Question is, are you going to let me?”

*

My head is buzzing by the time I get home from work. Since lunchtime, all I can think of is Dolohov. I’ve seen pictures of him in the Daily Prophet when they do war specials every year. Such a horribly ugly man, with a pale and daunting face. The thought of him is enough to make me feel sick. And as much as I want to hate Daisy, I can’t help but feel sorry for her. I don’t think I could live with myself if I had a father who had committed so many atrocities – but then again, I’m used to being the daughter of a national hero, so maybe that makes me conceited.

“Mum, how do you spell ‘bark’? I want to write that my dog Ollie likes to bark,” Aidan asks from the floor of the living room, where he is doing his homework. I’ve asked him a million times to do it at the kitchen table, but there’s no talking to him. He prefers to lie on the floor doing it so he can pet Ollie at the same time. I’m not in the mood to argue with him.

“B-A-R-K,” I tell him slowly, keeping an eye on how he’s writing his letters. Brian told me I should watch him when he’s writing in case he gets the letters mixed up. “Bloody right she likes to bark. Kept me up all last night.” Really, Ollie wasn’t that noisy. I just heard her whimpering to go outside, so I brought her out in my dressing gown. I was awake anyway. I’m nearly always awake these days.

“Dad says he hears her barking too when we stay at his house. I don’t hear her, I think you’re lying,” Aidan says, kicking his legs behind him as he scribbles. Sounds like Scorpius isn’t getting much sleep these days either.

“Lies are naughty,” I remind him. Oh how hypocritical we parents are.

“Sally at school got into trouble for telling lies today,” Aidan tells me, “She said that she ate all her lunch but then teacher found her sandwiches under her chair. And she said she done her homework –”

Did,” I correct him, “Not done.”

I sound like my mother. I think I can even feel my hair getting bushier.

“She said she did her homework but then teacher checked and she didn’t do it at all.”

“Silly girl,” I tell him, “Homework is very important.” Not that what they get to do is really homework. Their homework for today was to do three sums and write four sentences on their pet.

“Teacher sent a note home to Sally’s Mum.” God, hearing gossip from five-year-olds really is quite boring.

Aidan’s rambling about his day is interrupted by Dom, who apparates right into the sitting room. That girl really has absolutely no manners, which is surprising considering her parents were always quite strict.

“Evening, Blondie,” Dom greets Aidan, who sticks his tongue out at her, “Rose, you’d want to put manners on that lad.”

“Aidan, be polite,” I warn him.

“Hello Dom,” Aidan greets her in a dull voice. Ollie goes crazy sniffing around Dom for a few minutes, until Aidan takes her into his room for a while so that I can talk to Dom in private. I had considered telling nobody about what Tom told me, but I just can’t keep it to myself. And I know that Dom won’t tell anyone if I make her promise not to. And on top of that, I really need to know what to do. Really, does Daisy’s background really matter?

“I have to tell you something,” I begin.

“Right, but before you do, I have to tell you something,” Dom interrupts me. “There’s going to be a debate in the Ministry on Friday evening between Percy and your mum. The whole family have to go, according to Nana Molly, and none of us can take sides. Except that we’ve all sided with your mum. Obviously.”

“Oh...couldn’t you have told me that over the phone?” I ask, wondering why Mum didn’t tell me. She’s probably been so busy with her campaign – I wonder if Dad’s still alive.

“Probably could have, but then how would we eat these?” She pulls a box of chocolates out of her bag, grinning. How I hate how skinny she is and how much she eats. “Brian gave them to me.”

We scoff chocolate as I tell her about what happened with the solicitor, swearing her to secrecy. She looks so shocked when I tell her, more shocked than I expected. Usually I’m the one who makes a big deal out of everything – am I just under thinking this?

“Dolohov’s daughter?” Dom gasps, “I knew there was something off about her. I wonder does Scorpius know? There’s no way that woman can be let near your son ever again!”

“Well, I don’t know if Scorpius knows...it’s not like she ever knew her father. I mean, it’s not her fault...we can’t choose our parents...”

“Rose,” Dom holds a hand up to stop me talking, “You cannot be serious. How can you defend her? She’s the daughter of a Death Eater!”

“Yes, and Scorpius is the son of one,” I remind her.

“And I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him,” says Dom defiantly, reminding me of my dad. “I can’t believe you’re even considering not bringing this up in the custody battle. It just proves that you don’t know anything about Daisy, or Diane or whoever the hell she is this week!” She sighs and takes a deep breath. “Rose, I’m sorry, but this is huge.”

“Why is it so huge? It’s not like she committed any murders –”

“That you know of.”

“I want to hate her, Dom. I want a legitimate reason to hate her. I’m not sure that this reason is legitimate.”

Dom looks so angry, it scares me. She is being so irrational. Or am I being irrational? I have absolutely no idea what the right reaction is. Maybe if Daisy had been raised by Dolohov, or if she showed signs of being pure evil instead of just a bit of a bitch, then maybe I could understand where Dom is coming from.

“Her father is the reason Remus Lupin is dead,” Dom tells me firmly. Once again, I feel like I’ve been kicked in the stomach. “Do you think Teddy would be quite as understanding as you? Or Nana Molly for that matter? Or Uncle Harry? Or your parents?”

“I hate her father,” I tell Dom, “I really do. Just like I hate Draco Malfoy’s father. And like I hate all Death Eaters. But like I said, we can’t choose our parents...”

“Stop being so rational!” Dom yells, “Just stop! Dolohov put our family through hell and you know it! And if you’re not against his family, then you’re against ours.”

With that, she leaves. I feel like she’s slapped me. I’m not a traitor, but I feel like blaming Daisy for something she can’t control is wrong. If I thought she was in support of her father’s actions, I would have no problem agreeing with everything Dom said. But maybe she’s just like Scorpius, born into a family with a bad reputation and trying to get along in life. Mum has always taught me that we shouldn’t judge people by their family’s actions, but by their own. Dad always taught me that all Malfoys are gits.

No wonder I’m so bloody confused.

*

On Friday, we all gather at the Ministry of Magic to attend Mum’s debate against Uncle Percy. There are so many important figures from the magical community here – former Ministers, Quidditch officials, top Aurors (led by Uncle Harry, of course), Hogwarts Headmaster Professor Flitwick, and other professors, Healer Wharton from St Mungo’s, all of the Wizengamot. Then there are countless reporters all gathered at the front of the stage, where there are two podiums set up, one with the initials HW, the other PW.

As instructed by Nana Molly, all of the family are here. It’s the first time I’ve seen Al and Jenny since they returned from their honeymoon – Al waves at me, while Jenny sits two rows away and pretends she didn’t see me. How petty. Hugo and I sit up at the very front beside Dad, and right across from Audrey, Molly and Lucy. Lucy waves kindly to us – thank God one of them is a Weasley, I was getting worried about that family. Most of the family sit behind us, showing that they are definitely supporting Mum. Nana Molly, however, says absolutely nothing, and chats to both Mum and Uncle Percy before the debate begins.

Across the way, I notice that the Scamanders are here too, and Luna gives me a very dreamy wave when I accidentally catch her eye. And behind them are a family I never expected to be here – the Malfoys. Draco, Astoria, Scorpius and Daisy are all sitting together. I wonder who they’ll vote for. I would have thought they’d hate Uncle Percy just as much as Mum.

“There’s Dad and Daisy! Can I go over and say hello?” Aidan asks me excitedly, having spotted them too. “And Grandma and Grandad Draco too!”

“We can say hello to them after your Nana speaks, ok?” I tell him. I can almost feel Dom shooting me daggers, but I know she hasn’t told anybody about Daisy’s heritage. Dom has the loyalty of a Gryffindor, thankfully.

Stand-in Minister of Magic, Timothy Russell, stands up to introduce both candidates before the debate. He looks a lot more exhausted since the last time I saw him. I can only imagine how stressful his job must be – and how stressed out Mum will be if she gets it.

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” Russell begins, “I want to thank you all for joining us today in the candidate’s debate for Election 2028. The candidates running, as I’m sure you’ll know, are Mrs Hermione Weasley, head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement –” he pauses for the claps, “And Mr Percy Weasley, Senior Assistant to the Minister.” And some more claps. Molly looks very smug with herself. How I’d love to slap her.

Mum goes first. I’ve heard her speech five times – this is my sixth time hearing it. She’s been practicing all week, listing out her promises for reform, her dreams of a brighter future for house elves and goblins. She sounds like a bit of a crackpot to be honest, but people seem to like her and agree with her policies. I find it kind of disturbing how obsessed with helping house elves my mother is. I’m pretty sure the only reason I’m even here is because Dad offered to help house elves too, and Mum took this as dirty talk and was so turned on that she married him and bore his children. I never really stood a chance, given the circumstances I grew up in.

When Mum’s speech is finished, we all cheer for her, but Nana Molly cheers just as loudly for Percy when he steps up to the podium. I suppose she can’t really show favouritism. Still Dad looks grumpy, as if she’s chosen Percy over him. Maybe sibling rivalry never fades.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, my worthy opponent has made some truly exceptional promises to you all. Exceptional, and sadly, impossible.”

I look over at Audrey, and she is mouthing the words along with Uncle Percy, as if he’s a rock star and she’s his groupie. It’s disgusting.

“To free all house elves is to deprive an elderly woman of her only friend; a disabled man of a carer; a bed-ridden convalescent of a cook. House elves want to serve witches and wizards – it is in their nature. Once the elves are free, where are they to go? To work in the Hogwarts kitchens, where they will receive a wage that makes them feel degraded? It is their greatest honour to serve the wizarding community! What Hermione Weasley is suggesting is cold and heartless. If you care about house elves, Ladies and Gentlemen, you will vote for me on July 19th!”

Mum looks fit to murder.

Percy waffles on for the next fifteen minutes about the budget and supplying Hogwarts with cauldrons so that students don’t have to buy their own. When he finishes, nobody in the family but Nana Molly and Grandad clap for him. It is ridiculously obvious that Audrey wrote the entire speech for him. Uncle Percy is a highly intelligent man, I don’t see why he lets himself be controlled by such an old wagon as her. And in fairness to him, he does go up to Mum and shake her hand after the debate, which I suppose was diplomatic of him.

He’s still a plank.

Aidan drags me over to the Malfoys once everybody gets up and starts chatting. When we reach them, I look at Daisy in a whole new way. And when I look at her, all I can see is Antoin Dolohov. She has his eyes. Although hers are slightly warmer than the ones printed in the Daily Prophet – but I suppose, his eyes were probably warm at some point too. Maybe she’s not evil yet because she hasn’t quite grown into it. She’s only in her thirties after all. Maybe Scorpius will grow into his Malfoy genes too, and Aidan. Maybe wickedness is just something that is passed on from father to son, or daughter, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it.

After all, Scorpius seems to be turning more and more evil every day. How I miss the person I thought he was.

Aidan hugs each of the Malfoys in turn. Astoria, Scorpius’s Mum, is just about the only one I can stand.

“Your mother was just fantastic, Rose, I really agree with all of her policies,” Astoria tells me politely, as Aidan proceeds to tell a clearly uncomfortable Draco how he found two Knuts on the floor. “Of course your Uncle makes some good points...”

“My Uncle is an utter twit,” I tell her, “Don’t worry, you don’t have to say nice things about him.”

“I wasn’t planning on it,” I hear Draco mumble. Astoria rolls her eyes at him. She continues speaking to me, but I’ve stopped listening now. I keep observing Daisy, looking for some sort of indication that she is just as horrible as her father was, but it’s just not there. She’s laughing at something Roxie said to her, linking Scorpius’s arm, as if trying to exhibit to everyone that Scorpius is indeed her husband, nobody else’s. The act of a possessive wife, not an evil Death Eater.

Somehow, as people are mingling, I end up beside Draco Malfoy with absolutely nothing to say to him. Somehow, I always tend to get doubly sarcastic and cheeky around him, just to piss him off. It’s like a hobby.

“Hello Rose, you’re looking well,” he says, not looking at me at all.

“Are you flirting with me, Mr Malfoy?” I ask, and he stumbles and stutters angrily while turning a deep shade of red.

“How dare –”

“Don’t have a heart attack, I’m just joking,” I tell him, “You know, jokes...things that provoke laughter...you probably haven’t heard of them, they’re quite new...”

“You know, I think I prefer Scorpius’s new woman after all,” says Draco dryly, “Even if she is forty-seven.”

“Thirty-three,” I correct him, “And I think I’ll take that as a compliment. I really wouldn’t want to be considered a friend of yours. You might start inviting me to your puppy-hunts and brandy parties.”

Before Draco can respond, I feel a hand on my arm and know who it is before I even turn around. I’d know his touch anywhere.

“Rose, can I have a word?” Scorpius asks quietly. I nod and follow him to a secluded area in the room so we won’t be overheard. I can tell this is going to be about the hearing. “My solicitor rang me this morning. We have a date for the hearing.”

“Oh? I didn’t hear anything,” I tell him. Then again, I’ve been purposefully ignoring Tom’s calls in case he’s ringing to tell me that yes, Daisy is in fact an axe-murderer.

“Yes...it’s April 19th.” My heart plummets. This is just typical. “I’m sorry, I tried to get it changed, but that’s the only day they have in the next seven months. They only do these custody things every month.”

“Right.”

“I didn’t pick the day,” he tells me. And he actually does look genuinely sorry. Which is nice, I suppose. “I hope we’ll come to some sort of amicable agreement though...it’s not like there’s going to really be a winner or a loser.”

“That’s easy for you to say. If you win, you get him for four days, including weekends,” I spit, “That’s hardly fair.”

“I’m not starting this again with you,” Scorpius frowns, “I’m sorry the trial is on your birthday, really I am, but do you have to be such a bitch all the time?” Then he stops and hits himself on the head mockingly. “Of course, I forgot who I was talking to.”

“You know, you’re getting more and more like your father every single day,” I tell him nastily. I then look over at Daisy, and back to him, and wonder if he knows her deep dark secret. “But I suppose, we all turn into our parents, don’t we?”

He looks over at Daisy too, and the expression on his face tells me what I have been supposing for the last few days:

Scorpius does indeed know that Daisy is the daughter of a Death Eater. 







A/N - The quick update makes up for my 5 month absence, right?? Hope you liked the chapter, and the twist, I was really unsure about using it but I think it worked out OK. Thanks to everyone for their wonderful reviews on the last chapter, I'm really glad to see you haven't all given up on me! Hopefully the next chapter will be up in the next two weeks (if it's going to take longer, I'll post on my Author's Page).
Can't wait to hear your thoughts!
LOVE!

Edit: Also, reviewers, please keep reviews 12+ - site rules! (i.e. no bad language. if you don't like Scorpius, call him a Squib!)


Chapter 21: Trials and Tribulations
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Chapter 21 - Trials and Tribulations

“I won’t let you do it.”

I’ve thought about it all week. In fact, I’ve thought about absolutely nothing else. I got in trouble three times at work because I was staring off into space, and I forgot to add an essential ingredient in Potions class leading to a minor explosion, and I nearly splinched myself while preparing for my apparition exam, which is tomorrow. I cannot get the fact that Daisy is a Dolohov off my mind – and I’ve decided that I’m not going to use this information against her. I just can’t.

“I knew you were going to say that,” Tom sighs dejectedly, sitting back in his chair. “I can’t even mention it?”

“No,” I tell him firmly, “It wouldn’t be fair. It has absolutely nothing to do with Aidan, or me. It’s her business.” My voice almost sounds robotic, as if I’m not really saying this of my own accord, rather there’s someone with much better morals than me controlling what comes out of my mouth. Deep down there is still a huge part of me that wants to scream from the rooftops that dear old Daisy is the daughter of one of the most evil men in wizarding history, but that stupid sense of right and wrong that my holier-than-thou mother drilled into me as a child seems to be what is stopping me.

“It would sway the Wizengamot,” Tom points out, “Lots of them lost family members or friends in the war. I’m just saying.”

“Well don’t just say!” I exclaim, “Daisy hasn’t killed anyone...that I know of.”

Tom is in a bit of a sulk for the rest of my meeting with him, but I don’t care. I think he’s being a bit childish about this whole thing – I mean, really, the argument that Daisy’s father was a Death Eater could be shot down so quickly by Scorpius’s lawyer that it would completely undermine all of our other arguments.

After leaving Tom’s office, I decide to go to James’s apartment. I haven’t seen him all week, being busy with work and apparition and Mum’s campaign and the custody battle. Dom tried to talk to him two days ago, but he wouldn’t answer the door, even though she was sure he was there. He won’t even talk to Al, except shouting at him to leave him alone, so I’m not sure how far I’m going to get with him.

Surprisingly, he buzzes me into the building and flings the door of his apartment open. I can tell straight away, before he says anything at all, that he’s drunk. It’s two o’clock in the afternoon.

“Red!” he yells, “Always a pleasure!” He pulls me into a bear hug and the smell of alcohol off him almost knocks me out.

“You smell like a brewery,” I cough.

“You smell like a rose! Get it?”

“Very witty,” I say dryly, “Can I come in?”

He stands aside to let me into his extremely messy apartment, and I notice for the first time that he’s not alone. Scorpius is here, and nods at me awkwardly. He clearly is here doing the same as me – checking that James is still alive.

“Look at you two!” James slurs, “Red and Scorp, Romeo and Juliet...Mary and Joseph...”

“How much has he had?” I ask Scorpius.

“No idea,” he shrugs, “I’ve been here about ten minutes...looks like he’s been drinking non-stop...”

“I can hear you!” James wails, “Can I get you a drink, Red?”

“No thanks,” I tell him, “Erm, do you think you should maybe...sleep or something?” His eyes are red and puffy, and he looks skeletal.

“Why would I need to sleep? Nothing to sleep for...nothing to get up for...”

Is he really this lost without Quidditch? He’s only been banned for a few matches, it’s not like he’s lost it forever. “James, if you keep going on like this they’re going to kick you off the team for good,” I tell him sternly.

“She’s right, mate,” Scorpius agrees. This is the first time we’ve been on the same side in a long time. It feels nice. “You look like shit, want some food?”

James’s mood changes from pleasantly wasted to angrily drunk very quickly. “Shut up, Malfoy. Don’t you come ‘round here preaching to me –”

“He’s worried about you!” I cry, “We’re all worried about you!”

“Since when are you two a bloody team again?” James snaps, “I liked it better when you hated each other’s guts, at least you were a bit of a laugh back then...”

“And I liked it better when you weren’t this drunken loser,” I hiss, “Grow up.”

James was never a fan of tough love. He storms into his bedroom and slams the door, after mumbling something along the lines of “fuck you and the Hippogriff you flew in on”. I’m so glad he’s taken my ‘grow up’ advice. Scorpius and I don’t leave. Instead we silently start to clean up the living room, knowing that it’s just about the only way we can help him right now. We find beer cans, whiskey bottles, cigarette butts, but absolutely no food or food packaging – it appears James is on a purely liquid diet.

“He’s going to end up in St. Mungo’s if he keeps on like this,” Scorpius announces after a few minutes of silence. I wonder if it’s genuine concern that I’m hearing, or if he’s just looking to make conversation. Either way, I go along with it.

“Nobody seems to be able to get through to him,” I reply sadly, “Not even Harry.”

I sneak a look at Scorpius. He is concentrating hard on cleaning up. Once again, Daisy’s dirty secret pops into my head and I wonder desperately if he knows about it. It would be inappropriate for me to just bring it up. And whenever Daisy is brought up, the conversations turns awkward very quickly, and then ends up in a huge fight.

When the place is clean, I decide I can’t take any more of the awkward tension, and announce I’m leaving to collect Aidan from Teddy’s. He’s over there playing with Remus after school – I pity Teddy and Victoire. I’m not sure there has ever been a pair of demons like those two kids.

“Well, I’ll see you on Thursday then,” says Scorpius.

I have to think for a moment what Thursday is, and then it hits me – the custody hearing. Of course. As if I can think about anything else. “See you Thursday,” I reply automatically. There is no point in arguing about it anymore. It’s going to happen.

And if it kills me, I’m going to win.

*

I sit in the waiting room at the Ministry’s Department of Magical Transportation, waiting to be called forth to do my apparition exam. I’m the only one here – a man a bit younger than me went in before me looking extremely nervous. Mum offered to wait with me, but I can’t think of a worse person to have waiting with me before an exam. She’d drive me mental. So I politely declined her offer, and she went back to work looking sort of offended.

“Rose Weasley!”

Oh crap. That’s me, isn’t it?

I’m always a nervous wreck going into exams. I kind of think it could be a good thing that I never sat my NEWTs – I’m not sure I would have survived them. The examiner, who is a woman in her thirties, leads me into the office where the exam will take place.

“Good afternoon, Rose, my name is Fiona and I’ll be you’re examiner today.” She says it as if she’s trying way too hard to seem friendly, which means her bitchiness is completely on show. “If you’ll just fill in this form we can get started...”

I fill out my details, taking deep breaths and trying to calm myself down. I hand the form back to her when I’m finished, and she tells me to stand up and take her arm, and apparate to a wizarding village near Orpington.

I concentrate hard on the destination. I can do this. I practiced a million times. I turn on the spot, hope for the best and...

CRACK!

We arrive at the exact spot assigned, and I breathe a sigh of relief.

“Well done,” says Fiona, as if disappointed I did it right, “Now, if you could just apparate back to the office...”

I feel lighter than air having passed my apparition exam, and have dinner at Mum and Dad’s to celebrate. No longer will I have to take the crappy bus, or Floo to people’s houses – I can finally apparate! I apparate from room to room happily, Aidan excitedly telling me to take him side-along. For the first time in a very long time I feel like maybe the world doesn’t hate me after all. And this achievement, however trivial, makes me believe that I will win on Thursday. I just have to. And I can do it without resorting to underhanded tactics...

*

The night before the custody hearing, I get plenty of phone calls offering me support for the day ahead. Dom has forgotten about our little tiff over Daisy’s secret (well, I don’t know if she’s forgotten it, but she’s certainly not mentioning it), and tells me that if Scorpius wins custody, she’ll do all she can to make sure he doesn’t live to see another day.

That’s reassuring.

Mum and Dad tell me that no matter what happens I won’t ever lose Aidan because they won’t let that happen, blah blah blah...

Even Ginny rings to tell me that she is positive I’ll win because I’m a great Mum. But I can’t help but disagree with her. I’m hardly going to win the award for best mother any time soon. I resort to blackmail to get my son to eat his vegetables, I tell him that monsters will get him if he doesn’t go to bed before nine, I let him eat ice-cream before his dinner if it’ll mean he’ll be quiet for a few minutes. I’m probably the worst mother in the world. Except for those Mums who make their kids join cults and stuff...they’re pretty mental.

Aidan doesn’t really know what’s going on. I’ve been told he doesn’t have to attend the hearing tomorrow, so Dom agreed to look after him. I haven’t had the heart to tell him that we’re essentially fighting over him because I think he’d just assume it was all his fault.

The one person who doesn’t ring up is Jenny. Al offers his support, but doesn’t mention his wife at all. It’s been over a month since we’ve spoken, but it feels like longer. Sometimes I really wish I wasn’t so bloody stubborn all the time.

Dom picks Aidan up early the next morning, and hugs me before she leaves.

“Go Team Rose!” she whispers into my ear, “You’ll beat that blonde fucker hands down.”

I wish I could believe her. If I was nervous going into my apparition exam, it’s nothing compared to how I feel right now.

“Be good for Auntie Dom,” I tell Aidan firmly, “I’ll see you later, ok?” I hug him, as if it’s the last time I’m going to see him.

“Mum, you’re squeezing,” Aidan squeaks, “See you later!”

“Bye, love.” Oh God, I can feel tears in my eyes.

“Oh and Rose?” Dom turns back, “Happy Birthday!”

This is by far the least happy birthday I’ve ever had. Including a rather odd birthday where my family was suspected of being Muggle terrorists. There really never is a dull moment in the Weasley house.

I apparate to the Ministry, where Mum and Dad are already waiting for me. They both wish me a Happy Birthday, but they do so very half-heartedly. I’d rather forget that today is my birthday, to be honest. Even if today wasn’t the day I could potentially lose my son, I’m pretty sure I’d be depressed anyway about turning another year older. Scorpius and Daisy have arrived too, and we exchange glances as we wait outside the chambers to be called in front of the Wizengamot. However, the most important person has not arrived.

“Where the hell is Tom?” I hiss at Mum.

“He’ll be here,” she assures me, but looks extremely nervous, “Or he’ll be very sorry...”
As if he knew we were talking about him, Tom arrives just as the doors of the chambers open. As everyone enters the room, he pulls me aside for one final word.

“I’m going to do my best for you, Rose,” he tells me, “But are you sure –”

“I’m sure,” I interrupt, “I do not want you using that information against Daisy. Ok?”

Tom rolls his eyes. “Fine. Right, so Scorpius is going to be questioned first, and then you. Then the Wizengamot will retire to deliberate – should only take a few minutes – and decide what’s the best course of action. You ready?”

“As I’ll ever be,” I nod, feeling like I could throw up.

We take our seats at the front of the chamber, with Scorpius and his lawyer sitting across from us. Daisy sits behind them, deliberately looking away from me. Mum and Dad sit behind me. Seven members of the Wizengamot are sitting at a long table at the front of the chamber – these are the people who will decide the fate of this hearing. Maybe I should flash them a bit of boob.

“The case of Malfoy versus Weasley in the custody hearing regarding Aidan Ronald Weasley will now commence,” Raymond Wolf of the Wizengamot announces. He says it so casually. This is just another day at the office for him, while it’s one of the biggest days of my life. “The Wizengamot will hear from both Council now the requests of their clients. Mr Summerville?”

Scorpius’s lawyer, Henry J. Summerville stands up to address the Wizengamot. “My client wishes to apply for chief custody of his son, leaving Ms Weasley with a generous three days of custody during the week, and weekend visits.” Wolf writes this down and nods.

“And Mr Fox?”

Tom stands up now. “My client wishes to remain the primary care-giver for her son, offering Mr Malfoy custody every second weekend and on Wednesdays.” Tom suggested this arrangement, saying it sounds more reasonable than it actually is. Again, Wolf writes this down.

“Very good. The Wizengamot calls the father of Aidan Ronald Weasley, Mr Scorpius Malfoy to be questioned, and then the mother of Aidan Ronald Weasley, Ms Rose Weasley to be questioned before making their decision. Mr Malfoy, if you would take your seat in the stand...”

Scorpius looks just as nervous as I feel as he walks forward to take his seat at the front of the chamber. In a criminal trial, this would be the witness box. Summerville questions Scorpius first.

“Mr Malfoy, would you describe yourself as a good father?” Summerville asks.

Scorpius pauses for a moment. He really looks like he doesn’t want to be here. “Yes, I would,” he answers, his voice shaking.

“Can you describe your relationship with your son?”

“We have a good relationship...when I get to see him. He’s a well-behaved boy most of the time.”

The Wizengamot are all taking notes vigorously.

“And how often do you get to see your son, Mr Malfoy?” the lawyer asks.

“Well, I get to see him most weekends, and Wednesday is my day to look after him, but a lot of the time those arrangements don’t work out.”

“Why don’t they work out?”

“Well, Rose is very busy, and sometimes she needs me to mind him when she has Potions class in the evenings...”

I feel like I’ve been kicked in the gut. He’s the one who told me to go to those classes! He’s the one who said he’d look after Aidan! Was it just to get some ammunition?

“So, would you say that Rose is unreliable?” Summerville asks.

“I...” Scorpius looks very uncomfortable, “I wouldn’t say unreliable. It’s just her hours in her job change a lot, they’re not fixed, and she has other commitments...” He trails off.

“Other commitments. And what hours do you work, Mr Malfoy?”

“I work from 8am to 3pm from Monday to Friday, with a day off on Wednesdays.”

“And these are fixed hours?”

“Yes.”

“So it would be fair to say that you are a more reliable parent than Ms Weasley?”

“Objection!” Tom stands up quickly in defence. “He’s leading the witness. Rose’s working hours have nothing to do with her parenting abilities.”

“Mr Summerville,” Wolf addresses Scorpius’s lawyer, “Could you please rephrase the question?”

Summerville looks annoyed. “Do you think Ms Weasley’s working hours in any way affect her ability to be a reliable parent for Aidan?”

Scorpius looks down at his hands. “I suppose they might...”

“How so?”

“Well, she isn’t always able to pick him up from school. He has to spend a lot of time at his Grandparents’ house, or at other family members’ houses. Aidan’s living arrangements lack stability.”

“And do you think you could offer more stability than Ms Weasley can?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Are you in a relationship, Mr Malfoy?”

“Yes. I’m married.”

“And how do your wife and son get on together?”

“Daisy loves Aidan,” Scorpius says firmly, “And Aidan loves her too. They get on extremely well.”

Summerville nods. “Thank you Mr Malfoy.” With that, Summerville sits back in his seat looking very pleased with himself.

“Mr Fox, have you any questions for Mr Malfoy?” Wolf asks.

“Yes sir,” Tom stands up. He looks at me one last time hopefully. I shake my head. I will not let him use that information. I don’t care. Tom turns to Scorpius. “Mr Malfoy, what age were you when Aidan was born?”

“I was seventeen,” says Scorpius, “We both were.”

“Seventeen,” Tom repeats, “And what year were you in at Hogwarts?”

“Sixth. Well, he was born in the summer between sixth and seventh year.”

“That must have been difficult having a child while still at Hogwarts. Were you still able to attend Hogwarts once the baby came?”

Scorpius raises his eyebrows, now realising where this line of questioning his going. “Yes, I was. Rose and I agreed that I’d do my NEWTs while she’d stay with her parents and look after Aidan.”

“So Ms Weasley didn’t go back to Hogwarts for seventh year?”

“No.”

“She sacrificed her education to look after your son. How often did you see Aidan that year?”

“I’m not sure,” Scorpius shrugs, “Maybe once every three weeks.”

“So not very often then,” Tom observes. “Did you find this separation from your child difficult?”

“Yes, very much so.”

“Can you tell me how meetings with your son took place while you were at Hogwarts?”

Scorpius frowns, as if trying to remember that far back. “Rose would travel up to Hogsmeade with the baby and we’d meet there for a few hours. And I spent holidays at the Weasley house.”

“Mr Malfoy, what age were you when you took your apparition test?”

“I was seventeen. I took it in sixth year.”

“Did you pass it?”

“Yes. First time.”

“I would like to point out to the Wizengamot that due to the fact that Ms Weasley was pregnant upon turning seventeen that she did not get the chance to take her apparition test until last week,” says Tom, “So, Mr Malfoy, do you not think that it would have been a lot easier for you to visit Ms Weasley during your seventh year at Hogwarts than for her to travel to you?”

“I...I suppose so.”

“If you missed your son as much as you claim, would you not have made the effort to travel to see him in that first year?”

“I was very busy at school.”

“I’m sure you were. But as I’m sure all parents will know, a newborn baby is just about the most time-consuming thing there is!” Some members of the Wizengamot nod in agreement. God, Tom is good. “Do you agree that Ms Weasley put a lot of time and effort into raising your son?”

“Yes.”

“Do you agree that she is a good mother?”

“I do.”

“Thank you, Mr Malfoy. That’s all.”

After Summerville’s questions I felt like the case had been lost. Now, I feel like I could fly! We didn’t even need that stupid argument that Daisy is the daughter of Dolohov.

“Mr Malfoy, you can return to your seat. The Wizengamot now calls Ms Rose Weasley to the stand.”

My legs feel like jelly. Scorpius passes me on his way down from the stand, but does not make eye contact. I take my seat, now facing Mum and Dad and Daisy. Mum and Dad smile encouragingly. I really feel like I’m going to puke. “Mr Fox, you may begin your questioning.”

“Ms Weasley,” Tom addresses me, “Do you think that your current custody arrangement is fair?”

I knew he was going to ask me that. We’ve been over it so many times in his office.

“I think it’s very fair and flexible. Aidan gets to spend a lot of time with his father, while still having a stable home. He doesn’t have to split his life into two different worlds, and I find this makes it easier on him. He is perfectly happy.”

“Is it just you and your son living in your flat?”

“Yes. But we have family very close by.” Mum and Dad continue to smile in encouragement.

“Do you think your working hours have a negative effect on Aidan?”

“He’s used to my changing hours. We still spend plenty of time together, and he loves to spend time with his Grandparents too.”

“And do you think he sees enough of his father?”

“Well, obviously with parents who are separated a child can never really see as much as he’d like to of both. But he spends as much time as he likes with Scorpius. He has never complained about our current arrangement.”

“Do you think disrupting his current living arrangements could have a negative effect on your son?”

“I think so. Aidan suffers from dyslexia and is having a difficult time at school. I think that disrupting his life at the moment would do much more harm than good. Like I said, he’s perfectly happy.”

Tom nods, and turns to make a statement to the Wizengamot. “Ladies and gentlemen, I think it’s clear to see that Aidan is perfectly happy with the current custody arrangements. Ms Weasley has been the primary care giver for her son for his entire life – wrenching him from her care at his age would be an emotionally scarring experience for the boy. Mr Malfoy agrees that Ms Weasley is a good mother. She does her best as a single mother with a career, while still giving Mr Malfoy plenty of time with his son. Mr Malfoy’s request for chief custody of Aidan is nothing more than selfish greed, and should absolutely not be granted. Thank you.”

How I wish this was the end of the hearing. I could safely say I will win if this was the end. However, Summerville stands up to cross-examine me – I feel like he should grow horns and a tail.

“Ms Weasley, you described your son as ‘perfectly happy’, is that correct?” he asks.

“Yes,” I reply, resisting the urge to add ‘are you deaf or what?’

“Do you think Aidan would prefer if you and Mr Malfoy were together?”

I frown at him. “Well, yes, but things don’t always work out. Scorpius is married to Daisy.”

“And Ms Weasley are you in a relationship?”

“No.”

“Have you had a relationship at all since the birth of your son?”

“Scorpius and I were together for two years, on and off.”

“And may I ask why that did not work out for you?”

Oh God. Is there anything more embarrassing than having to go through my love life with Scorpius in front of the Wizengamot? “Scorpius wanted to get married,” I reply.

“To you?”

“Yes.” Duh.

“And what was your answer?”

“I said that we were too young.”

“So the break-up of your relationship was your decision,” Summerville says.

“In a way.”

“And was Scorpius the only man you were in a relationship with since the birth of your son?”

“Yes.”

“What about a Mr Brian McDonald?”

Oh Jesus. I can’t believe Scorpius told him about that.

“Brian is just a friend.”

“Where did you meet Brian?”

“In a Muggle nightclub,” I reply sheepishly. It sounds so bad.

“Do you go to nightclubs often?”

“No. It was New Years Eve.”

“And is it true you went home with Mr McDonald that night?”

I look at Scorpius. He looks guilty. I can’t believe he dished all this about me.

“Yes. But we just kissed. Nothing else.”

“And what did Aidan think of Mr McDonald?”

“He didn’t like him because Brian was his substitute teacher at school.”

“So did you stop seeing Mr McDonald when Aidan became upset?”

“I was never seeing Brian!” I cry, “He’s a friend!”

“But did you stop communicating with him when you saw your son was unhappy?”

“No.”

“So, really, your son was not ‘perfectly happy’ at all.”

I really hate this man. More than I hate Auntie Audrey. If she and Uncle Percy ever split up, I know who to set her up with.

“He was just throwing a tantrum. He got over it. Kids throw tantrums.”

“But you ignored this tantrum and passed it off as nothing?”

“It was nothing!”

“Ms Weasley, it seems a selfish act to ignore your son’s feelings about a person in your life. While Mr Malfoy offers a stable home environment for your son, an environment with two parental figures, both loved by Aidan, you are offering flakiness and you disregard the feelings of your son towards your ‘friends’. Ladies and Gentlemen, clearly there needs to be a radical change in Aidan’s living arrangements. These ‘tantrums’ Ms Weasley has referred to can be seen as the desperate acts of a child who craves more attention from his parents. Instead of being pawned off on nearby family members and friends, Aidan needs stability in his life. He needs the stability that Mr Malfoy and his wife are offering, not the insecurity that defines the life he currently leads. Thank you.”

Raymond Wolf tells me to go back to my seat while the Wizengamot deliberates. I’m completely shaken by Summerville’s questioning. Tom tells me not to panic, that even if it doesn’t go our way we can always appeal. I feel like I might cry, but I can’t. Not in front of Scorpius and Daisy. Scorpius isn’t speaking to anyone.

“Everything will be fine,” Dad assures me, “I promise, Rosie. Everything will be fine. I really hate that Malfoy git-”

“Ron, not here,” Mum warns him.

After what feels like two hours, but is actually only about twenty minutes, the Wizengamot file back into the chamber with their decision made. Tom pats me on the shoulder and wishes me luck. I’ve lost. I can feel it.

“Having taken into consideration the factors brought to our attention in this hearing,” Raymond Wolf begins, “We have decided to award sole custody of Aidan Ronald Weasley to Scorpius Malfoy for the next six weeks pending a subsequent hearing.” My heart stops beating. Sole custody. “Aidan Weasley will live with Scorpius and Daisy Malfoy for the next eight weeks, with visits from Rose Weasley with the permission of Mr Malfoy. After these eight weeks, the Wizengamot will assess what course of action is in the best interest of Aidan Weasley. Hearing adjourned.”

