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Disclaimer: The title of this chapter is unashamedly stolen from Oscar Wilde’s famous play of the same name.

Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter quite like unrequited love.
~  Charlie Brown

Chapter Four: The Importance of Being Earnest

That night, the first night I had slept properly since he left, I dreamt of him.

We were standing in the hotel room we rented out each anniversary, the white curtains rustling softly in the late afternoon sunlight. He was standing there in his best suit, the gray one with the pinstripes, lips stretched out in a wide smile. I can feel myself being pulled as I move toward him, like the sun pulls the moon, and I smile too because this is right, this is how it is meant to be. He’s holding a bouquet of roses, my favourite flowers. The red blossoms are like splashes of blood, the beating heart in the middle of the white suite and I smile because they are for me, his gift every year.

Suddenly the world is turning, revolving, spinning, and I’m behind him and he’s not facing me, he’s facing her—she’s gorgeous and stunning and beautiful and he’s smiling at her and he’s embracing her and then she has my flowers and I’m screaming, screaming for them to stop and crying, the tears are falling, hot and wet down my face and I—

“…and he just sent them to her? Out of nowhere?”

“I found them on her bedside table.”

The low hiss of voices outside my door jolted me from my nightmare, leaving a bitter taste in my mouth and a sob caught in my throat. I reached up from under the blankets to touch my face, feeling the warm, wet tear tracks that ran down my face. As the remnants of the dream washed away with the tears, I noticed the rich golden afternoon sunlight seeping through the window next to my bed. I had slept the whole day, I realised; no wonder I felt like I had been roughed up by a troll.

I remembered the drone of the voices outside, which had roused me from my sleep. I strained my ear to catch every word as their conversation continued. “…I just can’t believe he would do it, Camellia. What’s wrong with him?”

Lorcan, I realised. Was he defending me? I hadn’t expected that.

“I know.” I practically could hear the smile in her voice. I dreaded to think why she was smiling—these things were best left alone.

I could hear the low sounds of footsteps pacing in frustration. The gesture was oddly touching; at least, coming from the man I believed thought me a fraud. “I mean, of all the cheeky things the git—”

“I know.”

There was a dull thump as a body—Lorcan, I assumed, Camellia didn’t seem like one to slouch—fell sloppily against the wall of the corridor. “She needs rest!” He sounded frustrated, and I could almost imagine his hands rubbing the exhaustion out of his face as he spoke. “Whatever it is she has, it’s not getting better. How is she supposed to—?”

“Lorcan, I know.” The Healer sounded exhausted too. “But there is really nothing we can do to stop the girl from receiving mail, can we?”

There was a long pause. When Lorcan spoke next his voice was laced with a restrained anger. “He had to have known she was in hospital. Why would he…?”

“From the sounds of it, he didn’t deserve her.” The Healers voice held a note of protectiveness and I felt a sudden rush of affection for the busty American. “Look son, I need to check on Ms. Rowling—she’s been throwing up butterflies according to the orderlies—would you be a doll and run the procedure on Mrs. Lupin?”

Weasley, my subconscious hissed.

There was a brief pause. “Wait, shouldn’t you—I don’t—”

“Oh Lord, Scamander, you’re not going all shy on me now? It’s just a chest exam.”

Chest exam.

As her words sunk in, Healer Blackwood laughed loudly then there was scuffling and the familiar tap, tap, tap as she began to move down the corridor, away from my room. “She’s almost thirty, son; I don’t think she’s interested.”

Merlin, she was crass. I’d give her almost thirty.

I sank further into my bed, listening to Camellia walk away, feeling a blush creep to my cheeks. There was a moment of shuffling in the corridor before Lorcan appeared in my doorway. Seeing that I was awake, he smiled tensely, moving into the room awkwardly to study the stream of parchment running itself out of one of the contraptions by my bed.

“Good morning.” Are you ready for your exam? I’ll just need you to take of your shirt.

“Oh, hi,” I said lamely, wishing my brain would shut up for just a moment.

“How are you feeling today?” It’s a little chilly but don’t worry, I won’t look.

“Fine.” I paused. “Better.”

“Great.” Now take off your top. “All your vitals seem normal but—” He frowned, tracing a line of the parchment before glancing at me. I shook my head to clear my thoughts and sat up, as he regarded me with concern. “There’s a disturbance in your heart rate; a very recent one. Are you all right? Any light headedness?”

A curtain of silvery hair flashed across my memory—the machine to my left let out a series of frantic beep!s before returning to normal—and suddenly I was feeling extremely self-conscious. I clutched the blanket tightly. “I was having a nightmare. It’s nothing.”

Lorcan raised an eyebrow before turning to pick up my chart. He scribbled something down quickly before returning his gaze to me. “About…?”

I narrowed my eyes, my fingers clutching the blanket even more tightly. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

A flash of red petals, the curve of his jaw.

A machine beeped and he continued. “Does it have something to do with your condition?”

I shook my head. “I don’t—”

“Look, I’m your Healer. I need to know—”

Tears sprung to my eyes as the memories of the half remembered dream floated to the surface.

The look in his eye as he chose her.

“Lorcan, I can’t—”

His eyes narrowed as he dealt his final ace. “Was it about him? Your husband?”

