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Chapter 7 : A Case Of Foot-In-Mouth Disease
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It’s just typical. I shouldn’t even be surprised when stuff like this happens to me anymore. It will probably turn out that this so-called Brian bloke is actually a woman. Or maybe he’s secretly a spy working for the Ministry of Magic and is trying to find that potted plant I stole from the Department of Magical Law Enforcement last year – I thought it might look nice in my bathroom. And it does. Note to self – never ever let anyone into the bathroom who cannot be trusted.
My expression, I can only assume, is mirroring his – complete shock and embarrassment. Mr Jackson, the principal, is looking from Richard – no, Brian – to me, confused. 'Brian'’s eyes are so wide, it’s as if they’re about to pop out of their sockets.
“No, this is Brian McDonald,” Mr Jackson tells me again, “He is your son’s teacher...” I think he thinks I think he said Richard, not Brian. Now even I’m confused. “And this is Rose Weasley, Aidan’s mother.”
Brian-the-teacher’s eyebrows are in serious risk of disappearing into his hair at the minute.
“Oh, I see,” I nod and hold out my hand, “Sorry, I thought you were someone else.”
“Right...” says Brian, reluctantly shaking my hand. This is so utterly mortifying. I’m never going out to a club ever again. Ever. Is this what happens to everyone who meets blokes in clubs?
“Mrs Weasley,” says Mr Jackson, “Would you please come to my office? There is something important we’d like to discuss with you.” This is bad. If the principal is involved, it has to be bad. A teacher’s assistant stays with the children as Mr Jackson, Brian McDonald and I head for the principal’s office to discuss Aidan’s behaviour. What could he possibly have done?
Maybe they’ve discovered his magical ability. I’ll have some bloody explaining to do if he’s gone and turned another child’s hair pink. Or maybe he did something to Mrs Murphy and that’s why she’s out sick. Maybe he killed her. But surely they can’t throw a five-year-old in Azkaban?
Mr Jackson’s office is quite small and looks like a rundown old shack compared to the Headmaster’s office in Hogwarts. I know it’s unfair of me to compare anywhere to Hogwarts, but I can’t help it. I’m programmed that way. I’ve forgotten to feel uncomfortable around Brian now because I’m so worried about what they’re going to give out to me about.
“Have a seat, Mrs Weasley,” Mr Jackson tells me, as he sits down in his own desk chair. Brian remains standing with his arms folded, studying me with the trace of shock still evident in his eyes. “So, Mrs Weasley –” I swear if he calls me ‘Mrs’ Weasley once more, I’m going to jam his stapler in his eye. “You’ve been called here to discuss your son’s performance in class. Brian,” he stresses the name, “has been filling in for Mrs Murphy since the week before the Christmas break, so he is quite familiar with your son’s condition.”
The word ‘condition’ startles me. That makes him sound ill. He’s not ill. I’d know if he was. What kind of mother would I be if I didn’t? Or maybe they’re referring to his magical ability as a ‘condition’.
“What condition?” I ask warily, “Aidan doesn’t have a condition.” Brian looks down at his feet uncomfortably.
“Mrs Weasley...” Yes, this bloke is definitely going to get a stapler to the face. Seriously, how many times does he have to say my name? “Your son has what looks like early signs of dyslexia. Now, this isn’t anything major or serious, it will just mean that Aidan will have to see a special teacher for about twenty minutes a week to help–”
“That’s impossible,” I interrupt, “Aidan’s not dyslexic. I’d know. I read to him all the time. He’s extremely clever for his age...”
“We’re not questioning his intellect,” Brian speaks for the first time, “Dyslexia has nothing to do with intelligence.”
The two remain quiet for a moment to allow this information to sink in with me. Of all the things I thought they were going to tell me, this was the last one on my mind. Aidan’s always been smart for his age – sometimes a little bit too smart. His vocabulary really is outstanding for a five-year-old, and I’m not just talking about swear words. I worry about the boy twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Is he eating enough, or too much? Is that a chicken pock or just a freckle? What could he possibly be doing now to get into trouble? Did he brush his teeth? Where the hell did he get that rabbit? Dyslexia was never something I thought about.