I am in complete shock. Those tears that have been threatening to come pouring out all day are still holding back, thank God. Scorpius looks equally shocked, but I can’t look at him for too long in case I jinx him.

“T-Tom...we lost,” I tell him, my voice shaking.

“We didn’t lose, Rose,” he tells me firmly, “They’re just doing this to see how Aidan gets on living with Scorpius and Daisy on a more long-term basis. It’s only for two months. We’ll get working extra hard on the next hearing...”

“I should have let you use it!” I whisper to him, my whole body shaking now, “I should have let you!”

“Stop it,” he frowns, “Stop talking like we’ve lost. This is just the beginning.”

Mum and Dad come forward and hug me, while Scorpius crosses the chamber to speak with me. Mum, Dad and Tom leave us alone for a moment.

He doesn’t look victorious. In fact, he looks devastated. But all he can say is: “I’ll...I’ll pick him up at seven. And, erm, Happy Birthday.”

I break down in tears.




A/N - Depressing chapter! Woo! (Just trying to cheer ye up!)
I think it's safe to say that this is Rose's low point. Then again, I always seem to find ways to make her sink lower. I hate the part with the apparition test, but I feel I needed to stick it in there anyway. Did you guys like or dislike the trial? I know it's not like a real trial, but I tried to make it kinda original. Also, I don't have time right now to look through for mistakes, but I will do soon!
Thanks SO MUCH for the reviews on the last chapter! You guys make my life. Can't wait to hear your opinions!
LOVE!


Chapter 22: Cry And Cry Again
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Chapter 22 - Cry And Cry Again


“But I don’t want to live with Dad.”

“It’ll just be for a couple of months.”

“But I don’t want to! Do I have to?”

“I thought you liked spending time at your Dad’s?”

“They don’t like when Ollie barks and they get mad at her!”

“Ollie can stay here and you can visit her.”

“I want Ollie to come with me!”

“Fine, she can go with you!”

“Why am I not allowed live here anymore?”

“...Your Dad wants to spend lots more time with you. Because he loves you so much, just like I do.”

“But I want to stay here!”

“Well you can’t!”

Do not let him see you cry.

I take a deep breath before continuing. Aidan looks so hurt that I’ve shouted at him, but he’s not a crier. At least one of us is strong.

“I’m sorry,” I sigh, feeling the lump in my throat getting bigger and bigger, “I don’t like this any more than you do...”

Mum and Dad are waiting outside the flat. They’ve given me time alone to explain the situation to Aidan, then they’re helping me pack his things.

“I want to live with you!” Aidan pleads, “Please Mum! I’ll be good!”

“Aidan, you are good,” I tell him, “It’ll only be for a few months, I promise! And I’ll see you every day.”

He gives me a look that is a mixture of hurt and anger. This is the first time in his life Aidan has ever given that look and it kills me that I’m the one who’s causing him so much pain. I’m supposed to protect him from pain.

I lift him onto my knee and hold him close. His blonde hair is so soft. “I’m so sorry,” I whisper to him. I can only whisper now. If I speak he’ll hear the shaking in my voice. “I love you so much. You know that, don’t you?”

“Why can’t you and Dad live together?”

“You know why.”

Mum and Dad knock before coming into the living room. I can tell that they are trying to hide their anger from Aidan, but it’s just radiating from them. Mum looks on the verge of tears. Dad looks ready to punch something.

“Aidan, shall I help you pack up your things?” Mum asks him softly, and takes him by the hand. As they head off to his bedroom, Dad sits down on the sofa beside me and throws his arm around my shoulders. And now that Aidan is gone, I allow myself to cry.

“Had a word with Tom Fox just now, said he’d drop in later to see how you’re doing. He’s a good man,” says Dad. I plan on locking the door and turning off the lights if he comes round. “He said that the only reason the Wizengamot is giving Malfoy full custody is because they can’t judge his fathering skills on a long-term basis or some crap like that. He won’t get full custody forever.”

This really doesn’t console me. What if he is a better parent than me? He has a better flat, a wife, a better job. As of today, I have nothing. If the Wizengamot discover that Scorpius is a better parent, I will lose Aidan forever. He’ll spend more time with Daisy than with me, and he’ll start to think of her as his real mother. I’ll be his weekend mother.

“You’ve always been a good kid, Rosie,” Dad tells me, “You’ll win this. I know you will.”
“Thanks, Dad,” I mumble, knowing full well that the only reason he’s saying this is because he has to. I’m his only daughter, the apple of his eye, his first born child – if he isn’t rooting for me, nobody is.

Mum and Aidan come back into the living room, Mum holding Aidan’s bags and Aidan’s holding Bob-The-Quaffle. He still looks upset with me. I don’t know if he’ll ever stop being upset with me. It occurs to me that I should have just told him he’s going on holidays to his Dad’s house for a few weeks. If I hadn’t used the word ‘live’ – he has to live there – he probably wouldn’t have gotten so upset.

He’s just going on holidays.

That makes it a bit better.

“I’ll collect you from school tomorrow,” I tell him, “How does that sound?”

He shrugs. It’s not enough. I didn’t think it would be. “And we’ll get some ice-cream?” I suggest.

“Ok,” he replies blankly. If ice-cream doesn’t cheer him up, I have absolutely nothing. Ice-cream was created to make even the worst of mothers feel good for a little while.

Because I know Scorpius will be here any minute, I put the leash on Ollie, who barks happily at the thought that she’s going for a walk. I’m even going to miss her, despite the fact that I have to bring her outside all the time and she never shuts up barking. Anything would be better than the silence that’s going to fill the flat now.

Mum and Dad stay until Scorpius arrives, and he asks them if they could bring Aidan to his apartment. He wants to talk to me. Mum and Dad agree to take Aidan over, for his sake. Not for Scorpius. I know that no matter what happens my parents will forever hate Scorpius Malfoy from now on; Dad was never too pushed on him anyway.

I hug Aidan goodbye. “I’ll see you tomorrow,” I tell him, and kiss him. He simply nods. He knows that nothing he can say will change anything.

When they have left, Scorpius and I stand in my living room looking at each other. We’re both quiet for a few minutes. He still has an infuriatingly pitying look on his face, the same one he wore after the hearing ended. It makes me want to punch him.

“This got way out of hand,” he says eventually. “I...I never really meant to hurt you.”

This makes me laugh. A horribly bitter laugh. “You’ve taken the only thing that matters to me. How can you say you didn’t want to hurt me?”

He has the decency to look ashamed. “You’re right. And I’m sorry...I just needed to.”

“Needed to what?”

“I needed to hurt you.”

“But why?”

“I needed you to stop loving me!” he exclaims, “I needed you to move on.”

“Well done,” I say coldly, “Mission accomplished.”

He looks surprised. “Really?”

“You’ve taken Aidan from me. I don’t think I could hate you more than I do right now.”

“You know I never asked for full custody. I’m not trying to take him away from you, Rose, I just want to see him more often!” And so we’re back to this argument. I don’t have the energy to fight with him, so I say nothing. “You can come over whenever you want. I’m not going to ask for full custody at the next hearing.”

“Bully for you.”

He knows he’s not going to get a dignified conversation from me. Not when I’m so close to crying. So he turns to leave. “I’m going to go. I’ll see you tomorrow.” I don’t respond. “Rose, I’ll always have feelings for you. But I’m trying to move on, and to do that I need you to move on too. That’s why I needed to hurt you.”

Somehow he has managed to make this whole mess my fault. Throwing the blame on me has always been a true talent of his.

*

The next few days in the flat are some of the loneliest and quietest I’ve ever experienced. I consider so many times picking up the phone and calling Jenny, but I don’t have the guts to do it. It’s been so long since we’ve spoken, and she obviously has nothing to say to me. Al stopped by the day after the hearing to make sure I was doing alright, as did Teddy. But they’re just not the same as her. Jenny always knows the right thing to say. I miss our friendship so much, and I know she has to miss me too. Being pregnant isn’t easy, but I can’t imagine how hard it would have been if I didn’t have her standing behind me the whole way through it.

I’ve seen Aidan after work every day so far. I’ve brought him for ice-cream, brought him to Diagon Alley, brought him to the zoo, but nothing seems to be cheering him up. I do my best to avoid saying anything to Scorpius and Daisy when I see them. It’s too difficult, especially when I’m imagining what their heads might look like impaled on a large spike.

And yet, given the huge rocking my whole world has gotten in the last few days, life goes on. Brian so brutally reminds me of this when he stops by my flat after work one day to tell me that his wife wants to get back together with him.

“I don’t know what to do,” he states, “I really like Dom...”

“Then stay with her.”

“But my wife and I have such a history. We were really happy during the good times.”

“When she wasn’t sleeping with your brother you mean?”

Brian sighs heavily. A few weeks ago I might have cared more about his predicament. Right now I couldn’t give a toss. “Look,” I continue, “You asked me to set you up with Dom and I did. But I won’t dump her for you. Do your own dirty work.” If I thought Dom really liked him I’d be more bothered by this. But I’m really not sure if she even likes him all that much.

Brian gives me a sympathetic look and I realise that the only reason he’s dumping his personal problems on me is to distract me from my own. “You’re going to win the next hearing,” he tells me confidently.

“I don’t know why everybody keeps saying that.”

“Because you’re a brilliant mother,” he says. I haven’t told him that he’s part of the reason I lost the first hearing. I haven’t told him that Scorpius thinks there’s something between me and Brian. And I haven’t told him that I sort of resent him for it all, despite the fact that he’s done absolutely nothing wrong.

I’m very glad to be by myself when Brian finally leaves. Everybody seems to think that dropping in on me will make me feel less lonely, make me forget the fact that Aidan’s not here. It doesn’t. In fact, people rallying around me so much just emphasises it.

When the phone rings, I decide not to answer it. Having to endure another conversation with Mum about my feelings, or a lecture from Nana Molly about eating properly, or a rant from Dom about how much of a bastard Scorpius is, is more than I can bear. Even at work I just keep my head down to avoid the pitying glances the girls keep giving me. I hate that everybody knows my business. I hate that my business has been printed in nearly every magical newspaper there is.

However, my decision to ignore phone calls turns out to be a rather bad one; Al turns up at my flat twenty minutes later. Really, he’s probably the best one I could hope for. Al knows the right things to say. He knows how to cheer me up.

“Jenny had a miscarriage,” he tells me as soon as I open the door. 

Or not.

He looks awful, like he doesn’t know what to do with himself. He’s shaking, and he’s clearly been crying. “I don’t know what to say to her, Rose. I need you.”

I hug him. It’s my first impulse. He looks like he needs to be held. “I’m sorry, Al.”

“We just found out today,” he mumbles in a strained voice. “The doctor said it wasn’t anyone’s fault...it just happened...”

“Is Jenny by herself?”

“Yeah,” he nods, “You wouldn’t answer the phone, so I had to come over. You need to talk to her. I’m really crap in these situations.”

I grab my keys, turn off the lights with my wand and apparate with Al over to his place. Jenny’s sitting in the kitchen, nursing a mug of tea at the table. She’s staring off into nothingness, but unlike Al, she doesn’t look like she’s been crying. I feel nervous as I approach her, wondering if she has possibly forgiven me yet for ruining her wedding day. It’s hard to even know if she’s realised I’m here.

“Jen, Rose is here,” Al says softly, placing his hand on her shoulder. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like the adoration Al has for Jenny. He worships her and he always has. Their relationship has always been so normal, so pure and I’ve always been a little bit jealous of it. What I’d give to be in a normal relationship, not fuelled by drama or arguments. Even when Scorpius and I were together, I’m not sure our love ever even came close to the love Al and Jenny share. Love like that is exceptional; I don’t think everybody deserves it. I definitely don’t.

“Jenny?” I sit down on the chair beside hers. “Oh Jen, I’m so sorry.”

Jenny’s eyes finally focus and she looks at me. For a fleeting second I’m terrified she’s about to spit on me and tell me to get out of her house. But she doesn’t. She smiles weakly and her eyes fill up with tears and before she can start crying, I hug her like I hugged Al, simply because she looks like she needs it. Al leaves us alone; I’ll get James or Scorpius to talk to him later.

“We were so excited,” Jenny sobs. “I know it was too early, but we’d picked out n-names. Rebecca for a girl, William for a boy.”

“Those are lovely names,” I tell her. We’ve stopped hugging now, but I’m still holding her hand.

“I started bleeding a few hours ago. I knew before the Healer told me. I felt it.”

“I can’t imagine what you’re going through.” I can feel tears forming in my eyes too. Why did this have to happen to Jenny? She’s a good person – no, she’s a fantastic person. And Al too. I deserve all of the pain inflicted on me. This just seems sadistic.

“It’s all my fault,” Jenny whispered.

“Stop it!” I cry, “This is not your fault!”

“It is. When I first found out I was pregnant, I wished I wasn’t. I didn’t want a baby.”

“That’s really not how it works,” I tell her firmly. “D’you think I wanted a baby?” Maybe that’s why I’ve lost my baby too. Of course not in the extreme way Jenny has. I can’t help but feel extremely lucky; at least I know my baby is safe.

“I heard about the custody hearing,” says Jenny, “And I think it was a rotten thing for Scorpius to do. And if you need anything at all, I’m here.”

“Jenny, you have no idea how much that means to me,” I sob, now realising that we are both in tears. “And I’m so sorry about what happened at your wedding.”

“Forget about it!” she sobs back, “I have! I was stupid –”

“No, I was stupid!”

“No, I was –”

“Jenny, I nearly forgot your veil, my son ruined your wedding cake, I snogged a married man among your wedding gifts, I screamed bloody murder at the bride -”

I notice now that between the tears, Jenny is laughing hysterically. This makes me burst into laughter, while still bawling my eyes out. Al comes rushing into the kitchen, and at first thinks we’re just crying – then he realises that we are in fact two mentally insane people.

“I can’t believe we’re l-l-laughing!” I cry.

“I know! We’re fucking idiots!”

“J-Jenny! You swore!”

This makes us laugh even more, with a few unladylike snorts thrown in for good measure. Al simply shakes his head at us in confusion and heads back into the living room.

“Oh Rose, I missed you so much!”

“I missed you too. Let’s never fight again.” Jenny raises her eyebrows at me sceptically. “Fine, let’s never fight for this long again.”

“Agreed,” Jenny smiles, wiping her eyes. I know I haven’t fully cheered her up. She hasn’t forgotten about her miscarriage, and I haven’t forgotten about losing Aidan. But one thing is for sure: even the most devastating of situations can be made that little bit better with a friend by your side. And if it’s not made better, well you can just laugh your arse off anyway.

*

Because Scorpius, James and I are the only ones who knew about Jenny’s pregnancy, we are the only ones who can comfort Al and Jenny after the miscarriage. However, Scorpius and I seem to be the only ones doing any of the work. When I go to Al and Jenny’s house the day after the miscarriage Scorpius is there, but I choose to be civil with him for their sake. They don’t want to hear us squabbling, and to be honest, I’ve had enough of our squabbling too. He’s not the person he once was, or the person I thought he once was, and I’ll just have to accept that.

However, my placid demeanour soon wears off when Al announces that James hasn’t been around at all to see them, nor has he phoned or checked in on them. Al merely left a message on James’s answering service. Panic is first to strike, and I see it flash across Scorpius’s face too. Because Al has been away for so long, he doesn’t know the full extent of James’s behaviour these days. When Scorpius and I were cleaning his flat, it was so blatantly obvious that James hadn’t been eating much, but drinking plenty. I suddenly get an image of James lying dead on the floor of his apartment.

“I completely forgot, I have to head over to Mum and Dad’s. Mum wants me to look through some things for her campaign,” I announce, jumping up from my seat. Al and Jenny look very surprised. “I’ll be back in about an hour?”

“Ok –”

“I have to go too,” Scorpius announces, “Have to mind Aidan, Daisy’s going into work tonight.”

Two blatant lies, but Al and Jenny seem to buy them. In fact, I get the feeling that they might be slightly relieved that we’re leaving. I’m sure they want to be by themselves for a while.

As soon as we get outside Al and Jenny’s, Scorpius and I voice our inner fears.

“We have to get over there,” says Scorpius straight away.

“What if he’s dead?”

“He’s not dead.”

“How do you –”

“Rose,” Scorpius looks at me firmly, “He’s not dead.”

For some unknown reason, I believe him, even though he knows just as much as I do that it is a strong possibility that James could be dead, or at least unconscious. We apparate together to James’s apartment – it’s only been a week and I can’t remember how I got along without being able to apparate – and I start banging on the door.

“James! Open up!” I cry.

Scorpius is biting his fingernails, a habit that seriously ticks me off despite the fact that I do it myself. When there is no reply after ten seconds, Scorpius bangs on the door much harder. “James, open the fucking door or I’ll break it down!”

He finally opens the door, standing before us in nothing but boxer shorts with one eye open. “Where’s the fucking fire?” he grumbles.

“Oh, so you’re not dead,” I observe, “Because that’s the only excuse I’m willing to except for your absence at Al and Jenny’s!”

“Do you have to talk so loud all the time?” James asks, “I’m standing right here.”

“Al said he left a message for you. About the baby,” says Scorpius. “Why didn’t you call him, mate?”

“Don’t you ‘mate’ him!” I cry angrily.

“Oh yeah, got the message,” says James.

“And?” I spit.

“You know I’m shit in these situations. Best let it lie for a while.”

Scorpius and I are united in disgust at my cousin. “I can’t believe you, James,” I snarl, “I really can’t. I always knew you were an insensitive prick, but Al needs you! If you don’t get your arse over there right now he’ll never forgive you! And I’ll never forgive you either!”

“You’re doing my head in, Red,” James yawns, “I’m really not in the mood.”

“You can’t be serious,” Scorpius frowns. “You’re really not going to say anything to him?”

James looks at us both angrily. I can’t help but wonder where the hell my happy-go-lucky cousin has gone to. He’s not half the person he used to be.

“I don’t remember asking for your opinions,” James snaps, “So do me a favour; mind your own business.”

He slams the door in our faces. 

 

 






A/N: Why is James such an idiot? Is Scorpius as bad as we think? Why was Brian randomly thrown in there? All shall become apparent....before the end of the story?? Should be another 10 - 15 chapters! :D
5000 REVIEWS!!!! I am ridiculously excited. It never gets old. Ever. Only 30ish reviews til this story beats Delicate, review-wise! Exciting! Thank you SO SO SO much everyone. I'm sorry if the last chapter made you cry! I'm sorry if this chapter made you cry! I realise it's sad...but life really sucks sometimes. I hope y'all liked the chapter! xxx
P.S: I love everybody who reviews! If you do review (which I hope you do, I <3 feedback), please keep the language 12+!

 


Chapter 23: Return To Hogwarts
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Chapter 23 - Return To Hogwarts



Ron and Hermione Weasley & family,

You are invited to attend the 30th Anniversary celebration of the Battle of Hogwarts at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, on 2nd May 2028.

Ceremony to take place in the grounds at 5pm, with dinner in the Great Hall to follow.

Sincerely,

Professor F. Flitwick

 

 

“You’re going,” Mum tells me as soon as she hands me the invitation. She’s sitting at the dining room table doing some work and doesn’t even look up from the piece of parchment she’s writing on.

 

“Ok,” I say, knowing it’s pointless to argue. I hadn’t considered not going anyway. After all, it’s not like I have anything better to do with my life now that Scorpius has Aidan, and since I won’t have work that day on account of it being a national holiday in the wizarding community, I might as well return to Hogwarts for an evening.

 

“Everybody’s going,” Mum continues, as if I’ve told her I’m not. “The Potters, Uncle George, Aunt Angelina, Uncle Charlie –”

 

“Yes Mum, I know what ‘everybody’ means,” I tell her. It means the entire crew – fun.

 

“And I believe the Malfoys are going,” Mum adds.

 

“The Malfoys?” I scoff. “As in the ones who fought on Voldemort’s side?”

 

“Honestly Rose, after having a baby with one of them you’d think you’d be more forgiving.”

 

“That’s exactly why I’m not forgiving.”

 

“Draco and Astoria are quite well respected in the Ministry,” Mum tells me. “And they changed over to our side when it really mattered, so we should all forgive and forget I think.”

 

“Not bloody likely,” says Dad, who has wandered in from the living room after waking up from his afternoon nap. I think by the time he hits eighty all he’ll do is sleep.

 

“I’m with Dad,” I agree.

 

“Nothing new there,” Mum mumbles to herself, clearly agitated. Hugo’s not here to take her side.

 

I’ve found myself spending more time at Mum and Dad’s since Aidan went to Scorpius’s, and at the Burrow too. Staying at the empty flat just depresses and angers me, and since I’m already an angry person in general, I don’t think it’ll be too long before I snap and murder somebody. I hope it’s Molly.

 

The following week on the morning of the anniversary, Scorpius allows me to take Aidan for the whole day. We both know it’s best for our son to be associated more with the Weasleys than the Malfoys on a day like today. We apparate together to Hogsmeade village, where Al and Jenny are waiting for us in The Three Broomsticks. This really takes me back; Aidan, this is where Evil Grandad Draco offered Mummy money to have you aborted.

 

“Sweets!” Aidan screeches as soon as he sees Honeydukes. Passers-by look at him and smile, but I know they’re all secretly judging me, thinking I don’t feed my child. He ate three slices of bread and two bananas before we left the bloody flat!

 

“Not now,” I tell him and lead him into the pub. Al, Jenny and Lily are sitting at a table right inside the door and beckon us over.

 

Sitting in the pub, I see some familiar faces from the Ministry, along with some friends of Mum and Dad’s; Seamus Finnegan, who’s the father of a bloke who was in my year at school; Dean Thomas, who used to go out with Aunt Ginny; Lavender Brown, who used to go out with Dad. It’s only half three, so they’re clearly all getting a few pints in before the ceremony. I can see others stealing glances at us, knowing full well that they are looking at Harry Potter’s son, daughter and niece. It would be hard to mistake Al for anyone else other than Harry – just slap a scar on his forehead and he could be The Chosen One.

 

“Ever feel like you’re in a zoo?” Al mumbles, almost trying to hide himself. 


“You have to be used to people gawping at you by now,” Jenny rolls her eyes. “Every year at school the first years would fall over themselves to get a look at Harry Potter’s kids.”

 

“James used to bask in the attention,” Lily agrees. “That was his favourite part of going back to Hogwarts after the summer holidays.”


“Speaking of,” I look around, “Where is your waste of space brother?” I haven’t seen or been speaking with James since our argument, and I’m not sure if he’s been speaking to anybody else either. I know Scorpius hasn’t heard much from him.

 

“No idea,” Al says darkly. “Mum was round at his flat last week, said she heard him inside but he wouldn’t open the door. And Dad was there yesterday, but James just shouted at him to piss off.” Jenny nudges him and points to Aidan, clearly annoyed that Al has cursed in front of him.

 

“Dad was so annoyed,” Lily adds, though she really doesn’t need to. I can just imagine how angry Harry is with him.

 

“I don’t understand why he’s being so ridiculous,” I say. “Isn't his suspension nearly over?”

 

“He’ll be playing the next match,” Al nods. “That’s if Mum doesn’t kill him first.”

 

Shortly afterwards, we make our way up to the school, Aidan buzzing with excitement to see Hogwarts for the first time. He was there before when he was a baby, when Scorpius was in seventh year and I brought him up to visit. But of course he doesn’t remember that.

 

“It’s amazing!” he squeals when he first sees the castle. He loves the word ‘amazing’ recently. “Look, Mum, it’s amazing!”

 

“I know, it’s amazing,” I agree, and he seems very happy with this response.

 

“I can’t wait to go here! It’s amazing!”


Lily and Jenny smile at him. I can’t believe that in just five and a half short years, my son will be starting at Hogwarts. It really doesn’t feel that long ago since I went here. 

 

There are hundreds of chairs set up near the lake and a stage right beside the memorial statue, which holds the names of all who died during the wars against Voldemort. Albus Dumbledore’s tomb is to the right of the stage. The chairs are already starting to fill up, but there are seats actually reserved for us near the front. The very front row is reserved for the leading figures in the Order of the Phoenix – Harry, Ginny, Mum, Dad, Nana Molly, Grandad, Minerva McGonagall, Luna Scamander, Neville Longbottom and so on – so we sit in the second row. So far, there is no sign of James, but I do catch a glimpse of Scorpius and Daisy, who are sitting with Draco and Astoria quite a few rows back. I nod in acknowledgement of them.

 

Dom arrives with Victoire and Teddy. It’s Victoire’s 28th birthday today, though she insists she’s twenty-five, so Dom has been threatened not to mention her actual age to anyone.

 

“Look at Audrey talking to all those Ministry officials,” Jenny mumbles to me. Sure enough, Audrey is practically flirting with some of the senior Ministry officials on behalf of her husband – Uncle Percy has taken his seat with his family and has thankfully decided to forget about the campaign for today. “She really has some nerve...”

 

“Mum! Look, it’s Hagrid!” Aidan squeals when he sees our giant friend. Hagrid waves over at us – despite the fact that he’s quite a bit away from us, he has heard my son’s shouts.

 

The ceremony consists of many speeches from many different people. The students of Hogwarts are made sit on the grass beside the lake, each of them craning their necks to look at Harry and Mum and Dad. Despite the fact that my family really are very embarrassing, I’m strangely proud of them at the same time. Minerva McGonagall, who has to be at least one hundred years old, talks for ten minutes about Albus Dumbledore in a speech that is actually very emotional. I notice a tear running down Hagrid’s cheek.

 

There are speeches from Professor Flitwick, Mum, Kingsley Shacklebolt and finally, Harry. Any murmurs that were coming from the students completely cease once Harry takes the stage. He talks about bravery, how he couldn’t have done what he did without his friends. He mentions how many battles were lost before the war was won. He seems nervous talking to so many people, but I don’t think anybody who doesn’t know him as well as we do would notice. He denies he is a hero, something we all disagree with. He mentions Dumbledore and Severus Snape, and declares them the true heroes.

 

“...Finally, I just want to thank my family; my wife, Ginny and my kids James –” he looks into the crowd and realises James has still not arrived, but continues anyway. “Albus and Lily. I grew up with no family, and now I am blessed with brothers- and sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews, sons and daughters. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the Weasley family, and I’d like to take a moment to mention the Weasley who was lost during the war – Fred.” Nana Molly is openly crying, while Angelina clings to Uncle George’s hand. “So many families were torn apart in the fight against Voldemort. So many lives were lost. We need to keep them in mind today, and every day. I’m not a hero – they’re the heroes.”

 

There is a minute-long silence for the dead. It’s surreal; even the birds don’t chirp for that moment. Even Aidan doesn’t talk or fidget.

 

After the ceremony, we are ushered inside to the Great Hall for dinner. The students are sent to their common rooms, where the food will be sent up to them. There isn't enough room in the Great Hall for everyone.

 

“I want to be in Gryffindor like you!” Aidan decides (to my utter delight) as we walk towards the castle.

 

“You tell Grandad Ron that,” I tell him. “And Grandad Draco,” I add as an afterthought.

 

The whole Potter-Weasley family decide to sit at the Gryffindor table, while I notice the Malfoys take their seats at Slytherin. It’s ridiculous how segregated the Wizarding community still is.

 

“Aren’t you going to sit with your Slytherin buddies?” Fred asks Al, grinning.

 

“Leave it out,” Al grumbles. “Where the hell is James?”

 

“I really thought he’d make the effort to come,” I say.

 

“Dad’s furious,” says Lily, although you’d never guess it. “Oh Merlin!”


Jenny, Dom and I both spin around to see what has made Lily cry out. I see them before Jenny does, so I nudge her in the right direction. The Scamander twins.

 

Lily’s history with the Scamander twins is highly amusing, starting with her going out with Lorcan and cheating with Lysander, and ending with a very public brawl in the middle of a Slytherin versus Gryffindor Quidditch match.

 

“Oh come on Lily,” I say to her in my reasonable voice, “It’s been years since all that kiddie drama!”

 

“Did Lorcan ever find out you and Lysander went out in your sixth year?” Jenny asks.

 
“Shh! Of course not!” Lily whispers fiercely.

 

“You haven’t gone out with Lorcan since you were fourteen, I think he’s over it,” I tell her.

 

“Why did you and Lysander break up?” Dom asks, but I give her a look indicating that she really shouldn’t ask. I don’t even know the full story.

 

Dinner consists of seven courses and really takes me back to my school days. There is no food that can match the Hogwarts meals, except maybe those cooked by Nana Molly. During dessert, Al is in deep conversation with Professor Flitwick, and when I ask Jenny why she simply shrugs. Aidan sits on Dad’s knee most of the time, telling him how he’s going to be a Chaser on the Gryffindor Quidditch team. Dad has never looked so proud. It’s always astounded me how people are much more proud of their grandchildren then their own kids. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that they don’t have to worry about screwing up the grandkids – that’s my job.

 

When tea and coffee is served, I feel a tap on my shoulder, and Tom slips in beside me at the table. Jenny and Lily look on in interest, not aware that this man is in fact my lawyer.

 

“Evening, Rose,” he says casually, as if we’re friends or something. We are not friends.

 

“Hello,” I greet him. “Can I help you with something?”

 

He smirks and rolls his eyes. “Does everything have to mean business with you?”

 

“When I’m speaking with my lawyer, yes,” I reply. I suppose on some level I blame him for the outcome of the hearing, even though I know he did everything he could. Still, I have to blame someone, and blaming Daisy has become a bit stale.

 

“You really don’t like me, do you?”

 

“Not as such,” I shrug. “You’re a bit big headed.”

 

“Thank you,” he takes it as a compliment.


“Why are you even here?”


“I was at the Ravenclaw table, but I thought I’d come over and say hello –”

 

“I mean in the larger sense,” I cut him off. “You were invited here?”

 

“Of course.”

 

“Was every Tom, Dick and Harry invited from the Ministry?”

 

“Well, every Tom and Harry anyway,” he grins.

 

“So you’re funny now?” I ask, not at all amused.

 

“I’ve always been funny, haven’t you noticed?”

 

“No.”

 

Lily edges closer to us, clearly interested. “Who’s your friend, Rose?”

 

“He’s not my f–”

 

“Tom Fox,” he shakes Lily’s hand. “You’re Lily Potter?”

 

“I am. So how do you know Rose?”

 

“Lorcan’s coming this way!” I exclaim suddenly, and Lily jumps up from the table and rushes away before she realises I’m lying. “How are things coming along for the second hearing?”

 

“Are you going to let me use –”

 

“No,” I tell him firmly.

 

“Has anyone ever told you you’re very uptight?”

 

“Yes, but they’re dead now.”

 

Tom sighs and shakes his head. “You really are a pisser. I must get back to my girlfriend, it was nice talking to you, friend!”

 

“I’m not your friend!” I snap as he walks away.

 

I decide to go for a short wander into the entrance hall, recalling the times I patrolled around the entrance hall on prefect duty during my fifth year at Hogwarts. I did it during my first half of sixth year too, but once I found out I was pregnant, all of my prefect duties completely went from my brain.

 

I notice the broom cupboard in the entrance hall, the same cupboard I had some stolen moments with Scorpius in. Not in a raunchy way. Well, not usually. It was a nice place to sit and think and worry and cry. I’ve done all of the above with Scorpius in this very broom cupboard. I look around to make sure nobody is watching me and open the door, and nearly leap from my skin when I find Scorpius sitting on an old trunk. Great minds think alike, but so do stupid ones.


“What are you doing in here?”


“Same as you,” Scorpius replies. “Getting away.”

 

I don’t know what makes me do it, but I enter the cupboard and close the door behind me. It’s smaller than I remember, which is strange because I am thinner than the last time I was in here. When I sit down on the floor facing Scorpius, it occurs to me that it could be five years ago. We could be two sixteen year olds hiding from the outside world, from Scorpius’s girlfriend and from all of my problems.

 

“Doesn’t seem long ago, does it?” Scorpius muses.

 

“Nope.”

 

“We really have messed stuff up since then.”

 

“Stuff was already messed up back then,” I remind him. “We’ve just messed up the new stuff.”

 

“Aidan’s turning out good, though,” says Scorpius. “I think you’ve done really well.”

 

“I do too. Today he’s decided he wants to be in Gryffindor.”

 

Scorpius pauses. “Damn. I spoke too soon.”

 

“You’re going to take him to yours tonight?” I ask.

 

“Yeah, I think so. Rose, I hope you know I didn’t apply for custody to hurt you. I mean, I never wanted full custody, I still don’t, I want us to share it –”

 

“I know, Scorp,” I interrupt him. I really don’t want to hear it all again, it’ll just make me angry. “Have you heard from James?”

 

Scorpius shakes his head, looking slightly elevated at the change of subject. Talking about custody of Aidan always ends in an argument, and I’m really not in the mood to argue. The cupboard is a happy place, we shouldn’t tarnish its atmosphere.

 

“Remember the time we came in here to hide from Molly?” Scorpius grins. “We’d used her ink to write ‘Mrs Molly Library Man’ all over her schoolbag.”

 

“Oh God, yeah!” I laugh. “She knew it was us and all!”

 

“Of course she knew, she bloody saw us!”

 

“We weren’t so subtle, were we?” I giggle. Scorpius shakes his head. “Remember the time I found you crying in here?”







“I wasn’t crying!” Scorpius protests, as he did at the time. “I wasn’t!”

 

“Why were your eyes red?”

 

“I’m allergic to cleaning potions!”

 

“Bullshit, your eyes are fine now and you’re sitting next to them. Were you drinking them last time?”

 

“Maybe,” he says childishly. “I really miss being friends with you.”

 

It cuts me and flatters me at the same time. I miss being his friend, but I miss being his girlfriend more. I never thought I would at the time, but I miss being pregnant. I miss him constantly worrying if I’m alright. Now that he has Aidan, what does he really care about me? Aidan comes first with him, as he does with me, but Daisy now comes second.

 

“Well then we should start being friends again,” I tell him.

 

“I thought you hated me?”

 

I sigh. “I hate that you have Aidan. I don’t hate you. I think you know that.”

 

“It’s just until the next hearing. I promise, I’m just going to ask for a few days a week.”

 

I still hate that, but again, I’m not going to argue. I’m leaving that to Tom because in the end it will reflect better on me.

 

“Scorpius, can I ask you something?” I can feel my heart beating faster.

 

“Sure.” He looks nervous.

 

“Why did you say you need me to stop loving you? After you came to take Aidan...you said you need me to stop loving you.”

 

He frowns. I’ve wanted to ask him since he said it, but I don’t know if I really need to know the answer, just like he doesn’t really want to give it.

 

“If you stop loving me, I can stop loving you.”

 

And there it is.

 

The door of the broom cupboard swings open – it’s Daisy. It was bound to be Daisy to catch us in a compromising position at some point. It can’t always be Jenny.

 

“Am I interrupting something?” she asks, clearly annoyed.

 

“No!” Scorpius jumps up and bangs his head off the low ceiling. I’d laugh if I weren’t so embarrassed.

 

“We were just talking!” I insist.

 

“I’m going to get Aidan,” Daisy says flatly, not looking at me at all. “We’re going home.”

 

Scorpius, like a scolded child, follows his wife out of the cupboard and into the Great Hall. He looks back once and smiles weakly at me. But at least it’s a smile. 





A/N - Apologies for the wait again! There was alot of issues stopping me from updating including exams, a death in my family and computer trouble. I don't think I'll get another chapter up before the queue closure. I hope you liked this chapter, as always, I appreciate feedback!

Chapter 24: Arrogance
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Chapter 24 - Arrogance

A couple of days after the ceremony at Hogwarts, I collect Aidan from school and bring him home to stay the night in my flat, as has been agreed by Scorpius, and more reluctantly by Daisy. Daisy seems to reckon that we should stick to the stipulations set by the Wizengamot, and have Aidan stay with them until the next hearing, which is in about three weeks. But, at the end of the day, it’s Scorpius who makes the decisions where Aidan is concerned, not her. He is very excited to see me standing outside the school, which elevates my mood; when he lived with me, he was rarely that happy to see me. He usually saved that look of happiness for when Scorpius came to see him.

To celebrate Aidan’s return home for the night, I’ve bought him ice cream, pizza and chips. I do try to give him balanced meals – it’s the one area of my parenting I pride myself on – but I suppose I can treat him now that I’m his secondary care giver. It’s up to Scorpius and Daisy to make sure he’s getting all of his nutrients.

Aidan is just about the slowest eater I’ve ever come across, simply because he’ll take a bite of something, talk for ten minutes, and then take another bite. He likes talking more than food.

“I like living at Dad’s and Ollie likes it too because Dad takes her for a walk. She likes walking. Daisy took her for a walk once and I went too and we went to the park.”

“Mmmhmm.” I do tune out quite a bit when he talks.

“And sometimes Dad and Daisy and me –”

“And I,” I correct him.

“Dad and Daisy and me and I –”

“No, it’s just Dad, Daisy and I.”

