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Meeting the Parents

It was with disgust that I rolled out of bed to switch off my alarm the next morning. After a week of lie-ins, the early start for work was a bit of a shock.

Arriving at work early, I checked the shop to make sure everything was in order and no disasters had happened in my absence. We hadn’t run out of tea or biscuits, so I helped myself to my early morning tea break as I waited for Matthew to join me. Boris was due in at lunchtime to go over some finance stuff, but other than that I was expecting a quiet day. We had another week left before any Hogwarts’ students that had left the castle for the break returned to school, so there was a chance they might pop in to get some books for their summer exams. I didn’t really expect many to, if I was honest; although I’d received good grades, I could never really claim I’d done more work than was expected of me. Buying extra books was the kind of thing my Mum did.

Surprisingly, we’d actually sold most of our stock Gilderoy Lockhart’s books. I wrote a quick note down on the parchment pinned to the back of the stock room door to restock them. What idiots had actually gone and bought his books? A lot of them had been copies of his old works; I had been dubious of their sale potential right from the start, but it seemed I had overestimated the good taste of the nation.

The bell rang above the shop door as Matthew arrived.

“Welcome back,” he said with a smile as he joined me in the stock room. Looking up, I saw that he looked tired and I wondered if he was working himself too hard. He’d certainly made a good impression on me in his first stretch working for us, but I hoped he wasn’t in a bad way.

“Thanks,” I said, putting down my quill. “Did you survive without me?”

“Oh, you know,” he teased. “It was a bit touch and go for a bit. But we pulled through.”

“Good,” I remarked. “I’ve just boiled the kettle if you want something.”

Matthew went off to make coffee and I sighed, already looking forward to my lunch break. If today was going to be a quiet day, I expected it to pass slowly.

I was right, of course; the morning ended up being spent with virtually no customers making any purchase. Some old dear bought a funeral guide for witches and left without even saying thank you, which then put me in a decidedly bad mood. Honestly, it cost nothing to acquire some manners.

I looked up as the doorbell rang for the fourth time that morning, rousing myself from a dull reverie. Scorpius stood in the door, hands on hips in the manner of a superhero, wearing a bowler hat. I rolled my eyes, looking over at Matthew. He looked embarrassed and made up some lame excuse about making tea, thus leaving me on my own with this maniac.

“Hullo,” I said heavily as he strode over to the till, a huge grin on his face.

“Rose,” he said happily. “It’s wonderful to have you back. I’ve missed you.”

Sighing, I gritted my teeth. “What are you doing here?”

He eyed me with a little less enthusiasm. “I missed you.”

“Yeah, you said,” I said awkwardly. He was clearly waiting for me to tell him I’d also missed him, which was a massive lie. I’d appreciated the time without the fear of weirdness.

“Did you have a nice holiday?”

I nodded. “It was nice,” I said slowly, deciding that he didn’t need to know the ins and outs of my entire week, especially as he’d likely get jealous and overreact.

He shifted from one foot to the other, twiddling with his bowler hat. “Are you hungry? I was going to ask you to lunch.”

“Scorpius,” I said hesitantly, aware that Matthew was just around the corner. I lowered my voice. “We broke up, remember?”

He blushed. “Well, yes,” he conceded. “But, see, the thing is, I need to ask you a small favour.”

I huffed. “What is it?” He was probably going to ask me to wear a matching bowler hat with his name sewn into it or something equally creepy. I’d already decided to deny him whatever it was he wanted.

“I sort of haven’t yet told my parents that we’re not together anymore,” he mumbled sheepishly. “And they’re expecting us for lunch in half an hour.”

I glared at him. “That’s your problem, not mine,” I said grouchily. “You’ll just have to tell them what’s happened.”

“But Rose,” he whined. “You promised you’d be there!”

“No I didn’t,” I denied. “You promised I’d be there without even consulting me.” His lower lip started to tremble. “Don’t even try turning on the waterworks. I’m not going to meet your parents and have to be the one to tell them I broke up with you.”

“You don’t have to!” he said quickly, the tears hastily averted. “Just don’t mention it and they’ll be happy.”

I raised my eyebrows. There was no way in hell I was going to go and meet the Malfoys and play happy families just to save Scorpius the dirty work. “No.”

He looked hurt, a greasy lock of hair sliding down his face from under the bowler hat. “Oh go on, Rosie. My mum’s really good at cooking. I’ll buy you a drink or something afterwards to make it up to you.”

