Chapter 10 : Unwelcomed Changes
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Michael Cera's so adorable...by the way, these Chapter Images are just for funsies. You can still keep your own individual ideas of what the characters look like. I was just bored!
Chapter 10 - Unwelcomed Changes
It’s the final countdown. In exactly five hours I will be dead. I wonder how Aidan will get along without me. I know I’ve probably messed him up good and proper at this stage, but hopefully he’ll get over it and actually grow up to be a normal person. Or as normal as someone who’s half-Malfoy, half-Weasley can be – and as normal as someone who’s stepmother has killed his mother can be.
Then again, maybe Daisy won’t kill me. Maybe we’ll duel and I’ll win, despite the fact that she has ten more years’ life experience than I do, and a NEWT in Charms. Well, I’m presuming she has a NEWT in Charms if she works in the broomstick-charming industry. Still, I have attitude – or what my mother calls shameless cheek – and you can’t really match that with a couple of stupid spells.
In conclusion, I’m a dead woman.
“Cheer up, love,” Gladys tells me, watching me twirl my quill around in my hands at super-speed. It’s the same quill that ‘Aidan’ got me for Christmas. I hope they bury it with me. “Maybe she just wants to borrow a jug.”
“If she wanted to borrow a jug, then why couldn’t she do that in front of the child?” Hazel asks logically, “Nope, Rose is dead.”
“She is not dead,” says Linda fiercely, “Daisy has no right to say anything to Rose about Scorpius! He was hers first!”
I always liked that Linda.
“Well, yes, technically,” says Gladys, “But Rose did dump him.”
Why do they have to talk about me like I’m not sitting right here beside them?
“Yes, and Scorpius is Daisy’s husband, at the end of the day,” says Hazel.
“So?” Linda spits, “What Rose and Scorpius had was deeper than a piece of paper!”
“Yes, was deeper,” says Hazel, “Rose ended things with Scorpius. She can’t expect him to wait around forever.”
“It’s a good thing she can’t hear you,” I say dryly.
“He slept in her bed last night!” says Linda, banging her hand down on the desk, “What does that tell you?”
“That he’s a typical bloke,” says Hazel, “Thinks with his –”
“There was no thinking with anything last night!” I snap, “He slept on my bed last night, not in it!”
I should have called in sick today. There is so much work to be done after yesterday’s catastrophe, but I’m just not in the mood to do anything. The death count is up to thirty, and the thought just gives me shivers every time I think about it. We’re not even helping out today. We’re back to doing the boring admin work; in other words, Linda is back to reading Witch Weekly, Gladys is back to painting her nails, Hazel is back to raving on about her husband and I’m back to fantasising about goals I’ll never achieve and blonde hair I’ll never have. And of course my pending murder.
On top of this, we have families approaching us every few minutes, asking about their relatives who were injured in yesterday’s blasts, some of whom are dead. Gladys and Hazel deliver the bad news. I can’t seem to muster up the courage. How do you tell a woman that her daughter is dead? I can’t imagine what it’s like to lose a child. If anything ever happened to Aidan, I’m not sure what I’d do. Even thinking about it is too unbearable.
I get a letter from Nana Molly around lunchtime. Despite the fact that Al bought her a magi-phone for her 80th birthday, she insists on writing letters to communicate with people. She figures she got through eighty years of her life without semi-Muggle magic, so she shouldn’t start using it now. Grandad, on the other hand, thought it was the best thing since his flying car.
You haven’t written in almost a week, dear! It would be nice to know if you’re still alive. I realise you must be very busy at work, especially after yesterday’s disaster, but the odd letter for your dear old grandmother wouldn’t cut that much time out of your busy schedule.
Anyway, lectures aside –
Lectures aside? That’s a first.
- the reason I’m writing is to let you know – if you don’t already, that is – that the shop was destroyed in the explosion yesterday. Luckily your Uncle George wasn’t there at the time, but I’m sure you can imagine the amount of damage an uncontrolled spell would do to Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes.
It doesn’t bear thinking about the amount of damage that could be done in that place. Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes is a tinderbox at the best of times. I’m surprised that it didn’t blow up before now. Thank Merlin Uncle George wasn’t there.