He pauses and frowns at me. “Sometimes we take her for a walk in the park. But we didn’t this week because Daisy wasn’t very happy and she and Dad were fighting and I heard her crying, but she didn’t know I heard her crying –”

“They were fighting?” I perk up, suddenly very interested in what he’s saying. “Why were they fighting?”

“I dunno,” Aidan shrugs. “I think Dad was hiding from her in the cupboard and she doesn’t like playing Hide-and-Seek. Or maybe he broke one of the cups in the cupboard. I heard her say he was diriculous for hiding in a cupboard.”

“Ridiculous,” I correct him. “When was this?”

“Yesterday and the day before. When I play Hide-and-Seek with Mia and she can’t find me, sometimes she cries and her Mummy tells her to stop being a baby. I’m a really good hider and Mia never finds me. Maybe Daisy’s Mummy and Daddy should tell her to stop being a baby too.”

I decide to leave out the fact that Daisy’s ‘Daddy’ was a murderous Death Eater.

“And did you talk to her about it?” I press him, not wanting to appear too eager.

“I asked her why she was shouting at Dad,” Aidan continues. “She said she wasn’t shouting but I heard her. And I asked if he was being bold and she told me to eat my soup because it was getting cold. It was chicken soup. I don’t like chicken soup, but she always makes it even though I don’t like chicken soup –”

“And did your Dad seem sad after that?” I try to steer him back to the topic at hand. He takes another bite of his small pizza slice and swallows before continuing.

“He looked like he does when I leave my toys on the floor after he told me to put them away.”

The term for that is pissed off, dear.

I decide that I shouldn’t ask any more and change the subject entirely. After all, it’s none of my business if Scorpius and Daisy are arguing, even if what they are arguing about is the fact that Scorpius and I crept out of dinner to talk privately in a broom cupboard. I have to admit, it does seem rather suspicious. Funny how Daisy wasn’t at all suspicious when we were snogging to death at Al and Jenny’s wedding. It’s typical we’d get in trouble the one time we were actually being fairy innocent.

You know, love proclamations aside.

*

“Listen to this: James Potter has returned with a bang to the Chudley Cannons, after he was suspended from Quidditch for three matches. The suspension came when Potter lashed out at the Puddlemere United Beater, Mike Roland, last month. In yesterday’s match against the Wimbourne Wasps, Potter astoundingly caught the snitch within thirty seconds, putting the Cannons up two places in the league. Mr Roland will also return to Puddlemere United this week, having served his three-match man.”

Dom sets the Daily Prophet down on my table, where she is sitting drinking her coffee. “Did you know he was back playing?”

“Nope,” I reply. “Sounds like he’s fine, though. Maybe he’ll actually talk to us now.”

“If we want to talk to him,” Dom snaps fiercely. “He’s been acting the right prick these last few weeks.”

Brian and Dom have popped around to visit, though I sort of wish they hadn’t. I’m only in the door from work and I was planning on catching up on some work for my Potions class. On top of that, given the fact that I know Brian is considering a reunion with his ex-wife, I can’t help but feel a bit guilty. I hate keeping things from Dom. And I find it completely unreasonable that Brian expects me to keep this from her.

The guilt builds up even more when Brian goes to the bathroom and I’m left alone with her. I remind myself that Dom never really seemed all that interested in him anyway, and maybe their relationship will just fizzle out like every relationship she’s ever been in. Really, it’s not my place to tell her anything.

“I really like him,” she tells me quietly. Damn.

“I thought you weren’t pushed?”

“I didn’t want to be,” she admits. “You know me. I don’t really do that whole ‘love’ thing.”

When she was going out with Scorpius way back when, she most definitely did do the ‘love’ thing. She declared herself in love with him, she even threatened to sleep with him, but the news of my pregnancy put a spanner in the works there. Then when she went from Scorpius to Mark Matthews, she was in love again. Once they broke up she went back to being the cold-hearted cow I know and love, and she never ever once mentioned the word ‘love’ again, nor did she ever acknowledge that she had been in love twice. That’s if she ever was really in love with Scorpius in the first place.

So I play dumb and nod.

“I mean, what good does ‘love’ do anybody?” she asks. “It all just ends in tears. So I’m just saying...I really like him.”

She hasn’t ‘really liked’ anyone in a long time either. This could be bad. If Brian leaves her for his wife, that could be the end of love for Dom forever.

I resolve that I’m not going to get involved. Anything I get involved in seems to wind up in shit, so I’m going to leave them to it to sort out themselves – if I can. I am quite the meddler. But I really do have to stop, for my own good if for nothing else. One of these days I’m going to get myself into serious trouble.

A few days later, I’m invited to dinner with the Potters. I do this every now and again to catch up with my godparents, and I think my entire family are doing their best to keep my mind of the custody hearing. When I arrive at their house, I’m surprised to find that James is here too, looking strangely...happy? It doesn’t feel right to use that word, but I can’t really think of a better one for his expression.

“Red!” he exclaims, pulling me into a tight hug. I see Ginny looking at him suspiciously. “How the hell are you?”

“Erm, fine,” I mumble. Has he completely forgotten everything that transpired the last time we spoke? Has he spoken to Al and Jenny since the miscarriage? I can’t ask him now, because Harry and Ginny never knew they were expecting a grandchild in the first place, and it’s not my place to tell them. “You seem cheery.”

“’Course I’m cheery!” James grins. “Caught the snitch in under thirty seconds, can you believe it?”

“No...I can’t.”

It is just myself and James here for dinner. Al and Lily are apparently busy; Al has a meeting with someone about something that nobody seems to know anything about, while Lily has a date. James is chirpy and talkative the whole way through dinner, while Harry and Ginny are slightly on edge with him, but carry on the conversation politely. I can tell Harry’s had a word with him about why he wasn’t at the anniversary ceremony, but James doesn’t at all seem too apologetic.

“So they think that if I keep doing as well as I’m doing, I’ll get a forty per cent pay rise! I’m telling you, I’ll never have money troubles again.”

“As long as you keep your head during matches,” Ginny warns him. “You were lucky this time you only had a three-match suspension. You don’t want to earn a name as a hothead.”

“You worry too much, Mum,” James brushes her off. “Those Quidditch officials will be kissing my feet after that performance.” There’s something strange about his arrogance today. Don't get me wrong, arrogance is not something alien on him, but it’s more of a confident arrogance now than a comedic one. We used to find James’s cockiness funny and endearing, because we knew that deep down underneath it all was the insecure boy that resides in most men’s souls. Now, it’s almost like that boy has been devoured by this egotistical moron, and I really don’t like him for it.

“Don't get too ahead of yourself,” Harry says sternly. “Nobody wants to hire a narcissist.”

“Not even one that can catch a snitch in thirty seconds? Bet you never made a catch like that, Dad.”

“No, but I always find the people who are most big-headed are the ones who’ll get the biggest comeuppance.”

Something tells me that Harry is talking about Draco Malfoy. He’s always struck me as someone who’s had a severe blow to his once-existent pride, someone who’s been taken down a peg or two.

James simply rolls his eyes and ignores his father’s warnings. I can see the irritation on Harry’s face, and as I’ve said before, Harry is not a nice person to be around when he’s angry. Ginny looks pissed off too, and I can tell that if I weren’t here, there would be a family brawl right here in the dining room. Perhaps it’s a good thing Al couldn’t make it to dinner.

“Rose, you’ve been very quiet,” Ginny smiles at me encouragingly. “How’s everything with you?”

“Fine,” I reply lamely. I’m not quite sure what to say to lighten the tense atmosphere; Harry’s a ticking time bomb, and James is going out of his way to set him off. Then I remember the golden rule when trying to make peace: turn everyone’s hatred on to somebody else. “Audrey’s really been going out of her way to make Mum look bad; she’s tried spreading rumours that Mum had an affair.”

That just about does it. Harry stops glaring at James and turns to me. “That’s ridiculous! Nobody’s going to believe her, are they?”

“Audrey can be very convincing,” Ginny says darkly. “Although I would hope people would have more sense than to believe that. Honestly, I’m beginning to forget it’s Percy running against your Mum, not Audrey.”

“Is it Percy, though?” Harry asks, an eyebrow raised. “We all know if he wins, it’s going to be her pulling the strings.”

“That’s what Dad thinks,” I add.

“They’re both a pair of tossers anyway,” James decides. “It’s obvious Hermione’s going to win.”

I wish I could have James’s naive faith sometimes.

*

“So you’re sure Scorpius is just going to ask for the four days a week?”

“Yes, for the thousandth time, but that’s still not good enough!”

“I know, alright? I know! Jesus, are you always this angry?”

I never realised just how annoying lawyers can be until I met Thomas Fox. Aside from the fact that he appears to have no conscience, he has an overwhelming amount of arrogance. It’s practically suffocating. We agreed to this meeting to discuss exactly what I want from the custody agreement, but all I want now is to kick Tom where it hurts. We’ve been told that the next hearing will be in the next few weeks, which means I will need to spend the next few weeks preparing my case with my arse of a lawyer.

“I’m only angry around you,” I say, somewhat dishonestly.

“I had noticed,” he rolls his eyes. “Look, if you always get this heated up, maybe you shouldn’t get Ai-”

“Shut up!” I snap, reaching for my wand. “Don't you dare –”

“I just mean you should learn to control that temper of yours!” he snaps back.

“Or maybe I should just find another lawyer! I can’t believe my mother recommended you. How did you even get this job? Collect fifty Chocolate Frog Cards and become a lawyer?”

“I’m good at my job I’ll have you know, Weasley!”

“Then why is my son still living with the Malfoys?”

“Because you insist on being such a bitch!”

A knock on the office door interrupts my retort. Tom’s secretary comes in looking rather frightened; she’s clearly heard every word of our argument. How could she not? The office is so small her desk is practically inside Tom’s.

“Erm, excuse me for interrupting Mr Fox, your 11am is waiting,” she says meekly. I look at my watch and it’s eleven-thirty already. I have to be at work in half an hour.

“Cheers,” Tom nods, and then rubs his eyes in frustration. He takes a deep breath and I decide to do the same.

“Look, Rose, I’m trying my best here,” he sighs. “You need to get your head sorted out. I mean, one minute you want to take Scorpius down, the next you don’t want to hurt him. One minute you want to give Scorpius three days a week, the next only every other weekend. If you don’t decide what kind of agreement you want, the Wizengamot is going to do it for you.”

I know he’s only trying to help me. But the smug look he seems to display on his face whenever he tells me something I don’t know just makes me want to smack him. I wish I were as lovely as Jenny sometimes. Maybe my innate bitchiness is the reason I’m inevitably going to end up alone. Even my lawyer can’t stand me.

“Fine,” I say shortly. “I’ll ring you.”

He nods. I think we have both silently agreed that it’s best if we limit our contact, thus limiting the chance we’re going to end up killing each other.

I get up and leave his office, noticing a very angry looking wizard outside Tom’s office, who has been listening us argue for the last half an hour. He pushes past me into the office without even being called, and I nod politely (and somewhat embarrassed) to Tom’s secretary.

Work is quite busy, which means I have very little time to bitch and moan about Tom to the girls. I also have very little time to get through the Potions work that was set during my last night class. Despite the fact that I have more time on my hands now that Aidan is staying with Scorpius and his cow, I find myself slacking on my Potions homework simply because I’m too busy wallowing in self-pity. I really am the same girl I was six years ago.

However, by the time four o’clock comes, everything dies down and Hazel, Gladys, Linda and I can resort back to our usual gossiping session. St Mungo’s is so lucky to have such dedicated receptionists.

“We hear your James is back on form,” is how Linda starts the conversation. “He really is a bit of alright, you know.”

“Ok, that’s my cousin you’re on about,” I frown, although it’s not the first time I’ve heard it. In fact, it’s not the ninety-first time I heard it. Honestly, I will never know what women see in James Potter. The man’s an idiot.

“Ever find out what was wrong with him?” Gladys asks.

“No,” I answer darkly. The question still bothers me: why has James changed so much in the last few month? What or who has changed him?

“Probably just PMT,” Hazel butts in. “I swear, men get it so much worse than women. My husband has such mood swings –”

“Don't even talk to me about men’s mood swings! Our Liam constantly looks at me like I’ve just drowned his dog!” Linda exclaims.

It always comes back to men. We bitch about the men in our lives, and I come to realise I have far too many moody men in mine. Scorpius, James, Tom, Draco Malfoy, Dad, even Aidan are all such Drama Kings. Maybe Hazel’s right; maybe men do get PMT like women do. The only difference is theirs seems weekly rather than monthly.

Mid-way through our ritual of tea and gossip, the doors burst open with such urgency that can only mean an emergency. Healer Kennedy and some nurses rush forward to help; the patient has been carried in by paramedics on a stretcher. We stand up straight away, ready to help in any way we can, when I notice that Daisy is with the patient who has been brought in. She’s crying, and I when I get a look at the stretcher I see –

Aidan.

My heart stops for a moment as I look at my five-year-old, who isn’t moving. As if my brain is completely detached from my body, I rush to his side, and stare at Daisy for answers.

“I’m s-sorry Rose!” Daisy sobs. “I didn’t mean to...” 




A/N - Dun dun dun! C'mon, I haven't done the cliffhanger thing in a while! I know this chapter is kinda short, but I do always try to hit the 3000 word mark. Hope you liked it, the next chapter will be more entertaining, promise!!!
Thanks so much for all the reviews, I really appreciate feedback!!


Chapter 25: Turning Tables
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Chapter 25 - Turning Tables

Aidan is rushed up to the children’s ward; Hazel, Gladys and Linda look completely lost for words of comfort and they abandon their post at the receptionists' desk to see what is happening.

I hold Aidan’s hand as Healer Kennedy works on him; I can’t let it go for fear of losing him. It’s ridiculous, but I feel like he can’t go anywhere if I’m holding on to him. So many charms and potions have been thrown at him, and it makes me feel sick. He’s so small – how can his body take it?

Why isn’t he breathing? 
“His throat’s still closed, the damn spell isn’t working!”

I’m going to get sick. My body is shaking, practically convulsing, and I think I’m crying, though I’m not actually sure if there are any tears coming. My heart is hammering against my chest so hard it hurts. He has to wake up. Why hasn’t he woken up?

“We’ll have to try a stronger dosage, give it here!”

More potions, more incantations. I don’t understand any of it despite the fact that I’ve worked here for so long. What is it doing to him?

He looks so much paler than usual. A true Malfoy in his looks. Yet when Dad looks at him, all he sees is Weasley, despite the snow-white blonde hair and slightly sinister look he can give when he doesn’t get his own way. They’ve torn the school uniform jumper and shirt from him and are now pointing their wands to his tiny chest, muttering more incantations that I have never heard before. Please wake up, Aidan.

I’m vaguely aware of Daisy somewhere behind me in the room. I can hear her crying and I wonder for the first time if anyone has called Scorpius.

I can’t ever remember feeling such fear before. I think this kind of fear can only be felt by a parent, because this kind of love can only be felt by a parent. If I lose Aidan, I will quite literally lose my purpose in life. He has to start breathing again...

My heart jumps when I see his chest rise and fall – he’s breathing! He’s alive!

“He’s breathing,” Damien sighs in relief.

But he’s still unconscious. He’s still ghostly pale. I need him to sit up and start chattering on about school, or his friend Mia, or Ollie, or some pointless subject that he feels so passionately about. I’ll never tune out again when he talks, even if he starts talking twenty-four hours a day. I need to hear it from him that he’s alright before I can start to believe it.

“I – I don’t know what happened,” I can hear Daisy sobbing to Damien. “He was f-fine one second, and the next he was coughing...it all happened so quickly...h-he went very quiet and his face went red, I thought he was choking –”

“Does Aidan have any allergies?” Damien asks me.

“He’s allergic to nuts,” I tell him in a croaky voice.

Damien nods, clearly knowing this already, while Daisy gasps. “He’s had a serious reaction that’s blocked his airways and caused hypotension. I’ve managed to unblock his airways and I gave him a potion that should get his blood pressure back up within the next hour. He should be awake soon.”

“Thanks, Damien,” I say. He pats me sympathetically on the shoulder before leaving the ward. I continue to hold Aidan’s hand, constantly watching his breathing to make sure he’s still okay.

“I didn’t know,” Daisy whimpers. “I didn’t know he was allergic to nuts. I put ground peanuts into the chilli I gave him...I never make chilli, I thought it would be special...”

I don’t bother responding to her; I’m not quite sure what to say to her, or how I feel about what she’s done. I can’t even think about how I feel about her because my mind is so focused on Aidan.

“Did you call Scorpius?” I ask.

“He’ll be here soon,” she responds meekly. “D-do you want a cup of tea?”

“No, thanks.”

She leaves to get herself a cup. I get the impression she only left because she has no idea what else to do. I know the feeling; I feel utterly useless. I take a few deep breaths to calm myself down after the worst fright of my life.

He’s fine. He’s going to be absolutely fine.

I ring Mum and tell her what has happened, and ask her to spread the word to the rest of the clan. I also ask her to tell them not to visit until I know how long he’s going to have to stay in for. He’s had minor reactions before, but usually an anti-histamine potion clears it up in a second. But the fact that it was peanuts, not tree nuts that he ingested (he’s unfortunately allergic to both) makes it more serious.

“Rose! Is he alright? What’s happened?”

Scorpius looks terrified, having just ran in the door of the otherwise empty children’s ward. He rushes to Aidan’s bedside and begins stroking his hair softly and demanding details.

“He had a reaction to Daisy’s chilli,” I tell him. “Apparently she put ground peanuts in it. His blood pressure dropped and his airways became blocked, but he’s going to be ok. She got him in quickly.”

I say it all very robotically, and hopefully neutral. I don’t particularly blame her for this one; I know she wouldn’t intentionally hurt Aidan. I don’t like her, but I firmly believe she did not know about this.

“I told her he’s allergic to nuts!” Scorpius snaps furiously.

“Well she says she didn’t know,” I reply calmly, not taking my eyes off Aidan. “And I believe her.”

Just as Scorpius is about to speak, Daisy returns to the ward with two cups of tea, even though I told her I didn’t want one.

“Scor-”

“I told you before he had a nut allergy!” Scorpius hisses, walking towards Daisy. His fear has quickly turned to anger, and unlike me, he apparently blames Daisy completely.

“No, you didn’t!” Daisy says tearfully. “I would have remembered! You just told me the food he likes and what he can’t eat –”

“Of course I bloody told you! Jesus, he could have died!”

“I’m so sorry!” Daisy is fully crying now, and I feel sorry for her. And now my fear is turning to anger – anger that is directed straight at Scorpius.

“You should be sorry, it’s your fault,” Scorpius says cruelly.

“I know...”

I let go of Aidan’s hand for the first time and stand up. My legs shake slightly – I suppose I am still overwhelmed with the whole situation.

“Scorpius, can I talk to you outside for a minute? Daisy, would you mind watching Aidan for me?”

Daisy looks completely bemused by the fact that I would let her watch Aidan after everything that has happened. I am shocked at myself that I don’t blame her for this. I suppose I know that you can’t always be a perfect parent. You can’t always get everything right. And blaming her for this isn’t going to help anything.

Scorpius reluctantly follows me into the hall. The children's ward is not busy today, so the corridor is completely empty.

“You need to calm down,” I say softly, trying to be sympathetic towards him, because I know the shock he has just had. “This wasn’t Daisy’s fault. Accidents happen.”

“I’m telling you, she knew about his allergies!”

“Clearly she didn’t,” I say reasonably. “You know I’m not exactly her biggest fan, but Daisy’s not a bad person, Scorp. You know she’s not. She loves Aidan.” It feels weird to say it, like I’m betraying myself.

“So you’re saying I just didn’t bother telling her that huge part of Aidan’s life?” Scorpius asks accusingly.

“I’m saying it’s not beyond the realms of possibility! Maybe you just thought you told her?”

“I told her, Rose. I know I did.”

I sigh, knowing I’m not going to get anywhere with this approach. I think it’s time to put on my bitching cap.

“Your attitude isn’t helping,” I tell him shortly. “We all make mistakes.”

He presses his hand up against the wall and sighs heavily. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him this angry. I should be happy that, for once, it’s not me his anger is directed at. A few days ago, I was delighted to hear that he and Daisy were arguing. In what demented twist of fate did I end up on Daisy’s side in all of this?

“That mistake could have killed him, Rose.”

“Stop.”

I can’t even bear to think about what could have happened. It makes me physically sick to think about what might have happened if Daisy hadn’t gotten Aidan to the hospital in time. The point is she did get him here in time, and he’s going to be fine because of it.

I say nothing more to Scorpius and return to Aidan’s bedside. Daisy is still crying silently to herself, and I have a sudden urge to comfort her. Who am I? Is it unnatural that I have sympathy for her?

“Look, Daisy, I know this wasn’t your fault,” I tell her.

Daisy raises her eyebrows. “Y-you do?”

“Of course,” I shrug.

“I’m so sorry, Rose. I’m so sorry.”

I smile at her. What is wrong with me?! This has to be the first time I’ve ever smiled at the woman, or even in her presence. I think this must be post-traumatic stress that has caused me to completely lose myself.

“I think you should go home.” Scorpius has now returned to the ward and is staring coldly at his wife. He’s being such a little prick.

“Yes, of course...if that’s what you want,” Daisy nods. She stands up quickly and wipes her eyes. “Let me know how he’s doing.”

Scorpius doesn’t respond to her, but takes the seat she has just vacated by Aidan’s bed. Daisy disapparates, but the sour look on Scorpius’s face stays firmly in place. We sit in silence for the best part of twenty minutes, neither of us looking at each other. Aidan is now sleeping soundly, knocked out by one of the potions that he was given. A nurse comes in to check on him, and assures us that everything is fine. Yet I still have a horribly anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach. How I wish he’d wake up.

“I still can’t believe this,” Scorpius mumbles quietly to himself. The anger is still radiating from him.

“Give it a rest,” I sigh, rubbing my eyes. I lay my head down beside Aidan’s and close my eyes for a moment in a feeble attempt to relax.

“I’m not going to ask for joint custody,” Scorpius announces. And thus ends my feeble attempt to relax.

“You’re not?”

“This wouldn’t have happened if he was with you,” he continues. “You can have full custody. You can decide when I can see him. Even if you decided on supervised visits I’d understand –”

“Shut up,” I say wearily. “Are you sure?”

Scorpius nods. And suddenly, it feels like a huge weight has been lifted – I have my son back. Of course my joy is clouded by the circumstances, but at least there is some silver lining.

“You can still see him whenever you want.” I’m repeating that infuriating line Scorpius once said to me. He takes it much better than I did, however.

“I’m going to call my parents,” he decides, and leaves the ward to do so.

Almost as soon as Scorpius is out the door, Aidan begins to stir. He slowly and groggily opens his eyes and takes a moment before looking around him.

“Aidan? Sweetheart? Can you hear me?” I ask softly, taking his hand again.

“Mum, my tummy feels ill,” he squeaks. I press the button next to his bed to summon a nurse or Healer.

“You got very sick,” I try to explain to him. “You ate some bad food, so now you’re in the hospital. But the Healer says you’re going to be fine in a few hours.”

“Will I need crutches?”

Oh God I missed this boy.

“No, you won’t need crutches. You only need those if you hurt your leg.”

“My friend Mia hurt her leg when she fell in the playground but she didn’t need crutches, just a plaster. Her Mum bought her pink ones with flowers on them.”

The nurse arrives, followed closely by a relieved (but still angry) looking Scorpius. She asks Aidan how he’s feeling, to which he replies ‘rather poorly’ – Scorpius and I simply look at each other and shrug. She then checks his blood pressure and tells us that he will be kept in overnight, but should be allowed home tomorrow.

“You’re going back to live with your Mum tomorrow, mate,” Scorpius tells him as soon as the nurse leaves.

“Why?”

“Because that’s where all your Chudley Cannons posters are,” Scorpius replies easily. This is clearly a good enough reason for Aidan because he does not question it any further.

After about an hour, Aidan is sitting up in the bed, full of life. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything that’s made me so happy. His stomach is still sensitive, but he is allowed to have jelly and ice-cream, and to be honest I don’t think he could ask for anything more. Mum, Dad, Draco and Astoria all drop in to visit him, but they are the only family members because he is only going to be here for one night.

Scorpius and I decide we are both going to spend the night with him, and Scorpius gives Daisy a very brief phone call to let her know. Aidan nods off quite early, and Hazel, Gladys and Linda all drop in before they head home to see how he is. I really couldn’t ask for better colleagues. My job may not be the most fulfilling, but those three ladies make it worth coming in every day. They tell me that they’ve told Chief Healer Wharton that I’m getting the next two days off and there isn’t a damn thing he can do about it.

*

Aidan is released from St. Mungo’s the next morning. Damien gives me a vial of potion that Aidan is to take every six hours, but apart from that there is no lasting damage. Actually, there doesn’t even appear to be any sign that Aidan was sick at all. He practically bounces the whole way home. Scorpius goes back to his place to collect Aidan’s things and says he will bring them round to mine later on.

From ten minutes after we arrive home, we are absolutely swamped with visitors, as is always the way when a Weasley family member has been ill. First past the post is Al and Jenny. While Al plays with Aidan in the living room, I fill Jenny in on everything while we get lunch ready in the kitchen.

“So Scorpius is just giving him back like that?” Jenny asks in disbelief. “Wow. Poor Daisy.”

“I know.”

Jenny raises her eyebrows sceptically at me.

“What? I feel bad for her!” I exclaim. “Come on, I don’t blame her. She didn’t know about his allergies.”

Jenny’s eyebrows are now in serious danger of disappearing into her hair.

“Don’t give me that look.”

“Who are you?” Jenny folds her arms. “Because you’re not my friend, Rose Jane Weasley.”

“Give over. I’m not that bad.”

“Yes you are, but I’m not going to argue.”

I don’t bother arguing either. I’m still quite shocked at my new attitude towards Daisy.

“So Al got a new job,” Jenny changes the subject casually.

“Oh?”

“Yeah...he’s going to be the new Muggle Studies teacher at Hogwarts. He was talking to Professor Flitwick about it at the Anniversary service, and he got a letter yesterday saying he got the job.”

“That’s brilliant!” I cry.

“So we’re moving to Hogsmeade at the end of August...”

My formerly smiling face falls into a frown. “You can’t move! You can’t leave me!” I exclaim childishly. “That’s out of apparition range from here! What will I do?”

“Oh Rose, I’m so lucky to have such a selfless friend like you,” Jenny says mockingly. “Don’t worry, we’ll see each other all the time.”

I can tell that even she doesn’t believe that. She changes the subject back to Aidan, clearly not wanting to discuss the matter of her move to Scotland any further. I can’t imagine what I’ll do without her. When I think of the weeks we weren’t speaking after the mishap at her wedding, they were some of the loneliest of my life.

After Al and Jenny comes Nana Molly and Grandad, and then Harry, Ginny and Lily. By the end of the day, almost every single member of my family has visited – and Laura too – which means I’m more tired than I would have been if I’d just gone into work. Aidan loves all of the attention and gifts being showered on him, and is now threatening to eat nuts more often.

When I tuck Aidan into bed, I decide to ring Tom Fox and let him know that his services will no longer be required. I get his answering machine and leave a rather short message, happy that I have at least one less pain in the arse in my life. If only there was some way of getting rid of Molly.

I change into my pyjamas almost immediately after Aidan falls asleep, hoping for an early night of my own, when all of my plans are shot to shit by Scorpius showing up on my doorstep. He doesn’t even bother knocking, but barges straight in with Aidan’s things and leaves them in the living room, not wanting to disturb him.

“Thanks for dropping those over,” I tell him hurriedly. “See you soon.”

“Can we...talk or something?”

Oh Scorpius, much as I love you, please sod off home.

“Er...I suppose.”

I notice as he stands in the middle of my living room that he is swaying slightly as if there’s a breeze blowing him from side to side. He looks angry and frustrated, and more than anything he looks –

“Are you drunk?”

“I had a few,” he mumbles. I’d bet my right leg he had more than a few. “Had a fight with Daisy. She pissed off four hours ago. Dunno where she’s gone. Couldn’t care less.”

“What was your fight about?” I ask, even though I know fine well what it was about.

“I told her I can’t trust her and she got all offended.”

“I can’t imagine why,” I say sarcastically. “You’re too hard on her, you know.”

“Don’t talk about her,” Scorpius frowns. He then starts walking towards me, and I subtly take a few steps backwards away from him. “I’m sick of her. She’s not like you, Rose. With her, everything’s her way or the highway.”

“Eh, have you met me?”

I’m now backed against the wall. I can’t back away any further. It’s rare that Scorpius can make me feel so uncomfortable. It’s usually me who’s the drunken mess, not him. He’s now right in front of me, dangerously close. I’m not sure we’ve been this close since Al and Jenny’s wedding. I can smell the alcohol off his breath.

“I’m sorry I turned you down,” he whispers.

“It’s in the past. I think you should go home.”

“You don’t want me to go home. I don’t want to go home either.”

“You’re drunk,” I try to reason with him.

“I only had a few,” he says again. “I know what I’m saying. I know what I’m doing.” He takes hold of my hand, but I pull it away and slip out past him.

“Don't do this,” I tell him firmly. “Go home, sleep it off.”

He looks confused. “I thought you said you lov-”

“Just shut up, Scorpius!” I snap, trying not to be too loud so I don’t wake Aidan. “You can’t just make a booty call to me because life isn’t perfect with your wife anymore!”

“That’s not what this is!”

“That’s exactly what it is, and it’s not fair! You chose her! You made your bed and it’s time you lay in it.”

I fold my arms, indicating that I’m done talking. Quietly, Scorpius walks past me and out the door of my flat. Where he’s gone I’m not entirely sure, and for once in my life, I don’t much care. 

 

 







A/N - First of all, kudos to those of you who remembered that Aidan is allergic to nuts! I slipped it in in an early chapter and looks like lots of you observant people remembered! 
I hope everyone's opinion of Scorpius, Rose and Daisy aren't completely black and white - I'm not even sure what I think about them at the minute! What I can tell you is Scorpius and Daisy are not over! Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed the chapter and as always, thank you so much for all of the reviews!

 


Chapter 26: Slightly Deranged
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Chapter 26 - Slightly Deranged


 

Stress.


 

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.
 

 

Oh Percy.


 

“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.


 

“Um...”

 

“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.


 

“Where’s James?”


 

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?”


 

“Not really.”


 

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.


 

Cito Circumvenio...

 


 

“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.

 


 

Laura.
 

 

“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!
 


Chapter 27: Intervention
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Chapter 27 - Intervention

AIDAN POV

This magician man is crap. Mum says I’m not allowed use that word but I hear her use it all the time so I think I should be allowed use it too. She always says my Grandad Ron’s cooking is crap. But I think this magician is more crapper than my Grandad Ron’s cooking.

Mum and my Dad are gone somewhere but I don’t know where. Daisy is here. She looks sad. She probably thinks that the magician is crap too. She is standing up to look him and so are the rest of the grownups. I’m sitting beside my friend Mia and my other friend Jason. I know them both from school. 

I don’t want to sit down anymore so I get up and go to Daisy and ask where Mum and my Dad have gone. She says she doesn’t know either. She asks me if I’m having fun. I tell her the magician is crap and she tells me I shouldn’t use that word. I lived with Daisy for a few weeks until I got sick and Mum took me home again. I like Daisy. She doesn’t give out as much as Mum. But Mum plays Quidditch with me sometimes and she lets Ollie come in the house so I prefer Mum. 

My birthday party is on in my Nana Hermione and Grandad Ron’s house. Nana Astoria and Grandad Draco aren’t here but Mum says I am going to their house soon for dinner instead. They are my Dad’s Mum and Dad. Mum says Grandad Draco is a miserable old fart. I told Grandad Draco that and he looked how Uncle Hugo looked the time me and Remus switched his pumpkin juice with lemon juice. I love Grandad Draco. 

I ask my Auntie Jenny where Mum and my Dad are and she doesn’t know either. My Auntie Jenny isn’t really my Auntie because my Auntie has to be Mum’s or my Dad’s sister and she’s not. But I call her Auntie anyway.

 

Mum reads a book to me about a detective who solves miss-trees. I have to be a detective to find out where Mum and my Dad have gone. I ask my friend Mia to be my helper because all good detectives have helpers. Mia likes the crap magician but, and she doesn’t want to stop looking him. And my cousin Remus is sitting on his mum’s knee asleep. So I ask my Uncle Al.

 

“Uncle Al, I have to be detective because I don’t know where Mum and my Dad went and Mia won’t be my helper because she’s looking the magician –”

 

“Watching the magician, mate,” Uncle Al says.

 

“Yeah, she’s watching him but he’s crap. Will you help me find Mum and my Dad?” I ask my Uncle Al.

 

My Uncle Al says he’ll help me and that I shouldn’t say crap and he asks my Auntie Jenny if she’s saw them but I tell him I asked her already and she didn’t know either.

 

“Where’s my Uncle James?” I ask. We have to find my Uncle James too. Mum always says I’m more match-or than Uncle James but I dunno what match-or means.

 

My Uncle Al takes out his phone and rings somebody but I don’t know who.

 

“Hello?......Where are you?....Well is he there?.....You what?.....What’s she doing there?....Are you serious?.....Look, Rose, Aidan’s looking for you and Scorp.....yeah, I’ll tell him.....Just find him, Rose. Check the Burrow.....Right, see you in a while. Keep me posted.”

 

“Where’s Mum and my Dad?” I ask my Uncle Al again because now I know he was talking to Mum on the phone because he called her Rose and that’s Mum’s other name. Everybody calls her Rose but only I’m allowed to call her Mum. And only my Uncle James is allowed to call her Red because she gets angry. Mum gets angry loads.

 

“Your Dad will be here in a minute, mate,” Uncle Al tells me. “Your Mum’s being a detective too.”

 

I’m about to ask my Uncle Al what Mum is detectiving, but then my Dad comes in and I don’t have to because I can just ask my Dad. Even though my Dad doesn’t live with Mum he always knows what she’s doing because he’s always talking to her. And when he doesn’t talk to her he talks to me about her. And sometimes Daisy asks him not to talk about her so much but I don’t know why because I like talking about Mum.

 

“Hello Trouble,” my Dad says to me and picks me up. My Dad is really high up so I can see everyone when he picks me up.

 

“Why is Mum being a detective?!” I ask him. “Uncle Al says that Mum is being a detective and why isn’t Uncle James here yet Dad?”

 

“You ask a lot of questions,” my Dad says. “Your Mum just likes being a detective, doesn’t she? She likes knowing everything. Like if you’ve got your homework done or if you’ve brushed your teeth.”

 

Mum always looks me brushing my teeth because she doesn’t thought I’ll do it if she isn’t looking.

 

“The magician is crap,” I tell my Dad.

 

“Yeah, he is a bit crap alright,” Dad nods and puts me down. He looks at my Uncle Al and shakes his head then, looking all serious like the priest does when Nana Hermione makes us go to the Church. Then they go into Nana Hermione and Grandad Ron’s study room because there’s nobody else in there. I’m going to be the detective and find out what they’re saying. They don’t see me when I peek in the door.

 

Cito Circumvenio? You’re joking,” says Uncle Al. I don’t know what that means but it must be bad because they both look like priests now.

 

“Wish I was,” says my Dad. “Rose is furious. Laura’s helping her find him.”

 

“What the fuck was Laura doing there?”

 

Uncle Al said a bold word!!

 

“They’ve been hooking up for months now,” says my Dad. I don’t know what hooking up means but it could be something to do with fishing because my Gran-Grandad Arthur went fishing before and he hooked a fish. Maybe my Uncle James went fishing with Mum’s friend Laura. “She’s known for weeks.”

 

“And she didn’t think to tell us? There’s something fishy going on.” I knew they went fishing!!! “Scorp, if he gets found out that’s the end of his career. And it’s not like he’s got good NEWTs to fall back on. Or OWLs for that matter.”

 

My Uncle Percy has an owl called Timothy.

 

“Honestly, I think that’s the least of his worries,” says my Dad, “Because when Rose finds him, she will kill him. And I’m not even joking.”


I hope Mum doesn’t kill my Uncle James. She always says she’s going to but then she doesn’t. But you’d never know.

 

ROSE POV

 

When Sybill Trelawney made a prediction that one person must die at the hand of another, for neither can live while the other survives, she must have been talking about James Potter and me.

 

Because I’ve always known I’d be the one to kill him, ever since he spell-o-taped me to the hen house at The Burrow when I was three.

 

We’re at The Burrow now, but it looks dead. About as dead as James Potter is going to be when I find him. And about as dead as Laura is going to be if she doesn’t find him in the next ten seconds.

 

“How many times do I have to say I’m sorry?” Laura sighs.


“Sorry?” I hiss venomously as we enter my grandparents’ house. “It’s not like you accidentally broke my teapot, Laura. You’ve known for weeks that James has been taking that Potion and you kept it to yourself. He could have died. He could be dead.” I can feel myself choking up. “And all you can say is sorry?”

 

At least she has the decency to look remotely ashamed of herself; it would be a first.

 

“James!” I call. No response. “Homenum revelio!”