“No,” I repeated, though my resolution was fading somewhat. You couldn’t say no to a free lunch, even if it made you morally ambiguous.

He sighed dramatically. “I’ll go without hair gel for a day,” he bargained, looking at me with puppy dog eyes, batting his eyelashes pleadingly.

“Well,” I said, weighing up my options. I was rather curious to see what Scorpius would look like without the wet-scalp look. “Fine. I can’t say no to that.”

I held out my hand, which he shook limply and grinned. “Thanks Rose. You won’t regret this.”

I rolled my eyes, watching him do a celebratory dance with his bowler hat and thinking of all the ways I could possibly regret what I was about to do. So far I had thought of twenty-five.

“My lunch break isn’t for another hour, so you’ll have to wait until then before we leave,” I informed him, not in the least surprised that this didn’t dampen his spirits. He parked himself in front of the bookcase opposite the till and waggled his eyebrows at me continuously. Or maybe he just had a muscle twitch…

It was hard to serve customers with Scorpius watching me the whole time. I was starting to get more irritated by work than normal and I had to remind myself to remain rational and cheery.

“Rose!” barked Boris from the door to the stairs. “Why didn’t you tell me you were back?”

I blushed as he stomped over to me and enveloped me in a bear hug. “Erm,” I said as I got my breath back. “I didn’t realise you were in today. Sorry.”

“Of course I’m in,” he said cheerfully. “Got to make the most of the day, right?” He grinned. “Carpe Diem and all that.”

Good lord. I didn’t really care what had happened in my absence, but I wanted mopey Boris back. There was no way in hell I was going to survive working for him if he was going to be all positive and optimistic; I hated people like that.

“Are you okay?” I asked curiously as he shook Matthew’s hand with glee. “It’s just you weren’t feeling so great last time you were here…”

“Oh, Rose,” he began, a tear in his eye. “I don’t think I can ever thank you enough. My wife loves me again, business is booming, we have Matthew… It’s a dream come true, isn’t it?”

I raised an eyebrow. When was my lunch break again? Fair enough, it was nice to be appreciated for once but he was going slightly over the top. By the sounds of it, I had a lot to live up to in his expectations.

“Ye-es,” I said slowly. I checked my watch and decided that even if I wasn’t due for my lunch yet I was going to get going anyway. I’d take Scorpius and his parents over this barmy man. “I’m going for lunch now. See you two later.”

I quickly grabbed my coat from the back room and dragged Scorpius out of the shop as quick as I could, but not quite quick enough. As I flung the door open, a bumped into a customer, sending the two of us and Scorpius sprawling to the ground.

“I’m so sorry,” I cried as I rubbed a sore spot on my hip. Looking up, I saw it was yesterday’s rescuer, Henry. He rearranged his glasses as I stood up and offered Scorpius my hand.

“It was my fault,” he said with a shrug. “I wasn’t looking where I was going, as usual.”

I peered at him as he set his briefcase down by the till and started to rummage around. His hair looked very tidy from the back, I had to admit, and his robes made him look very dapper.

Scorpius prodded my arm. “Do you know him?”

I blushed. Scorpius knew me well enough to recognise when I was off into my “dream wedding” imaginings. In fact, I was only just getting to the good part; my dress. I’d always fancied one with a long train, carried by low flying owls and cockatoos. Molly would follow behind me, throwing biscuit crumbs over my head like confetti. So romantic.

“Not really,” I said evasively. I had no intention of telling Scorpius about yesterday’s little incident.

Henry turned to face us with a handful of parchment. “I thought you’d probably forget to drop by my office today,” he said sheepishly. “You’re probably busy but I was hoping you could sign these forms for me at some point?”

I took the paperwork as quickly as I could so that Scorpius didn’t see them. He’d probably decide I couldn’t be trusted to be left alone and I’d never manage to get rid of him.

“Why don’t we use my office?” I stammered. Henry nodded, returning to his briefcase to lock it.

“Rose,” Scorpius interjected, grabbing my arm. I shook him off. “What about our lunch date?”

“It’s not a date!” I squealed, hoping that Henry didn’t think I was dating Scorpius or anything. That’s not something I particularly wanted to get back to the losers who regularly met up for the school reunions. Gossip travelled fast around that nosy lot. “Just wait here,” I told Scorpius before beckoning Henry to follow me.