I winced at the word husband before I finally snapped, the tears finally slipping down my face. “Of course, it about him! Who else would it be?” I closed my eyes, distantly feeling the dip in the bed as he sat down, the softness of his hand as it slipped over mine comfortingly. I fell back into the dream, tears flowing freely. “We…we were in the hotel room where we go for our anniversaries and I… He was holding flowers… And I… I tried to take them but he wouldn’t let go.” I took a shuddering breath, taking comfort in his hand resting over mine. I continued as the monitors raged around me, “Then she was there and she was t-taking them f-from him and t-t-they w-were…” I threw a hand over my mouth as a sob escaped unbidden. The monitors around me were beeping chaotically, but I could barely hear them.

My senses were shutting down as I relieved that horrible moment where he chose her; where she took my place in his heart.

There was a long pause before I was able to speak again, slowly bringing myself back to the present with Lorcan’s hand as my anchor. “It’s silly,” I hiccupped, embarassed. Slipping my hand out of his, I rubbed my eyes furiously, letting out a small pathetic laugh. “I know it is, I don’t know…”

He shook his head softly, his shaggy mop of hair swaying gently. “It will be a long time before it stops hurting.”

I laughed bitterly, without humour. “Thanks. I feel much better.”

He shot me a look, taking my hand back into his grasp with a gentle tug. I was too surprised to do much about it other than stare disbelieveingly . “The point is, it will stop.”

All dark humour I found in the situation disappeared and I took a shuddering breath in a vain attempt to keep my emotions in check. A strand of hair fell into my eyes but I paid it now mind; I was more concerned with how I was ever going to feel human again. “When? How?”

For a moment, I thought I felt his hand twitch, his eyes flick to the hair across my eyes—as if he was going to touch it, stroke it back. Then his hand squeezed mine before dropping it, and the moment was gone and he was leaning back again, clipboard in his hands.

“Time.”

Releasing a small breath I didn’t know I was holding, I leant back into the bed. Raising a hand to brush the hair back, I cursed myself for the shakiness of it—what was I, some crushed up teenage girl?

Pathetic.

Lorcan coughed awkwardly, staring far too intently at the clipboard. “I’m going need you to pull down your gown.”

I blinked stupidly at him, not comprehending. “Sorry?”

“Oh, s-sorry,” he spluttered, a faint blush blooming. “I need to do a chest exam—check your vitals and stuff like that. I’m going to need complete, er, access to your chest.” He paused, before hastily adding, “For t-the exam.”

Were those the tips of his ears I saw turning red?

It seemed I was not immune, either—I felt a slow burn spread along my cheeks as his words registered. I fiddled with fabric of my gown, unable to help the stutter in my next words. “O-Oh, okay, are you sure you can’t—?”

He shook his head spastically. “I’m sorry but—”

I shook my head too, reaching for the buttons of my hospital gown. “No, no, it’s fine—”

A frown appeared on his brow and he ran a hand through his hair. “I told Camellia you’d prefer—”

“Lorcan, stop.” He did and I gave him a look of reassurance, pausing with my work on the buttons. “Just do it, honestly, I don’t…”

I watched his Adams apple bob as he swallowed. “Okay.”

As I undid the buttons of my gown, trying to forget what was about to happen, I thought about the changes I had noticed in Lorcan since yesterday. Surely he didn’t get like this with every chest exam? There was only one conclusion I could think of, which I didn’t want to admit too thinking but I felt a small burst of pride mixed with nerves at the thought nevertheless.

The exam itself was something I never would want to repeat in several lifetimes. I felt my blush deepen as his eyes averted to the small plastic disks in his hand that he had acquired from the Drawer of Mystical Things next to my bed. I kept my eyes pinned to the opposite wall, avoiding any eye contact as I let my dressing gown fall.

Avoiding staring, he placing the disks carefully on strategic places on my chest—one between my breasts and the other just at the swell of my left—avoiding any contact with the skin. He then cleared his throat awkwardly, staring fixedly at my collarbone. “Cough, please,” he said. I did, hating every moment.

He asked me to cough a few more times after that, listening to the sound coming through his little cups. Then he asked me to draw five deep breaths, counting me in and out as he listened.

The entire exam lasted less than five minutes but it might as well have been lifetime. I could feel every movement with a hyper awareness I did not at all appreciate. Every shift of loose skin, every jiggle of fat—it was the first time since Teddy left that I truly appreciated the fact that I hadn’t given in to having children.

“You can put your shirt back on now.” His voice was soft and I felt my blush deepen even further. “Everything seems to be going fine.” He gave me a weak smile. “You’ll be pleased to know you’ll probably be out of here in a day or two—back to work in a week, Mrs. Lupin.”

“Weasley,” I said, my voice small. I refused to meet his eyes, “My name is Molly Weasley.”

Lorcan looked at me, his expression guarded. I watched as his eyes flicked to the silent monitors beside me, and back again.

When I spoke next, my voice was stronger, louder. “You can call me Molly.”

He nodded slowly, his face betraying nothing. “Sure.” He gave me a small smile. “I’ll be back in a few hours.”

And, for the first time in days, I smiled too.

A/N: Thanks for reading! Any feedback, comments, critique can be left in a review :) But thanks again!

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