George is very upset by it. Your mother tried to get in contact with you yesterday, but you weren’t home. Some of us are meeting up in Diagon Alley throughout the day to help clean up the mess. Your father and Harry say that the last of the bodies have been found. I suppose we should count ourselves lucky that all we lost was a shop.
Anyway, if you’d like to come to Diagon Alley after work, we’d really appreciate your help. Andromeda will look after Aidan – she’s minding Remus and Dorie for Victoire and Teddy.
Hope to see you later, Dear,
I’ve been so selfish. I never even thought of Uncle George’s shop, or of Uncle George. Have I become so self-absorbed that when a catastrophe happens right next door to my own Uncle’s shop that all I can think of is myself and how hard it is for me to see people dying? I make myself sick. I’m the kind of person that I’ve always hated. Even now, knowing that later on I’ll be going to help my Uncle pick up the pieces of his ruined business, I’m thinking of myself – because now, Daisy can’t kill me this evening.
It’s Healer Kennedy. Damien. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to call him. Linda looks up from her magazine and Gladys and Hazel’s expressions look far more enthusiastic than they did ten seconds ago. My ears are burning – I can feel them.
“Hello,” I reply.
“I just wanted to say thanks for your help yesterday,” he says, as if he’s in a rush. He always seems to talk like that. But then again, he’s always in a rush, being a big important Healer. Scorpius is the kind of laid-back person who never seems to be in a rush to go anywhere – except when it comes to rushing into having children and getting married, of course. He’s annoying like that.
“Oh, okay,” I say, a bit taken aback. I don’t want to point out to him that I really didn’t have any other choice but to help. “Eh...you’re welcome.”
“And I thought I’d give you this,” he hands me a pamphlet – Post-NEWT Potion Making. Gladys, Linda and Hazel try to subtly look at what he’s given me, but they’re about as subtle as a brick. “You seem to have a flair for Potions,” he continues, “There’s some Post-Newt night classes here on Mondays.”
“Oh,” I say. He looks disappointed by my indifferent response. “Well, thanks but I don’t really have the time – OW!” Gladys kicks me. Damien pretends not to notice.
“Yeah,” I continue, rubbing my throbbing leg, “I have a child to look after, I don’t think I can afford to hire a babysitter...” I don’t bother mentioning that I could leave him with Scorpius. Because as embarrassing as admitting that I’m a single mother and the kid’s father got married on a whim is, I really don’t want to have to explain the real reason I can’t possibly take this class.
“Well, I really do think you have a talent,” says Damien, “It’d be a shame to let it go to waste. Haven’t you family who could look after your...”
“Son,” I inform him, “And no, I come from a very small family. And they’re all dead.” I’m going straight to hell. Linda shakes her head in disgust.
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” says Damien sympathetically, “Is there anything I can do?”
Now I’m stuck. I can’t lie anymore. Hazel looks like she’s going to burst out laughing and Linda still looks disgusted with me. And Gladys is ready to kick again.
“Look,” I sigh, “I have a family – a big one, that’s very much alive.” He raises his eyebrows. “The reason I can’t take this class is that I don’t have a NEWT in Potions. I don’t have a NEWT in anything.” Admitting your lack of education to a Healer really does feel like being kicked in the stomach. He probably feels really uncomfortable now. Not as uncomfortable as he must have felt when he thought my entire family were dead, though.
“You don’t have a NEWT in Potions?” he asks.
“No,” I admit, completely embarrassed and ashamed, “I dropped out of Hogwarts after my sixth year.” Gladys, Hazel and Linda all now pretend to be working. They can feel how uncomfortable I am.
“Really?” he asks, surprised, “Well then I’m even more convinced that you should take this course.”
“Rose, you are clearly good at Potions. You knew how to make a Fracture Relief Potion without having done your NEWTs! There are other classes – Potions for Beginners, or Intermediates,” he tells me, “I really think you should consider it.”
“She will,” says Gladys.
“Most definitely,” says Linda.
“Great,” Damien smiles, “I’ll send more pamphlets down. Have a nice day, ladies.”