“That’s not even a real office,” Scorpius grumbled as Matthew stifled a laugh. Boris just winked and smacked my bum as I walked past. Some things never changed.

Leading Henry upstairs (not in the desired circumstances, unfortunately), I decided they were all reading too much into it. He’d just got me out of jail, it’s not like we were about to jump into each other’s arms or anything. It was likely he now had the impression that I made a habit of getting into trouble with the police and was therefore far beneath him. No, he was just here for the paperwork and then he’d go back to his office.

“So,” I said as I let us into the broom cupboard that was doubling as my office. I’d demanded one with my promotion and this was the best Boris could offer. Underneath the sloping roof was a short bookcase for my filing and a rickety old desk salvaged from the storeroom full of the broken stuff we hadn’t got around to throwing away yet. Still, I had a plaque with my name engraved on it and it was better than using Boris’s office (you never knew what you’d find in there).

I conjured a chair for Henry and sat down in my own, peering at him in the dingy light. He sat down without even looking displeased at my less than satisfactory office and handed me a quill.

“I just need you to sign to say that you have read through the paperwork and agree to all the terms mentioned.”

My eyes flicked over the ten plus pages of parchment. “I haven’t read this,” I said with a frown.

“I know,” he replied. “Nobody reads it. Just sign it, please.”

I shrugged. “I’m just saying,” I argued. “I’m not sure my mother would be happy if I signed a contract or something without having read it before.”

Henry gave me a small smile. “It’s not a contract, I promise. It’s a declaration that you didn’t commit the crime and that I turned up to help you. That means I can get paid for the job.”

Ah, so that was why he was so eager to see me; he wanted his money. Rightly so, he’d been called out on a Sunday at his inconvenience. I sighed.

“Do you promise there’s no mumbo jumbo in there that signs away my right to a home or anything?”

“I promise,” he assured me. “What, don’t you believe me?”

“My mum says never to trust lawyers,” I said smugly.

“Well, I’d say in general that your mum is right.” He twiddled his glasses and offered me a lopsided grin. “But I’m not like most of the law profession. I’m decent.”

I grinned back. “Well I should hope so too,” I said cheekily. “I usually do business with my clothes on too.”

He looked at me blankly. Well, perhaps it was too soon for nudity jokes. In order to fill the growing silence, I picked up the quill and signed the parchment.

“Thanks,” I offered as I passed him back his quill and parchment. “For coming to my aid yesterday, I mean. I thought they were going to lock me away when I was innocent.”

“You’re welcome.” He brushed down his robes and stood up. “Glad I could be of help.”

I smiled, following him towards the door. Upon opening it, we were greeted with Scorpius’s face. He’d clearly been lingering outside the door for the duration of our conversation.

“I thought you were going to wait downstairs,” I muttered.

Scorpius frowned. “Well, I know what you’re like, Rose. I wanted to make sure you didn’t do anything weird.”

I scoffed. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You know. You’re not exactly great around men, are you?” He shook his head and shared a look with Henry, who smiled awkwardly.

I blushed. “That’s not true,” I denied, resisting the urge to shove Scorpius down the stairs and be rid of him for ever. “I’m really good around men, actually. They love me most of the time.” More silence, in which Henry coughed. “I mean,” I corrected hastily. “I just meant that I’m fine. I’m more than fine.” Nobody said anything. “I’m not weird, okay?”

Scorpius shook his head sadly. “See what I mean? You clearly fancy him, or else you wouldn’t be spluttering like a goldfish.”

I blushed a deeper shade of red. “Will you shut up? You’re no better with women. For goodness’ sake, you’re basically forcing me to pretend to be your girlfriend because you can’t face telling your parents I don’t like you. You’re the weird one. And,” I added. “Goldfish don’t splutter!”

“Whatever,” he snapped, scowling as he turned away from Henry and me and tramped angrily downstairs.

Henry coughed again as we heard the door at the bottom of the passage slam shut.

“Erm,” I mumbled. “Sorry about that. He’s not my boyfriend, by the way.”

Henry nodded. “I realised that.”

“I’m not that bad with men, am I?”

He grimaced. “You’re not great.”

I sighed heavily. “Oh well. I have lots of other skills to offer the world other than that.” Yeah, like owl grooming and biscuit eating; that was literally it.

“It doesn’t really matter,” Henry offered, fiddling with a lock of hair that had caught in his glasses. “I think it’s cute.”