“How could you possibly know he’s dyslexic?” I ask, suddenly feeling very defensive, “He’s five years old, he’s not exactly going to be an expert reader or writer, now is he? Give him a chance! Don’t just dump him on some special teacher because you couldn’t be bothered spending time on the slightly slower learners!”
“That’s the thing,” Brian-Richard tells me, “He’s not a slow learner, not by a long shot. I’ve only taught him for a week, but it’s easy to tell he’s a very smart kid.” He rests his palms onto the principal’s desk and stares me in the eyes, and I start to feel embarrassed again. “He mixes up his letters in the alphabet. He has difficulties recognising numbers. Ask him the capital of Scotland or Ireland and he’ll tell you straight away, but show him the letter ‘H’ and he won’t say a word.”
“Mrs Weasley,” Mr Jackson starts.
“Rose,” I interrupt him, “Please call me Rose.” Before I gouge your eyes out.
“Rose,” Mr Jackson corrects himself, “These days you can tell if a child’s dyslexic from as early as three and four. Modern techniques enable us to diagnose it early and help the child. We’re not trying to dump your son on anyone. We just want to help.”
I nod, still trying to take this in. “Does Aidan know? About the special teacher, I mean.”
“Not yet,” says Brian, “We thought we’d let you know first so that you can decide whether you want to tell him yourself, or have us do it.”
“I’ll tell him,” I say straight away. I’m always the bearer of bad news. He’ll be expecting it from me. “Is that all?”
Brian McDonald and Mr Jackson both nod. I stand up and shake their hands. “Thank you both for your time.”
Then I get the hell out of there as fast as I can, before Brian has a chance to confront me and ask why the hell I go around telling people my name is Susanna Ryan.
“Well, that’s embarrassing,” says Jenny, trying her best not to laugh when I meet her for lunch and tell her the whole story about Richard/Brian. We both usually have Mondays off, so we meet up to vent, rant, complain and any other synonyms for ‘bitch about our lives’. Today we’re in a small Muggle coffee shop. “I was wondering where you’d gotten to on New Years...”
“Didn’t think of giving me a ring to make sure I wasn’t dead though, did you?” I reply.
“Well...I thought you were with James...” she trails off pathetically, “Speaking of – have you two made up yet?”
“Who, me and James?” I ask. She nods. “Well...not really. No.”
Jenny sighs heavily. As if she’s one to forgive easily. I will once again refer back to the Robert Hitch Fiasco. Why should I just forgive James? I used to find his insensitive stupidity amusing – now it’s just downright cruel.
“Rose, I really don’t think he knew how you felt – or feel – about Scorpius. James is so protective of you. More protective than he is over Lily, even!” Jenny points out, “Maybe you should talk to him. You’re practically brother and sister.” Although it is the sad but true fact that I am closer to James than to my own brother, I still don’t know if I can just forget this. James has very intelligent parents – I’m not quite sure how he turned out so thick. “On top of this,” Jenny continues, “I can’t have my maid of honour fighting with the Best Man at my wedding!”
I stare at her. “Maid of honour?” I confirm, “Me?”
She nods happily, clapping her hands. “Oh Rose, don’t give me that face!” She sounds like my mother. “I know you’re not fond of the bridesmaid role, but who else could I have as my maid of honour?”
“Hmm, maybe you’re sister?” I suggest, “Or Al’s sister. Or anyone else’s sister!”
“Rose, you’re going to be my maid of honour,” she says firmly, “It’s not a request.”
“Fine,” I sigh. Well, at least I’m not in love with the groom at this wedding. Nor am I six months pregnant. “James is going to be Best Man? I thought it might be Scorpius...” I don’t know why I thought it would be Scorpius. James is Al’s only brother!
“I thought so too, but I think Al would prefer have his brother there. Scorpius is going to be a groom’s man I think,” she explains.
“Oh. Well it’s probably better that way,” I say, “James has more experience with the Best Man business...”
“Let it go,” Jenny sighs, shaking her head, “Let it go.”