Not even fifteen minutes later, two pamphlets appear on my desk – Post-OWL Potions and Potions For Beginners. Honestly, I stir one potion and all of a sudden I should take night classes? It’s ridiculous. I mean, I was good at Potions when I was at school, but I don’t remember the half of it now. There is no way I’m doing this.
“You’re doing this,” Gladys tells me, “You’re not going to work here forever.”
I have no time for this. I’m starting apparition lessons soon, and I have to look after Aidan and I can’t really afford to take night classes. I think Gladys is wrong this time. I think I am going to work here forever.
Diagon Alley is packed by the time I arrive after dropping Aidan at Mrs Tonks’. Half of the Ministry is out, helping to rebuild Diagon Alley. The Aurors seem to be doing most of the work, being led by Uncle Harry. Some people have left flowers outside the ruined shops, with pictures of those who died. The windows in the Leaky Cauldron are smashed and the walls burned, but that seems to be the extent of the damage. Gringotts, at the opposite end of the street, seems to be the only place left unscathed.
Zaria’s Wand Emporium is, as I expected, completely burnt to the ground. What was once a lively shop, supplying wands to every single witch and wizard in England (since the death of Ollivander) is now just a load of rubble. Some people have lit candles outside it in remembrance, which is a bit ironic considering it’s been burnt to the ground.
Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes is – or should I say was – just across the way from Zaria’s. It’s worse than I expected. Although the basic frame of the building is still there, there is nothing left of what was Uncle George’s booming joke-shop. I see my brother, Hugo, standing outside, looking up at it with his hands in his pockets. I haven’t seen him in so long. It’s funny how Al, James and Dom are just my cousins but I see them far more often than I see my own little brother. I say ‘little’ – he’s six ft four. People generally think I’m his little sister. Once he hit fifteen he took a growth spurt and I could no longer bully him like I used to.
“Hi Hugo,” I greet him, unable to take my eyes off the shop. “Wow...it’s really gone.”
“Yep,” Hugo nods sadly. We spent so much of our childhood running around this place. Uncle George used to give us free Extendable Ears and Ton-Tongue Toffees to use on Mum and Dad.
“Are Mum and Dad here?” I ask.
“Mum’s still at work,” he tells me, “And Dad and Harry are inside.”
Fred and Roxie emerge from the remains of their father’s shop and join us. Roxie looks as if she’s been crying.
“It’s all gone,” Roxie tells us, her voice shaking, “There’s nothing left.”
“Except for those indestructible spiders,” says Fred and Roxie looks like she’s going to be sick at the thought of them. Hugo visibly shudders. The indestructible spiders are highly realistic fake spiders that can be used to scare arachnophobes – I always loved leaving them on Dad’s pillow. And on Hugo’s pillow.
“Is your dad alright?” I ask them, knowing the answer.
“No,” says Fred darkly, “I’ve never seen him so upset.”
“That big picture of him and Uncle Fred is destroyed,” says Roxie, “You know the one behind the counter?” There was a large framed picture of Uncle George and his twin brother Uncle Fred, who died when they were twenty in the war, behind the counter. It was taken the day they first opened the shop, and it would be impossible to tell them apart if they weren’t wearing Nana Molly-jumpers with their initials on them. I can’t imagine how Uncle George must feel – everything he built up with his brother is now completely wiped out.
“What can we do?” I ask them, taking out my wand.
“It’s crowded inside,” Fred tells us, “We should probably just help clean up some of the rubble out here...”
We get to work cleaning up outside. Various family members show up to help us every now and again, wandering in and out of the shop. We help other people too who are trying to repair their own businesses, but who don’t have families quite as big as ours. But no matter how many people turn up, it doesn’t change the fact that Reparo can only fix so much. Somebody has brought a wireless for us to listen to while we work. The Minister for Magic, Luca Livingston, a rather contrary old codger who always takes long dramatic (and inappropriately timed) pauses in his atrociously bad speeches, is on talking about yesterday’s disaster. He’s well over a hundred at this stage. They reckon he’ll resign any week now. The man looks like death reheated.
‘The blast in Diagon Alley yesterday was...unfortunate. I offer condolences on behalf of the entire Ministry...of Magic to the families of all the deceased. Ahem! It is a sad occurrence when people die...and this...is no exception.’
