Chapter 1 : A Beginning Of Sorts
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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.
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.”
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