 

There’s nobody here.


“Where to now?” Laura asks meekly.

 

I round on her quickly. “Why are you asking me? You’re his partner in crime, you should know all the Potion-junkie hangouts!”

 

“I tried to make him stop!” she says for the thousandth time. “I really thought I could handle it myself!”

 

“Then you’re even more stupid than I thought!” I shout. “Right, I’m going to the Potters’ house. You can piss off home, I don’t need you.” I’m being irrational, I know. But I’m worried.

 

“Oh don’t get all high and mighty, Rose, you’re the one who’s been too wrapped up in your Scorpius-obsessed world to even notice what’s been going on with James anyway!”

 

“Well if you had just told me from the beginning we wouldn’t be in this mess now!”

 

We both take deep breaths. I can’t believe I was ever stupid enough to believe that Laura Phelps was anything but a cold-hearted bitch. The same cold-hearted bitch who revealed to the entire Hogwarts castle that I was pregnant. The one to whom James gave her comeuppance. She deserved it. She deserves everything she gets.

 

“I’m going to check the Leaky Cauldron, you go to the Potters’,” says Laura and disapparates before I can tell her to crawl up her own arse and die.

 

When I arrive at the Potters’ house, I let myself in with the spare key I have. I search downstairs before heading up to James’s old bedroom, which hasn’t changed one bit since James was in fourth year at Hogwarts. There’s still a large ‘enter at your own risk’ sign on the door and inside there is posters of the Chudley Cannons and the wizard rapper 50 Sickles, whose songs include ‘Snitch Bitch’, ‘Smack my Witch Up’, ‘Ho-crux’ and ‘Wands Don’t Kill People, Wizards Do’.

 

And there, curled up in a ball on his Chudley Cannons covered bed, is James.

 

And surprisingly, all urges to kill him completely fade away. He looks small and pathetic. He looks defeated. He’s not the person he once was, and he hasn’t been that person for a long time.

 

“James?” I call softly. He’s awake. He’s just staring at his walls, shaking. “Can I come in?” He nods.

 

I can feel tears in my eyes as I sit down on his bed and put my arm around him. “Oh James, what have you done to yourself?” I sniff.

 

“I’m f-fine...” he insists.

 

“What have you taken?”

 

“Nothing.”

 

I see the bottle of Cito Circumvenio on his bedside locker. “Laura’s told me everything,” I say simply.

 

James says nothing for a while, but then I hear him sniffing into his pillow. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him cry. It’s heartbreaking.

 

“I’m sorry, Red,” he mumbles. “Please, don’t tell anyone.”

 

“Jay...”

 

“Please, Red. Please.”

 

I don’t answer him for a while, but keep my arm firmly around his shoulders and cuddle him. I’ve always considered James my brother. I’m closer to him than I am to Hugo. The only time I really keep in touch with Hugo is when I have to, which sounds awful. I do love him very much, but James, Al and I bonded as children in a way Hugo and I never did. And because I love James so much, I decide to lie.

 

“I won’t tell anyone,” I say.

 

I summon a cup of tea and make James drink it, and it settles him for a while. He drifts off to sleep and I tuck him into bed, allowing myself to cry for him.

 

It’s time for action now. I can’t let this slide. I can’t ignore this. I can’t not tell anyone.

 

I apparate back to Mum and Dad’s house. Many of Aidan’s friends have gone home, as have quite a few of the family. Aidan’s party barely even entered my head from the second Scorpius and I left almost two hours ago.

 

Aidan starts babbling on about how I’ve been a detective or something. He’s a bit obsessed with detectives since I read him a Sherlock Holmes story not long ago. I tell him that’s nice but I need to talk to Al and Lily.


“Stop ignoring me!” Aidan yells. “It’s my birthday!”

 

“As if we could forget,” says Hugo who takes Aidan off to get a drink. He must know I’m on a mission and have absolutely no time to be a mother right now.

 

I gather Uncle Harry, Aunt Ginny, Mum, Dad, Al, Jenny and Lily together to let them know the situation. Telling someone that their son, or brother, needs rehab has to be one of the hardest things to do. That and listening to Molly. We leave for the Potters’ house straight away, but before I disapparate, Scorpius catches me demanding to know what’s going on.

 

“Leave Aidan with Hugo,” I tell him, “I think you should come along for this.”

 

“For what?” Scorpius asks.

 

“Intervention.”

 

*

 

Mum, Dad, the Potters and Scorpius agree to wait downstairs while I go and wake James. He’s exactly as I left him, and I dread waking him. I dread what is going to happen when I bring him downstairs and he realises I’ve completely betrayed him. I don’t care. This is for his own good.

 

“James,” I whisper, shaking him gently. He grunts in protest.


“Don't wanna go class,” he mumbles incoherently. I smile. The old James is definitely still in there.

 

“James, wake up.”


He opens his eyes. I’ve never seen him look this ill. Compared to the James of six months ago, he’s practically unrecognisable.

 

“Alright, Red?” he greets me the same way he always does.

 

“Yeah, I’m alright. You up for coming downstairs?” I ask.

 

“What for?” he groans.

 

“I...I’ve made some dinner,” I lie.

 

“Not hungry.”

 

“You have to eat, James,” I tell him. “You’re so thin.”

 

“You sound like Nana Molly.”

 

“Well then humour me. Just eat a little bit. Please?”

 

James sighs and rolls over. “Fine,” he groans.

 

I help him out of the bed, still stunned by his now skeletal form. He is shaking again, but I think the last of the potion is wearing off because he’s moving quite slowly, which is the opposite effect of the dreaded Cito Circumvenio. I lead him into the dining room, where everyone is assembled. Harry has his arm around Ginny, both looking terrified. Lily has clearly been crying, and Al is standing with his arms folded. Al looks so young compared to James now. They used to be so alike – now it is difficult to even tell they’re brothers. Jenny and my parents are standing back from the Potter family.

 

“Oh, didn’t realise you were all home,” James says, obviously trying to act normal. He hasn’t copped my betrayal yet. Oh James, why are you always so slow? “Um...everything ok?”

 

It’s not often you’d see Aunt Ginny crying, but she’s unable to hold back tears any longer. It makes everybody visibly uncomfortable and it panics James straight away.


“What’s wrong? Is someone dead?” James asks immediately.

 

“No, son. Everyone’s fine,” Uncle Harry assures him.


“Everyone is not fine, Harry,” Ginny snaps, her anger now infiltrating her upset. “We know, James. We know about your...problem.”

 

James’s body language immediately gets very hostile and defensive. He folds his arms and backs away from the family, but I’m now standing behind him so he can’t go very far. He spins around and looks at me, looking furiously angry. He’s finally copped on.

 

“I don’t have a problem,” he spits, even though he as much as admitted he had to me upstairs not an hour ago.


“James...” I look at him pleadingly. “I’m sorry, but I had to –”

 

“You didn’t have to do anything! You should’ve kept your mouth shut like you promised!”

 

“James,” Al steps in, “We’re not thick. You’ve changed so much in the last couple of months –”

 

“Oh shut up Albus,” James rounds on him now. “Should I be flattered that you actually took your head out of your arse long enough to notice what’s going on with anyone else?”

 

“James!” Ginny cries angrily.

 

“I’m not the only one with secrets though, am I? None of you are any better. Did you know that Al got Jenny pregnant before they were married?”

 

Oh god. Why did he have to bring that up? If Jenny wasn’t crying before, she definitely is now. Harry and Ginny temporarily forget James’s issues and turn to their youngest son in shock. Not that people getting pregnant outside of wedlock is an actual shock in this family, but at least a bit of a surprise.

 

“You’re pregnant?” Ginny asks a sobbing Jenny.

 

“I was,” Jenny whispers. “I miscarried.”

 

I know it’s our first family intervention and everything, but we certainly are making a right cock-up of it. Al shakes his head at his mother and mumbles “not now”. Our focus is back on James. We’ll deal with secret pregnancies and miscarriages another day.

 

“This is about you,” I remind him. “We’re just trying to help you! There’s a really good facility not far from St Mungo’s that deals with addiction, we can get you in there –”

 

“Just shut up, Rose!” he yells. “Keep your fucking nose out!”

 

For twenty three years I’ve been trying to get James to stop calling me ‘Red’. Now that he has, I feel like crying. I wasn’t quite sure he knew what my name actually was. Apparently he does.

 

I feel Mum take my arm gently and she leads me over to stand with her and Dad, away from the Potter family. It’s up to them to deal with him now. At the end of the day, I’m nothing more than his cousin.

 

It takes Harry to disarm James, Ginny to lock the door and Jenny to beg and plead for James to sit down at the dining room table and listen to what we have to say. There’s absolutely no talking to him. He’s like an eleven year old boy being called to the headmaster’s office and refusing to listen to the lectures being directed at him. He just folds his arms and doesn’t make eye contact with anyone.

 

There’s plenty of tears on everyone’s part. We all get our say too, even Mum and Dad who point out that nobody need ever know about James’s problem if he just gets help for it now; the Quidditch Association wouldn’t even have to find out if we were discreet. I warn him of the dangers that the potion can do to your reproductive system – I absolutely made it up of course. His own family try to make him see how much he is hurting them by doing this to himself.

 

But none of it is sinking in with him.

 

When somebody rings the doorbell of the Potter house, we all choose to ignore it. That is until it rings five more times and I unlock the door of the dining room to go and find out who it is and tell them to piss off.

 

And it’s the person I’ve already told to piss off once today.

 

“Is he here?” Laura asks in exasperation.

 

“Piss off.”

 

That felt nice.

 

She rolls her eyes and pushes past me in the door. But she only gets three steps in before I grab her arm tightly to stop her.

 

“Get off,” she snaps.

 

“I swear to Merlin, Laura, I’ll kill you with my bare hands,” I threaten. “Get the hell out of here, you’ve done enough damage.”

 

“I need to speak to him. I need to know he’s alright.”

 

“Of course he’s not alright!” I hiss. “Thanks to you.”

 

She escapes my grasp and marches straight in on the family intervention that’s taking place in the dining room. Everybody looks rather confused by her arrival, and Jenny looks just as angry as I feel. She’s always hated Laura. And she’s always been dead right to do so. I don’t know why I ever doubted her.

 

“Do you mind, we’re in the middle of something!” Jenny snaps at Laura, who gives her a filthy glare in return.

 

She practically ignores everyone else, and sits down at the dining room table beside James, who doesn’t look at all surprised by her appearance.

 

“James,” she says in a low voice that’s almost threatening, “Look at me.” He doesn’t. He continues to look angrily down at the floor with his arms folded. “Now, Potter.”

 

Slowly, he shifts his gaze to her, continuing to frown and making himself look about ten years older than he is. She takes his hand, an action that makes me feel very uncomfortable, but I can’t seem to look away. Since when do those two idiots know how to be tender?

 

“You need to listen to me,” says Laura. “You need help.”

 

“No I d-”

 

“You do,” she insists, as if we haven’t tried this already. “I need to help you.”

 

That seems like an odd choice of phrasing.

 

“You helped me,” she continues. “Back at Hogwarts. You saved me, now I need to save you.”

 

James studies her for a minute. The rest of us are sort of made redundant by the few things Laura has said; James is actually considering her words. What does she have that the rest of us don’t?

 

Oh yes, a history of potion abuse. I thought I was messed up.

 

“I can’t go to rehab,” James whispers, tears welling up in his eyes. “I’ll lose everything.”

 

“No you won’t,” Laura shakes her head. “Nobody needs to know about it. It’s completely confidential...and I’ll come and see you every day.”

 

“We all will, if you want,” Jenny interjects.

 

And so James reluctantly agrees to let us help him. Jenny and I pack up some things for him while Harry and Ginny take James to their car to drive him to the rehabilitation centre; he’s too weak for apparition.

 

We watch the car drive out of sight and then turn to each other, not really knowing what to do or say. I look at Laura.

 

“Thank you,” I say. She nods in reply. 


 




 


A/N: I know, it's been aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaages!!! Please don't give out to me, I've had a very busy time of it! This chapter was very hard to write. I hope you liked Aidan's POV. And before some people say that a 6 year old couldn't write and spell like that (particularly a dyslexic one), remember he's just thinking those things, not writing them. Reviews always appreciated!!! Love you all x


Chapter 28: A New Direction
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Chapter 28 - A New Direction

If there is one thing my family is exceptionally good at, it’s keeping a secret. And James, it turns out, is our biggest secret in quite a while.

Once James is checked into the rehabilitation facility, we construct our cover story to protect his dignity and to save the family some embarrassing stories appearing in the newspapers. Aunt Ginny makes the decision not to tell anyone who needs not know; for example, Aunt Audrey and Uncle Percy, and basically any member of the extended family who wasn’t there for the intervention. The official story is that James is on holiday in Barbados. It’s not entirely unbelievable; James has a habit of up and leaving without a word to anyone and returning three weeks later with an unbelievable tan and a new girlfriend.

I tell Aidan this story too, assuring him that James is very sorry to have missed his birthday party. Luckily six year olds don’t really hold grudges, so he lets it slide without much comment.

According to Uncle Harry, James is to stay in the centre for four weeks, two without any visitors whatsoever. It seems rather harsh, a bit like a prison, but if it helps him get back to normal then that’s all that matters. Also, it prevents the Quidditch board from finding out, so James hopefully won’t be kicked off the team.

And so, in the week following James’s incarceration (it’s the only word I can think of for what he’s going through), life returns to semi-normality. Normality for our family, of course, is anything but normal.

There is a certain tension still floating about the family, with Harry and Ginny tiptoeing around Al and Jenny, given the revelation about her miscarriage. I think what is particularly unsettling for Aunt Ginny is the fact that Jenny was pregnant in the first place, and that Al had really wanted to be a father. She thinks he’s too young for fatherhood, and I suppose in some ways she could be right. I’m not about to say that to them though.

James’s sixth day in rehab is also the day that Uncle George hosts the grand re-opening of Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. It’s taken months to rebuild, and with everything that has been happening lately, I found myself very surprised to receive word of it from Mum. I had almost forgotten all about it, which just about makes me the worst niece in the world.

Given the nature of our family, the re-opening is a highly public affair. There are reporters and photographers, ministry officials and high profile celebrities of the wizarding world all in attendance; luckily, there are so many there, it takes the attention away from the fact that James isn’t. I leave Aidan with Draco and Astoria for the evening and head off to a night that I know will be full of acting and false smiling.

Ah, these public family occasions will never cease to amaze and annoy me.

I arrive with Hugo and Dom, and find Auntie Audrey out the front of the shop, posing for the cameras. Her poses are extremely cringe worthy.

“Oh Christ Jesus,” Dom mumbles as Audrey pouts her lips and sticks out her chest, strongly reminding me of a transgender prostitute. I always knew Percy had weird taste. “Can she see herself?”

“When did it become okay to wear fishnets?” I ask, taking in her entire outfit. A black dress, fishnet tights, red shoes and a red shawl...it looks like something she saw in Witch Weekly on a very young, skinny model and has tried to pull off despite that fact that she’s in her fifties. Mutton dressed up as lamb springs to mind.

“It was never okay to wear fishnets,” Dom spits, and even Hugo agrees. Hugo, who wore eyeliner and fingerless gloves for two whole years, has better fashion sense than Auntie Audrey.

We make our way inside to the very crowded shop. It is almost identical to the original shop, with more products added and a new area built on towards the back for invisibility garments. The large picture of Uncles George and Fred that was behind the counter was too badly damaged for repair. However, Uncle George has taken this opportunity to expand his business rather than downsize, which you really have to admire.

Mum is surrounded by people, as is the norm since she put her name in the running for Minister. Dad is standing on the sidelines, as usual, so we join him. He looks rather relieved to see us; up until this point he had to make pointless conversation with other ‘Ministry Spouses’, as he puts it himself. Although Dad works in the Ministry too, and is pretty high up, he is completely overshadowed by Mum’s success. Story of his life, really.

Al and Jenny are here too, but again are surrounded by photographers who are always very intrigued to see what style Jenny is carrying these days. For some reason Al and Jenny are seen as a ‘hot couple’ in the eyes of the media and are featured in Witch Weekly almost every month. Al finds it highly amusing. It’s even worse with Teddy and Victoire; they’re the beautiful people of the family. I’m just the mess.

“Finally,” Dad breathes at us as soon as we come near him, “Thought you’d never arrive.” He claps a hand on Hugo’s shoulder, as if offering him some moral support, or perhaps hoping to get some. He then asks Hugo: “Bring the girlfriend?”

“No,” Hugo grumbles, “Broke up.”

“When?” I exclaim, not at all bothering to be tactful.

“Bout a month ago.”

Dad and I look at each other guiltily. With everything that has been going on lately, we’ve sort of forgotten Hugo is a part of our family. He doesn’t really like to associate himself with us anyway.

“Oh,” Dad clears his throat, “Sorry to hear that, son. Oh well, plenty of fish in the sea, eh?”

Hugo’s face contorts in anger. “I dumped her!”

It occurs to me to answer ‘sure you did’ sarcastically, but I manage to restrain myself, which is a personal record.

“Sure you did,” Dom smirks.

I leave the awkward silence that has ensued between my family and go to get a glass of champagne off one of the silver trays that are floating around the place. I gulp it down quickly, and it refills itself. See, this is why I love magic.

“Steady on there,” I hear someone say from behind me. I know who it is before I turn around; Tom. He just keeps popping up everywhere. He’s dressed in black dress robes, but has once again failed to brush his dark hair. He looks sharper than usual though. It’s strange to see him looking so...tidy.

“Hello,” I say dully.

“I think you might be following me,” he grins.

“This is my family’s shop!” I argue. “Surely you’re the one following me!”

“Ah, you’ve got me there.” He does this sort of flash of his eyebrows that instantly makes me feel uncomfortable. Almost as if he’s flirting, but I know he couldn’t be because he’s so much older than me and has a girlfriend and works with my mother.

“Right,” I frown.

“So how’s life since you got rid of me?”

“So much better.”

He laughs. And I feel uncomfortable again. I think my ears might be going red. I can always tell, but thankfully my hair covers them.

“The shop looks fantastic,” he observes, looking around him, and I sound in agreement. He then looks back at me. “You know Rose, you’re a hard person to make conversation with.”

“I’m not usually,” I say honestly, “I just don’t know why you want to make conversation. You don’t have to be polite, you know. I’m not your client anymore.”

Tom’s face becomes more serious now. He’s about to say something, but before he can a woman approaches me holding a pen and quill and starts asking me questions about Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes; she’s a reporter from the Daily Prophet, I vaguely recognise her but can’t remember her name.

“Rose, what do you think of the newly renovated Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes?” she asks me quickly.

“Oh it’s just fantastic, I’m so proud of –”

“And Rose, what’s happening with your custody battle against your ex-boyfriend over your son? It all seems to be brushed under the rug in light of your mother’s election campaign. What can you tell us about it?”

The question catches me completely off guard. It’s not like me to be speechless. Of course I should have expected it. Nobody really cares what I think of the shop. I’m the one with the messed up personal life that just about everyone wants to read about.

“Are you and Scorpius Malfoy getting back together? How did you feel when he got married? Is it true you slapped his new wife when you found out she was trying to take your son away from you?”

Where do they get this bullshit?

Before I get the chance to answer – not that I know what the hell to say – Tom steps in between me and the reporter. “Oh sod off,” he says simply, taking me by the arm and pulling me away from the reporter.

He leads me out the back of Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, away from reporters, from my family, from everyone. I notice Hazel and Linda on the way by, but I pretend not to see them when they wave, looking very intrigued. Or should I say nosey.

I feel physically sick. I’ve always been used to the whole wizarding world knowing my business, but I hate the fact that it knows my son’s business too. Sometimes I wish I were born a Muggle, or into some other family.

Tom summons a chair from inside and tells me to sit down. For once, I don’t think to argue. He leans up against the wall opposite me, hands in his pockets, and stares at me. His eyes are green. Not like Uncle Harry’s or Al’s, but a paler kind of green. I don’t know why I’ve noticed that. They’re very unusual. But not in a bad way.

“What age are you?” The question escapes me before I even think about it. I remember Mum saying he was about thirty, but looking at him now he seems younger.

“Almost twenty-nine,” he replies.

“Sorry. I don’t know why I asked that. I’m twenty-three. But of course you knew that. From my file.”

“Yup. And you went into first year when I was in seventh,” he tells me.

“I don’t remember you,” I tell him apologetically.

“Why would you?”

“You remember me.”

“You’re Ron Weasley’s daughter. Everybody knew you.”

“Were you in Gryffindor?”

“Ravenclaw. I went out with your cousin in fourth year.”

“Victoire?!”

“A whole two weeks,” he smiles. “She dumped me for some other bloke. Think he was a Hufflepuff. Funny how small the world is.”

There’s silence for a few minutes, and I feel wholly awkward. Tom doesn't seem to, but then again he seems very cool and nonchalant in most situations. He’s staring at the sky now.

“Thanks for saving me from that reporter,” I say sheepishly.

“Saving you? Isn’t that a bit melodramatic?” he teases. “Don’t get me wrong, I like being portrayed as a hero.”

“I doubt that happens very often,” I reply, finally coming back into myself and resorting back to the normal offensive relationship I share with him. Not that it’s much of a relationship, really. I have more of a relationship with my hairdresser.

“You’d be surprised. I spend my free time floating around, rescuing damsels in distress.”

“Oh please, I was not in distress!”

“And you’re not a damsel either, but I still rescued you!” I hate how good at arguing he is. I should have known better than to argue with someone who argues for a living. Sometimes I wonder if I had gotten my NEWTs would I have followed Mum into the law profession. I might have been good at it. But I’ll just stick with my potions for now. And being a receptionist.

“Those reporters are vultures, Rose,” Tom says more seriously. “They love to see the decline of the high and mighty. You just hold your head up. You have nothing to hide.”

Oh Tom, I have plenty to hide. I have plenty to be ashamed of. If the papers knew even half of what I’ve done, they’d throw a parade.

“I wish that were true,” I scoffed, and immediately wish I didn’t. I am dangerously close to opening up to him.

Tom.

I never thought I would meet someone who would annoy me as much as Scorpius, but at least at the end of the day I love – or loved – Scorpius so I could put up with it. Tom is just my former solicitor, nothing more than an acquaintance I have done my hardest not to become friendly with.

I’m afraid of becoming friendly with him. He’s the kind of person who if I opened up to him, I would spill every sordid detail of my life.

“I should go inside,” I jump up immediately from the chair. “Thank you again, Tom. Nice to see you again.” The forced civility is nothing but weird between the two of us.

“Right.” He doesn't move at all. He continues standing there, hands in pockets, hair too scruffy for a lawyer, dress robes completely unnatural looking on his lanky body. And those strangely green eyes.

I definitely drank that champagne too fast.

“See you,” he says, and I realise that even though I said I was going inside, I still haven’t moved. I rush inside quickly and straight to the bathroom to splash my face with cold water. Looking at my reflection in the mirror, I notice that it’s not just my ears that have gone red, but my entire face. Did he notice? And if he did, why do I even care if he notices?

From one of the toilet cubicles, I hear a sniffling of somebody crying. Undoubtedly it is one of my family, as the majority of people here are related to me, so I knock.

“Hello? Are you alright in there?”

“R-Rose?”

Oh shit. I know that voice. It’s not a family member at all, it’s much worse.

It’s Daisy.

“Er, yeah, it’s me.”

She unlocks the cubicle doors and emerges, her eyes swollen and her nose very red. She has been in here a while. I didn’t even realise they were here; I haven’t seen Scorpius at all.

“What happened?” I ask.

“N-nothing,” she sniffs, “I’m just being stupid.” Then in the same breath: “It’s Scorpius.”

Of course it is. It always is. “What’s he done now?”

“He’s never home anymore, Rose. H-he said he’d meet me here after work, but I know he left work at seven b-because I rang Kelly. Sh-she’s the receptionist.” She wipes her eyes with tissue, and I grab her some more, completely confused as to why I’m even bothering. Aren’t I supposed to hate her? “It’s half ten now. Where is he?”

I have absolutely no answer for her. I have no idea what he’s playing at.

“We haven’t had sex in weeks. He’s cheating, Rose, I know he’s cheating.”

“I’m sure he’s not cheating,” I say firmly. The news that they haven’t had sex in weeks hasn’t affected me as much as I thought it might. It’s just a bit too much information for my liking.

Somehow, deep down, I know he’s not cheating. If he was, surely he’d cheat with me? I know that sounds awful and selfish, but it’s the truth. If he’s not cheating on her with me, he’s not cheating on her with anyone.

“I think I should go and find him. Do like you said at Aidan’s party; I should follow him.”

“Oh Daisy, you really don’t want to take my advice when it comes to men,” I tell her, but she’s not listening. She’s stopped crying; her new plan seems to have her distracted from crying.

“You need to come with me!” she exclaims. I groan. “Rose, you know him better than anyone, you know where he’ll be!”

I don’t know why I agree to it. Maybe because I don’t want to stay here and run the risk of running into reporters and family and Tom. Or maybe because I want to prove to Daisy – and to myself – that Scorpius wouldn’t cheat on her with some random girl.

We leave through the back door, passing through the alleyway that Tom and I were in not ten minutes previously. Our first stop is the most obvious: The Leaky Cauldron. It’s Scorpius’s local. He goes there with the lads from work sometimes, but when we ask behind the bar, we’re told he hasn’t been in all night.

Daisy suggests a pub that’s close to Nimbus, but again there has been no sign of Scorpius there all night. After checking another few pubs in the area, we quickly run out of ideas. It seems like he really doesn't want to be found.

Typical. Just when we start to get James sorted out, Scorpius goes off the handle. I swear, I’m giving up on the lot of them.

“I’m getting worried now,” Daisy says, biting her thumbnail.

“You passed ‘worried’ about three hours ago,” I remind her. It then occurs to me that if Scorpius doesn't want to be found, he would go somewhere far away from London where nobody would be bothered looking for him. “We should try the Hog’s Head.”

“Hogsmeade?” Daisy frowns. “Surely he wouldn’t go the whole way up there?”

“He’s not exactly predictable,” I remind her. “It’s worth a try.”

We have to apparate twice because it is so far away, but we arrive in Hogsmeade a short time later. It doesn't occur to me to look in the Three Broomsticks; it’s far too cheerful. The dull and dreary Hogs Head seems like a place a moody Malfoy might go to avoid his wife.

One quick glance around the pub tells us that Scorpius isn’t there.

“Why did we even bother?” Daisy snaps angrily.

I approach the man who is serving behind the bar, not ready to give up just yet. Daisy is such a novice. You’d swear she never stalked Scorpius before.

“Excuse me, was there a man in here tonight with blonde hair? Scottish? About six foot two, wearing work robes? Scorpius Malfoy is his name.”

The man, who looks like he might be in his fifties, is nothing but dodgy. I’m not in the least bit intimidated by him.

“Yeah, was in here earlier,” he grumbles. Daisy perks up and rushes to my side at this news.

“Really? Was he with anyone? Do you know where he went?” she asks desperately.

The man studies the pair of us. “What’s the information worth to ye?”

I roll my eyes.

“Fine, we’ll take two Firewhiskys!” Daisy snaps, “Now tell us!”

“I’ll make ‘em doubles shall I?”

“Whatever, just spit it out!”

Daisy pays for the two drinks and gulps her own down quickly. I take sips of mine, full sure that I will be on my ear by the end of this night.

“He was in here about eight o’clock,” the man tells us. “Stayed about an hour and a half. Was on his own for most of it.”

“Most of it?” I ask, suddenly very interested in what the man has to say.

“Yeah. Then he got talking to a girl.”

I see the colour drain from Daisy’s face, but I need more information.

“A girl?” I enquire.

“Yeah. Pretty girl too. Looked cosy enough. He bought her a couple of drinks and left together. Think they were holding hands.”

I feel like I’ve been kicked in the stomach. Daisy looks like she might throw up.

“Why, who’s this bloke anyway?” the barman asks.

“He’s my husband,” Daisy says in barely more than a whisper.

The barman now looks uncomfortable and a bit guilty. “Oh...er...well maybe she’s just a friend-”

“Firewhisky!” Daisy snaps.

He doesn't charge us this time.


*

I don’t go back to the party. Daisy goes straight home to wait for Scorpius to return. I go back to the flat to think. I feel betrayed. I know it’s stupid and I know I have absolutely no reason to feel betrayed. But I do. I want to take Scorpius and I want to hit him, strangle him, curse him until he feels even a morsel of the pain that I do. I feel like I have wasted seven years of my life on him.

Aidan is the only good thing Scorpius has ever done for me. If it weren’t for Aidan, I would cut Scorpius out of my life forever. I rue the day I neglected to listen to my father when he told me all Malfoys were evil.

Why Scorpius? Why would you do it?

He’s just a Slytherin. There’s nothing more to it. A downright Slytherin.

I lie on my bed, thinking about what the girl he’s with is like. I imagine she has dark hair. I imagine he has gone for someone who’s neither like Daisy nor like me. She’s probably about nineteen. She’s probably carefree and uncomplicated and fun. She probably makes him forget his troubles, forget that he’s a father and a husband and all the other things that are apparently making him miserable in his life.

I thought after the James fiasco he and I had reached a new understanding where we respected each other. We don’t pull crap like this anymore. I don’t go off with strange Muggles in nightclubs and he’ll stop being such an unreasonable prick the whole time. I was so stupid to ever get involved with him.

And I feel bad for Daisy. No, I don’t like her, and I don’t ever expect to, but she never deserved this. She’s had a hard life, I understand that. The daughter of a murderer, making her own way in the world at such a young age. She deserves better than Scorpius Malfoy. And so do I.

It’s past midnight now. I wonder if he’s returned home yet. I wonder if they’re going to split up. I know they’ve had all kinds of problems since Aidan was sick. I consider calling Daisy to find out, but I doubt she wants to speak with me. She certainly didn’t want to speak to me in Hogsmeade.

While I’m looking at the phone, considering calling her, it begins to ring. I leap up from the bed to answer it, but it’s just Mum.

“Rose, where did you disappear to?” Mum snaps, sounding very annoyed. “You’ve missed Uncle George’s speech! They’re taking pictures with the whole family and you better get back here this instant!”

“Mum,” I groan, “I’m not feeling well.”

“Oh stop being so dramatic. You’re coming back now or I’ll come over there and drag you here myself!”

I begrudgingly agree to return to Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. The party is in full swing now. There’s a band and dancing and everything; the centre of the shop has been cleared to make a dance floor. I pose in plenty of pictures, a fake smile plastered over my face. For some reason, I keep scanning the room, expecting to see Scorpius here. But of all places to go to after being caught cheating, the den of the Weasleys certainly isn’t one of them. Dom, of course, wants to know where I disappeared off to, but I’m not ready to tell her just yet. I can’t talk about it.

I don’t dance. I sit in the corner by myself, with random intervals of chats with my many cousins. Al and Jenny leave quite early, but I’m warned by Mum to at least stay for an hour or else it will look bad. I don’t know who it’s supposed to look bad for, but I presume it’s her and her campaign.

Tom is still here, I noticed when I first came back in the door. He’s been standing at the bar talking to some Ministry officials for a while, and talking to pretty girls too. He had a girlfriend at the Hogwarts memorial ceremony. I think I remember he said that. Perhaps they broke up.

It’s one of those situations where you’re looking at somebody who knows you’re looking at them. Every time he looks my way, I blush and look away, or pretend I was looking at something behind him. I don’t know why I keep looking at him. However, he isn’t quite as subtle about things as I am. When we finally make eye contact, he nods and makes his way over towards me.

He sits down next to me, placing a glass of wine in front of me.

“Drink up, you look bored,” he tells me. I don’t say anything, but do as I’m told. It seems like the more I drink, the more uncomfortable I get around him and the less I want to look at him. “So where did you disappear off to?” The seventieth person to ask me that question.

“Nowhere important,” I mumble, swirling the wine around in the glass.

“What’s up?”

“Nothing. Why do you ask?”

“Because,” he frowns, “You won’t look at me, you look as if somebody just killed your entire family and you won’t stop swirling that glass.”

My emotions get the better of me and I’m suddenly extremely pissed off. “It’s really none of your business,” I snap. “What is with you and trying to get me to open up? I’m not going to confide in you!”

He looks mildly surprised by my outburst, but not too surprised. We had some fairly heated arguments while we were working on the custody battle.

I feel like I might cry.

“I’m going home,” I jump up immediately, stumbling slightly. Tom grabs hold of me to steady me, but I shrug him off quickly. I don’t want him touching me. It feels too...strange. Just strange.

“And how exactly are you getting home?”

“Apparating. Obviously.”

“You can’t apparate, you’ve been drinking,” he points out.

“Yes, thank you Mr Lawyer.”

I’m not at all surprised when he follows me outside and the whole way down Diagon Alley, as far as Gringotts.

“Why are you following me?” I yell.

“Do you want me to stop following you?”

I feel uncomfortable again. I don’t know how to answer the question. Although I’m shouting at him for following me, I don’t want him to leave me. And although I tell him not to touch me, I don’t want him not to touch me either.

“You shouldn’t bother,” I tell him, “really. I’m not worth the trouble.”

He raises his eyebrows, and even I’m shocked by this outburst. It’s like I’ve just confirmed that there was indeed flirting going on between us, however twisted it might have been.

“I think you might just be,” he says and starts walking closer to me. I don’t back away this time, and I don’t look away either.

“You have a girlfriend,” I say pathetically.

“No I don’t. Haven’t had for a while.”

He takes hold of my hand, and I feel like I could collapse. What is wrong with me? When did this come about? Since when did anyone make me feel like this who wasn’t Scorpius?

At first I think he’s going to kiss me, but he doesn’t. Instead he pulls me into a gentle hug and rests his head on my shoulder. My nose is touching his neck; he smells sweet and fresh.

“I’m sorry,” I whisper, “I’m sorry I’ve been such a bitch.”

He half-laughs and says nothing, but goes on holding me, for how long, I’m not sure.

And honestly, at this moment I’m not sure if I could pick Scorpius out of a line-up.
 

 




A/N: *bullet proof vest on* I know. It's never been this long before. I wouldn't be surprised if I had no readers left. I can't believe how much the Delicate series has grown in the last few months (a recommendation in TIME magazine??), it's a lot of pressure and so overwhelming. I really don't know what to say! Life has been very busy with college, I had finals and everything, and I am now a graduate!
Anyway, I hope you liked the chapter! I've had it planned for a while, I'm not sure if you guys like Tom or not? Personally I really like him. But what's next??? I hope to have the next chapter up MUCH sooner, and thank you to all who've stuck with me! I admire your patience!! xx

 


Chapter 29: Awkward.
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Chapter 29 – Awkward.

“Hello, St Mungo’s, Hazel speaking?”

I can hear Hazel explaining down the magi-phone when a patient needs to check in for their minor procedure being done tomorrow. The person has rang four times; they’re having their short term memory restored. Hazel looks ready to swear, but she holds her tongue and explains in her faux-nice voice that a letter was sent out to this patient two weeks ago with all of the details. But of course he keeps forgetting.

“That’s alright Mr Evans, we’ll see you tomorrow at nine o’clock,” Hazel says politely and hangs up, then adds: “If he rings again, I’m putting this phone through the window.”

I smile sympathetically at her, and return to what I’ve been doing all day: twirling a quill around in my fingers and staring off into space.

“Are you going to do any work today?” Hazel asks grumpily. It’s just the two of us in today. Linda is away on holidays, while Gladys rang in sick this morning.

“Oh, sorry Hazel,” I say sheepishly and begin shuffling papers, making it seem like I’m doing something.

“What’s the matter with you anyway? You’re even more spaced out than usual. Did something happen last night?”

Last night.

It feels like it was about ten years ago at this point. Last night is all I can think about.

Finding out Scorpius is a liar and a cheater.

Hugging my lawyer in the middle of Diagon Alley.

Just hugging. Nothing else. So, to answer Hazel’s question, nothing really happened last night. And it’s slightly infuriating.

“No, just thinking about Mum’s campaign,” I lie easily. The election is in three days, so it’s not too much of a stretch, and it seems that Hazel buys it because she just nods and gets on with her work with no more questions.

I check my own phone for what has to be the thousandth time. No missed calls, no text messages. From anybody. I sent a message to Daisy this morning asking how she was doing, but I got no response from her. I still find it completely ridiculous that I am now texting this woman who I swore to eradicate from my life. Then again, I swore the same of Laura Phelps when I was at Hogwarts, and here I am six years later still in touch with her. Sort of.

I can’t concentrate on work at all today.

Why hasn’t Tom contacted me?

The way we left things last night was very...open. We hugged, and what a damn fine hugger he was. Then, after our deep meaningful hug (because it was very deep and meaningful), he escorted me to a taxi, paid the driver and wished me goodnight without as much as a handshake. He was adamant I couldn’t apparate when I’d been drinking. He didn’t even try to kiss me. When we were hugging, he didn’t even try to cop a feel.

I have a very feelable arse, I don’t know what his problem is.

The hugging incident has been a very good distraction for me from the Scorpius being a dirty cheater incident.

That is until Scorpius walks through the doors of St Mungo’s and suddenly the hugging incident doesn't seem so distracting.