I have the sneaking suspicion his House Elf writes his speeches for him.
‘Our thoughts are with those who...died. Death, is like...er...’
There is some rustling through pages. I can almost hear him pushing up his glasses.
‘...the final journey on the road to...nowhere.’
I feel a bit sorry for him. Even in this dire situation, the people around me can’t help but laugh at the poor man.
‘Death comes to us all...when we least expect it.’
“Well, that’s uplifting,” says James, who apparently has just arrived. He looks sort of tired, probably from all the partying he simply must do as a member of the first Chudley Cannons team to win the League Cup since 1892. At least he’s here. “When’s that barney old git going to just die and put us out of our misery?”
Suddenly, Livingston starts coughing erratically, and then there’s a loud crashing noise – and then silence.
‘Oh crap! Does anyone know the CPR spell? - I think he’s dead! – Merlin, he is dead! – Are we still on the air?’
“I think you might have gotten your wish,” I say to James, as he turns up the radio, looking a bit guilty.
‘Eh, sorry about that listeners,’ says the presenter of the programme, ‘but I think...I think the Minister for Magic has just died, live on the air!’
“Well, there’s something you don’t see – or hear – every day,” Hugo shrugs, not looking too bothered by Luca Livingston’s sudden death, “The man was a walking corpse anyway.”
“You could have a little bit of respect, you know,” I say, as people around us start chatting among themselves about what’s happened, “A man’s just died.”
“Yeah, well, like he said himself,” says James, “Death comes to us all when we least expect it. And then he dropped dead. I find the irony highly amusing, personally.”
A few minutes later, the Minister’s death is confirmed and Uncle Harry, as Head of the Auror Department has to rush back to the Ministry, followed closely by Mum and Dad. Nobody seems to find the Minister’s death in any way shocking or upsetting – in fact, some people were surprised to find out that he wasn’t dead already. Some people even seem a bit cheered up by this fact.
However, thoughts of Luca Livingston are quickly pushed out of my mind when Scorpius appears right outside Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, followed closely by Daisy. It looks like I’ll be joining dear old Luca sooner than I thought.
“Crap,” I hiss as soon as I see them. James laughs quietly to himself at my reaction. “Hide me!” I command and jump behind him.
“Scorp, mate, over here!” James calls out and I jab my wand hard into his back, “OW!”
“I hate you!” I whisper fiercely. Scorpius and Daisy approach and I come out from my very bad hiding place. Daisy doesn’t look particularly angry to see me, so maybe she doesn’t know that Scorpius stayed at mine last night. Or maybe she’s just a really good actress.
“We thought we’d come help,” says Daisy, “We only heard about George’s shop today. I thought all the damage was done to the other side of the street.”
“Is he alright?” Scorpius asks.
“He’s doing alright. Better than Luca Livingston, anyway,” says James, “Just after popping his clogs live on the radio!”
“Seriously?” Daisy gasps, “He died?”
“I thought he was already dead,” Scorpius shrugs, and Daisy hits his arm in a sort of playful way, as if scolding him for making a joke that she wants to laugh at, but knows she shouldn’t. He wasn’t even joking – he obviously genuinely thought Livingston was dead.
“He might as well have been,” says James. As James recounts the story to Scorpius and Daisy, I edge away from them, hoping to avoid an awkward confrontation. She could easily kill me here and make it look like an accident. An unstable wall fell on me, another wand ‘accidentally’ went off and killed me, I impaled myself on a broomstick...the opportunities are endless. But she doesn’t try to speak to me, she just helps with the tidying.
A few hours later, around nine o’clock, we’re all much too cold and too tired to do any more work, so Nana Molly instructs us to go back to The Burrow. I apparate with James, who brings me side-along as if I’m a child – the sooner I pass my apparition test the better. The Burrow is packed when we arrive. Everybody’s here – even Hagrid, I can’t help but notice considering he’s towering so high above everyone else in the garden. He’s too big to fit in the house. I haven’t seen him since Al’s 21st birthday over a year ago. Since I left Hogwarts, there are so many people I rarely get to see anymore.