I raised my eyebrows, my throat caught in my throat. Cute? What was that supposed to mean? Was that a good thing? Before I could ask him what he meant, he’d shoved a card in my hand.

“Here’s my card. Come and see me if you have any problems. Or, you know, if you need me at all.” He smiled, looking slightly embarrassed before descending the stairs and leaving the shop.

A few minutes later, when I’d stopped rereading his details on his card, I joined the others back on the shop floor. Scorpius was sat on top of a pile of Gilderoy Lockhart autobiographies looking somewhat bemused. Even after an argument he still wouldn’t leave me alone.

“Listen,” I grumbled as I approached him. “You have to stop sticking your massive nose into my business. Why do you have to embarrass me all the time?”

“You do that well enough by yourself,” he retorted. He stood up, glaring at me. “Now, are you coming to lunch or not? We’re running late.”

I looked at the pitiful man in front of me and wondered for the umpteenth time how I’d ever managed to attract such a specimen. I couldn’t get rid of him no matter how hard I tried, which meant he was either extremely devoted to me or just a maniac; I was more inclined towards the latter. Some of Molly’s ever wise words echoed in my mind: “you’re both insane – it’s a perfect match”. This was why everyone was so keen for me to give him a chance. Maybe they thought our strangeness would cancel each other out and then I’d be normal like everyone else. Well, I could tell them now that it was never going to happen. I was done with Scorpius and no man was going to stop me being the strange creature I was. Still, at least in Scorpius’s presence I didn’t feel quite so abnormal.

“Do I have to?” I said in a pained voice. I was really trying to think of ways to back out of this agreement.

“We made a deal, didn’t we? Don’t make me drag you.” He looked particularly menacing as he said the last sentence.

“You wouldn’t dare,” I muttered under my breath, but not particularly loudly as I didn’t really want to provoke him.

He stalked off outside without me. I mock saluted Matthew as I left, who waved me off with what I hoped was sympathy. I caught up with Scorpius as he walked into the wind. His hair was becoming un-gelled and large clumps of it were dancing about stupidly in the wind.

I caught up with him by Madam Malkin’s. I tapped him on the shoulder, quipping, “fancy waiting for me? I am your dinner date, after all.”

“Whatever,” he grumbled. He held out his hand, screwing up his face and squeezing his eyes shut in concentration.

“What are you doing?” I asked, feeling a bit disturbed. His hair was still flapping about in the wind.

“Thinking about my destination with deliberation and determination,” he responded, his face still screwed up like a withered prune.

“Right,” I said, frowning. Surely he should be good enough at Apparating by now that he didn’t need to go through the weird process they taught at Hogwarts?

We began to turn slowly on the spot for a few minutes as he failed to Apparate. I rolled my eyes in exasperation just as I felt the tug around my middle and we vanished.

I was a little bit taken aback once I’d managed to regain my balance. We were faced with a pair of tall austere gates, behind which had to be the biggest house I’d ever seen. It was flanked by blooming hedges and manicured gardens. Suddenly, everything about Scorpius made sense.

“This is your house,” I stated in awe. “This is where you live.”

“Well, I live in Hogsmeade now,” he corrected bashfully. “Don’t you like it?”

I nodded. “It’s enormous.”

Scorpius frowned and let go of my hand. I hadn’t even realised he was still holding it. “Try and be a bit more tactful and polite to my parents.”

“Right,” I said quietly, though to be quite honest I was starting to feel a bit panicky. Should I have worn my dress robes?

Scorpius held his hand out towards the gates, which must have recognised him because they opened immediately. He trotted down the stone path and approached the door. Ringing the bell, he gave me a comforting smile.

As the door opened, I wasn’t sure what to expect. A butler? House elves? I couldn’t really believe people still had them, but if they did anywhere it would be here. Waiting in a grand dining room would be his parents, dressed in their utmost finery. I felt more and more sick by the second.

I was surprised to see that none of the previously mentioned scenarios came true. Instead, a balding man wearing a woolly jumper and a pair of tracksuit bottoms answered the door.

“Scorpy!” he exclaimed delightedly. “Hello, son. And is this the charming Rose we’ve heard so much about?”

Probably not, I thought. I wasn’t exactly charming; they must be thinking of a different Rose.

“Yes,” said ‘Scorpy’. “Dad, this is Rose. Rose, meet my Dad, Draco.”