After my lunch with Jenny, I contemplate going to James’s apartment (he gets angry if I call it a flat because ‘apartment’ sounds so much more glamorous, and glamorous is the only word for James’s place – why couldn’t I have been a professional Quidditch player?) and apologising to him for being such a bitch over the last few weeks. However, I end up at Scorpius’s. I tell myself that I’m only here to discuss Aidan’s dyslexia, but part of me just wants to speak to him. I haven’t spoken to him in a while.
How utterly pathetic am I?
I knock on the door. Although I have my own key, I find this formality to be much more polite. And I wouldn’t like to walk in on him and Daisy having some ‘afternoon delight’ right there on the floor of the kitchen. However, when there appears to be no sign of life inside, I let myself in, like a grade-A stalker.
“Hello?” I call out as I close the front door behind me, “Anybody home?” I get no reply, yet I continue walking down the hallway and into the kitchen. It’s absolutely spotless. For the last few years, I’ve become accustomed to walking into Scorpius’s messy flat and having to breathe through my mouth to stop myself from gagging at the stale, out-of-date and sour smell. The smell is now gone. Just like that, it’s gone, like Scorpius’s single life. I never thought I’d miss such a disgusting smell.
And there are flowers and plants everywhere – and they’re still alive. I’ve put every charm under the sun on my plants, but they just keep dying on me. I didn’t think Scorpius even knew what plants were. But there’s a huge bunch of lilies on the windowsill, and an assortment of flowers in the centre on the table. I can’t help but wonder if Scorpius actually likes all these clean changes she’s been making. I know I don’t. Who the hell wants a bunch of insect-ridden flowers on the kitchen table? Apparently wisdom doesn’t come with age.
Even the living room looks different. Again it’s tidier, but it’s brighter too. There’s a new mat on the floor and actual paintings on the walls. Scorpius only ever had one picture in his living room, and it was one of me and Aidan on Aidan’s first birthday. Now there are random pictures of Daisy and who I assume are members of her family dotted around the place. She’s even managed to dig out pictures of Aidan, but ones that I’m conveniently not in. In fact, I can’t even see that original picture that Scorpius used to have on his mantelpiece.
Right in the middle of the said mantelpiece is a rather new picture – of Scorpius and Daisy. They’re just sitting on the couch – the one right behind me – smiling for the camera, Daisy waving every now and again, and then kissing Scorpius’s cheek. It makes me feel sick. There are absolutely no pictures of their wedding. Apparently they were in such a rush to get married, they forgot the bloody camera. How touching.
Then I notice it, right behind the cheesy picture of Scorpius and Daisy, is the picture of me and Aidan. I knew Scorpius wouldn’t get rid of it. He loves that picture. It’s considerably smaller than the Scorpius and Daisy monster, so I bring it to the front and then smile in satisfaction – that’s much better. There I am, grinning (yes, an actual grin) out into Scorpius’s living room. Nobody puts Rose-and-baby in the corner. I can bet it was Daisy who moved it.
I hear a key in the door and start to panic. Here I am, breaking and entering and moving pictures around in my ex-boyfriend’s flat! This is going to be a hard one to talk myself out of. Please don’t be Daisy...please don’t be Daisy...
I try to creep out into the hall as quietly as I can, hoping whoever it is decides to go into the kitchen first, rather than in here. I peek out into the hall, and seeing that it’s now empty, I tiptoe out and open the front door as quietly as possible.
Apparently I’m not quiet enough. Thank God it’s not her.
“Hello Scorpius!” I say in a very fake-happy tone, “Fancy seeing you here!”
He looks confused. I don’t blame him. Even I’m confused. Why on earth did I come in here in the first place?
“Eh, I live here,” he points out.
“Oh, yes,” I say stupidly, “Of course.”
He looks like he’s about to give some snide, sarcastic remark or start up another pointless argument. “D’you want a cup of tea?” But apparently not.
“Eh, yeah. Alright,” I answer.
I follow him back into the kitchen in silence. He turns on the radio and boils up the kettle. I have about a thousand things I want to say to him, but nothing is coming out. We sit down at the table – I can’t help making a face at the flowers again – and wait for the kettle to boil.
“So...” Scorpius begins, somewhat uncomfortably, “What are you doing here?” He doesn’t say it in a ‘what the hell are you doing in my house you crazy bitch?’ kind of way, more in an ‘I’m curious to know why you’ve chosen today to break into my house and move around my pictures’ kind of way.
