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 better go,” Scorpius interrupts me before I even start, “Have to work...”
“Oh...oh, right,” I nod, “I’ll see you...”
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,” 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!”
“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!”
“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.
“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.”
I look at the teacher being introduced to me.
“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!
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