I offered my hand for a handshake, which Scorpius’s Dad took, kissing it with a flourish. “It’s nice to meet you,” I said awkwardly. Scorpius beamed.

“Come on in, both of you,” Mr Malfoy said happily. He flung the door wide open and beckoned us inside.

I followed them both inside with trepidation. I was undecided whether I wanted to play along with Scorpius’ little game or reveal that I actually couldn’t stand him; it would be apt punishment for his rudeness earlier that day. Maybe I could make a really loud and bitchy break-up scene; yes, that’s what I would do. He wouldn’t come near me after today, I would make sure of that.

Mr Malfoy took us through the house, though I trailed behind somewhat as I stared in awe at the décor. It was so… grand. Scorpius rarely talked about his childhood and so I’d never really thought much about where he had grown up. His parents had old money but they’d put it to good use. No doubt there was family history behind each item of furniture, stories written into the dark wallpaper and engraved into the polished wooden floors. It was big, this house, and not just in size; I felt very small and insignificant as I walked past portrait after portrait of Scorpius’s ancestors.

They epitomised everything my Dad had told me about purebloods, or at least, traditional purebloods. It wasn’t as though I wasn’t familiar with the concept; most of my relatives were purebloods themselves, and the Weasley family was a particularly old one. But they might as well be from another continent the difference between them and this one was so great.

“Are you okay?” Scorpius asked, dropping back to walk with me. “You’ve got a bit of a weird look on your face.”

“I’m fine,” I said slowly. “I was just… thinking.”

He nodded, smoothing his hair down. “Oh.” He looked around at the grandness of the long hall. “It’s a bit different to what you’re used to, I suppose.”

I bristled. “What’s that supposed to mean?” We might not have fancy wallpaper, but my family certainly did more than okay for themselves.

“Well, your family is a lot more laid back. You must think this is awfully stuffy.” He shrugged.

“They’re crazy,” I corrected him. “But I don’t think this is stuffy. I was just thinking about how many stories your family must have to tell.”

Scorpius frowned. “They weren’t all Death Eaters, you know. We were quite a well-respected family once upon a time.”

“You’re only as good as your last single,” I quipped.


Blushing, I realised I’d made a Muggle reference. “Sorry. It’s something my Grandma always says. It’s a reference to music. It means... well, never mind.” On second thoughts, it was probably rude what I was trying to say; I wasn’t sure he’d appreciate me suggesting that his father and grandfather had tarnished his reputation.

Scorpius shrugged, dropping it. He’d never met my Mum’s parents, mostly because he wouldn’t understand a word they said. The Muggle world was a strange one for someone like Scorpius.

Mr Malfoy opened a door to our left, taking us into the sitting room. The hall had given me false expectations, much as the exterior of the manor had caused me to expect a man in a smoking jacket with a pipe, not a man dressed in casual clothes. The room itself was splendid, with high ceilings and an elegant fireplace, but the furniture was threadbare. There were piles of books littered around the room, interspersed with the odd Prophet. My surprise must have shown on my face because Mr Malfoy smiled.

“The problem with inheriting all your furniture is that most of it is so old it’s beyond repair. I don’t have the heart to throw it away now.” He gestured to a faded red armchair. “This was my mother’s favourite. It might not be particularly pretty, but it has sentimental value.” His eyes clouded over a second, before he shook his head. “Make yourselves comfortable,” he added. “I’ll just go and tell Astoria that you’re here.”

He was nice, I decided as Scorpius and I found somewhere to sit amongst the books. I nestled myself into a deflated sofa and watched as Scorpius took his grandmother’s chair.

“Does your Dad like to read?” I asked, picking up the nearest one and reading the title.

“Both my parents do,” Scorpius said with a nod. “I don’t think my Dad can unwind any other way. My Mum, well, she just likes to keep him company.”

We heard footsteps behind us, announcing that Draco’s parents had returned. I stood up, coming face to face with a short, dark-haired woman with a lopsided smile. She beamed at me and pulled me into a hug before I could offer a polite kiss on the cheek.

“We’re so glad you’re here, Rose,” Mrs Malfoy said. I could have sworn she was crying.

“It’s my pleasure,” I replied awkwardly. “Thank you for inviting me.”