“I had a meeting at Aidan’s school today,” I tell him.
“Oh?” he looks sort of relieved that I’ve brought up a topic of conversation. “Why didn’t you tell me? I would have gone with you...” Yes, that wouldn’t have been awkward at all.
“It’s alright,” I shrug, “You can go to the next one.” And all the ones after that. I’m never going back there again.
“So what did he do now?” Scorpius asks tiredly.
“Nothing, surprisingly,” I tell him, “Apparently he’s dyslexic.”
Scorpius doesn’t look as affected by this as I expected. He merely summons some cups and flicks his wand at the teapot, which pours some tea into our cups. “Oh, right.”
“Oh right?” I glare at him, the tension slowly drifting away as it does every time I do my glaring. “That’s it?”
“What do you expect me to say?” he frowns.
“Well, when I tell you our son is dyslexic I expect a little bit more than ‘oh, right’. How do you feel about it? I mean, here’s another hardship he’s going to have to face,” I vent, “How can this have no affect on you whatsoever?”
“I think you might be making a mountain out of a molehill here,” he says casually, and sips his tea, “D’you want a biscuit?”
“No I don’t want a biscuit!” I cry, “Why are you trivialising this?”
“It’s not that big of a deal,” Scorpius shrugs.
“It is a big fucking deal!” I cry, “He’s going to have to go to a special teacher – all the other kids are going to know about it! And do you think they’re going to see it as not a big deal? They’re going to laugh at him, tease him for it, even though he’s about ten times smarter than the lot of them! Don’t you care at all?”
“Yes, I care!” he says loudly, “Of course I care! But you making a big fucking deal out of it isn’t going to help anything!”
“He needs our support!” I argue, “We can’t just pretend it’s not there. He’s going to struggle if we don’t help him!”
“He’ll be fine,” Scorpius says, as if trying to end the conversation.
“He’ll be fine,” I echo, “Just like that, is it?”
“And how the hell would you know? You’re not the one who’s going to have to face this every day. You’re not the one who has to see a special teacher while the other children are practicing the alphabet. You’re not the one –”
“Rose, I’m dyslexic.”
Well that shut me up.
He looks down at his hands, almost embarrassed. He has that look Aidan gets when I’ve discovered he’s wet the bed, mixed with anger and frustration. I feel awful now. Why did I have to make such a big deal of it?
“You’re...dyslexic,” I say, “Well...why didn’t you ever mention this before?”
“It’s not a big deal,” he mumbles insecurely, “At least, I didn’t think it was...”
“It’s not!” I cry immediately, “I – I mean, it’s not a big deal that you’re dyslexic. I didn’t even know you were dyslexic! You were still the top of our year – well, except for me - but that’s not important...I mean, nobody noticed it with you...it’s not a big deal, of course it isn’t! I wasn’t trying to belittle you or anything...”
“Rose, shut up,” he tells me. Thank God he stopped me. I could have gone on for days until I finally fit my two feet into my mouth. “You know, you’re really awful in these situations.”
“I know,” I say unhappily, “I’m sorry. I now know why you never told me.”
“I never told you because it was never a big deal for me,” he shrugs, “I had a special correction quill, and all my books and exam papers had special anti-dyslexia charms on them –”
“Anti-dyslexia charms?” I ask, “What did they do?”
“The Ministry puts them on so that the book sort of...reads to you...in a way...” he looks frustrated trying to explain it, “I mean, it kind of reads to you, but only you can hear it. It’s not that I can’t read,” he assures me, “I can just read a lot quicker with the charms.”
“Oh,” I say, “Right.” And I gave out to him when he said that. But really, there’s nothing else to say.
“I’ve never told anyone that,” he says, “Not even Al or Daisy. My parents are the only people who know.”
“I won’t tell anyone,” I tell him, “Even though it’s not a big deal.”
He smirks. “I think this is the first time I ever won an argument with you.”