Hazel actually hangs up the phone to listen when she sees him approaching the receptionists’ desk.

“Hello,” I greet him darkly. He looks like he hasn’t slept at all. He probably hasn’t. He was probably up all night with his horrible mistress. It’s all I can do not to drive this quill I’ve been playing with into his eye.

“I need to talk to you,” he says urgently.

I sit back in my chair, showing him that I’m not prepared to go anywhere with him so if he wants to talk to me, he’ll have to do it here. He looks at Hazel uncomfortably, and she picks up the phone and dials a number so he doesn't think she’s eavesdropping.

I know she’s probably calling Gladys so they can both listen.

“Do you know where Daisy is?”

I frown at him. “How the hell would I know where she is? I’m not the one married to her.”

“You sent her a text this morning, I have her phone,” he tells me.

“I still don’t know where she is.”

He runs his hands through his hair nervously and swears. “She didn’t come home last night after the party. She just left a note saying she was going away to think. Have you any idea what this is about?”

I can’t believe him. I can’t believe he actually has the nerve to stand there and pretend like he’s done nothing wrong.

“Why weren’t you at the party?” I ask him.

Scorpius looks like he’s about to answer, but pauses when he looks behind me. I turn to see Hazel actually holding up the receiver of the phone so that the person on the other end (most certainly Gladys) can hear everything we’re saying.

“I told you it’d be too obvious,” she hisses down the phone.

Scorpius and I head to the break room for some privacy.

“So?” I press him.

“Daisy and I got into a fight, okay?” he snaps. “I went off on my own to a pub, I didn’t want to be around her.”

“On your own?”

“Yeah,” he shrugs. “But then I felt bad so I went ho- OUCH! Fucking hell, Weasley!”

I’ve hit him, hard, upside the head.

“You dirty, cheating, lying little scumbag!”

He looks genuinely frightened. “What’s your problem? I haven’t seen you this mental since you were pregnant!”

“I know you cheated on Daisy!”

Now he looks confused, but I’m not convinced it’s genuine.

“What are you on about?”

I sigh heavily. “We stalked you last night while we should have been at the party and the barman in the Hog’s Head said you’d left there holding hands with some woman!”

“You stalked me? Jesus.”

“That’s all you can say?” I am fuming. I am just so angry with him right now.

“For fuck sake, Rose, I didn’t cheat on Daisy! What’s wrong with you?”

“Then why were you holding hands with some skanky squib slut?” I added the squib for effect. I hope it worked.

“If you really must know, I was a bit drunk, I flirted with her, but I came to my senses when we got out of the Hog’s Head.”

“Oh, how convenient,” I snarl.

“Shit, is that why Daisy left? Does she think I’ve cheated?”

“Well considering we were stalking you together, then yes, I would think so.”

He paces around the break room, his hands clasped behind his head. I don’t see why he’s so worried about her now. For the last few weeks it seemed like he stopped caring about her completely.

“This is just typical Rose Weasley!” he snaps.

“How has this anything to do with me?” I scoff.

“Oh please, stalking? That was definitely your idea. I bet you were the one who made her think I was cheating on her in the first place!”

True, the stalking was initially my idea. “No, she came up with the notion you were cheating all by herself,” I tell him.

He folds his arms and walks closer to me. I mirror his stance and hold my ground. I will not be intimidated by him.

“I wouldn’t cheat, Rose,” he says firmly. “I can’t believe you of all people would think that.”

I glare at him for a full minute without even blinking. He can’t be serious. He just can’t be. How can he possibly say that sentence to me without so much as blinking?

“Are you for real?” I scoff eventually. “I am the one person who knows just how capable you are of cheating.”

Is he forgetting that he went out with Dom in sixth year? He is the reason she is the cynic she is today. Believe it or not, before Scorpius, Dom actually sort of believed in happily ever after. He kissed me several times while claiming he was in love with her.

And he’s kissed me while married! Has the memory of Al and Jenny’s wedding completely slipped his mind? Or turning up to my flat drunk and asking me to be with him?

“I don’t mean cheat on Daisy,” he says quietly. “I’d never cheat on her with anyone but...you.”

“Go find your wife,” I tell him viciously. “I’m going back to work.”

With that I leave the break room and return to my desk, where Hazel is still on the phone to Gladys, clearly talking about me in hushed tones. I don’t look up as Scorpius passes by and leaves the hospital.

*

“Rose, have some more potatoes won’t you?”

“No thanks Mum I’m full -”

She dishes three spoonfuls of mash onto my plate before I can finish. That’s my fourth helping. I didn’t even want the second.

“More carrots?”

I don’t even have to answer this time, because more carrots have been piled onto my already full plate anyway.

“Ron, potatoes?”

“Fanks er-my-nee,” Dad answers, his mouth full. This is his fifth helping. I have no idea how he isn’t obese at this point. Finding a woman who feeds him as much as his own mother was pretty much the only thing Dad was looking for in a wife, I’m guessing. Never mind that Mum is about the most brilliant witch of her generation, not at all bad to look at and a generally lovely human being.

“I’ll put on some more shall I?” Mum asks, bustling around the kitchen, summoning more potatoes from the press. “Aidan, would you like some more?”

“I’m going to explode!” Aidan cries. Dad claps him on the shoulder proudly.

Mum is clearly nervous. Despite she has spent the evening feeding myself, Aidan, Dad and Hugo, she has eaten nothing herself. This is what she does when she’s anxious, she busies herself with housework or cooking or paper work to take her mind off what’s troubling her.

Tomorrow is the election.

I wonder if Uncle Percy is forcing food down his children’s throats too. God knows Lucy could do with fattening up. Not Molly though. She’s getting a bit pudgy these days.

“Hermione, sit down,” Dad tells her, for all the good it does him.

“Oh, I have no time, I have to get this apple tart in the oven,” she says briskly.

“Mum, you’re working like a bloody house elf,” says Hugo. A bad analogy to make around Mum, who shoots him a dirty look.

“You have to calm down, Mum,” I try to reason with her, woman to woman. “Election day is tomorrow, there’s nothing more you can do now. Just try to relax.”

I may as well have told this to the wall. It would take much more notice.

“Why is Nana going mental?” Aidan asks. Dad shakes his head at him, as if teaching him not to ask questions to an apparently mental woman. You’d think he would know that already, having me for a mother and everything.

“You’ve no reason to be nervous, Mum,” Hugo tells her.

“Let’s just not talk about it!” Mum commands. “Now, who wants more broccoli?”

We are all staying here tonight in support of Mum. She just wants to keep a low profile until the results are out. Of course she’ll have to have the obligatory picture taken of her casting her vote in the polling booth tomorrow and we’ll all have to go with her to make us seem like a tightly knit, loving, supportive family. Then the day after tomorrow we’ll have to come together again in public for the tallying of the votes.

“I want to vote!” Aidan complains.

“You have to wait ‘til you’re seventeen,” Hugo explains.

“I wish I was seventeen.”

“Don’t wish your life away,” Dad warns him. Do you ever notice how philosophical dads tend to get in their later years?

When Mum does eventually sit down, she’s practically twitching. She’s shuffling through paperwork, biting her thumbnail and acting overall very sensitive. She scolds Hugo for turning up the television, even though we’re having a very hard time hearing it over the tapping of Mum’s foot on the wooden floor. She even shushes Aidan when he asks – yes, asks – if he can go to bed now. Dad takes him upstairs to read him a story, and I check my phone.

There is still nothing on it. No calls. No messages.

Not that I expected there to be any from anybody except for Jenny or Dom, or maybe Al.

But there is nothing from anybody at all. I’m not sure if Daisy has returned home to Scorpius yet and I haven’t asked. Thinking of him has made me so angry for the last few days. I’d never cheat on her with anyone...but you. As if that’s supposed to make everything better. As if cheating is alright as long as it’s with an ex. In fact, I think that makes it so much worse. A kiss between me and Scorpius means so much more than a kiss between Scorpius and some random girl in a pub. It would kill Daisy to hear some of the things Scorpius has said behind her back. And then she would kill me in turn.

While Mum is busy re-cleaning the kitchen after cleaning it from dinner, there is a knock on the front door. I answer it, as Hugo is now watching football on the TV and shouting profanities at Manchester United, despite the fact that my six year old is trying to sleep upstairs

It’s Uncle Percy.

“Evening, Rose,” he says stiffly. “Is your mother in?”

“Um, yeah,” I say, a little shocked that he’s here. He and Dad haven’t really been on the best of terms since this Minister business came about. “Come on in.”

Unlike Dad, who has a very thick head of red hair, Uncle Percy has very little. Dad says he started going bald in his late twenties. He wears thick rimmed glasses too, which make his eyes look bigger than they are. He truly is the most boring looking person in our family, with his eldest daughter coming a close second.

Hugo looks up from the football match at Uncle Percy and greets him generically. He then raises his eyebrows at me. We are both very interested to see where this will go.

Mum bustles into the living room from the kitchen and jumps at the sight of Uncle Percy in her house.

“Percy!” she exclaims.

“Hermione, I’m just making a flying visit,” he says in a business-like voice. I’ve always noticed that everything Uncle Percy says makes him sound like such a knob. “I do hate being out of sorts with you and Ron.”

See?

“Yes, well...” Mum pauses. “There has been a lot of tension.”

“I’m just here to wish you the best of luck in tomorrow’s election. At the end of the day we are much more than competitors. We are still family.”

Hugo sticks his finger in his mouth and makes a gagging noise and I have to stifle my laughter.

“Yes, we are,” Mum concedes. They shake hands, like real political figures. Seriously, this is my family. I’m not even joking. Sometimes I wonder if I could actually have made all this stuff up in my head. But I’m pretty sure it’s true.

Dad arrives back downstairs having put Aidan to bed and visibly tenses when he sees Uncle Percy. Though I think we are all fairly relieved that Auntie Audrey isn’t with him.

“Ron,” Percy approaches him. “I am just here to resolve the tension between our families. I know Audrey can be difficult to get along with sometimes –“

“Well that’s an understatement,” I blurt, earning an angry glare from Mum.

“Yes, well...” Percy continues uncomfortably, “I just want to apologise for the tension and was just wishing Hermione good luck for tomorrow.”

Dad is a strange person. It’s hard to know how he’ll react to this. On the one hand, it really wouldn’t surprise me if he punched Percy in the face and told him to get out of his house. On the other...

Dad shakes Percy’s hand. “Thanks.”

Uncle Percy stays for a cup of tea and we chat idly about things that are completely non-election related. He brings up the subject of James, asking if we’ve heard from him on his holiday and we awkwardly change the subject. We may be on better terms, but Percy’s branch of the family really doesn't need to know about James’s problems. We can’t really risk it getting released to the press.

The next day we go as a family to the Ministry of Magic to vote. We see lots of familiar faces, including some people I was at Hogwarts with; Mark Matthews, an old friend of James’s asks me how he’s doing and I spin the same lie to him about James being on holiday. Nana Molly and Grandad are here too, but they won’t tell me who they’ve voted for. I can guess that Grandad voted for Mum, but it’s a very hard one to call with Nana Molly.

“I love them both the same,” Nana Molly maintains.

“It’s not about how much you love them, Nana,” Hugo points out, “It’s about who’ll do a better job.”

“Still, I mustn’t be seen to play favourites!”

Then, I see a familiar face I wasn’t really counting on seeing.

“Fuck,” I hiss to myself, but unfortunately Nana Molly hears me and scolds me like I’m a child. She is rather scary though, so I apologise.

Tom is chatting to Mum. I begin to panic. Sweat is pouring out of every inch of my body – my actual arse is sweating. I’m suddenly aware of my arms and legs and wonder what the hell I should do with them. What is wrong with me? He’s just a man. Just a solicitor man. With nice hair. But he wears scruffy clothes and looks homeless. I shouldn’t sweat over a homeless looking solicitor.

I take a deep breath and decide to approach them. I really don’t see why I shouldn’t. After all, Tom and I are acquaintances now and it is the only polite thing to do. Tom doesn't look remotely disturbed by my arrival. I’ve nearly sweated every ounce of water from my body and he is just...cool.

“Rose, there you are,” Mum smiles at me. She’s clearly still on edge because she has a bit of a manic look in her eyes.

“Hi Rose,” Tom greets me in a friendly voice. I don’t say anything back, but shoot him a very confused look. Hi Rose. Really? Hi Rose. What am I supposed to do with that?

“Oh, there’s Timothy, I’d better go say hello,” Mum excuses herself and rushes off.

Tom doesn't look uncomfortable. He should look uncomfortable, but he doesn't. It’s as if we didn’t hug for a solid ten minutes in the middle of Diagon Alley a week ago.

“So, who did you vote for?” he smirks.

Hi Rose!” I mimic in a deep man’s voice. Or at least my version of a man’s voice. “So, who did you vote for?

Now he looks uncomfortable. Mission accomplished.

“Did you have a stroke?” Tom asks.

I realise now how stupid I sound and look. We hugged. As in a hug; I hug Dom. I hug my mother. I hug Al and Jenny. Why did I read more into a bloody hug?

“Yes,” I decide. “I have to go find Barney.”

I don’t know why Barney was the first name that popped into my head, but I rush off to find the imaginary Barney. Luckily I have to leave for Potions class so I don’t run the risk of bumping into him again. And if I’m lucky, and if I play my cards right, I may never have to bump into him again.

Well, I’ve officially just jinxed it.

*

The result of the vote is out at six o’clock the next day. There will be a victory party for the winner at the Ministry, and either way I have to attend. I’m listening to the radio at work to hear the results because I couldn’t get the day off for the votes count.

And the votes are finally in!” the presenter announces, causing us to sit up in our seats. Gladys turns up the radio. “The next Minister for Magic, with 64% of the votes, is Hermione Weasley.”

“Oh my God!” I exclaim in excitement. My mother is Minister for Magic! Gladys, Hazel and Linda sound in celebration and a few Healers come by and send their congratulations to Mum. I try to call her, but as expected the line is busy.

I then hear Mum’s voice coming from the radio as she makes her victory speech. She starts off by acknowledging Percy and congratulates him on a very good campaign. I can imagine Auntie Audrey is probably kicking a child somewhere. I do hope it’s her own.

I leave work at half past six on the dot to go home and get ready for the victory party. Aidan is with Draco and Astoria tonight because just about everybody else in the wizarding world that I know is going to the party. This isn’t going to be like Uncle George’s Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes party though. It will be far more fancy and pretentious. So I actually have to dress formally.

Knowing how likely it is I will see both Scorpius and Tom tonight, I actually make an effort. If feels like so long since I’ve made a real effort. I mean, I didn’t really make an effort for Al and Jenny’s wedding. I was too busy trying to get her ready than getting myself ready.

I go the whole hog. I put on a face mask and curl my hair. I then proceed to take off the face mask and put my hair into an up-style. Then I put on make-up; eye shadow and everything! For Dom this would just be another Friday night, but I feel like this might actually be the most attractive I’ve ever been in my whole life. Ah the life of a single mother.

My dress is cream. I’ve had it for ages but I’ve never really had anywhere to wear it to. You never really have to wear full-length dresses anywhere. I used to daydream that if one day Scorpius and I eloped on a spur of the moment, I’d throw on this dress and we’d get married. But instead he eloped with someone else and my dress and I never got our day out. Bastard.

I even do a twenty four hour self-tanning spell I found in Witch Weekly. That’s how far I’m taking this. I have to say I’ve scrubbed up rather nicely.

Dom calls to the flat before we head to the Ministry, and as soon as I see her I feel like I’m wearing an old paper bag in comparison. Her dress is full length and lilac satin and looks completely stunning. I actually want to hit her.

“Oh Rose you look amazing!” she exclaims.

“Yeah,” I mumble.

“What’s wrong?” she asks, annoyed. “If you start your whole self-deprecating thing now, I’m actually going to put your head through a window.”

See, then she says stuff like that and she suddenly doesn't look nearly as elegant.

“Come on, we’re meeting Brian at the Muggle entrance,” she says, checking her appearance in my hall mirror. “He’s so excited about seeing the actual Ministry of Magic. He’s like Al that time we brought him on a plane.”

We apparate into London and meet Brian by the telephone booth. He’s wearing a tuxedo and looks amazed by Dom; she always looks amazing, but how she’s looking now is just out of this world. I really hate that I love her. It would be so much easier to hate her.

Brian looks like he might just wet his pants as we descend into the Ministry of Magic. There are massive posters of Mum all around the place and I am literally bursting with pride. Dom and I pose for pictures upon arrival and then hurry off to find Al and Jenny. Dom and Brian start on the firewhiskey – a bit early I reckon – as she explains the different departments to him.

“Rose!” Jenny squeals when she sees me. “You look gorgeous!”

Jenny is in red, which is very bold for her. It really suits her. She should have been a Gryffindor.

“You too,” I hug her. Al is wearing black dress robes, looking very smart. It’s so strange not having James around. He always brought the fun to these occasions.

“Have you seen Audrey?” Al sniggers. “She looks like she might kill Percy.”

I look around and find Audrey in the crowd. She’s wearing yellow, so she’s not hard to spot. She looks like somebody killed her family. Percy on the other hand looks very placid, shaking hands and conversing with his colleagues around him.

“Did you hear?” Jenny laughs. “Percy voted for Hermione!”

“What?!” Dom and I exclaim at the same time.

“Why would he vote for Mum?” I cry. “After everything they’ve gone through?”

“He never wanted to be Minister,” Al says. “I mean, we all knew it but you know how stubborn he can be. I think he was afraid of Audrey so that’s why he didn’t pull out. But he told Dad that he was voting for Hermione and Audrey overheard...”

“Molly cried,” Jenny adds. “It was hilarious.”

We sit at one of the many large round tables that are positioned around the foyer of the Ministry. They are all decorated with white table clothes, candelabras and flowers. It’s nearly like a wedding, except even more formal. Brian, not used to the effects of firewhiskey, gets pissed rather quickly. He’s not a bad drunk, though. He just talks a lot more than usual.

Molly and Lucy do not join us at our table. Teddy and Victoire do, as do Hugo, Louis, Fred, Roxie and Lily. I have a feeling that Audrey threatened Lucy not to sit with us; where Molly would be bitter about her father losing the election, Lucy really wouldn’t care either way. Hugo and I have to pose with Mum and Dad for some pictures, but after all that is taken care of we’re free to spend an enjoyable night with our lovely cousins.

“Fuck fuckidy fuck!!” Lily hisses to me when I come back from having my picture taken. She then grabs my arm and drags me to the bathroom. Dom, seeing the commotion, follows.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” I ask once we’re in the bathroom. There is a woman washing her hands and Lily waits silently until she’s finished to speak. The woman is taking her time though...

“I think they’re clean!” Lily snaps at her, and the woman sweeps from the bathroom looking very offended. See, as Harry Potter’s daughter Lily can get away with stuff like that.

“Are you alright Lily?” Dom asks.

“Lysander is here,” she says in a panic.

Dom and I look at each other. Dom shrugs.

“So?” I say, trying my best to be tactful.

“So...” Lily pauses, looking around shiftily, “...so we slept together around Christmas and I haven’t been responding to his letters!”

Dom’s mouth is about to hit the floor. “Are you for real?” she laughs. “Little Lovely Lily and Lysander? How did we not hear about this before?”

“Oh Dom please don’t tell anyone!” Lily pleads. “We kept it a secret...”

“Obviously,” I chime in. “But everything’s always a secret with you and Lysander. At least you weren’t going out with Lorcan when it happened...were you?”

“No!” Lily exclaims. “But still, it’s so awkward! You have no idea!”

No idea? I feel like slapping her. I invented awkward.

“Just talk to him,” Dom suggests. Lily shoots her a vicious glare. “Or not...”

“I really don’t know what you want us to say. Do you want us to hide you or something?” I say jokingly. Lily looks like she’s considering this. “Eh, I’m joking by the way.”

“Lorcan is here too,” Lily moans. “I really don’t want to see either of them, it always ends with such drama...”

I don’t want to point out that she seems to be the one creating this drama from nothing. It would be hypocritical of me to say anything because I’m doing the exact same thing with Tom. Who I have yet to see tonight.

Once Dom and I have calmed Lily down, we return to our table where Scorpius is sitting talking to Al and Fred. I expected him to be here so it doesn't come as a shock. I hold my head high and resume my initial seat, pretending there is nothing awkward between us. At least nothing more than usual.

I do notice that he is alone. Daisy is nowhere to be seen.

“Hi,” Scorpius says to both me and Dom.

“Hello,” I respond civilly.

He’s staring at me and it’s unnerving. He looks good too. Dress robes suit him. I look away, deciding it’s best not to go there again.

“So what did you say Daisy was doing in America?” Jenny asks Scorpius, continuing on a conversation that had started while we were in the bathroom.

“Just business,” he responds uncomfortably. “She’ll be home in a few days.”

“Bit sudden just taking off like that though,” Roxie observes.

“Yeah, it was a pretty last minute meeting,” Scorpius lies. If he can say she’ll be home in a few days then he must have been speaking to her. Or maybe he’s just making up excuses. Maybe she’s left him.

I head up to the bar to get myself a drink. I’m going to need one if I have to listen to Scorpius talk about Daisy all night. While up there, I bump into the other bloke I’ve been avoiding and suddenly I am liberated; I have nothing else to worry about.

“Rose,” Tom greets me pleasantly, like I didn’t mimic him in a ridiculous voice yesterday and run off.

“Hi Tom,” I respond, choosing this time to be as poised and elegant as my dress and my jewellery. I will not let him affect me. Tonight, I am a classy lady.

“You look...” he pauses and looks me up and down, “beautiful.”

“Oh.”

Rose, you need to say something better than ‘oh’.

Anything at all.

“So do you.”

For fuck sake. I just called him beautiful. When I get my mother alone, I am demanding what exactly she smoked while pregnant with me.

“Eh, I mean, your dress robes are nice,” I say. They’re probably the same ones he wore to the party in Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, but I have literally nothing else to say.

He sort of laughs. “Thanks?”

“You’re welcome?”

The barman gives me the glass of wine I ordered and I go to sit back down.

Hi Tom,” Tom says in a high pitched voice. I spin back around. He’s mimicking me. “You’re welcome!” he says in the same high pitched voice.

“Really?” I say dryly. “You’re really doing this here?”

“What was with you yesterday?” he grins.

“What was with me?” I echo, appalled. But I don’t know what else to say. I don’t know what was with me.

“Do you have a problem with me?” he asks genuinely.

“Oh no,” I say sarcastically. “You know, I expect everyone I hug in Diagon Alley to ignore me for a week afterwards –”

“Ahhh I see now,” Tom says smugly. “You felt rejected.”

Completely offended, I turn to walk away again, but he follows me and corners me not too far from the table of cousins and Scorpius. Yes, this evening wasn’t awkward enough. Thanks Tom.

“Come on Rose!” he laughs. He is so annoying. I don’t think I ever found anyone this annoying, not even Scorpius. “In my defence, you didn’t contact me either.”

I hadn’t thought about that, but I’m still so annoyed that I don’t even consider it.

“I make a point of not contacting people I hate,” I respond.

“We both know you don’t hate me,” he says cockily.

“Want a bet?”

He tilts his head, considering me. I look everywhere but into his eyes. They are rather lovely.

“I knew if I didn’t get in touch with you you’d figure out how you feel about me,” he says. “You seemed a bit confused the other night. But it’s pretty obvious you like me now.”

I laugh in disbelief. “Like you? Have you not been paying attention?”

“Come on, why else would you care that I didn’t contact you?”

I hate how good at arguing he is. I make to walk away again, but he blocks me.

“I like you, Rose,” he tells me seriously. “Really.”

I look at my table. Jenny and Dom are staring at us and both look away quickly when they see me looking back at them. Al and Scorpius are gone off somewhere. Roxie is talking to a very anxious looking Lily. Brian is drunker than before.

“Look, Tom, I don’t know where to begin –” Before I can go into the details of my ridiculously complicated life, Tom leans in and kisses me. It’s a very brief kiss because there are people everywhere, but it is a kiss nonetheless. He then takes me by the hand and we walk outside together to escape the prying eyes of my friends and family.

 




A/N – Wowwwwwwww, judging by some of the reviews on the last chapter there are some real Tom haters out there! I’m thinking it’s more about loyalty to Scorpius than anything Tom has actually done, so I’ll try not to be too offended that you hate a character I’m quite liking! I love all of your reviews by the way. And I’m totally awful at answering them, but I do love them and I do read them. Answering them would take a million years, time I could be spending writing so I hope you understand! The level this story has reached is really blowing me away. I still have to pinch myself every time I log onto HPFF and see I’m the most reviewed author. Pinch. You people make my life. X
P.S – 5 or 6 chapters at the most left, then I say goodbye to Rose. Probably :P

PPS - James will be returning in the next chapter!
 


Chapter 30: The Contenders
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Chapter 30 - The Contenders

I’m sitting in the waiting room of the Potions Abuse Rehabilitation Centre. It smells like St Mungo’s, of disinfectant and gloom, although granted it is quite a bit more comfortable. I’m sitting on a squishy peach coloured couch, flicking through a two month old copy of Witch Weekly, waiting for the nurse to call me. There is a lady in her early forties, I’m guessing, sitting across from me and she keeps eyeing me curiously. She knows who I am. I know that look; I’ve gotten it for basically my entire life.

“Miss Weasley, you can come now,” a young nurse says softly to me, like I’m dying. They all talk in soft, calming tones here. I find it creepy and unsettling. I’m used to shouting and arguing in basically every aspect of my life.

James has a room to himself. It’s very bright, with cream walls and a yellow bedspread and lamps everywhere. It’s creepy too, like everything in this place. James is sitting on a chair by the window, his feet resting up on the coffee table, reading a book.

At the sight of him, I burst into tears, and am completely mortified by my actions.

It’s not that he looks bad. He doesn't, he looks fantastic. He has put on all of the weight he lost over the last few months, his hair is slightly tidier and he has finally shaved. He looks positively frightened by my reaction to him. He looks exactly like his old self, but he’s not his old self.

He’s reading a book.

James Potter.

It’s like the thought of Molly having sex; it’s sick and wrong and disturbing.

“Jesus, Red,” James says, amused. “Do I really look that bad?”

I cheer up now that he’s called me Red again. I really hadn’t realised just how much I missed him. I’m finding it hard to get words out.

He puts down his book, folds his arms and stares at me. “You can sit down, you know.”

I sit down on his yellow bed and wipe away my tears. He’s definitely going to use this against me in the future.

“How are you?” I ask him gently.

“Fuck off,” he replies bluntly.

“...Excuse me?”

“Every person I’ve come into contact with for the last few weeks have been talking to me like I’m terminally sick; the therapist, the healers, my parents...I feel like a fucking four year old. Even Laura’s being nice which is really weird. I’m fine. I was an idiot and I deserve a good bollocking for it, but nobody seems to want to yell at me,” James vents, getting up and pacing around the room. “They’re all about ‘healing through love’ here and it’s such a load of crap! I was depending on you to give out to me Red, it’s what you’re best at! You’re a real disappointment.”

Suppressed anger starts bubbling inside me, but I don’t want to let it out yet. He’s still fragile. I don’t know how far I can go.

“I don’t want to give out, James. I’m just glad you’re doing well.”

James looks a bit frightened now. He looks how I felt when I saw him reading a book. This place does strange things to people, apparently.

“You don’t want to give out,” he says flatly. “Really. Even though I lied to all of you for months? Even though I was a complete prat to everyone we know? Even though I missed your son’s birthday, I wasn’t there for Al when Jenny miscarried, I was Scorpius’s Best Man –”

“FINE!” I snap. “You were an absolute and utter IDIOT! What were you thinking? You could have been kicked off the Quidditch team, it’s a miracle you haven’t been! What you did was reckless and stupid and illegal – are you ever going to grow up?”

“See that’s what I’m talking about –”

“Potion abuse! You know how dangerous it is!” I can’t stop myself. I knew this would happen. “And getting involved with Laura Phelps again? Have you got any brain at all in that ridiculously large head of yours? Why is it that when you two get together, one of you ends up nearly killing yourself with Potions?”

“I know, I –”

“And don’t get me started on Al and Jenny! They have done nothing but support you through all of your crap and you couldn’t pull your head out of your arse for ONE DAY to help them through their tough time! He is your brother, James!”

“I know and I’m sorry –”

“Sorry!” I laugh manically. “Oh, well that’s alright then. You’re sorry. Sorry makes everything better! You could have died, James!”

“But I didn’t!”

“But what if you had? What if you’d died? What would I do? You’re the best one! But you’re a fucking idiot!”

James breaks into a grin. I haven’t seen that grin in so long, so I get up from the bed and hug him.

“You think I’m the best one?” he says pompously when we finish hugging.

“Shut up,” I respond, realising just how big a mistake it is to compliment James in any way.

“I’m better than Golden Boy Al? And Dom?”

“You’re the only one who doesn't judge me.”

He laughs and sits back down in the chair at the window. Even though this place is creepy and weird and alienating, I can’t get over the good it has done him. He has colour in his cheeks and the mischievous sparkle in his eye that got lost somewhere in his addiction. He looks better.

“They say I can go home on Friday,” James tells me.

“That’s brilliant,” I say sincerely.

“So you better warn me what to expect,” he continues. “No offence, Red, but you don’t look great. What’s been happening?”

I look away from him and wonder where to begin. I’m unsure how much I can tell him without sounding completely self absorbed.

“Come on. I know you want to talk about Scorpius. Tell me,” James coerces.

And so I begin. I tell him how Scorpius and Daisy are going through a rough patch that stems all the way back to when Aidan had his allergic reaction to the peanuts Daisy accidentally gave him. I tell him of the night Daisy and I went stalking and found out he had met a girl in a pub. I tell him how Daisy temporarily left Scorpius and how I did my best to ignore him the whole way through Mum’s victory party, which was three days ago. And finally I tell him of my conversation with Scorpius this morning...

*

Scorpius stopped by my flat this morning to look after Aidan while I went out. Aidan was more interested in playing with Ollie, as he hadn’t seen her in quite a while. I leave her with Teddy and Victoire most days, who are happy to have her and where she has space to run around and play with other animals. This was the first time we had her home in nearly two weeks. And obviously pets trump parents in the mind of a six-year-old, so Aidan barely even noticed Scorpius was there.

While Aidan played with Ollie in the living room, Scorpius and I talked in the kitchen. I could tell it would be one of ‘those talks’, one of the talks that would inevitably end in us arguing or kissing or both.

“Daisy’s back,” he started with. “She was in America. For work.”

“Right,” I replied. “So?”

“She had an interview,” he went on. “There’s this company that designs Quidditch brooms specifically in Las Vegas. It’s where we were back in December –”

“When you got married?” I asked, viciously.

“Yeah. They’ve been headhunting her for a while now. They want her to move there.”

“Well yes, it would be a rather long commute,” I responded, trying to avoid what Scorpius was actually trying to tell me.

He put his hands in his pockets and looked down at the floor, and I instantly wished I’d swept it before he came. “She wants to go. She wants us both to go.”

I folded my arms and stared at him blankly. “You’re moving to America.”


“The company said they could sort something out with Aidan, organise weekly Transatlantic Portkeys, whatever we want. And when he’s older, he could come out to us and visit.” He looked up from the floor at me, his eyes firmly focused on me, looking for my reaction. I didn’t show one.

“So you’re going then. You’ve decided.”

He looked torn and supremely unhappy. “Tell me not to. Tell me not to go and I won’t.”

“Don’t put this on me,” I told him quietly, so Aidan wouldn’t hear. “If you want to go then do.”

“Do you want me to?”

I wanted to say yes. I wanted to tell him to leave with his wife, to go and live in the place they got married in, to un-complicate my life by leaving it completely. I wanted to say that.

“I have to go,” I told him. “I’m going to see James. I’ll talk to you later.”

*

James’s mouth has dropped open by my revelation. I’m glad that my problems make him forget his own, but still I’d rather this crap happened to somebody else. And I haven’t even told him where this all gets really complicated.

“So what are you going to tell him?” James asks. “You can’t just let him ride off into the sunset on some cow!”

Oh James, I’ve missed you.

“I haven’t told you everything,” I admit, which causes him to raise his eyebrows. “I’m kind of going out with someone...”

I wish he wouldn’t look so shocked by this. Is it really that unbelievable?

“You’re going out with someone? Who?!”

And so I tell him the story of Tom. I remind him that Tom was my solicitor, that there has been minor flirtations, that we kissed the night of Mum’s victory party, and what happened just after...

*

There are gardens at the side of the Ministry of Magic. They have all sorts of strange plants, plants I know I learned the name of in Herbology, but it’s been so long since I learned Herbology that I don’t remember their names. Officially, the gardens are there to look pretty and for workers to enjoy and to lift their morale. Unofficially, they are where everybody in the Ministry goes to smoke.

They are also where people go to get some privacy at formal gatherings.

After our kiss on the night of Mum’s party, Tom led me out to the gardens, which thankfully were empty. We sat at a small table in the corner, right beside a willow tree.

“You just kissed me,” I frowned once we were settled.

“You’re observant. That’s why I like you.”

“Could you not be such a smart arse?” I snapped. “Is that allowed?”

“What?”

“You kissing me!”

“Of course!” he laughed, but suddenly became very serious. “Wait, you’re over seventeen right? Because you have to tell me if you’re not...”

“Oh shut up. What I mean is, are you allowed to kiss your clients?”

“You’re not my client,” he pointed out. “And I never really looked into whether I’m allowed or not. Never stopped me before...” He coughed uncomfortably when I glared at him. “Um, anyway, yes, I’m allowed to kiss you.”

I considered this for a moment. Really, even if he had said no, we aren’t allowed to kiss, I’m not sure that would have stopped me. In fact, knowing me, it would probably have spurred me on. I tend to only kiss those who are completely off limits and unavailable.

“But...since when did you want to kiss me?” I knew I was pushing my luck. I had a very good-looking man wanting to kiss me and all I could do was question his motives.

“Since the first day you came into my office and told me to stop boycotting hairbrushes,” he shrugged.

“You clearly haven’t taken my advice,” I shot back. I have a serious problem with insulting people as soon as they start being nice to me. But in my defence, his hair was still messy.

“So what do you reckon?” he said, sitting back in his chair and folding his arms. “Do you want to give it a go?”

“Give what a go?”

“Do you want to go out with me?”

I thought about it for a moment. I thought of Scorpius, and how much time I’ve wasted on him for the past seven years, roughly. I thought about the fact that I’m twenty-three with a six year old and there aren’t going to be that many men queuing up to go out with me, especially because I’m such a sarcastic bitch and not particularly good looking. There are very few men in this world who have seen me at my very worst and still want to go out with me. Actually, I thought there might only be one – at least one unmarried one – and he was sitting right in front of me, waiting for my response.

“Alright then. When?”

“When...?”

“When do you want me to go out with you?”

He looked nervous, as if he hadn’t thought that far yet. Maybe he was just generally asking me to ‘go out’ with him, rather than actually go on a planned date.

“How’s next Friday night?”

*

“So I have a date with Tom now on Friday, and I have Scorpius telling me to tell him not to go to America...”

“And I thought I had problems,” James sighs.

“I would quite honestly trade places with you. I wouldn’t mind a bit of a break in rehab,” I admit.

James jumps up from his seat and rustles through one of his drawers. He pulls out some parchment and a quill, and sits back down and starts scribbling. “Right, we need to make a list. A New Guy versus Malfoy list. We need to meet the contenders.”

“His name is Tom.”

He writes ‘Malfoy’ on one side of the page and ‘New Guy’ on the other.

“Since when are you into lists?” I ask.

“Since I went to rehab and have nothing to do all day,” he responds. “Right: one good thing about Malfoy.”

I think for a minute. It can’t be a good sign that I cannot immediately think of anything good about Scorpius. There is no good left.

“He’s Aidan’s dad,” I say. James scribbles this down.

“And New Guy?”

“He’s mature,” I say confidently. Although it’s probably not strictly true, he’s definitely more mature than Scorpius.

“Now, one bad thing about Malfoy...other than the fact he’s a Malfoy,” James quips.

“He has a wife, he got married without consulting me, he’s an idiot, he’s immature, he’s a liar, he’s inconsiderate, he’s walked over me too many times to count –”

“Slow down I can’t write that fast!”

“He’s unreliable, he tried to take Aidan away from me, he cheated on me with a slutty Hufflepuff six years ago, he asked Dom out after sleeping with me –”

“Not that you hold a grudge or anything,” James says. “Now bad things about New Guy! Well first of all, he’s got the same first name as Voldemort. That’s never a good sign...”

I try to think of something bad about Tom, but I can’t. I suppose I don’t know him well enough to know bad things about him. Everything that I initially perceived as bad about him has turned into things that make my heart beat faster. It’s annoying, but I’m sure it can’t be perceived as bad that I actually like him.

“I can’t think of any...I suppose that means my choice is made then.”

James looks disappointed and uncomfortable with this decision. I knew he would take Scorpius’s side in this.

“I know you’ll probably hit me for suggesting this, but can I offer a few words in Malfoy’s defence?”

I do want to hit him, but I manage to restrain myself. I don’t say anything, so he takes this as a ‘yes’.