Mrs Malfoy beamed. “Well, we’ve heard so much about you. Scorpius is very fond of you, you know.” She patted me on the back whilst throwing a sickly, loving glance in Scorpius’s direction. “We did think for a while that it might never happen,” she said in a stage whisper. “But,” she went on more loudly. “Here you are, his first real friend and first girlfriend. I’m so proud of him!”

I’m not sure my face could take more blushing today; this was mortifying. It was like I’d done them a massive favour. Now I was beginning to understand why Scorpius was so keen on getting me to meet his parents.

“Um,” I said. “Right.”

Scorpius gave me a sheepish smile as Mrs Malfoy bundled me up in another hug, whilst his father just patted him on the back and went to fetch the wine.

“So, Rose,” Mrs Malfoy said as we sat down. I had chosen a different sofa this time, one which was wobbling under my weight. I made a mental note not to eat too much. “How are your parents? It’s been years since I last saw them.”

“They’re fine,” I said, wondering what on Earth I could say about them that was remotely interesting. “My Mum… my Mum is well.” Mrs Malfoy nodded encouragingly. “My Dad… my Dad isn’t.” Oh God, what was I saying? “Isn’t unwell, I mean. He’s actually fine.”

“That’s good to hear,” Scorpius’s mother said, holding her hand to her chest. “We were at school together, but I never really got to know them all that well, unfortunately.” Mr Malfoy returned with a bottle of wine and sat with us. “We were just saying the other day how lovely it would be to meet up with the Potters and Weasleys, weren’t we Draco?” she said pointedly to her husband.

“We were?” Mr Malfoy responded unsurely. “Oh,” he corrected himself. “Yes. That… that would be nice.”

I wasn’t a fool; I knew exactly about my family’s long-running tiff with the Malfoys. I doubted they’d ever want to voluntarily be in the same room as each other for any length of time. My Dad would spend the whole time turning an ugly red whilst my Mum tried not to punch them; they weren’t particularly tolerant people.

“So,” Mrs Malfoy said later as we approached the end of the meal. “Let’s see the ring, then.”

“What?” I spluttered, looking down at my hands so as to assure myself Scorpius hadn’t slipped on onto my hand when I wasn’t looking.

“Scorpius told us he’d bought one and popped the question.”

“What question?” I asked, feeling horrified.

“Well,” Mr Malfoy interrupted before his wife could speak. “I’m going to make coffee. Would you like something Rose?”

“Um,” I said, still looking down at my ends as the heat built up in my cheeks. “No thank you. I actually should be leaving, I think.”

“You don’t have to leave so soon,” Mrs Malfoy said forlornly. “It’s been so nice talking with you.”

I didn’t dare look at Scorpius for fear of stabbing him in the eye with my cake fork. “I’ve had a lovely time, thank you,” I tried. “But I really must be returning to work.”

I shook both of their hands before grabbing Scorpius by the elbow and dragging him into the hall with me. I marched him to the door, where I finally turned to glare at him.

“You’re lucky I’m a nice person,” I growled. “Otherwise I would have told your parents everything. But don’t you dare ever pull something like that on me again. What were you thinking? Why did you tell them you’d bought a ring?” Scorpius smoothed his hair down yet again, biting his lip nervously. “Well?”

“I did buy a ring,” he said quietly. “I want to marry you.”

My mouth opened and closed like a hyperactive fish. “I don’t understand.”

He looked down at his highly polished shoes. “I know we’ve had our ups and downs,” he began as I watched him wide-eyed. “But I always thought we’d end up together, eventually. We make a great pair, Rosie.”

I shook my head forcefully. “No, we don’t,” I argued. “Every time I think I could possibly stand being your friend, which by the way I sort of had this afternoon, you go and pull a stunt like this.” He looked up, tears forming in his eyes. “If you feel that way you should keep it to yourself. I broke up with you but it doesn’t feel like you ever got the message.” The tears were threatening to spill. “And stop crying. Get rid of the hair gel and listen to me for once. I don’t want to go out with you, let alone marry you.”

“Give me a chance,” he said quietly.

I sighed heavily. “I’ve tried, I really have. Just leave me alone.”

As cruel as it was, I left him there standing by the door, crying, and headed back to work alone. Alone was always better than having to be with him. I’d had enough; why was he the only man ever interested in me? He made it impossible to hide from him no matter how hard I tried. I just wanted to be normal; was that too much to ask?

AN: Well, that was a rather mammoth chapter. Thanks so much to everyone who's been reviewing, and if you have a moment I'd love some feedback on this one :) 

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