The door slamming behind Teddy woke me from my stunned state. My eyes landed on Sam, who was picking himself off the floor. He took one look at me, then stormed into my bedroom. I shivered unintentionally; his icy glare had pierced me. I followed him through to the next room as I heard clattering and shuffling.
Sam had an old carrier bag in his hand, and he was unceremoniously stuffing things into it; clothes, toiletries and personal items he had left at my flat during our relationship.
“Sam,” I said warningly as he pushed past me to leave the house.
“Oh shut up, Victoire,” Sam said spitefully, casting a disgusted look over his shoulder, pausing at my bedroom door. “Don’t you dare try and blame me for this. I’ve had enough of it! If you love him so much, why don’t you just do what you want. It’s clear that we have nothing anymore.”
“It’s not like that-”
“Isn’t it?” Sam shook his head irritably. “What is it like, then? I should have known he’d be involved once again. To think I trusted you.”
“You can trust me,” I begged, not wanting him to leave me. If he left, I would have to face the fact that I would be alone again. No matter where his feelings lay, he was a part of my past that I didn’t want to let go of without a fight. I had had many happy memories… until Teddy ruined it all.
“You proved to me this morning that I shouldn’t have trusted you,” Sam said coldly, his eyes narrowing. I blushed when I realised I still wasn’t decently dressed.
“It won’t happen again,” I promised.
“You said that last time.”
I watched helplessly as he left my flat forever, and somewhere inside of me I felt an unwelcome feeling; relief. It flooded through me as I listened to my still, quiet flat. I had it to myself, and as I stared at the door I decided to sort my life out. I had never been in a more embarrassing situation in my life, and my toes curled at the memory. When had I let myself go? Once, I would never have let myself be caught in such a… compromising situation. Teddy had changed me, I knew that now. And once again, Sam had walked out of my life.
I slowly found my way towards my bed and found my pyjamas on the floor around them. Tidiness didn’t come naturally to me, and I certainly wasn’t going to change my ways any time soon. My mother had always nagged and nagged at me to tidy up, saying I should have more self respect. I’d never really followed her advice, and I wasn’t going to start now… As I thought of my mother, I felt a little bit homesick. In a split second, I decided that the place any woman should go when they’ve broken up with their boyfriend is home. Her mother, she knew, would be sympathetic. And besides, I really couldn’t face an empty bed tonight.
I grabbed an old bag from under my unmade bed and stuff my pyjamas and necessary items into it. I quickly cast my eyes around the room to make sure I had everything. My gaze fell on the red lipstick that had been left on my bedside table earlier that morning and I hesitated. I had been so sure that I didn’t need it when Teddy was between my legs… but now I wanted its comfort, its safety. I picked it up and ran it over my dry lips before I could change my mind and threw it into the overnight bag. I put on the comfiest (and cleanest) clothes I could find, and Apparated home.
To her credit, Maman didn’t ask me why I had come to visit her armed with an overnight bag, and neither did she look suspicious. She stood back from the open door, welcoming me back home. I immediately went up to my old room and dumped my bag on my bed, sighing. What I wanted most of all right now was to sit down in front of a warm fire and eat lots of ice-cream. Yes, admittedly I had a craving for ice-cream a lot of the time, but I badly wanted it today. Chocolate flavoured, without a doubt.
I knew where the ice-cream was kept, and helped myself to a new tub and settled down in front of the roaring fire. My father loved a roaring fire, even though Maman didn’t like them at all. Too much cleaning, she said. I didn’t understand what her problem was, as even I could clean out a fireplace faster than I could shovel down ice-cream. And if she didn’t want to lift her wand to do the job, she should get a house elf.
I watched the fire as my ice-cream slowly softened. My head hurt, and not just from the hangover I had neglected before now. So much else had happened that the throbbing in my head had not seemed important. I heard pots clanging in the kitchen, and grudgingly got up to see if I could offer to help. Maman always stressed the importance of helping as much as we could.
I stood in the kitchen doorway, and saw my younger sister searching in the cupboards for a certain saucepan. She was taller than me, irritably, and she seemed to take after Maman a lot more than I did. If anything, I’d inherited my grandma’s genes. I saw Dominique huff impatiently as she stood up again, unable to find the pan she was looking for. She whipped out her wand, and cried, “Accio pan!”. The saucepan flew from the other side of the room and into her waiting hands. Had I done that, I observed, the saucepan would probably have hit me in the face or stomach.