“Right, well, I was there through the initial stages of Scorpius and Daisy’s relationship,” he starts. “She is the definition of the rebound girl.”

“But-”

“Shut up, Red, let me finish. I’m not saying he doesn't like her, or even love her, but he was on the rebound when he met her. He became friends with her just after you turned down his proposal. She was his boss, but she was clearly into him from day one,” James tells me. “I know this because I kept trying it on with her at Quidditch after-parties, but she was having none of it. I thought she might be a lesbian at first.”

“Are you really that big headed?”

James stares at me blankly. “Did you really need to ask that?”

No, I suppose I didn’t.

“Anyway, they were friends for about two years after that and he wasn’t really into her at all. He’d talk about you to her the whole time and she’d listen and offer advice and stuff. He couldn’t really talk to me or Al about it, because we’re your cousins and all. Then around this time last year he asked her out, because it was looking fairly bleak between you and him; it was never going to happen.”

I feel sick listening to this. I know James isn’t trying to make me feel bad, but it’s as if Scorpius’s marriage was my fault to begin with.

Maybe it was. Maybe I’ve put myself through this.

“And so Daisy thought he was over you. Well, I’m pretty sure she knew he wasn’t, but she pretended he was over you. And then around November he told me they’d talked about getting married.”

“What?!” I exclaim. “They talked about it? After only a few months? I thought it was a drunken decision made on a spur of the moment!”

“No, there was no drink involved. Anyway, I told him he was fucking mental to even consider getting married at all, never mind to someone who wasn’t you,” James continues. “So he dropped it, didn’t bring it up again...until we went away just before Christmas.”

“To Las Vegas,” I mumble angrily.

“Yeah. After a few days away from you I think Malfoy’s head went a bit funny. He got all confident he was over you because he’d gone without seeing you for a week and didn’t miss you. So he asked Daisy to marry him – had to talk her into it a bit – and then they did a few days later. In a little registry office. And they were happy, until they came back to England. Red, he hasn’t been happy with Daisy since December. Not since they came home to reality.”

I don’t know what to do with all of this information. I don’t know what James expects me to say, or how this has anything to do with the decision I have to make. It doesn't excuse all of the shit Scorpius has pulled over the last few months. It doesn't change anything.

“I...just thought you should get the full story,” James sighs. “I don’t know that you ever got it before...”

“No,” I whisper, “I didn’t.”

*

I walk home from the rehab centre, considering the situation.

Tom or Scorpius.

I’ve always hated those girls who complain about being torn between two guys. I find it hard to get one bloke interested, so why should anyone complain about having two? Stuff like this shouldn’t happen to me. I’ll either get greedy and want both, or angry and want neither. I was so looking forward to my date with Tom, and now I feel sick thinking about it.

My mind is made up by the time I arrive home. Scorpius and Aidan are watching the TV. They both have their arm rested on opposite ends of the couch, with their heads on their hands and I can’t help but wonder if Aidan is just a tiny clone of Scorpius that was created by some crazy scientist and placed in my womb for nine months. I both love and hate that he looks so like him.

“Hi boys,” I greet them when I come in.

“Hi Mum,” Aidan replies lazily. “We played Quidditch.”

“Oh, who won?”

“Me,” Aidan tells me proudly.

“Boy’s a natural,” Scorpius decides.

“Dad says I’m better than Uncle James.”

“Uncle James is coming home from his holiday soon,” I tell Aidan, and Scorpius looks at me curiously. “He should be home by the weekend. Why don’t you make him a Welcome Home card?”

“Yeah!” Aidan jumps up from the couch excitedly and then runs to his room to get his arts and crafts kit. I take this small opportunity to talk to Scorpius.

“So James is really getting out?”

“Go to America,” I tell him. I have to say it quickly, or I won’t say it at all. He frowns at me, but I continue talking before he can say anything. “You were happy there, you and Daisy. You haven’t been happy here. Go to America, be with your wife.”

“But I can stay here with you, if you want –”

“But I don’t want you to,” I say, and my heart might have just broken a bit. “I’m seeing somebody. So...go to America. Daisy wants to be with you. I don’t.”

Aidan runs back into the living room with orange card and ink, talking excitedly about seeing James soon, completely oblivious to the fact that his parents have ended any semblance of a relationship between them, any chance of a reconciliation, convicting him to a broken home.

For good.





A/N: I bet you all want to throw stuff at me after that last scene. BUT James is back! And he's better! And he'll hopefully get funnier! And 8200 REVIEWS?? *spasm* I love you all so much. And I know I always say that but I MEAN IT! LOVE LOVE LOVE! I hope you liked this chapter, Rose's story is going to be wrapped up soon! But there is still plenty more to come on all of the Weasleys, so stay tuned :)
P.S: Notice how the 'Cow' jokes are making a comeback?! And notice my awesomeamazingbrilliant banner by PhoenixAlthor? Worship it. I command you.

 
 


Chapter 31: Double Negative
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A/N: This chapter is a bit filler-like, just to let you all know so there's no complaints! It's necessary to move the story along, I assure you! 




Chapter 31 - Double Negative

 “Go on, tell us everything,” Gladys insists, while filing her nails. I’ve just come into work; I haven’t even put my coat up on the hanger yet. Hazel and Linda become very attentive. As usual, all hospital work is forgotten. You know, it’s probably a good thing we’re not Healers or something. Nobody would ever get treated. Gossip comes before saving lives.

“There’s nothing much to tell,” I shrug, sitting down into my chair. I don’t know why I bother trying to be coy. I know I’m going to end up telling them every little detail about my date with Tom last night.

“Where did you go?” Linda asks.

“Rizzo’s,” I reply.

“Oh, what did you have?” Hazel asks.

“The parmesan chicken.”

“Did he pay?” Gladys asks.

“Yes.”

“How is he in bed?” Linda presses.

“I really wouldn’t know.”

“I’ve lost interest in this story,” says Gladys, and turns back to her work.

They’ve all lost interest, which I’m quite relieved about. I’m not really one for keeping secrets once people start asking me questions. Not that there are any secrets to be kept.

In truth, my date with Tom was very normal. It was my first real proper date with someone who wasn’t Scorpius, and even then my dates with him were never normal. They always ended with an argument, or with a long discussion about ‘us’. But last night was completely Scorpius-free and therefore drama-free; it was normal.

The ladies turn their conversation onto more important things, like who won the lotto last night and how short the evenings are getting. I, on the other hand, choose not to participate in the conversation and check my diary for what I have to do this week. Tonight I have to have dinner with Mum and Dad, while tomorrow night we’re having a get together for Al and Jenny, because they’re moving to Scotland next week. It’s also a sort of welcome home from rehab for James.

The get together is also a going away party for Scorpius and Daisy, but I’m choosing to ignore that bit.

In truth, the thought of Al and Jenny moving away makes me want to throw up, so I’ve tried really hard not to think about it. Jenny is the one sane person in my life who I can tell anything to and who will actually listen. I mean, I love Dom to bits and everything, but the girl is an awful listener, and basically as mentally messed up as I am.

As I sit, once again day dreaming and not doing any work, Healer Kennedy approaches the desk. The ladies don’t get quite as excited about it anymore, as he does it quite a bit since I joined the Potions class. In fact, he checks in almost weekly to see how I’m progressing.

“Morning Rose, ladies,” he nods at the girls.

“Morning Damien,” I reply. “Busy day?”

“As always,” he shrugs. “I’ve just come to offer you an internship as a Potioneer, if you’re interested. A spot has just opened up.”

He says it as if it’s not a massively huge deal. As if this isn’t a life changing opportunity he’s dangling before me. As if he’s not offering me a job that not only pays more than what I’m doing now, but is actually something I want to do. He says it like he’s offering me a cup of tea.

“Are...are you serious?” I stutter. “I mean, really? Me?”

“You’ve done the best in the class,” he tells me. “The internship lasts a year, and then you’ll do some more exams before you can become a fully fledged Potioneer. What do you think?”

“When do I start?!”

He says he’ll owl me all of the details, and that I’m starting Monday.

And just like that, I have a boyfriend and a real job.

I’m a grown up!

I did not see this coming.

“Oh Rose!” Linda cries happily when Damien has gone. “Congratulations, I knew you’d do well!”

“We’ll miss you here, lady,” Gladys adds sadly.

“You were always too smart for this job,” Hazel says. “Well done!”

After work, I head to Mum and Dad’s, still in blissful shock at the whole situation. Good things like this never happen for me. I can’t think of what I could have done to deserve it.

When I arrive at Mum and Dad’s, the house is in complete chaos. There are packed boxes everywhere; they’re moving into the Minister’s official residence for Mum’s term. I’m not sure what they’re going to do with the house, but it’s so strange to see my childhood home being packed up.

“Hi Rosie!” Dad greets me happily. He’s packing lots of our pictures that were once hanging on the walls into a large box. Mum’s doing likewise with the good china; Dad’s using magic, but Mum is doing it the old fashioned Muggle way.

They were looking after Aidan today, and he is sitting in the middle of a lot of bubble wrap looking very content indeed bursting it. When I swoop down to give him a kiss, he takes absolutely no notice.

“Wow, you’re really making progress,” I observe, looking around at the empty living room.

“I truly think packing is the most hateful pastime ever,” Mum sighs. I don’t want to be cheeky and point out that packing’s not a pastime. But, you know, it’s not. Well, maybe it is for her. Her other ‘pastimes’ include fixing broken vases by hand, and painting house elf figurines. Just some of the many quirks my mother has expertly hidden from the rest of the magical world.

When I deliver the news about my new job, Dad insists on breaking out a bottle of champagne, while Mum squeals happily for about twenty minutes, completely abandoning her packing.

“Does that mean we can buy a mansion?” Aidan asks innocently. “Because that’d be cool.”

“We’ll see in a few years,” I tell him.

“Dad and Daisy are going to live in a mansion when they go to America,” he says happily, “and they say I can visit!”

Mum and Dad look at each other uncomfortably. The subject of Scorpius moving away has been a highly touchy one for basically everyone but me and Aidan. Dad and Dom had similar reactions when they found out; they both wanted Scorpius’s head on a platter. Mum was upset too that Aidan’s father wouldn’t be nearby, which was basically Jenny’s reaction too.

Aidan, on the other hand, doesn't really grasp how far away America is and is just very excited about going to visit Scorpius in another country. Scorpius has promised to visit every week; I doubt this will pan out, but we’ll see.

After we eat dinner among the many boxes in the dining room, Dad takes me aside to talk in private. At first I think he’s going to say something to me about Scorpius.

“Rosie, your mum and I have been talking, and we were wondering if you’d like to move in here,” he says quietly, as if it’s a secret or something. “I mean, we’ll need somebody to look after the house until her term is up. And...that flat is just too small...”

I don’t know why people are delivering excellent news to me today like it’s a bloody death sentence. They’re asking me things as if they’re asking huge favours of me. Let’s see, do I want to move out of my shoebox of a flat into my parents’ five bedroomed, ridiculously warm and cosy house? Do I want a job that I’ve been working towards all year?

“Absolutely!” I cry.

Well, if I must.

This, except for the day Aidan was born, is the best day ever. When Aidan and I get home, we start packing.

*

The next night our get together is in Dom’s flat, which is an extremely random location. We never go to Dom’s. In fact, Dom’s is a mysterious place that none of us generally want to venture into. Aidan’s not allowed there until he’s over seventeen, that’s for sure. She is possibly the worst hostess in the world. She doesn't offer anybody a drink, it’s generally a ‘bring your own toilet roll’ sort of deal, and we never end up sleeping in a bed if we’re staying over.

Basically, at a party in hell, Satan would be a much better host.

Dom’s already drunk when I arrive. And crying. Drunk and crying. Brian isn’t here either, so it’s up to me to comfort her.

“I can’t believe Jenny’s moving away!” she sobs to me in her bedroom. “And our Al! We were best friends since we were babies, you, me and Al! Now he’s gone!”

“He’s going to Scotland, Dom,” I say. “Not India. We can literally apparate there in two seconds.”

“But it’s not the same!” she cries. “How are you not more upset?”

“Because it’s Scotland!”

“Scorpius is going to America,” she snaps. “Why aren’t you more upset about that? You should be in pieces and you’re just fine with it. He’s the father of your child!”

“Yes, I’m aware of that,” I say dryly.

“You were so in love with him a few months ago! Now you’ve just moved on to some lawyer bloke? I don’t buy it, Rose!”

“Keep your voice down!” I hiss. “You really are the worst drunk ever.”

As Dom starts mumbling on and on about how life is changing so much, James interrupts and asks if everything is alright. I take this as my cue to get out of dodge, and leave him to cheer her up.

“Cheer up Domsky, you’ve still got me!” I hear him chirp happily. It’s so nice to have the old James back.

James turned up to the party with Laura. Nobody commented on this. Nobody really knows what James and Laura are, and nobody really cares to ask. Friends, or lovers, or enemies, or just two people equally messed up that have some sort of understanding with each other. I’m not sure there’s a label for what they are.

I rejoin the party in the living room, and immediately wish I’d stayed with Dom. It’s the most random array of people; although we were all great friends once, it’s nothing short of uncomfortable now.

Al and Jenny are cuddled together, oblivious to everyone else around them. Lily has brought Lysander Scamander with her to the party, and he is chatting to Laura, who looks about ready to kill him. Daisy and Scorpius are here, and they are as strange as ever with each other; Daisy is talking to Molly, while Scorpius is chatting with Hugo. Victoire and Teddy are such an old married couple now that they didn’t make it at all. And Fred is here, but not Roxie.

Here they are, my family. I can’t help but wonder when Al and Jenny leave, and Scorpius and Daisy move away, how often I’ll actually see these people.

“Rose! Heard you had a date the other night with that man from the Ministry party,” Molly drawls. “How did that go?”

I’m very aware of how quiet the room has gone, and how everybody is now staring at me, waiting for my response.

“Oh, fine. So, I got the internship in St Mungo’s,” I change the subject quickly, and may I say, expertly.

Everybody is interested in the new changes in my life. It’s nice that I’m moving on with everybody else, because if I weren’t and they were all just leaving me, I think I’d be just depressed. It’s nice that I’m not the family member they all have to feel sorry for anymore.

Scorpius makes no attempt to talk to me, or to congratulate me all evening. Daisy, on the other hand, is full of chats.

“Rose, congratulations, it’s so wonderful you got that internship!” she says happily. I can tell it’s a false sort of happy. We’re in the kitchen, just the two of us, so I can tell there’s more to this conversation than just congratulations.

“Thanks Daisy,” I say politely. “And congratulations on your new job.”

She looks around her shiftily, double checking there is nobody listening.

“Thank you,” she says, with a lot of emphasis. “Thanks for letting him go, I mean. If you weren’t alright with him moving, I know he wouldn’t have come. So...thanks.”

It’s so strange that I am the one to save Scorpius’s marriage. After all we’ve been through, it’s odd to think that this is how it all will end. And yet, I feel empty when I think about it. I feel nothing.

“No need to thank me,” I shrug. “I’m sure you two will have a great life in America.”

I’m not sure how much I believe that. And maybe it’s because I don’t believe that that I am able to let him go.

Almost as soon as Daisy goes back to rejoin the group in the living room (James has managed to get the sobbing Dom out of her room), Jenny comes into the kitchen, her eyes ablaze. She’s been eavesdropping – nothing new there.

“I can’t believe she said that!” Jenny whispers to me. “As if you let Scorpius go – he’s bloody leaving you and his son!”

“Actually...” I say guiltily. I haven’t told anyone this bit. “I told him to go. He asked me to ask him to stay...and I told him to go.”

Jenny looks even more shocked by this. “But why?!”

“Because we’ll both be happier that way,” I tell her.

“Doubtful,” she snorts. “Haven’t you noticed how miserable he’s looked all night?”

“He’ll get over it,” I shrug, but Jenny continues to look upset. “Jen, I need to let him go.”

“Letting him go is one thing,” she says. “Telling him to go is something completely different.”

I don’t really know how to respond to that.

* * * * * *

Two weeks later, I am living in Mum and Dad’s house, working as an intern Potioneer, and have had six dates with Tom. Scorpius and Daisy are in America; Al and Jenny are in Scotland. Aidan has started back at school...oh, and Dom and Brian have split up.

To be honest, I’m surprised they lasted this long. Dom isn’t one for relationships, and while drunk at the party for Al and Jenny, she called Brian and told him it was over. They haven’t been in touch since; I never got the full story, and I’m not sure I want it. When I spoke to Brian, he called it ‘irreconcilable differences’. I’m sure I will eventually get the story from Dom. I always do.

Scorpius has either sent a letter or called every day, each time addressing Aidan. He has very little to say to me. He didn’t even say goodbye to me, not really. It was more of a “see you around” sort of thing. He’s planning on seeing Aidan next week. Note Aidan, not me. Which I am absolutely fine with, because my relationship with Tom is developing quite nicely.

“Mum, how far away is America?” Aidan asks me one day after school.

“Really far,” I tell him. “It’s all the way across the sea.”

“But Ireland’s all the way across the sea and it’s really near,” he points out.

“Yes, but there’s another sea between Ireland and America and it’s much bigger. So we have to cross two seas,” I try to explain.

“How many miles?”

“I don’t know. Lots.”

“No but how many?

“A million,” I respond.

“Wow,” he gasps. “Cool. Could I fly there on a broom?”

“No, you could fly on an airplane,” I say.

“Uncle James says they’re dangerous,” Aidan tells me.

Uncle James says airplanes are dangerous, yet gives the child fireworks for his fifth birthday. Yes, Uncle James has perspective for sure.

“You shouldn’t listen to everything Uncle James tells you.”

“Is Tom coming over tonight?”

Strangely enough, Aidan has taken a liking to Tom. Considering his initial hatred of Brian, I’m quite surprised that Aidan likes the man I actually am going out with. I think even he has given up any hope of me and Scorpius getting back together. Smart boy, my son.

“Yes, he is,” I tell him. “And you’re sleeping over at Remus’s remember?”

Aidan is excited about this, as am I, I must admit. Tom and I will have the house to ourselves for the first time. We will be completely alone. And I’m slightly terrified.

I’ve only ever slept with Scorpius, and each time it was spontaneous. I have no idea how to go about bringing up the topic, or how to move things on to that stage, or even if I’m ready to move on to that stage. Because he’s a few years older than me, I’m kind of leaving it to him to take the lead. I mean, I’m sure he’s been with much more people than I have. I just assume that when he sees we have the house to ourselves, he’ll be expecting us to sleep together.

Tom comes over at eight, after I’ve dropped Aidan at Teddy’s. It’s nice not to be ashamed of where I live anymore. Mum and Dad’s house is so big, and so nicely decorated, that I can actually be proud to say I live here. On the other hand, taking a bloke into the house you learned to walk in with the intention of sleeping with him is a bit unsettling.

“Evening,” he greets me with a kiss on the cheek. It’s weird that after only a couple of weeks of dating, it feels like we’ve been together for ages. We’re so comfortable around each other now. I can pretty much say anything to him, and he actually listens. I was sure men like him didn’t exist. Dom is now sure that men like him don’t exist. Oh, I got the full story of the Dom and Brian break up, but I’ll get to that.

Tom seems so relaxed; I’m not a bit relaxed. I’m just wondering if he’s thinking as much as I am about what might or might not happen tonight.

“Are you alright?” he asks. He looks nice tonight. He’s wearing jeans and a red shirt. I like the colour red on him, but it does clash with my hair. Which is fine, I know, because I’m not the one wearing it. My mind is wandering again...

“Fine!” I say brightly, which is really weird, because I’m rarely bright. “Glass of wine?”

“If you’re having one,” he responds, still looking at me suspiciously.

I bustle around the kitchen, practically shaking with nerves, as he takes of his jacket and starts telling me about his day. Why was I never this nervous with Scorpius? Maybe it was because we’re the same age, and I knew his experience was basically at the same level as my own. Tom is a mature man of the world. What if I’m completely crap in bed?

“Rose, are you even listening?”

“Um...yes,” I say. “Of course! You won your case today.”

I won’t lie. It was a shot in the dark.

“You weren’t listening, but I love you for guessing the positive outcome,” he laughs.

Oh it’s awkward.

It’s so so awkward.

There’s just a silence.

Maybe I’ll pretend I wasn’t listening just then either. That might work.

I slowly turn around and start pouring out the wine.

“So we’re just going to leave that hanging in the air, yeah?” Tom asks.

I still don’t respond. You know, because that makes it much less awkward.

“Okay then,” Tom says awkwardly. “Maybe I should just go...”

“No!” I snap. “Don’t...don’t go. I mean...you know, we can just forget you said that, I know you didn’t mean to.”

“I rarely say things I don’t mean,” he responds calmly.

Seriously. What the hell?

How can he just throw ‘I love you’ out like that and then say he means it? Why isn’t he playing any stupid mind tricks? Could he really be...normal?

Although normal people don’t say ‘I love you’ that soon.

“So you mean it then?” I ask.

“I do. And I know it’s a bit soon to say it but...yeah. I love you. And I know you’re going to do your Rose thing and be weird for a while, but that’s okay. I’ve been preparing for it.”

“I don’t do a weird Rose thing!” I protest, even though I definitely do. He says ‘I love you’ and I decide I’ve gone temporarily deaf. It’s obviously weird. When he dumps me after this incident, he’s just going to refer to me as ‘that weird girl I used to go out with’.

I can’t say it back yet though, can I? It’s only a few months ago I was saying those words to Scorpius, to say them now to someone else would seem insincere. Except that I don’t feel like I can’t say them either, because in all honesty, I don’t not love Tom either.

“I don’t not love you,” I tell him.

Nice one, Rose. Real romantic. A double negative will really satisfy him.

But he laughs, thankfully. He loves my cold heartedness and my inability to feel things. And that’s why I don’t not love him.

“Okay, I don’t not love you too,” he responds, and wraps his arms around my waist. I don’t really like to be touched, but it’s nice when he does it. He kisses me.

I wonder how Scorpius would feel if he knew I’d said this to Tom.

I don’t care though. After all, he says it to Daisy all the time, presumably. He doesn't not love her, and I don’t not love Tom, and we don’t love each other, so it’s all perfect. Nobody really loves anybody.

That night Tom and I sleep in my bed; just sleep. And it’s lovely.

Things move quickly after the ridiculous declaration of love, or not not love, between Tom and I. A few weeks later, he basically moves in, without officially doing so. He spends almost every night in my house, and has bonded really well with Aidan. He’s even brought Aidan to a few Quidditch matches. Scorpius has returned to see Aidan a couple of times, and has basically avoided seeing and talking to me in the process, given that he only returns to see him when Aidan is staying with Draco and Astoria every second weekend.

I’ve met Tom’s parents too, who are very lovely people. His father is a very kind and polite man, who opens the door for ladies, and stands up when I enter a room. Think Draco Malfoy...and then think of everything he’s not, and that is who Mr Fox is. Mrs Fox is a very glamorous lady who sends bucket loads of food home with me every time I’m in their house. They are literally the perfect parents-in-law to have. Not that I’m suggesting they will ever be my in-laws, but I’m just saying they’re kind of the in-laws you can only dream of having.

Tom gets on so well with my parents too. Obviously he knows Mum having worked under her at the Ministry, but he gets on well with Dad too. They talk about Quidditch, and that’s about it, and Dad’s happy with that.

The only person who hasn’t really taken a liking to him is James, who I think will be forever on Team Scorpius. I suppose, playing with the Chudley Cannons, he’s used to being on the losing team.

One month after our love declaration, we finally sleep together. First we share our history; he’s slept with three women. I’ve obviously only slept with one man. He’s been in love once before, with his Hogwarts girlfriend. I tell him I was in love with Scorpius. He says he figured as much.

It’s so different to being with Scorpius. I try not to compare it, but I suppose it’s only natural to compare. It’s neither good nor bad different. I enjoy it no more or no less than with Scorpius. And afterwards, when we lie in my bed chatting, I wish I could get the comparisons out of my head. Tom is not Scorpius. Scorpius is not Tom. They have nothing to do with one another.

*

Another two weeks later, there’s some awful Muggle film on the television, which the two of us watch in bed together. It’s about some woman who gets engaged to some bloke, decides she loves his brother instead, and leaves the bloke at the altar.

“That’s an awful dress,” I comment. She’s wearing a very puffy number, with lots of frills.

“Well, it’s an awful film,” Tom responds. “I mean, come on, she was never going to end up with the first bloke. Look at his hair.”

“I know. You’d think he’d have done something to it for the wedding. Not that you can talk,” I add. Tom’s hair will be eternally messy, not unlike James’s.

“Don’t worry, I’ll at least brush it for our wedding.”

I freeze. I know he was joking, but I’m still freaking out. Who says that after a few months of dating? Scorpius Malfoy, that’s who. Except he’s serious about it and goes and gets married in Las Vegas. I am not Scorpius Malfoy!

“Um, I’m going to get a glass of water,” I tell him, and give him a quick kiss before throwing on my dressing gown and heading downstairs. I have no intention of getting a glass of water. Instead, I apparate to Al and Jenny’s new house just outside Hogsmeade.

I rap on the door for a solid ten minutes before Al answers the door in his boxer shorts and a t-shirt. I’ve woken him up. I don’t care.

“Hey cuz, the missus in?” I ask, sauntering past him.

“Rose, it’s past midnight. I have work in the morning,” he grumbles.

“Won’t be a moment, Al. Would love a cuppa though, there’s a good lad,” I say hurriedly, and rush into their bedroom. Jenny is fast asleep, but awakens when I hop into bed beside her and shake her.

“R-Rose?” she asks groggily. “What’s the matter?”

“Tom said he wants to marry me,” I paraphrase. I’m blowing what he said out of proportion, but that’s just what I do.

Jenny sits up, now very interested. “He said that? Isn’t it a bit soon?”

“A bit?” I exclaim. “I only met the chap six months ago!”

“Did he give you a ring?” she asks.

I pause. “Well, no. I mean, he wasn’t exactly proposing...”

Jenny raises an eyebrow. “Rose, what exactly did he say?”

“We were watching some stupid film, and this couple were getting married and the groom had really bad hair. And I commented on it, and he said something like ‘I’ll brush my hair when we get married’! Crazy or what?”

Jenny looks at me blankly. “You really apparated the whole way up here in the middle of the night to freak out about that? Rose, he was obviously joking! You know Tom, he’s a joker!”

I hate that all of my family now ‘know’ Tom. They think they know him better than I do.

“What if he wasn’t joking?” I press.

“He was joking!” she snaps. “Unless you don’t want him to be joking...”

“I’d rather he just didn’t joke about anything like that!”

Jenny keeps giving me this sceptical look. Realising just how stupid I’ve been, I go back home and make my excuses to Tom. I think he bought it when I said I thought I saw a unicorn in the garden. The film is over by the time I return.

“She got with the brother, surprise surprise,” Tom tells me.

“Did he brush his hair for the wedding?”

“Yeah, but he had great hair anyway,” Tom responds.

“Good. And just so you know, you’ll cut your hair for our wedding, that’s for sure.”

He laughs. He gets I’m joking. He doesn't travel the whole way to Scotland to freak out. Perhaps some of his normality will someday wear off on me.




A/N: I rewrote this chapter SO many times! Not sure I like it, but it's necessary. I like the next chapter much better. I can confirm there will be 35 chapters, so four to go! Hope you all had a lovely Christmas, and thank you so much for your ongoing support and reviews!!! I really do love the feedback! :) Next update will be quick, I promise! x


Chapter 32: The Other Side of Normality
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Chapter 32 - The Other Side of Normality

 

Scorpius POV
 

 “I should be home around seven,” Daisy tells me in a dead voice. Her eyes are dead too. It’s nothing new, but I can’t stop noticing these small changes that happened in her about five months into our marriage.  Changes that are completely my fault. 

“See you later,” I respond, equally as unenthusiastic as her. She disapparates without as much as another glance at me. There was a time when she would never leave the room, never mind the house, without giving me a kiss. Right at this minute, I can’t think of the last time we kissed.

After she leaves for work, I wander around our apartment aimlessly. I only work three days a week here, and today is not one of those three days. There is nothing to do and nowhere to go; rather, there is nowhere I want to go. Three months we’ve been in the States now, and it’s worse it is becoming. Daisy and I say about four sentences to each other per day, and even that number is becoming reduced. We eat dinner in silence, that is on the days she eats dinner at home. More often than not, she’s out eating with her new work friends, who all seem to dress the same and look the same. She has begun following their lead.

Everything is dead here. The weather, the neighbourhood, my marriage. And with every passing day I miss Aidan more. I’ve gotten to see him every two weeks, which is nowhere near enough. I have successfully avoided Rose each time, making sure he is left with my parents when I go to collect him, and I do my best not to bring her up around Aidan, for fear he’ll start talking about her new boyfriend. I really couldn’t give a shit about him.  It's not as if he'll last anyway. 

This time last year, I was in love with Daisy. Or at least I thought I was in love with her, which is really the same thing. I was over Rose – or, I thought I was over her, which again is the same. Now, here I am, twenty-four years old, trapped in a loveless marriage and living thousands of miles away from my son. Nobody does fuck ups like I do. Not even Rose. And she fucks up on a regular basis.

I try not to think about her. Really, I do. It’d be easier if Daisy and I were actually a functioning couple, but since we aren’t, I’ve taken up running and swimming instead to help me stop thinking about her. I tried reading, but it gets me frustrated, so I stopped. So all I have is swimming, running and work three days a week. And there are some really hot women who run on the same route as me, so I think I’m doing pretty well to be remaining a faithful husband.

As my mind starts to wander to Rose once again, I change into my running gear and head off out. It’s so warm here, especially considering it’s November. I bet it’s snowing at home, or at the very least raining. You never think you’re going to miss England’s rain until you can’t complain about it every day. But believe it or not, constant sunshine gets annoying.

I run for an hour. I barely notice where I’m going, because I run the route so often. I run past Muggles going about their business as per usual, heading to work and doing their shopping. I see parents with their kids, and I just want to spit at them. I see couples actually speaking to each other, and I want to shake them for taking their relationship for granted. I see friends having a laugh. And I realise that I have none of this; no friends, no relationships. I’m basically living inside my own head.

When I arrive back at my building, the woman who lives in the apartment above ours is coming out the front door. She’s a Muggle, I presume, probably a bit younger than me. She’s really gorgeous, too. She has very dark hair, which is a nice break from blondes and red heads. Maybe brunettes are more laid back, I don’t know. All I know is that blondes and red heads give me grief.

“Hey Scorpius,” she greets me, smiling. Her teeth are really white. She lives with her boyfriend, so I’m not about to start coming on to her or anything. And I live with my wife. I’m just saying her teeth are really white. Maybe they’re fake.

“Hi Diane,” I respond, hoping to Merlin that’s actually her name. I know she told me before, but I’m a bit shit at remembering names.

She carries on without making any further conversation, which I’m relieved about, because I’m no good at small talk. It occurs to me that I have said five words all day today, and this is only two words less than I said yesterday. Soon, my voice will become redundant. Not only is there nobody to talk to here, there is nothing to talk about.

I write to Aidan most days. There’s only so much you can write to a six year old, especially when you know his mother’s going to be reading the letter to him. I can’t wait until he’s a bit older, then we can have proper chats. Rose says I have to stop treating Aidan like a mate, but my father never treated me like a mate and I think that could be where he fucked up. I’m not getting into the ways my father fucked up, because it would take a bloody lifetime to get through. Let’s just say he’s a fuck up, and I don’t know how my mother ever put up with him.

I think I might be becoming my dad. I saw this coming a few years ago, but as long as my hair line doesn't start receding, I think I can put up with being pure evil.

When I’m back at the apartment, I eat some lunch. I watch some television. I write letters to Aidan and to my mum, who has been lecturing me about not keeping in touch. I make up some crap to her, that Daisy and I are having a great time, that I’m loving America, that we’ll have her and Dad out to visit really soon. Empty words and empty promises, but ones that might keep her happy for another week. I don’t want it to seem like I don’t miss my mum; I do. She’s about the only normal person in my life. I just don’t want her worrying about me.

Daisy comes home from work at seven, just as she said. She doesn't greet me, and I don’t greet her. I’m not sure how much longer I can go on living like this, but I’m not at breaking point just yet. I thought breaking point might have been when she fed Aidan nuts, even though I’m sure I told her he was allergic. Then I thought breaking point might be when my psycho ex-girlfriend encouraged Daisy to stalk me and accused me of cheating on her. And yet, I’ve moved to America with her. I really will do anything to avoid large confrontations.

She bustles around the apartment, cleaning and cooking dinner, which we eat once again in silence. She does the washing up by hand instead of using magic, probably because it gives her something to do and an excuse not to talk to me. It’s fine. I don’t really feel like talking to her anyway.

When the phone rings while Daisy is doing the washing up, I answer it, giving me the chance to say more words than I have in days.

It’s my dad. It’s so weird that he’s calling; he never uses phones, even magical ones, because he thinks they’re ‘too Muggle’. What’s even stranger it that it is the middle of the night at home.

“Dad? Everything alright?” I ask immediately. My mind jumps to Aidan. But if there was anything wrong with him, surely Rose would call me.  Unless there's something wrong with Rose...

“It’s your mother,” he tells me frantically. “She’s taken a bad turn.”

“What d’you mean?” I panic. Daisy stops washing up and turns around to face me, looking very concerned.

“I...I don’t know what happened, she was fine one second, the next she was unconscious. She’s in St Mungo’s now...”

“I’m coming home,” I say straight away. “I’m getting an emergency Portkey right now.”

When I hang up, Daisy pulls off her rubber gloves and apparently puts aside her vow of silence.

“What’s happened? Is it Aidan?”

“No, my Mum,” I respond. “She’s in St Mungo’s. I need to get an emergency Portkey now.”

Daisy begins making calls. One of her mates at work has a contact in the State Ministry who can get me a Portkey in an hour. Daisy helps me to pack some things, assuring me all the while that my Mum will be just fine. For the first time in months, I appreciate her. I see the woman I fell in love with.

We go to the State Ministry together, and we get through security quickly enough. We have a half hour to spare, and she sits with me as I wait.

“I’m sure everything will be fine,” Daisy assures me for the fiftieth time. “Your mum is young and healthy, she’ll be fine.”

“Yeah,” is all I can say back. I wish I could express myself better, thank her for being here. But I’m a bit too Malfoy for all that stuff.

“Scorpius...” Daisy says, her voice shaking. I look at her and see that she’s crying. “You should stay at home. You should stay in England. For good.”

“What?” I can’t quite believe she’s saying this.  I should have seen it coming, of course.  It's weird that I never even expected her to come home with me to see my Mum. 

“You’re not happy here,” she continues. “We haven’t been happy in a long time. We both know...this wasn’t going to last.”

“But-” I start to argue back, but she interrupts me. I’m kind of glad she does, because I’m not sure what I’d argue.

“You don’t love me anymore,” she says.

“Daisy, I do,” I say, and I mean it. I do love her. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have tried this hard.

“You don’t love me enough,” she rephrases. I can’t argue that. “I know you love her more.”

No need to ask who ‘her’ is.

“There’s nothing between me and Rose anymore,” I tell her. I’ve told her that so many times. I’m not sure if I ever meant it, or if she ever believed it.

“There will always be something between you and Rose,” she says. “I tried to ignore it, and I tried to hate her, but it’s difficult to hate her. Especially considering it’s your fault you two never got together.”

I get defensive. “Hold up, she messed me about for ages! I wanted to be with her, but she got all Rose-ish...how can you say it’s my fault, it’s completely her fault!” I can’t believe I’m having this argument with my wife.  I can't believe she's on Rose's side! When did they start liking each other?

“No,” Daisy snaps. “You never fought for her.”

“Yes I did!”

“Name one time you fought for her. I mean really fought for her, Scorpius. You always took her ‘no’s for an answer. You never tried to apologise for all of your wrongdoings because you were too proud. You told me all about you and her before we got together, Scorp, don’t forget that!”

I did tell her everything. I should have known it was a bad idea to marry her after telling her everything about Rose.  But in my defence, when I told the stories, I was always the one who came off looking like the good guy. 

“Why should I have to fight for her? If she wanted to be with me, she’d be with me,” I shrug.

“Oh, and it’s as easy as that?” Daisy asks. “You need to fight for her, or you’ll never be happy. I want you to be happy.”

“Why can’t we just try to work this out? You and me?” I ask, knowing it’s completely futile. This is definitely over.

“Because I don’t want to be married to a man who’ll always love someone else,” she sniffs. I hate that I’m the one who has done this to her. I hate that this is the first real conversation we’ve had in months, and probably the last one we will have ever. “Go home. Look after your Mum. Fight for Rose. Be happy, please.”

I don’t know what to say back to this. I hug her, and we hug for a while, and I realise finally that this is the end of my marriage. Although it’s been ending for a while, it’s still a shock. There’s still a part of me that wants to cling to it, to try and salvage it, even though it’s no use. It’s like my marriage has received the Dementor’s Kiss, and no matter how hard I try to resuscitate it, its soul is gone forever.

The Portkey, which is a fizzy drink can, begins to glow, and I grasp hold of it.