“Don’t get used to it,” I warn him. We drink our tea in silence. I still feel terrible. It’s strange to see Scorpius so insecure about something. He’s always been quite egotistical, not unlike his father. Me, I’m insecure about absolutely everything, from my hair to my arse, from my nose to my knees. But I can’t imagine being insecure about reading and writing. I can only imagine the pressure Scorpius feels when he has to read some document at work that doesn’t have an anti-dyslexia charm on it. Or how anxious he might feel if he has to use a normal quill instead of a correctional one.
Still, despite the awkward tension between us, I can’t help enjoying this time with him, just the two of us. It’s like old times when we’d just hang out and watch a film together when Aidan was in bed, or when we’d spend hours upon hours arguing about things like who should be the next Minister for Magic, or more importantly, who should win the Quidditch World Cup this year. Because despite the fact that I’m quite inappropriately in love with him, we were good mates. Best mates, even.
“Do you miss hanging out?” I ask him and immediately mentally kick myself for doing so. How desperate do I sound? He probably won’t even know what I’m on about –
“Yeah,” he answers straight away. My heart does a somersault – I hit my chest to make it stop. Now I just look plain weird. “I miss...it.”
It. Not me. Maybe he wanted to say me, but then remembered he has a wife. We look at each other and we both know what he meant. Oh why did you have to get married, Scorp? It would be a bit inappropriate to lunge across the table, knocking over Daisy’s disgusting flowers, and kiss him, wouldn’t it? Technically it would count as adultery...
What’s a bit of adultery between friends?
“I can pick Aidan up from school,” says Scorpius, checking his watch. I check mine and realise that it’s just about time to collect him. “And if you want, I can explain to him about the...you know...”
“Yeah, that sounds good,” I nod. At least that’s one less awkward conversation I have to have with my son. If he hears Scorpius has dyslexia, he’s going to want it anyway. Scorpius can do no wrong in Aidan’s eyes. “If you want he can stay here tonight...if that’s alright with you –”
“Of course it’s alright!” says Scorpius enthusiastically, “Right, well I better go collect him then. You can stay here if you want –”
“No, it’s alright,” I say quickly, not wanting him to think I’m a complete weirdo, “I have some stuff to do at home.”
“Okay, well...I’ll see you tomorrow?”
I nod and he disapparates.
Sometimes, if I try really hard, I can convince myself that I have absolutely no romantic feelings for Scorpius whatsoever. Right now, trying as hard as I possibly can, I can’t get my heart to slow the fuck down. Stupid heart.
In reality, I don’t actually have stuff to do at home. I spend the entire day pacing around my empty flat, playing with Ollie and walking her. I feel bad about leaving her alone in the flat while I’m at work and Aidan’s at school, so Teddy and Victoire usually take her. They have a nanny to look after the kids, and the dogs, while they’re at work. One day, when I have loads of money and a massive house, I’m going to get a nanny for the dog.
Although I was apprehensive about getting a dog for Aidan, I’m glad we have Ollie. Even though she’s only been here a few weeks, she’s like one of the family now. In fact, she’s better than one of the family because she doesn’t give as much grief as they do. Lysander has written twice to see how she’s settled in. Poor Lysander – he has a heart of gold, but I can’t imagine why Lily ever chose him over Lorcan. I’ve always considered Lysander the uglier of the Scamander twins, even though they’re basically identical.
While Ollie and I are in the middle of watching a very addictive Muggle game-show, there is a knock at the door. They should really fix the buzzer on this building so that random people can’t just come up and knock on your door in the middle of your favourite game-shows. The stupid landlord is the stingiest git on the planet though – he won’t even stretch to a gardener to mow the front lawn. I begrudgingly get up and answer the door.
It’s him. It’s Richard-Brian-McDonald-the-Muggle-teacher. He’s here. He’s at my door. Just when I thought today couldn’t possibly get any worse, Richard-Brian-McDonald-the-Muggle-teacher is at my door.
“Hi there, I’m looking for Susanna Ryan,” he says. Urgh. Sarcasm. How bloody original.
A/N: This was quite a quick update, even if it wasn't very funny. It was a bit too serious. Ah well, you can't be laughing all the time! I'm a bit unsure about this chapter, so please review and tell me what you liked/disliked about it. I love you all for reading and reviewing, you really have no idea how much it means to me! :D
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