I smiled when Dominique turned and saw me. She raised her eyebrows questioningly, but I shook my head. “Just because you’re of age now doesn’t mean you have to abandon any form of effort. Searching is character building!”
“You sound like Grandma,” she said, smiling in return. She came over and hugged me tightly. I didn’t see why she was so eager to see me; after all, I had only seen her last night at Uncle Harry’s. Nonetheless, I appreciated the sisterly gesture, and hugged her longer than we would have done normally.
“Have you been crying?” she demanded, inspecting my face.
I shrugged. “A little.”
“What’s Teddy done now?” Ah, my little sister was wise. Though only seventeen, she seemed to be a lot mature than I was. I had a lot to learn from her, though I couldn’t help wondering how she could see through me so easily. That was a skill I needed to pick up.
“Teddy?” I said, forming the lie in my head. “It’s not him, really, this time. It’s Sam.”
She didn’t buy it, but humoured me all the same. “Why, did you finally see his face after all this time?”
“Dom…” I warned, trying not to let the smile creep its way across my face.
“It was about Teddy, wasn’t it? Did he dump you?” Dom wasn’t one to beat around the bush, and right then I could really have done without it. I moved my mouth a bit, trying to form words. “Good riddance.”
“He wasn’t so bad…”
“He was so dull! I’ve been just waiting until he was off the scene so I could… vent my spleen.” Dominique grinned wickedly.
“Oh, give over. Let me be miserable without you bringing it all up again.” I looked around the kitchen distractedly, searching for a change of subject. “What’s for lunch?”
Dom rolled her eyes at my obvious change of subject, but complied all the same. “Sausage and mash.”
“Really?” I asked, surprised. Maman didn’t really care for traditional English food. “No bouillabaisse today, then?”
Dom pulled a face, distorting her pale face. “Thank God, no. I can’t stand the stuff. Actually, I suspected Maman was going to cook us something ghastly, so I offered to cook instead. Luckily she’s keen to have us help out, isn’t it?”
I agreed, then slowly backed out of the kitchen. It was probably more helpful if I just left Dominique to her own devices. I was hopeless at anything culinary related. I resumed my place in front of the fire and ate a spoonful of delicious Honeydukes’ chocolate ice-cream. I then reached for a copy of Witch Weekly, which I found under the coffee table.
Idly flicking through the magazine, I noticed how much I missed the family atmosphere that I had here. When I was alone in my flat, I felt so isolated and lonely. Even with Sam, there had been something missing; atmosphere. It didn’t feel like home, not when he was there.
Much later in the evening, after I had polished off another tub of chocolate ice-cream, I heard the doorbell ring. I was lying on the sofa in front of the fire, still, and I had my pyjamas on.
When I opened the door, I saw Sam standing on the doorstep, a cold, hard look fixed on his face. His hair was ruffled, and I guessed that he had been standing a while in the wind. In his hand was a plastic bag, and he shoved it into my hands before I could say anything.
“Happy New Year,” he said shortly, and turned on the spot, Apparating away. I sighed frustratedely. He really grated on me.
I went back inside and crawled under my duvet. I looked inside the bag Sam had handed to me, and saw the contents of the last few months looking up at me.
There were a couple of shampoo bottles I had long since forgotten, along with a couple of t-shirts. There was even a rubber duck, which I assumed was a joke. I don’t think I had missed it that much at all. Right at the bottom of the bag, my hands clasped around a small cylinder, and as I withdrew it I saw it was one of my old red lipsticks.
I stared at it for a minute or two, blaming it for my mistakes. Maybe it was better if I didn’t hide behind the protection of my lipstick anymore, as it only seemed to get me into greater trouble. I threw it angrily back into the bag. Wiping my eyes, I tried in vain to stop a few tears escaping my eyes.
I felt foolish, immature and overwhelmed by how much my life had gone off track. After twenty years of life, what had I to show? A few average O.W.L.s, three N.E.W.T.s, a chubby tummy, a best friend who wanted more and a trashed love life. My job was only temporary, my boyfriend gone. And, I decided, it was time for the lipstick to go too.