“Bye Daisy.”

“Goodbye Scorpius. I’ll have your things sent on.”

I nod, and am pulled away from America in a flash, landing in the foyer of St Mungo’s a short time later. Transatlantic Portkeys are so much more disorientating than normal ones, but my mind is so focused on my mother now that I barely even notice.

There are no receptionists working at this time of night. I stop a Healer in the hall and ask if he knows where Astoria Malfoy is, and he asks a Porter, who tells me that she is on the fifth floor in room 508, as far as he knows. Neither of them have any idea how she is doing. I rush to the fifth floor.

Rose is sitting on one of the chairs outside room 508 in her green pyjamas. I hadn’t expected to see her here, especially not in the middle of the night; she always manages to take my breath away, even when my mother is sick. She stands up when she sees me coming.

“Scorpius,” she says gravely. She looks upset. 

“What is it?” I ask immediately.

“Oh Scorp, I’m so sorry,” she whispers. “It was a brain aneurysm. There was nothing anyone could have done...”

I can’t comprehend it. Why is she talking like my mother’s dead?

“What d’you mean?”

“She...Scorpius, she passed away a few minutes ago.” Rose is crying, and she hugs me. She hugs me so tight, like she’ll never let go.

I don’t understand. She was fine. She was always healthy; she never drank or smoked. She was never even sick. How can she just be dead? I just wrote her a letter, did she even get to read it?

“I...don’t understand,” I say. “She...she wasn’t even sick...”

Rose pulls away from me, but holds onto my hands.

“I know,” she whispers. She’s been crying for a while. “I’m so sorry. Your dad called me when she got admitted. It’s so hard to believe.”

“Where is she?” I ask.

“In there,” Rose nods to 508. “Your dad is with her. You should go in. I’ll be right out here.”

I go into the room. There are no healers there, just Dad, sitting with his head in his hands, and Mum. She’s lying in the bed, looking like she could just be sleeping. I know that’s cliché, and people always say that about dead people, but she really does.

“Dad,” I whisper. He doesn't look up. My Dad isn’t good at showing his feelings. My mother was the only person he ever opened up to.

I sit the other side of Mum’s bed, and I just stare at her, not quite feeling anything yet. I don’t like showing feelings in front of my Dad anyway because he thinks I’m too sensitive anyway. I’m definitely not – just ask Rose.

I always got on better with Mum than Dad. When I got Rose pregnant, Mum was supportive, even though I knew she was furious. Dad, on the other hand, acted like a complete sociopath. Mum is the reason I’m in any way normal. And now she’s gone. It’ll be interesting to see how this affects me.

I have her eyes, people always tell me.

I continue to stare at her blankly, expecting her to wake up. Dad says nothing; he doesn’t even look at me. If it were him who died, I’d be holding Mum, and we’d be comforting each other. I’m not sure how to act around Dad without Mum.

A Healer comes in a few minutes later, and says that she needs to move the body to the morgue. We need to leave the room. She pulls the sheet over Mum’s head, waves her wand, and Mum vanishes. And then it hits me, and for all my trying, I start to cry. And I mean really cry. I’ve never cried like this; or if I have, I don’t remember it.

Dad disapparates straight away. I assume he’s gone home. I don’t much care.

Rose rushes to me, and I’m so glad to have her here. She hugs me again, and she’s crying too, so I don’t feel as stupid. She keeps telling me how sorry she is, but I wish she wouldn’t, because it doesn't change anything. She’s here. I love that she’s here.

When we stop hugging, she once again keeps a hold of my hand. I’m holding her left hand, and I feel her ring digging into my hand. I look down, and see that it is a small diamond ring, on the ring finger of her left hand.

“Who did you leave Aidan with?” I ask, piecing everything together.

“Tom’s there,” she says. “Come on, you’d better get home, there’s no point staying here. I'll explain it all to Aidan. Is there anything else I can do?”

You can tell me why Tom’s in your house. And why you’re wearing a fucking engagement ring.

I didn’t even know they were still together. Because Aidan doesn't mention him, I assumed he was out of the picture, or at least not serious. Certainly not engagement ring serious.

I don’t say any of this.

“No,” I respond. “Go on home. It’s late.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah. Go home. I’ll...I’ll see you.”

She doesn't accept this. She apparates to my house with me, makes me a cup of tea, and waits for me to go to bed before she goes home her fiancé. I sit alone in my bedroom and Dad alone in his. It truly is astounding how much a family can fall apart in the space of a few hours; yesterday I had a wife and a mother. Today, I have neither.

I don’t even have Rose.




A/N: I know, it's sad, but I had to do it. Here is the alternate POV so many of you asked for! I don't know if this will sway any of the Scorpius haters out there one way or another. Thank you so much for your ongoing support and outstanding response. I appreciate and read each and every review. Next update shouldn't take too long. :)


Chapter 33: Yet Another Emotional Breakdown
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Chapter 33 - Yet Another Emotional Breakdown

 

“They still won’t speak to each other,” I announce to Tom when I come home from the Malfoy house for the sixth day in a row.

Tom is making dinner.  He has been collecting Aidan from school every day since Astoria died, because I have been going to see Scorpius and Draco after work.  Tom has been so supportive throughout this whole ordeal; I don’t know what I’d do without him.  Being in a grown up relationship really is rather handy during crises. 

Scorpius and Draco haven’t spoken one word to one another since Astoria died.   I’ve always known she was the glue holding that family together, but I never thought they would fall apart this easily without her.   It’s so hard to believe she’s gone; I liked her so much.  She was the only member of that family who never really pissed me off.   As a result, I feel it’s my duty to her to keep her two boys together.   I know if I died, and if Aidan and Scorpius wouldn’t speak, I’d like to think there would be someone there to bring them back together.

“The funeral’s tomorrow,” Tom says.  “Maybe they’ll speak then.   You know, maybe they just need closure.”

“I hope you’re right,” I say gravely.  “Where’s Aidan?”

“In his room writing a letter to Astoria,” Tom tells me.   “Apparently his teacher told him it’s a nice way to say goodbye to someone you never got the chance to say goodbye to.  He was upset again today.”

I feel like I haven’t had the chance to get properly upset about this yet.   I’ve been so busy.  Mum and Nana Molly keep giving me things they’ve baked and cooked to bring to Scorpius and Draco, and I’ve been helping Scorpius to plan the funeral.   Draco has been doing and saying nothing.  He looks broken.   While it is a relief to know the man can actually feel something, it’s getting a bit disturbing that he won’t say a word to anyone, not even his son.

Scorpius has been saying very little to me too since the night at the hospital.   I know he saw my ring, but I thought it was best not to bring it up and I haven't worn it around him since.   I also haven’t brought up the fact that Daisy has yet to return from America, which I find very odd considering she’s his wife and everything.   Perhaps she couldn’t get time off from work.

Al has been to see Scorpius a few times too, as he doesn't live too far from the Malfoy house now.   Scorpius has talked to him a lot more than to me, apparently, which I am a bit offended by.  But again, I’m not going to start an argument with a man who has just lost his mother.

I go up to Aidan’s room to see how he’s getting on with his letter.  He’s now staying in Hugo’s old bedroom.   He is sitting at his little desk, holding his special quill with the anti-dyslexia charms, and scribbling away.

“How are you getting on, love?” I ask him softly.

“Hi Mum,” he greets me sadly.   I kneel down beside him and wrap my arms around him.  “Can I read you my letter to Nana Astoria?”

“Of course you can.”

“Dear Nana Astoria,” he starts.  “I miss you now that you have gone to live in heaven.   I wish you didn’t die and I am very sad.   I wanted to tell you goodbye, but you went to heaven before I could say it, so I am writing you a letter instead.   I love you very much, especially when you used to bake me cakes and give me hugs. I will miss you Nana Astoria. Lots of love from Aidan Weasley.”

I smile at the last part.

“That’s lovely, Aidan,” I tell him. “Why don’t you draw some pictures on it and we can put it in with Nana Astoria at the graveyard tomorrow?”

“Okay Mum,” he nods. He still looks very upset.

“Are you okay?”

“Nana Astoria is Dad’s Mum,” Aidan says. “And Dad is sad because his Mum died. Will you die?”

“No! Aidan, you don’t have to worry about that, you’ll always have me and your Dad!” I tell him, which isn’t strictly true, but I’m not about to have the circle of life conversation with him right now.

“Good,” Aidan responds.

When I eventually climb into bed with Tom, I can’t fall asleep. I keep thinking about Scorpius and Draco, wishing they’d say something to one another. All Draco has now is Scorpius. How can he just ignore him? Why do they both have to be so bloody proud? And while I know I shouldn’t be this worried about two fully grown men, they stay on my mind even as I drift off to sleep.

The next morning, I dress Aidan into a black suit that I bought him for the occasion, and I change into a new black dress I bought this week too. I take him up to the Malfoy house, while Tom says he’ll meet us at the Church, so as not to impose. Al and Jenny are at the Malfoy house too, and Aidan goes straight to them, as Scorpius is surrounded by sympathisers.

“Has Draco said anything to Scorpius yet?” I ask Al and Jenny.

“Not that we’ve seen,” Jenny answers.

“Scorpius hasn’t said a whole lot to anyone either,” Al adds. “Can’t be easy for them.”

While taking a break from shaking many people's hands, Draco slips out of the living room fairly discreetly, but I still notice it. I follow him as he heads for the back garden to be alone, for one last attempt to reason with him. It’s so hard for me to reason with people when I can’t shout at them.

“Mr Malfoy,” I say. He doesn't turn to face me. I didn’t expect him to. “Draco, you need to speak to Scorpius. This has gone on too long.”

He pretends I’m not there.

“You two need to stick together. I know this is difficult for you but –”

“You don’t know anything!” he hisses. The first words he’s spoken, at least in my presence, in a week. “You have no idea, Weasley.”

“I’m sorry,” I say. “I really am. But she wouldn’t want you to block Scorpius out like this. He knows what you’re going through more than anyone.”

“Leave me alone,” he snaps.

“No,” I retort. The only way I’ve ever gotten through to Draco Malfoy is by being abrupt. Politeness gets me nowhere with him. “Grow up.”

“How dare you -!”

“No, shut up a minute,” I snap. “You are not the first man to lose a wife. And I am so sorry that you’ve had to go through this, but this does not give you the right to ignore your only child! He is suffering, and while he might be a full grown man, and while he mightn’t admit it, he needs you! He’s already lost one parent! So get a grip and be there for him!”

I storm back inside without waiting for a reply. The sombre tone in the house makes me uneasy, because I’m afraid people might have heard me screaming at the bereaved widower. Classic Rose Weasley.

Scorpius is still shaking hands with people, most of whom I’m sure he’s never seen before. Draco comes back inside a short time later, says a couple of words to Scorpius, who nods and smiles slightly. I have no idea what he said, but I’m satisfied with this.

Aidan and I head to the Church with Al and Jenny. Most of the Potter and Weasley clan are here for the funeral, which I think shows some real developments in Weasley-Malfoy relations. Tom is here too, and he sits with me and Aidan and the rest of the family.

The funeral, needless to say, is very sad. Most funerals are sad, but this one is especially heartbreaking, considering how young Astoria was when she died. It’s a huge funeral too. While her husband might not be the most popular man in the wizarding world, Astoria was very well liked. I scan the crowd, looking for people I know. There’s lots of Ministry people, and Hogwarts professors. Then, at the very back of the Church, I see Daisy.

I nudge Jenny, and she turns around too, and looks at me mildly surprised, shrugging. Why Daisy isn’t sitting beside her husband at his mother’s funeral is a mystery to all of us.

At the graveyard, Aidan throws his letter to Astoria on top of the coffin. Scorpius holds his hand then, and the two stand together while she is buried. A woman who looks like Astoria, and must be her sister Daphne, is in floods of tears. I hate seeing other people cry, because it makes me want to cry.

There is tea and food at the Malfoy house afterwards. I help out with serving so that Draco and Scorpius don’t have to do too much. Daphne and a few of Astoria’s nieces and nephews help out too. Even Dom helps out, and it takes a lot to get her to help. She doesn't even help out at The Burrow.

“Did you see where Daisy went?” I ask Dom quietly as we brew more tea.

“No, I only saw her in the Church,” Dom tells me. “What d’you reckon is going on with them? Seems so weird that she hasn’t been around all week.”

“I know,” I say. I have a feeling I know what’s going on, but I don’t want to speculate. But it would appear that Scorpius and Daisy have broken up.

“Have you talked to him about that yet?” Daisy nods at my ring, which I am wearing on a necklace instead of on my finger.

“There hasn’t exactly been a right moment.”

“He’s going to find out one way or another, you’d best tell him,” Dom says. It’s ironic that she is giving me relationship advice given the state of her own love life. Oh, yeah, as far as her and Brian’s breakup went; he wanted to have babies with her. That one went down like a lead balloon. I don’t know why he wanted to have babies with Dom anyway; I’m fairly sure she’d eat her young, like those wild animals. In fact, like the sympathetic cousin I am, I laughed when she told me. Anyway, when she told him she never wanted to get married or have children, he broke up with her. Her official stance on men now is that they are all scum sucking idiots.

When the house finally starts to clear out, Tom takes Aidan home and I stay behind to help clean up. Draco goes to bed early, but makes a point of saying goodnight to both me and Scorpius. I’m so relieved they are finally on speaking terms.

“How are you doing?” I ask Scorpius once we’re left alone.

“Just glad today’s over,” he says.

“I know.” We say nothing for a few minutes, just continue cleaning. Then I decide to bring her up. “I saw Daisy in the Church.”

“Yeah,” he responds flatly. “We’re getting a divorce.”

It’s what I suspected, but it still takes me by surprise to have it confirmed.

“I’m sorry, Scorp,” I tell him, and I actually mean it. A few months ago, I would have given my right leg to hear him say that. Now I actually do feel sorry for him. “Does this mean you’re staying here?”

“Yeah, I think so. It was for the best,” he shrugs. “It was never going to work. Nice ring you were wearing the other night, by the way.”

He adds it in very casually, but his eyes flicker to me for a reaction. I barely give one.

“You noticed then.”

“You really thought I wouldn’t notice?”

I don’t know what to say to him, or how to explain myself.

“Bit hypocritical of you, don’t you think?” he says calmly. “You gave me such shit for getting married without telling you, and you’ve gone and got engaged without telling me.”

“I was going to tell you!” I exclaim. “And we’re not getting married for ages, Scorp. Years. I was waiting for the right time to tell you, it only happened last week. I mean, it’s not really an engagement...well, yes it is, but I haven’t even told most of the family yet, just Dom and Jenny.” I’m rambling again.

“You must love him then.”

The statement stuns me for a minute. I don’t know what to tell him. I knew as soon as I saw Scorpius I would start having doubts about the engagement. I mean, I’ve had doubts from the beginning anyway, but I have doubts about everything at first. I knew he’d mess up my head. He always does.

“I do,” I tell him.

“You must love him more than you loved me.”

I can’t agree with this one. I physically can’t. And every bit of me wants to say that I love Tom more than I ever loved Scorpius – except for one little nagging part. I need to see about getting that part of me removed.

“Because,” he continues, “You never said yes to my proposal.”

“I was scared,” I tell him honestly. “You know I loved you. After all we’ve been through, especially this year, you can’t possibly think otherwise.”

“D’you think I never fought for you?”

It’s such a random question, one that I never really thought about.

“I...I don’t know?”

“I don’t think I did,” he goes on. “I mean, I just took your weird coldness as you rejecting me, when really I just knew that’s who you are. You fought for me, and I just fought against you. You stormed in on me in a bathroom. I never did that to you.”

“Yeah, that’s not a bad thing,” I remind him. “Generally storming in on people in the bathroom isn’t polite.”

“You told me you loved me even though I was married.”

“Again, not socially acceptable,” I say, starting to feel embarrassed by the trip down ‘stupid shit Rose did’ lane.

“I want you to be happy,” he says. “I really do.”

“I want you to be happy too,” I tell him.

With that, he tells me he’s going to bed and will finish the cleaning in the morning. He tells me to go home, and so I do.  That is the end of our deep conversations about 'us'. We have agreed that there is no longer an 'us'...I think.

Aidan is in bed when I arrive home, while Tom is reading the newspaper. He asks me how everything went, and I say fine, and that I’m tired, and head to bed. I put my ring on and twist it around a thousand times, or so it feels, all the while hating myself for doubting what I have Tom over a few words with Scorpius.

Scorpius is right. He never fought for me. Tom would fight for me, if it came down to it. That is the crucial difference between the two of them.

*

Over the next few days, it spreads like wildfire through the family that Scorpius and Daisy are getting divorced, and that he is living at home again. Jenny and Dom arrive at my house as soon as they hear. Jenny truly is committed to gossip to travel the whole way from Scotland to get the full scoop.

They come in the evening, and Tom goes out to meet his friends in the pub in order to stay firmly away from the girl talk.

“I can’t believe it!” Dom keeps saying, and then contradicts herself entirely by saying: “Although I definitely saw it coming.”

“It’s kind of sad,” Jenny says. “A marriage breaking up. Scorpius being divorced at only twenty four.”

“Whatever, now he and Rose can –”

I hold up my ring and cough loudly. I’ve been wearing it constantly around the house since my conversation with Scorpius. I just haven’t been wearing it in front of the family. That’s not weird. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

“Are we really taking that seriously?” Dom asks. She has not exactly been supportive of my hasty decision to get engaged to Tom. In fact, she simply thinks that Tom and I are just playing house for now and that we’ll never last. I have an innate desire to prove her wrong.

“Dom!” Jenny scolds her. “Never mind her, Rose. We’re happy for you and Tom.”

“You seriously haven’t considered getting back with Scorpius since he and Daisy broke up?” Dom asks incredulously.

“I’m with someone else, what’s so difficult for you to comprehend?” I ask angrily.

“Nothing...it’s just, you let him go so quickly and then got engaged to somebody else. It’s not like you. I just don’t want you to get hurt again!”

“And I do appreciate it, Dom,” I tell her. “But Tom has been so supportive and so good with Aidan. It was the right decision.”

Jenny looks like she doesn't quite believe me either. It’s easy for them to say this to me; neither of them have a six year old to think about. Dom is perfectly happy playing the field, while Jenny was lucky enough to find the love of her life in her very first real boyfriend. I, on the other hand, have to get real and stop chasing after a bloke who doesn’t want me. Tom wants me. Therefore we will get married. My logic is flawless.

They leave after about an hour, and Tom returns from the pub a little while later.

“You’re back early –” I stop mid-sentence. “What happened your nose?! Have you been fighting?!”

He is covered in blood; he’s clearly got a punch to the face.

“Your psycho ex is what happened my nose!” he snaps.

Oh fuck.

Clearly by “I never fought for you”, Scorpius meant “I’m going to punch your boyfriend in the face”. I’m going to kill him.

“Scorpius did this? Tom, I’m so sorry! He must have been drunk, he’s still upset over his Mum!”

“It’s not his Mum he’s upset about,” Tom growls. “You never told me he was still in love with you.”

Crappy crap.

“He’s not, he’s just –”

“He told me he was going to fight for you,” Tom goes on, as I rush to get a cloth to clean the blood off his face. I know a spell to fix his nose, but I’m too shaken to try it. “Rose, should I be worried? Do you still have feelings for him?”

I pause. “No! Here, let me fix your nose.”

He lets me fix his nose and wipe away the blood, and I give him some pain relief potion. He’s still fuming.

“I’m going to kill Scorpius Malfoy next time I see him,” I vent.

“I don’t know how comfortable I am with that.”

“Don’t worry, I can do a clean job, they’ll never know it was me,” I joke.

“I’m serious,” says Tom, which is weird, because he’s never this serious. “If he’s in love with you, I’m not sure how comfortable I am with you being around him as much as you have been.”

I back away from Tom, with a look of disbelief. “Tom, he’s Aidan’s father, I can’t just block him out. He’s just upset that his marriage is over and that his Mum died, he doesn't know what he’s doing half the time.”

Tom doesn't say much more, just heads up to bed in anger. I’m angry too; how dare he say I can’t see Scorpius? And how dare Scorpius punch my fiancé in the face? Why can’t I just meet a normal man?!

Instead of joining Tom in bed, I deliberately disregard what he's just asked of me and I apparate to the Malfoy house, to which I still have a key. I let myself in and luckily Draco is in bed, so he doesn't have to witness me killing his last immediate family member. Scorpius, however, is in the living room drinking Firewhiskey. He has a busted lip; it looks like Tom threw some punches too.

Can I just point out, for the record, that in general men don’t go for me. I’m not Dom. I don’t have men begging to go out with me, or fancying the pants off me, or even taking me out on dates. In fact, Tom being interested in me at all was pretty bloody miraculous given how ridiculous a person I am. So if two men are actually taking the time to fight over me, it can only mean one of two things. Either I’ve turned into a startling beauty in the last couple of weeks (and this definitely hasn’t happened, seeing as my wiry hair is as red as ever and I’m basically as plain looking as I’ve ever been), or the two men who are fighting in me haven’t a brain between them.

It’s definitely the second one.

“Rose, hear me out,” Scorpius begins, putting up his hands in surrender and spilling some of his drink in the process. “I know you’re angry, what I did was stupid - OUCH! FUCK!”

Yes, I’ve slapped him once again. He deserves it.

“You’re an arse Scorpius Malfoy,” I hiss. I think arse was actually very tame for me.

“I know!” he says, holding his now sore cheek. “Can I just explain?”

“What is there to explain? You’re doing what you always do! You’re deliberately fucking with my head!”

“I’m not,” he says, in what would be a serious tone if he weren’t so bloody drunk. He approaches me and I instinctively back away from him. “I’m not giving up this time.”

I narrow my eyes. “What do you mean?”

“I’m fighting for you. I’m fighting until there’s no fight left in me. And...yeah. I just wanted you to know that.”

I stare at him in shocked silence for a few moments, trying to process what he’s telling me.

“You’re drunk,” I say. “And your wife has just left you and your Mum has just died. You shouldn’t be saying these things, Scorpius. And you definitely shouldn’t be punching my boyfriend!”

“I thought he was your fiancé?”

“Whatever!”

“He’s not right for you,” Scorpius tells me. He sets his glass down onto the very grand mantelpiece and then sits into the armchair that his father usually occupies.

“How would you know?” I scoff. “You don’t even know him.”

“He’s a lawyer,” Scorpius retorts. “I know enough.”

“You know nothing!” I yell, and Scorpius casts a Muffliato on the door so I don’t wake Draco. He can sense my rants coming now. “You pissed off to America with your wife and never even wrote to me! You know nothing about Tom or my life with him, so don’t even pretend to! He’s so good to me; he actually tells me he loves me and he wants me which is a damn sight more than you ever did!” I’m crying now. Angry crying, of course. Scorpius looks like he feels guilty, which makes me happy. “There’s no bullshit with Tom. I don’t feel like shit about myself anymore, because I did for such a long time. And that was partly down to you. Actually...it was mostly down to you.”

I feel I might have gone too far. I know I may be rubbing salt into the open wound of his divorce and bereavement, but this has been bubbling up inside me for a year now. He needs to hear it.

He doesn't look at me. He focuses his eyes on the ground as I compose myself and wipe away my tears. As God as my witness, this will be the last time Scorpius Malfoy makes me cry.

“I had no idea I made you feel like that,” Scorpius says quietly.

“You Malfoys are heartless pricks by nature,” I snap.

“I’m sorry.”

He has said these words so many times they barely mean anything anymore.

“I’m going home,” I tell him, emotionally exhausted from the last few minutes. He gets up from the armchair and approaches me again, but this time I stand my ground.

“Rose, I really am sorry,” he says again, and his eyes actually meet mine this time. “But I really am trying to change.”

“You need to try harder,” I sniff.

“I’ll give up on you if you really want me to,” he tells me quietly. “But can I just say, as the voice of experience, entering into a marriage while you’re in love with someone else is not a good idea.”

I go to hit him again, but he grabs my arm and stops me.

“I’m not trying to make you angry!” he insists.

“Well you’re doing a bloody good job of it –”

“I want you to be happy, Rose!”

“Well then why are you being such an idiot to Tom?”

He sighs, and suddenly he appears completely sober, which makes me think he may have been faking a lot of the drunkenness.

“I don’t think you and I are ever going to be happy without each other,” he says simply.

I pull myself from his grip and disapparate immediately. When I arrive home, Tom is still awake but is pretending to be asleep. He knows where I’ve been and he’s angry, I can tell. I climb into bed and cry silently to myself, marvelling at how I get myself into such royally messed up situations.

I’m crying because of the threat there now is to my once blissful relationship with Tom. I’m crying because I hate crying and I can’t seem to be able to stop myself. And I’m crying because, as much as I absolutely hate to admit it, Scorpius Malfoy might actually be right.

It makes me sick.




A/N: I have the next chapter written, but I may change it now. There are only two chapters to go! Thank you so much for your ongoing support, I know you're all conflicted and there's no way I can satisfy everybody with the ending, but I'll do my very best!  I really love all of your reviews, but could everyone please adhere to the site rules and keep them 12+? It makes it nicer for everyone! Let's leave the swearing to Rose! xxx


Chapter 34: Endings
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Chapter 34 - Endings

“You know Rose, it was only a matter of time before you flipped out and left the country,” Dom says casually, sipping on a cocktail. She’s made me the same one. I don’t care to know what’s in it. “I’m just glad Scorpius had Aidan at the time.”

“I’m surprised I didn’t flip out and kill someone,” I admit. “Because it’s only a matter of time before that happens too.”

Dom laughs, points her wand at my glass, and it refills itself. Really, this is probably the best idea I’ve ever had. I don’t know why I never thought of fleeing to France when life got on top of me before. It was actually Dom’s idea to come to her grandparents’ house; Madame and Monsieur Delacour asked very few questions when we turned up out of the blue. They were happy to see their granddaughter, and they hadn’t seen me since I was in their house for Teddy and Victoire’s wedding almost seven years ago.

Maybe I’ll just stay here forever. I’ll have Aidan sent to me, of course. But I could quite happily stay here in France with Dom and my son and no men whatsoever. I could learn French and everything.

“Are you sure your grandparents don’t mind?” I ask again.

“’Course not,” Dom says confidently. “Mémé’s always writing to me asking me to visit. And it’s not like they don’t have the space for us.”

It’s true that the Delacour house is gigantic, but I still can’t help but feel like I’m imposing. After all, I decided only a few hours ago that I was actually coming here...

“So spill it,” Dom tells me. “What has finally caused you to leave the country?”

“Oh, you know...”

“Scorpius.”

“What else...”

**

“I can’t believe him, Rose! How did you ever see anything in that tool?” Tom vented. He’d been venting for a while. Probably about half an hour. I’d said very little. I didn’t know what I could say to calm him down. The truth certainly wasn’t going to cut it. “I mean, we’re engaged! He thinks he can just punch me in the face and you’ll fall in love with him?” I suppose it was a change from him ignoring me, which he had done all morning.

“I’m sorry, Tom,” I said, and I meant it. Scorpius was being such a tool because of me. I felt responsible for him; I always feel responsible for him.

“You shouldn’t be sorry,” he sat down next to me and took my hand. We were in the living room; Aidan was at school. Tom had taken the day off work so we could “talk” and so he could “think”. I had come home on my lunch break, as per his request. “I’m sorry I went a bit mad at you last night.”

“He punched you in the face, you had every right to,” I said. I didn’t really know how much I believed what I was saying; all I knew is what he wanted to hear.

Tom looked so stressed. I’ve never seen him look so stressed, not even before he goes before the Wizengamot. “I think we should tell your parents,” he said.

“That Scorpius punched you? No offence, but I don’t think telling on him is going to do much good here...”

“I think we should tell them we’re engaged,” Tom said seriously. “Maybe if we put the word around that we’re getting married, he’ll get the message.”

I felt uncomfortable. After the previous night’s conversation with Scorpius, I wasn’t sure where I stood with anyone. “I don’t know...”

“Why not? I mean, we are engaged after all...”

“Well...we’re sort of engaged,” I said carefully. I saw anger flash across his face. “I mean, we agreed we’d get married some day. But not immediately, you know?”

“Yes, well I still count that as engaged,” he said grumpily. He let go of my hand. “If you don’t want to marry me, all you have to do is say so.”

“No!” I exclaimed. “I mean yes, I do want to marry you, it’s just my parents are going to tell me we rushed into this. They won’t take it seriously, Tom. And telling them we’re engaged just to send Scorpius a message doesn't really seem like the right motive.”

Tom studied me for a moment. “Rose, do you still love him?”

And there it was. The question I so dreaded, because I’m so transparent when it comes to Scorpius Malfoy. Except now I couldn’t honestly answer yes or no to that question, because I didn’t even know the answer myself. So I gave the most unsatisfying answer of all.

“I don’t know.”

His face fell. I felt awful; I’ve actually never felt so awful.

“But I know I do love you,” I told him. Except I didn’t really know that either.

It didn’t solve anything. He told me to go back to work, and that he’d talk to me later. I gladly went back to work, happy to be getting a break from my now mess of a personal life.

It’s so weird going into St Mungo’s and walking past the receptionists’ desk, instead of just staying there for the day. I usually stop there for a chat, but I rushed past them because I just wasn’t in the mood to talk to anyone. As it turns out, I would have been better off staying there. Because when I went back to the Potions lab, Scorpius was waiting outside it for me.

“Go away,” I said immediately. How he could just turn up there, after everything that happened the night before, I had no idea.

“Two minutes!” he pleaded.

“You came to my work?” I hissed angrily.

“Well I couldn’t go to the house in case he was there,” Scorpius shrugged. “Rose, please, just hear me out...”

“I heard enough from you last night.”

“It’s about last night,” he said quietly. “I’m sorry about how I came out with all that. Really, I am. But I meant it –”

“Why do you have to piss all over everything?” I whispered viciously. “I’m finally happy and you have to swoop in with your stupid confessions and empty promises! Why can’t you just let me be happy?”

“Are you really happy?” he asked.

I paused for a minute. There were a few people walking up and down the corridor; I still had ten minutes left of my lunch break. I pulled him into an empty room across from the Potions lab so that nobody would see me have a meltdown.

“You’re not allowed to ask me that!” I snapped at him, shutting the door behind us. I had told him the previous night I was happy. Why did he need to hear me say it again? Why did we have to have this same fight again?

“I’m not allowed to ask if you’re happy?” he scoffed.

“It’s none of your business what I am! You blew so many chances; if I’m happy with someone else you have nobody to blame but yourself!”

His eyes flickered down, and then back to mine. “You’re not wearing your ring.”

It was true; I wasn’t. I always took it off for work and when I was going to visit any of the family other than Dom or Jenny, as they were the only ones who knew about the engagement. I was planning to keep it that way for as long as I possibly could.

“I don’t want it to get destroyed by the Potions,” I lied.

“Right,” he said flatly. He didn’t believe me. “Look, I told you last night that if you can honestly tell me you don’t ever want to be with me again and that Tom is the one for you, I’ll leave you alone. But you never said it.”

Another surge of anger flashed through me.

“How dare you,” I snapped.

“You can’t even say it!” he said, almost laughing.

“You’re an arrogant little shit, Scorpius Malfoy, you always have been –”

“You used to love that.”

“I never loved that!” I practically shouted. “That was the side of you that made me doubt everything I actually did love about you! Tom doesn't have a side like that. He’s actually a good person.”

“You have a side like that too, you know,” he shot back.

I know he was right. I do have a side like that; a horribly ugly side, a side that kissed a married man and prayed for his marriage to break apart. How I hated that he was right. Again.

“Look,” he sighed, frustrated with the conversation, “I’ll leave you alone for a few days. I had to see you today because I couldn’t leave things how we left them last night. But I’ll let you think about it. But don’t just say no, Rose. Just...think about it.”

I paused, and then I nodded. I knew I would think about it, even if I didn’t want to think about it. It was all I could do not to think about it, about him, since last night. With that he left, and I returned to work.

**

“Right, so you had an argument with Tom and yet another argument with Scorpius The Shit,” Dom sums up the part of the story I just told her. “But how does that lead to you turning up to my flat and asking me to flee the country with you?”

“Stop saying ‘flee the country’ like I’m never going back,” I say. “That’s not even the half of it.”

**

I came home from work at six o’clock, not really knowing what mood Tom would be in at that point. After a day of ‘thinking’, I didn’t know what conclusion he would come to. Maybe I wouldn’t have to make a choice between Tom and Scorpius; perhaps Tom would just leave me, and that would be the choice made for me.

As it turned out, he hadn’t left me. In fact, as soon as I stepped in the door, there was a very nice smell coming from the kitchen and Aidan ran out from the living room to greet me.

“Hi Mum! Tom’s cooking dinner and Nana and Grandad are here!” he chirped excitedly.

“Oh really?” I was suspicious. It was so unusual for my parents to stop by for dinner unannounced. Well, Dad did it sometimes if he was just hungry and looking for some food if Mum wasn’t home to cook, but Mum would never do something so unmannerly.

I followed my son into the living room, and sure enough Mum and Dad were sitting there on the sofa, while Tom was on the armchair, and they were chatting and laughing together. I felt excluded; I felt uncomfortable.

“Hi Mum, Dad,” I greeted them. “What brings you here?”

“I invited them,” Tom told me immediately. “Thought it might be nice to have a family dinner.”

“Oh, right,” I said. It still hadn’t clicked with me. I don’t know how it didn’t click.

“Should be another ten minutes or so,” he said.

There was something slightly unnerving in his eyes. It was as if he was trying to win a bet or a race or something, which I suppose he was. Still, he was the frontrunner, at least at that point he was, so he shouldn’t have been so on edge about the whole thing.

“So Rose, how’s work?” Mum asked me.

We chatted for a while about work and other such trivial matters. We moved to the dining room to eat, which was yet another uncomfortable affair. Dad looked kind of suspicious of the whole occasion, just like I was. We didn’t do these formal kind of dinner things, and when we did, I was definitely not the one to host them. Mum seemed happy enough to think that I was maturing. Dad knew better.

“So Tom,” Dad said, and I swear his voice got deeper. He was trying to be intimidating. “Seriously, why did you invite us here?”

“Ron!” Mum exclaimed. “I’m sorry Tom, he doesn't mean to be rude...”

Dad definitely meant to be rude. It’s why I love him so much.

“It’s alright, I actually did have an ulterior motive,” Tom admitted.

And then it clicked. He was going to tell them we were engaged, even though I specifically told him not to.

“Tom,” I said warningly. Aidan was there; surely he wouldn’t say it in front of Aidan.

He took my hand; how lucky he is that I didn’t break his fingers.

“I asked Rose to marry me,” he said.

Dad’s face paled.

“And she said yes!”

And then Mum’s face paled.

I can only imagine how white I went.

“Tom,” I hissed, pulling my hand away. “I can’t believe you just did that...”

“Rosie, is that true?” Dad asked, half laughing.

“Dad, I was going to tell you,” I started.

“It’s true!” Mum gasped. “But you’ve only known each other a few months!”

“You’re getting married?” Aidan was clearly confused. “But why?”

It was an unmitigated disaster. Really, I don’t see how it could have gone any worse, short of James running in and shouting “Rose had her first drink when she was fourteen!”.

“We’re not getting married,” I said, very definitely.

“Then why did Tom say you were getting married?” Aidan asked.

“He was just joking, weren’t you Tom?” I looked at him pointedly.

Tom said nothing. He got up from the dinner table and stormed out, and I couldn’t have cared less where he went. There was a silence for a few minutes as I contemplated just how to work some damage control.

“So, that was a joke?” Aidan asked.

“Yes,” I told him.

“It wasn’t very funny. Uncle James’s jokes are way better.”

“Aidan love,” Mum said gently, “Why don’t you go and play in your bedroom for a while?”

He protested a bit, but eventually went upstairs when Dad told him he’d be up in a minute to play too. Really, he should be used to being asked to leave rooms at this stage; there’s nearly always an argument going on that we’d rather he didn’t hear.

“Rosie, what the hell was that?” Dad asked as soon as Aidan was out of earshot.

“Did he really ask you to marry him?” Mum chimed in.

“Yes, he did,” I told them. “And I told him I’d marry him some day. And we agreed not to say anything but he’s apparently lost the fucking plot...”

“Language,” Mum warned. It really wasn’t the time to warn me about my language. I suspected it could get a lot worse. “I really think you should get to know each other better before making any sort of commitment.”

“Definitely,” Dad agreed. “I always thought you’d end up with Malfoy...”

Mum and I looked at him incredulously.

“Dad, you hate Scorpius,” I said.

“You hate all the Malfoys!” Mum added.

“He’s not too bad, I suppose,” Dad shrugged. “Gave us Aidan and everything. And compared to that fucking crackpot –”

“Ron, language!”

“—Scorpius doesn't seem so bad anymore.”

It’s typical that just when I start to move on from Scorpius that my father finally decides to accept him. I’m sure if I move on from Tom the Crackpot Dad will just fall in love with him too.

**

“So wait a second,” Dom splutters. We’re on our fifth cocktail now. I love France. “Tom actually told your parents you’re engaged? What a psycho!”

“I know,” I agree. “He actually made Scorpius look normal.”

“So then your choice should be easy enough, right?”

“I don’t know...”

“Rose, your life is so dramatic,” Dom yawned.

I lie back on the very comfortable bed that we have been sitting on, chatting. The Delacour house is just as beautiful and extravagant as I remember, if not more so.

“I know. I’m so sick of it, Dom. Why couldn’t I just have a normal, boring life like Lucy?”

“Yeah. I wonder what’s going on with Lucy these days...”

Lucy’s that member of our family that everybody always kind of just forgets about. Louis is a close second. They just lead normal, boring lives, unlike me or James or Al or Dom. Even Molly has had her fair share of drama, but I’m not sure just how much of that she’s made up in her head. I suppose her father running for Minister of Magic was quite dramatic for Lucy at the time, but nowhere near the scale of drama the rest of us are used to. In fact, my mother running for Minister is more of a back story in my life.

“So what happened next?” Dom presses.

**

The next morning, I woke Aidan and told him to get ready to go to his Dad’s for the day. It was Scorpius’s weekend to have Aidan, and although I really didn’t want to see him, Aidan unfortunately did. Because Scorpius and Daisy ended the lease on their old flat, Scorpius has been staying with his father since he returned from America. So when Aidan was ready to go, we took Ollie and apparated to the Malfoy house.

Scorpius was out when we arrived. He was doing some food shopping, which was very disturbing to hear. I couldn’t imagine him doing something like that, something helpful and normal.

Draco let us in and I momentarily forgot about my own drama when I first saw him. He looked so broken.

“How are you doing?” I asked him.

“Fine. Scorpius should be back in a few minutes,” Draco said curtly.

“Grandad, can I go and play?” Aidan asked immediately. The Malfoys have a rather large playroom that had once belonged to Scorpius, which Aidan loves to play in when he comes to visit. I never had a playroom. I had a sibling and cousins, which was so much better. Draco gave Aidan the go-ahead, and he ran off happily.

Draco sat himself down in the chair I think he might have slept in the night before. He stared distantly into the fireplace, and I had no idea what I could say to make him feel any better. There was literally nothing I could do to ease his pain, and even though I never had much time for the man, I really wished I could.

“So, are you going to explain why my son is acting so strange these days?” Draco drawled after a few minutes silence.

“Oh, you know...stupid drama,” I shrugged, not quite knowing how else to explain it.

“He tells me you’re engaged.”

“I...I don’t really know what I am.”

“Well, you’d want to make up your mind,” he said.

“Is this the part where you tell me to be with your son?”

“No,” he said shortly. “You should pick whoever you want. Life is too short not to be with the person you want.”

It was probably the deepest thing I’d ever heard the man say. I wasn’t sure he had that kind of depth in him, but apparently grief does strange things to people.

It got to me, what he said. It really got to me.

I needed to pick the person who I truly wanted to be with, no matter what he did. I needed to pick the person who if he died, I would look just as broken as Draco Malfoy did at the death of his wife. I needed to pick the Astoria to my Draco, as completely twisted as that sounds.

And that is when I left the Malfoy house, apparated straight to Dom’s, and asked her to take me far away from everybody.

Which is how we ended up in the Delacour mansion in France.

**

“So who is your Astoria then?” Dom asks me. It is now after two in the morning.

“Fucked if I know,” I reply, staring up at the ceiling.

“I reckon you do know,” Dom says. “You’ve always known.”

“You see, the thing about Astoria is she brought out any bit of good there was in Draco Malfoy,” I explain. “And I’m not sure either of those idiots brings out any bit of good in me.”

“I don’t know...” Dom says annoyingly. “I mean, Scorpius is a total moron, I’ll give you that, but when you’re around him, you’re constantly trying to make him a better person. I think you’re the Astoria in the equation.”

“But Tom is so good,” I insist. “I mean, I know he messed up royally, but I think that’s just because of everything that Scorpius was saying. I don’t have to try to bring out the best in him because it’s already on display, you know?”

Dom paused.

“That sounds really annoying,” she concludes.

“It kind of is.”

“Well fine, if personality isn’t going to decide it...who’s hotter?”

I glare at her. “Dom, I’m so glad you’re not shallow.”

“Well if I had to pick who’s hotter, I’d probably go with Tom,” she says casually. “But then again, I’ve kind of always preferred dark haired guys, and I am a bit biased because Scorpius is my ex and all.”

“Dom, it’s time for sleep,” I tell her.

I drift off to sleep with thoughts of them both in my head. I know I’ll have to pick one, and I need to face them tomorrow. But for now, in France, I can just sleep in ridiculously comfortable bed and drink mysterious cocktails and forget that my life is rapidly becoming one very long and complicated joke.

**

Dom and I leave France after dinner the following day. Having spent the day relaxing and eating ridiculously tasty food, I am ready to head back home and face my life again. The break has done me good, even if it was only twenty four hours. I thank Madame and Monsieur Delacour for their kind hospitality and apologise for barging in. They insist that I am welcome any time, and I’m thinking that this place might be a nice sanctuary every time my life gets so messed up. I may as well just move here.

We take a Portkey home; one of the many advantages of having a mother who’s the Minister of Magic is that you can get Portkeys at pretty much any time.

Dom comes home with me to my empty house.

“Have you made a decision?” she asks.

“I don’t know,” I reply.

“I won’t ask anymore,” she says, and hugs me. She tells me to call her as soon as I’ve ‘done it’, in her words, and we can cry or laugh or do whatever seems appropriate. I’m not quite sure what is appropriate.

I have no messages from Tom. I had been expecting one, or at least hoping for one, but there is nothing. No letters, no messages on my phone, nothing. So I decide to take things into my own hands, and not to let him slip away like this. I need to know, one way or the other, where I stand.

I find Tom at his old house, which he still owns. We never really made anything official with moving in and getting engaged, so I suppose he was wise to keep his house as a backup. He stands aside silently to let me in. He looks very like how he looked the first time I met him: a complete mess.

“I didn’t expect to see you,” he grumbles, leading me into the kitchen. He flicks his wand at the kettle and refuses to look at me.

“I’ve been doing a lot of thinking,” I tell him. “What you did the other night was –”

“Stupid,” he interjects. “I know. But I had to do it.”

“It wasn’t your place!” I argue, annoyed that he isn’t apologising to me. “They were my parents, it should have been me telling them.”

“Then why didn’t you?” he snaps. I like the stubble on his chin. I thought I would know as soon as I saw him whether I wanted him or not. But I still don’t. “You were never going to tell them.”

“Yes, I was!” I insist, although I don’t even know if that’s true.

“You still love him,” he says. It wasn’t a question, so I don’t answer. “You want to be with him.”

“Tom, it’s you I need,” I say definitely. “You’re mature, and nice and you treat me so well. We get on so well, we hardly ever fight. Scorpius and I fought all the time. He’s moody and immature and –”

“The love of your life,” Tom finishes sadly. He approaches me and takes my hand, and in this second I want to kiss him, but I can see in his eyes that he doesn’t want to kiss me. “You might need me, but you want him. So it’s a matter of choosing between who you need and who you want...”

I thought of what Draco Malfoy said: life is too short not to be with the person you want. Am I really about to take the advice of Draco Malfoy? Then again, I have a feeling that Astoria’s death might have changed him. Perhaps leopards can change their spots after all.

“And you’re going to choose him,” Tom says.

“No, I won’t –”

“Even if you don’t,” Tom continues, “I can’t be with you. I don’t want to be with someone who doesn't want to be with me.”

“But I do!” I don’t know why I’m trying so hard to hold on to this. I’m not sure there’s any point now.

“Just admit you love him,” Tom sighs, annoyed.

I look away from him. I know I love Scorpius, but I don’t like him. I want to kill him most of the time. He’s made me experience pain worse than I could ever thought possible. And, on the other hand, there have been small intervals where he has made me happier than I’ve ever been.

“I do love you, Tom,” I say honestly. “But...I have just always loved him more than reason could ever really explain. I’m ... I’m so sorry for all of this.”

He looks almost satisfied by this answer, and yet hurt by it too. I take off the engagement ring, which is still hanging on the necklace I am wearing, and I give it back to him. I’m not sure why I ever took it in the first place.

“Have a great life, Rose,” Tom tells me. “And don’t let him hurt you again. You’re better than him, you know.”

“I’m probably just the same as him,” I tell him. “And you’re definitely better than the both of us.”

He doesn't argue this; I’m sure he probably agrees. He gives me an awkward hug, and with that I leave his house, and him, forever.

*

After my conversation with Tom, all I want to do is go home, crawl up in my bed and cry. It’s lucky really that Aidan is still with Scorpius, because there is no way he’d be able to sleep through my sobbing. By the time I arrive home, all of Tom’s things have disappeared from the house. Part of me wants to call him, but I know I should let it all go. Another part of me wants to call Scorpius, but that too would be a disaster, especially considering the condition I’m in. I’m not even sure what I would say to him.

Instead, I choose Celestina Warbeck and wine.

Of course, this would be the exact time my father would choose to drop in for a visit. Excellent timing, Ron Weasley. I answer the door with the bottle of wine in my hand; I’ve been drinking directly from it.

“Bad time?” he asks, looking concerned. I’m so glad Mum’s not with him. She doesn't like to see me drink.

“H-hi Dad,” I sob. He comes in, closes the door, and pulls me into a big bear hug like he used to do when I was a kid.

“Poor Rosie,” he says, hugging me so tight I can barely breathe. “What’s happened?”

“Oh D-Dad,” I sniff, breathing in the smell of chocolate that I always associate with my father. “Everything’s so fucked up.”

Dad proceeds to lead me to the living room and makes me a cup of coffee. He takes the wine and sets it down on the floor and I spill everything to him.

“Tom broke up with me,” I sob. “And I don’t even know if I’m really all that sad about it, and that’s making me even sadder. And Scorpius is such a fuckwit and yet I don’t hate him as much as I should. I just wish for once my life could be normal, you know?”

Dad has an intense look on his face and considers what I’ve said.

“To be honest, I never liked that Tom bloke. Your mother did, mind, but she hasn’t the best judgement of people sometimes,” Dad says bluntly. “And I always thought Scorpius was a fuckwit...”

He sort of trails off unsurely.

“So basically I have shit taste in men,” I sum up.

“Scorpius isn’t all bad,” Dad tells me, and this makes me snort in laughter.

“Dad, you’ve always hated him. What’s changed now?”

“Yeah, he’s a git,” he snarls. “But, for a Malfoy, he’s alright. I think he’s much more of a fuckwit when you two aren’t together than when you are.”

I’ve always valued my Dad’s opinion and judgement above everyone else’s, even Mum’s.

“What are you saying?” I ask him, because I’m so confused.

“I think Malfoy needs you,” Dad says simply. “Or else he’ll just turn into his fuckwit father and then nobody’s happy, are they? I mean think about it, any time Scorpius made you feel miserable, was it when you were actually with him?”

I think about it. Of course he did kiss somebody else in seventh year, but we had been fighting quite a bit at the time, mainly because we didn’t get to see enough of each other. Apart from that and a few odd squabbles, the unhappiest I’ve ever been is when Scorpius and I weren’t together.

“I suppose not,” I sniff.

Dad hugs me again and tells me to just consider what he’s said. When he’s made sure I’m okay, he goes back home and tells me he’ll check back in tomorrow.

I know what I have to do now; I have to see Scorpius. I have to see him and decide once and for all if I’m going to gamble my entire life on him. And so, I apparate to the Malfoy house, not really caring that it is rather late.

Draco, once again, answers the door.

“What are you doing here?” he asks. “Aidan is asleep.”

I check my watch and realise it is now after eleven.

“Shit. Sorry, I lost track of the time, I was at Tom’s and then...”

“You picked him then,” Draco observes, and I swear I think he looks disappointed.

“Actually, we broke up,” I say, although I’m not sure why I’m telling Draco Malfoy of all people. He’s hardly one for girl talk.

“Well at least you’ve made up your bloody mind.” Ah Draco, so comforting to those who have just been dumped.

“Look, can I just come in?” I say exasperatedly.

Draco steps aside, clearly bored with the drama that has been going on with me and his son for longer than any of us care to remember. “He’s in his room,” he tells me.

I take the stairs two at a time and barge into Scorpius’s room without knocking, because that’s just my style.

He is sitting on his bed, which is covered in a Slytherin bedspread. He looks like his teenage self, in his teenage room. His walls have pictures of himself and Al at school, and some of Aidan, and some of me and him at school too. He is reading a book, which he puts down, and stands up to face me.

“Hello,” he says uncomfortably.

“Hi,” I respond. “Tom dumped me.”

I feel uncomfortable, like my mourning period should have taken much longer. Two hours ago I was engaged, now here I am in Scorpius’s bedroom.

He frowns. “Why did he dump you?”

“Because for some ridiculously stupid reason I still love you,” I snap, angrily. Scorpius comes towards me, looking surprised and happy all at once, but I put my hands up straight away in defence. “Wait.”

He doesn't move or say anything, like I’m a deer who’ll run away if he makes any sudden movement.

“I don’t know if I want to be with you yet. Are you going to hurt me again?” I ask him.

“No,” he says firmly. “Rose, I promise, my shithead days are over.”

“I don’t know how I can believe you,” I snap. “If we’re to do this, we can’t mess around anymore. No more breaking up and getting back together. We can’t do it to Aidan.”

“Agreed,” he says.

“On top of that, you need to stop being a selfish idiot and I’ll stop being a neurotic psycho. We need to get rid of all the drama.”

“Right. Sounds good to me,” he nods.

“And you need to understand that I’ve changed too,” I go on, perhaps saying more than I want to. “I’m not that pathetic little girl in love with a married man. I’m not the girl who’s only ever slept with you.”

He frowns again. “Rose, I don’t want to hear this...”

“You need to hear it,” I tell him. “I wouldn’t change what I had with Tom, and I don’t regret it. And I don’t expect you to regret what you had with Daisy. We’ve both grown up, we’ve both learned from our relationships. Can you...accept that?”

He doesn't answer as quickly this time. He puts his hands in his pockets, looks at the floor and grumbles something.

“What was that?” I ask.

“Fine,” he says grumpily. I know it’s the thought of me sleeping with somebody else that’s getting him this angry. But like I said, I regret nothing.

“And finally,” I go on, “You absolutely must promise never to kiss anybody else, especially not slutty Hufflepuffs.”

“It was years ago Rose –!”

“Malfoy,” I warn.

“I promise never to kiss anybody else, especially not slutty Hufflepuffs, even though I apologised for that about five thousand times -”

“Alright then,” I straighten myself up.

We stand in silence for a few moments, not quite knowing what to do with ourselves.

“Can I kiss you now then?” Scorpius asks.

“I...yes, I suppose so.”

It’s a bit weird being nervous about kissing someone I’ve kissed thousands of times before. He comes towards me looking nervous too, knowing this kiss will mark either the beginning of the rest of our lives, or the beginning of a relationship that will eventually destroy us both. I suppose it’s a gamble we both have to take.

I’d forgotten what it was like to kiss him. All the kisses from Tom had negated the kisses from Scorpius, but as soon as his lips touch mine it all comes back to me, and I know I’ve made the right decision.

There couldn’t have been any other ending.

It’s also weird kissing him in his old bedroom under the watchful eyes of Salazar Slytherin; I feel like we’re sixteen again, only not pregnant, just two nervous teenagers in love.

“Kissing’s not as fun when you’re not afraid of getting caught,” he jokes when we break apart. He keeps his hands around my waist, and I slap him. It was supposed to be playful, but it made a right good noise. I like to brand my men with bruises, apparently.

“Well, your Dad could walk in at any minute, he wouldn’t like to see you kiss a Weasley,” I say to him.

“I’ll make a Malfoy of you someday,” he replies, and he kisses me again.





A/N - All those in favour of the cheesy cliché ending say aye! One more chapter left, the epilogue! I really hope you Tom lovers aren’t too disappointed, but it was always going to go this way; if it didn't, I'm pretty sure someone would burn down my house.  And who wants that, really.  I find this chapter a bit jumpy and disjointed, but I think Rose's head was a bit jumpy and disjointed too so that could be why!  I hope you've enjoyed the story, this will be the last you'll be hearing from Rose! Thank you all so much for your ongoing support over the last four years (yes, it has been that long!!!), I can't believe it's almost over! x


Chapter 35: Epilogue
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Epilogue: As told by Aidan Malfoy (Aged 17 and a half)

 

“Aidan, you seem a bit...distant.”

I’m sitting, glaring out the window of the Hogwarts Express as it comes closer and closer to Kings Cross Station. Remus is sitting in another compartment, trying his best to chat up some Ravenclaw girl in his year (sixth). I don’t expect to see him for this whole train journey.

It’s snowing this year. This is the first Christmas in ages that it’s snowed. I remember it used to snow a bit when I was a kid, but since I’ve started at Hogwarts, we barely get more than sleet at home. Hogwarts itself always gets covered in snow, of course, but by the time you get to London it’s gone without a trace. It’ll be nice to have a white Christmas, I suppose.

“Oh, sorry.”

My girlfriend, Kate, is looking concerned for me. Really, she should be more concerned for herself with what she’s about to endure.

What the hell was I thinking inviting her to my house for Christmas?

Fuck, Aidan, you really dropped the ball there.

Most families have that weird uncle, or aunt, or mother or granny...

And then there’s my family. Just one big bunch of weirdo’s under the one roof. Bit like Hufflepuff house.

I’m definitely going to get dumped this Christmas. I met Kate’s family last summer. They’re Muggles; her Dad’s an accountant. Her Mum paints and works as a pharmacist. They’re normal.

“Um, Kate, just so you know, my family aren’t like normal families,” I begin to explain to her. The train is slowing down now.

“Aidan, stop,” she smiles at me. She’s really hot. She’s way out of my league, and I’m just pushing my luck by introducing her to my family. I mean, she’s really hot. Fuck, Dom’s going to get territorial and try to claw her eyes out. Dom likes to be the prettiest person in any room. “I’m sure I’ll love your family. I just hope they like me!”

I smile, or at least I try to smile at her, but I’m not sure how comforting it is. Truth is, my family will probably hate her as much as she’s going to hate them. Because they’re not even nice weirdo’s. They’re judgemental and gossiping and sometimes just plain rude. I heard Dom once shot a rat with an actual Muggle gun.

Dom’s going to shoot my girlfriend, isn’t she.

“You’re doing that thing again,” Kate tells me.

“What thing?”

“That thing where you live inside your own head and don’t say anything.”

Fuck. My mother does that and it’s really annoying.

“Sorry.”

The train finally pulls into the station and comes to a complete stop. I make no attempt to get up.

“Come on, we have to get off,” Kate says. “Oh lighten up, Aidan!”

Kate and I charm our trunks to follow us off the train and on to platform 9 and ¾. We both passed our apparition tests, and yet my Dad insisted on picking us up because he recently got a new car, and because my younger brother and sisters like to visit the platform as often as possible. None of them are old enough to go to Hogwarts yet. The twins, Ellie and Michael, will be going the year after next, but thankfully I’ll be well out of there before those two demons – also, definite Slytherins – take over the place.

And Anna is only seven. She is actually the most normal of my entire family, mainly because she has yet to grow into her weirdness. She looks an awful lot like Mum though, so I’m guessing it’s buried deep inside somewhere.

Remus rushes past us to where his mother is waiting for him. He always rushes when Victoire is picking him up at the station so all the other lads don’t eye her up. I hear him shout something like “see you later!” at us, but I can’t imagine why we’ll be seeing him later.

I spot Dad, and am thankful to see that Mum hasn’t come with him. Dad’s, I suppose, normal too, except he can go a bit weird from time to time. He’s holding Anna’s hand, who waves excitedly when she sees me approaching. I look just like my Dad. He’s not even that much older than me (they had me when they were at Hogwarts, and yet they call me irresponsible when I leave the lid of the butter), so some people actually find it a bit creepy just how alike we are.

“He must be your dad,” Kate says straight away when she sees him, before I even point him out.

“Yeah,” I reply.

“He seems normal,” she says brightly.

“I’m just easing you in gently,” I tell her.

When we approach Dad, the twins come into view too. To be perfectly honest, if I didn’t remember Mum being pregnant with them (which I can safely say was the most terrifying nine months of my entire life), I’d say they were adopted. They both have jet black hair and dark eyes, and are pure evil. I’m telling you, they don’t need the Sorting Hat, they’re Slytherins through and through. Apparently they look like my Dad’s Mum, who died when I was six, but I don’t remember her looking like the devil incarnate.

“Aidan!” Dad greets me with a handshake. We stopped hugging when I was twelve. “And you must be Kate, really nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you too, Mr Malfoy,” Kate says politely, and shakes his hand too.

“Stop, call me Scorpius,” Dad says. Kate gives me a look. So, I never really told her Dad’s name. That’s probably the weirdest thing about him. Really, who the fuck is called Scorpius?

“Hi Aidan!” Anna jumps on me, and I hug her back. She’s my favourite sibling. I know you’re not supposed to have favourites, but it’s not hard to pick her over the evil twins. “I missed you!”

“Missed you too Anna,” I tell her. “This is Kate.”

“Hi Kate, I’m Anna!” she exclaims loudly.

Dad has expanded the back seat of the car so that we can all fit in. I’ve put Kate in the front seat so she doesn't have to sit with the kids, and Dad talks to her about broomsticks the whole way home. He’s really bad at making conversation, so he just talks about brooms and Quidditch all the time.

“Your Nana Molly is cooking dinner in The Burrow, so we’re just going straight there,” Dad slips into the conversation. Firstly, she’s not my Nana Molly, she’s my mother’s Nana Molly, and secondly, why are they doing this to me?

“James is going to be there, he said he’d teach me how to use fireworks,” Michael says, one of the first things he’s actually said. He can be quite broody, and he was always the quietest of the lot of us.

“Not happening, mate,” Dad tells him firmly, causing Michael to scowl for the rest of the journey.

We arrive at The Burrow, and already I’m feeling embarrassed. I mean, I love The Burrow, but it’s the most rundown looking house in the world. It’s not actually rundown on the inside, because it’s been renovated by magic so many times. Kate, however, seems to find it fascinating, which is good, because from the outside it reads more like ‘Death Trap’ than ‘Nice Place To Be’.

“Dad, Michael has matches!” Ellie squeals as we all pour out of the car; Ellie tells on everyone, that’s her thing. Michael hasn’t even been allowed a training wand since he managed to set our garden shed on fire, so it’s probably a good thing this time that she’s told on him.

Yeah, Michael sets things on fire. That’s his thing.

“Michael! Matches!” Dad shouts.

“C’mon, we’ll go on ahead,” I say to Kate and leave Dad to give out to Michael. Anna skips along happily after us, while Ellie stays to watch her twin brother get shouted at. She’s sadistic like that. I think Anna might be a bit simple or something, because she’s always happy.

Grandad Ron is sitting on the bench outside the house, smoking a pipe. The pipe is a completely new development. He thinks it makes him look more Grandfatherly, but he’s forced to smoke it outside and he has to hide it from Nana Hermione. Great man, my Grandfather.

“Hey Grandad,” I greet him.

“Aidan, m’boy!” Oh, yeah ‘m’boy’ is another new development. “How’s school going? You’re bringing the Quidditch Cup home to Gryffindor again I presume?”

“You know it,” I grin proudly. Since I became captain of the Gryffindor team, we haven’t lost the cup. James and Dom are so proud of me, they have come to every final match. Al teaches at Hogwarts so he’s always there for them anyway, but as Head of Slytherin house, I’m fairly sure he’s trying to curse me off my broom. Still, me and Bob have never lost a match together.

Oh, Bob’s my Quaffle. I suppose that’s my weird thing.

“That’s m’boy!” Grandad chirps. Fucking hell. This m’boy thing has to fade out at some point.

“This is my girlfriend, Kate,” I introduce her. She had been standing back a bit, which was a wise move on her part, as Grandad doesn't really know how to smoke the pipe yet and there’s ash going everywhere.

“Lovely to meet you, Kate.”

“You too, Mr Malfoy.”

Oh fuck. Oh shit, I really should have run through the family tree with her. I told her that every red head is a Weasley, but Grandad’s hair is completely white now, so she couldn’t have known. This is the problem with her being Muggleborn. She never really heard of the Potters or the Weasleys or the Malfoys before she went to Hogwarts, and she never really takes much notice of Magical politics or news. In turn, she also doesn't get how bad it is to have called Ron Weasley ‘Mr Malfoy’...

“Erm, Kate this is my Grandad Weasley,” I tell her. Grandad looks angry. His ears have gone red. Oh Grandad, please don’t punch my girlfriend...

“So sorry Mr Weasley!” Kate apologises. “I...I’m sorry, I don’t know why I assumed –”

“Oh don’t worry about it, Kate,” Grandad says kindly, but I can tell he has taken a dislike to my girlfriend already. Brilliant.

We head inside The Burrow, with Kate whispering furiously to me. “I knew he was Weasley, Malfoy just came out because I was so nervous! You’re Malfoy and your Dad is Malfoy...oh Aidan, I’m so sorry!”

“Stop worrying about it!” I laugh. “It was pretty funny actually...”

In the kitchen is Nana Molly and Nana Hermione. Kate knows who Nana Hermione is, given that she only recently retired as Minister for Magic. Nana Hermione is good at acting normal, even if she isn’t. She has this weird obsession with House Elves. I don’t really want to get into it. She gives Kate a hug and welcomes her, and Nana Molly does likewise, insisting she has a scone and a cup of tea. Nana Molly likes feeding people.

And then there’s Great-Grandad Arthur. Sometimes I think we should just get him a Muggle for Christmas, one that he has to answer every question that he can possibly think of about the Muggle world. My personal favourite question he has about Muggles is the rather philosophical “Why electricity?” to which I say “Why not electricity?” Because really, how the hell else are you supposed to answer that?

Anyway, when I introduce Kate he mishears her name and calls her Kayla, and thus she will be known as such to him forever. He still calls Anna Amy.

Kate becomes astounded by the amount of people in my family. Not only are there my great grandparents, my grandparents, my parents, my uncle, my mother’s cousins, but there are also my mother’s cousins’ spouses and children.

There is literally a shit load of people here.

She knows Al from being a Hogwarts Professor, and Jenny is nice to her too, although she has like six kids hanging off her, so the conversation is quite brief. Okay, six is an exaggeration. Al and Jenny only have three kids, but it always seems like more.

The house becomes even more crowded when Remus arrives with his Mum and Dad and his little sister Dorie. She’s fourteen, and she’s going through this really dark phase where she wears a lot of black. Mum says she never saw that one coming with Dorie.

“Aidan, I snogged Tammy Walcott on the train home!” Remus tells me, grinning.

“You snogged her on the train?” Kate laughs. “In front of all her friends?”

“Why not?”

Remus has a ridiculous amount of confidence. He’s in the year below me, but in Gryffindor too, and he’s been with nearly all the girls in my year, except for Kate. Well, as far as I know. It probably isn’t the best idea to ask the question you don’t really want the answer to. I put Remus’s amazing luck with women down to the fact that he’s a metamorphmagus and can control his level of attractiveness. He also went through a phase of morphing himself to look like me, and then went around telling all of the girls in Hogwarts that I was gay. How I actually ever got Kate to go out with me I’ll never really know.

Unless she’s secretly a bloke. That would be just my luck.

Remus scurries off to talk to more of our relatives. The house is so crowded, and the whole family isn’t even here. I haven’t seen Mum yet. Maybe I can get through the whole Christmas season without Kate and Mum ever having to meet.

“Harry Potter!” Kate gasps, and luckily I’m the only one who’s heard her. So, she has this weird crush on my Great Uncle Harry. She confessed it to me after a few too many Firewhiskeys at the last Gryffindor victory party. Maybe she is weird enough to fit in with my family.

“Steady on, Kate. He’s married with kids. And grandkids.”

“Shut up!” she hisses.

She actually giggles when I introduce her to Harry. The man is pushing sixty. I mean he looks younger than that and everything, but it’s still super weird of her to have a crush on him. If she fancied Al, or even James I’d understand it, because they’re in their thirties and not drawing the pension any time soon. Then again, they never saved the wizarding world.

“I’VE LOCKED THE BABY IN THE CAR!”

Speaking of James, he’s just run in claiming to have locked his baby in a car. Harry Potter might be good at saving the world, but he did a rather awful job of procreating.

“James, how did you lock her in the car?” James’s sister Lily asks him tiredly. Nobody is in the least bit surprised by this.

“I left my fucking wand in the car and it auto-locks itself when I get out! SOMEBODY HELP ME!”

“Calm down, mate,” Dad says, and follows James outside to the car to help. We follow to see how this plays out. James’s parenting is always good for amusement. I mean, he’s only been a parent for six months, but it’s really been hilarious. He picked up the wrong baby from the nursery the day they were bringing her home from the hospital. He was almost arrested for it too.

“How did you leave your wand in the car, wasn’t it in your pocket?” Lily chastises him.

“Sophie was playing with it!” he says.

“You let a six month old play with a wand?!”

“SHUT UP LILY YOU’RE NOT HELPING!”

“What spell do you have on it to auto lock?” Dad asks an increasingly panicked James.

“I don’t remember, Laura did the spell!” he splutters. “She’s going to fucking kill me...”

Sophie is laughing away to herself in the car, clutching to James’s wand. Merlin that man is stupid.

“We have to get her out of there!” James practically screams. “She could die!!”

“Yeah, it’s looking really life threatening, she’s been in there for what, sixty seconds?” Dad says sarcastically.

“SHUT UP MALFOY, YOU DON’T KNOW!”

“Oh come on, Aidan used to lock himself in places all the time when he was a kid,” Dad says casually. “Found him in Rose’s knickers drawer once because he didn’t want to go to school. Full hour he was in there.”

“Cheers for that Dad.”

“What’s going on here?”

Dad and James jump in fright at the sound of my mother’s voice. Thankfully there’s a bit of a crowd forming, so she hasn’t noticed me or Kate yet. She’s holding bags of groceries.

“James locked Sophie in the car,” Dad explains.

“Be cool!” James hisses to him.

“You locked your baby...in the car,” Mum says flatly and not in the least bit surprised.

“He left his wand with her too,” Dad adds. “He’s really taking to the whole fatherhood thing.”

“Of course he did. Step aside you morons,” Mum sighs, and flicks her wand at the door. It flies open immediately, to reveal a perfectly safe Sophie, who is still laughing at the whole situation. I feel sorry for that poor girl. I can’t imagine what she’s going to turn out like.

“Thank you, Red, THANK YOU!”

Mum rolls her eyes and hurries into the house with the groceries.

“So that was my Mum,” I explain to Kate.

“Are you going to introduce me?”

“I hadn’t planned on it...”

She nudges me playfully. Oh, she thinks I’m joking. She takes my hand and leads me back into the house. I’ve never been so nervous in my life. I can’t even predict how Mum is going to act around her. She could be bitchy, or maybe try to be funny, or just be cold and sarcastic, or be ridiculously nosey about every aspect of Kate’s life.

Most likely, she’ll be all of the above.

Mum is chatting to Nana Hermione while unloading the groceries she’s just bought. Nana Hermione winks at me when she sees me and Kate approaching, and clears away to let me introduce Kate privately. Not that there’s anything private in this house.

“Hi Mum,” I say.

“Sweetheart!” she cries happily, and pulls me into a huge hug. Seven years I’ve been at Hogwarts, and she still gets emotional every time I go and come back. “I’ve missed you so much, have you been eating? How’s Quidditch? Why don’t you write more often?!”

“Erm this is Kate,” I say when she finally lets me go.

Kate smiles nervously and waves. “Hello Mrs Malfoy,” she says meekly.

“It’s Rose,” Mum says nicely. Like actually in a nice voice. I didn’t think she could do nice.

And then she actually hugs Kate.

So this clearly isn’t my mother. Dad has obviously gone and got someone else to take Polyjuice Potion and pretend to be Mum for the day. Or maybe Mum has been taking Nice Lessons from Jenny. That is indeed plausible.

“You’re very welcome, Kate! Did you have a nice trip?”

“Oh yes, it was lovely,” Kate says politely.

They have some more polite conversation. Mum comments that she likes Kate’s shoes, and Kate tells her she got them half price in a sale. Kate then says she’s heard so much about Mum and is so glad to finally meet her. And yet, there is something extremely unsettling about this whole thing. Although I’m hearing all of the polite things Mum is saying, I can nearly see her mind going five billion miles a second. I know she’s formed a snap opinion of Kate already. I bet she hates her.

Dad approaches to see how we’re getting on with the introduction, and looks quite surprised by Mum’s behaviour too.

“This is weird,” Dad whispers to me.

“I know,” I whisper back.

“So Kate, would you like a mini-quiche or a mince pie?” Mum asks sweetly, picking up a plate of tiny appetisers.

“Oh yes, please,” Kate answers, and chooses a mince pie.

“Just so you know, there’s an ingredient in the mince pies that doesn't react well with medication and certain potions,” Mum says seriously. Dad and I look at each other, confused. “You know, so if you’re on medication or a potion, you shouldn’t eat it.”

“Oh...okay, thank you,” Kate says and goes to take a bite.

“Not on any medication then?” Mum asks, a manic look in her eye. Oh fucking hell. Here she comes, my real mother, asking strangers if they’re on medication.

“Er, no...”

“No birth control pill or potion then? Because you could get very sick if you eat that and you’re on the pill, so you’d best just tell me now –”

“Okay Rose, let’s see who else wants a mini quiche!” Dad says quickly, putting an arm around her shoulders and steering her away from us. Mum keeps her manic eyes on Kate as Dad practically drags her into the living room.

And that is the reason why I’ve never before introduced a girl to my mother.

Kate’s mouth is literally hanging open in shock. She doesn't even attempt to eat the mince pie, just throws it in the bin.

“I always thought you were exaggerating about your mother,” she says, shaking her head.

Yeah, I’m definitely getting dumped. At least I know if in future I’m going out with someone I don’t really like, I have a sure way to get rid of her.

In the last few years, the dining room in The Burrow had to be expanded even further to facilitate the ever growing family. Dad sits Mum at the very opposite end of the table to us, thankfully, so I don’t need to worry about any ridiculously embarrassing incidents with her throughout dinner. Michael and Ellie are next to me, and I’ve been instructed to make sure he doesn't get his hands on anything even remotely flammable.

Just as we are about to eat, Dom arrives with her twenty-one year old boyfriend. Yeah, he’s thirteen years younger than her. He refers to himself as ‘The Flash’, and I’m not sure I want to know why. I remember him being in Hogwarts a few years back. Dom’s made a pact that she will never again go out with anyone over the age of twenty-one, which is going to make for hugely uncomfortable Christmases when she’s fifty.

“So...” I say quietly to Kate during dinner, “Are you going to dump me?”

“Why would I dump you?”

“Well...you know,” I gesture to the people around me.

James is feeding baby Sophie, with more of her dinner going onto his jumper than into her mouth. She’s chewing on the bottom of his wand instead. Similarly, Dom is feeding her twenty-one year old baby; she’s spooning mashed spuds into his mouth. Al and Jenny are trying to control their three boys, who have initiated a food fight with Remus, who is retaliating. Michael is pinching Ellie, who is screaming up the table to Dad that Michael is bullying her. Grandad Arthur has fallen asleep at the table, and we can hear his snores over everybody’s loud voices. Grandad Ron is literally shovelling food into his mouth like a huge famine is about to hit the house, and Nana Hermione is scolding him and telling him to slow down or he’ll give himself heart burn again.

And Mum is staring down the table at Kate with those seriously manic eyes of hers.

“To be honest Aidan,” Kate sighs, “I love your family.”

“You do?!” I cry incredulously.

“They really are one of a kind,” she smiles.

I kiss her. Nobody notices; well, Mum probably does, but I don’t bother looking at her.

“Brilliant,” I grin. “But you should probably hold off judgement until you meet the Malfoy side of the family...”

It really is just my luck that I wouldn’t have one normal side of the family. Grandad Draco collects silver knives and talks to his pet owl, which he named Lucifer, as per my mother’s suggestion. Michael tried to set Lucifer on fire once. He also tried to mate one of Mum’s cousin Molly’s seventeen cats with a badger. See, this is what happens when a mental family marries into a sinister one; they breed criminally insane children.

And still, I wouldn’t trade any of them for anything in the world.

Except maybe Mum’s cousin Molly.






A/N: DONE! FINISHED! NO MORE! I never thought this day would come; thank you all so much for your supports.  To all my readers, the ones who have been there since Delicate and all of the newcomers, I love you so much.  Thank you for making this story the success it has become.  I'm so proud of it, I can't believe it's all over!  I've started work on new projects, including a new Rose story, but it will be completely different to Delicate & Still Delicate  - keep an eye on my author page!

Thank you to the wonderful staff at HPFF for all of their validating and patience, particularly WeasleyTwinMom who I bugged with questions so many times, I may have driven her to insanity.  She is a rockstar. 

Thank you a million times over for all the INCREDIBLE
 support, I look forward to reading the last reviews for this story

padfoot4ever xxx

PS: My new James/Lily has been published on my author page now! :)


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