I follow James, Scorpius and Daisy inside where Mum, Dad, Harry and Ginny are gathered, discussing something serious. I can tell it’s serious because Mum is biting her thumbnail nervously, Dad has his arms folded and eyebrows furrowed, Harry is running his hand through his hair and Ginny is looking left out. That’s generally how it goes when they discuss Ministry business, which is what I’m presuming they’re discussing. Ginny works at The Daily Prophet, so isn’t really in with the Ministry gang. I can tell it bothers her a little.
“You have to do it, Hermione,” says Dad, “You’re the best person for the job.”
“Ron’s right,” Harry agrees, “You should definitely go for it.”
“Go for what?” Hugo asks, coming in at the end of the conversation. Mum blushes and looks down at the floor. Harry and Ginny look at her, as if waiting for confirmation that they can tell us what’s going on – Dad looks for no such confirmation.
“Your mum’s running for Minister!” he tells us excitedly. I feel my mouth drop open. There’s something you don’t hear every day.
“Minister of Magic?” Hugo asks in disbelief, “Are you serious?”
“No,” says Mum briskly, “I was just asked to consider it, that’s all. I’m sure lots of people are being considered. Luca’s not even cold yet, I don’t know why you’re all talking about this –”
“Mum, this is brilliant, congratulations!” I cry.
“I’m not!” she cries, “I said I might consider running, but that doesn’t mean anything!”
“Wow, my Mum’s going to be Minister!” Hugo says excitedly, ignoring everything Mum’s saying. The news buzzes throughout the house, lifting everyone’s spirits, even Uncle George’s who congratulates Mum. She looks embarrassed. She refuses to talk about it any further, saying that she’s not nearly experienced enough for the job and that she’d be rubbish at it. She’s just being her usual modest self; I can’t think of anyone better for the job. Still, I feel a bit sorry for Luca Livingston, who seems to have been completely forgotten just a few hours after his death. Auntie Audrey is super excited about the news – she’s already referring to herself as Mum’s ‘campaign manager’.
Nana makes scones and Pumpkin Pie for everyone. Mrs Tonks arrives with the kids, who are very hyped up with all the commotion going on around the Burrow. I’ll have a hard job getting Aidan to sleep tonight. Dorie is sleeping soundly like the perfect child she is (I have a sneaking suspicion she’s a robot), but Remus is just as hyper as Aidan.
Daisy lands herself down beside me in the living room as I’m trying to eat my piece of pie, while keeping an eye on the boys. They’re currently having a wrestling match in the corner.
“Yeah,” I reply uncomfortably.
“Listen, Rose, I really would like to talk to you about something,” she says seriously. Oh God, this is it. “Can we step outside for a few minutes?”
Yes, let’s take it outside. I don’t want Aidan to see me die. And I don’t want to make a mess on Nana Molly’s carpet. I nod and follow Daisy out the back, taking deep breaths as I go and checking to see I have my wand. She leads me to the garden furniture and we sit down at the small white table where Nana Molly and Grandad spend a lot of their summer days. Daisy doesn’t look angry. She looks worried. Maybe this isn’t what I thought it would be. She doesn’t speak for a minute and I’m starting to feel really nervous now.
“Look, Daisy, whatever this is about,” I begin, “Can you please just spit it out?” She probably thinks I’m really rude, but I don’t care.
“Right,” she nods and takes a deep breath. I honestly can’t see what Scorpius sees in this woman. She’s so bland, so boring. She’s pretty and everything, but she seems to be lacking a personality. Or maybe I just don’t know her very well, having only spent time in her company when it’s absolutely necessary. “It’s about Aidan.” Okay, that I wasn’t expecting.
“What about him?” I ask.
“Well,” she says, sitting up straighter, “I don’t think the system you have going on with Scorpius is working, to be honest.”
Now it’s my turn to sit up straighter. “It worked pretty well before you came along,” I say coldly.
“I’m not criticising you,” she says calmly, even though she says it in a very condescending way, “But I think that we need to sort out a legal custody agreement. Shipping him from your place to ours whenever is convenient isn’t fair on him. He needs regularity, a routine of some sort.”
“No offence, but it sounds like you are criticising me,” I frown, “And Aidan has regularity. We have our days worked out, but sometimes we change it around if needed. What’s the problem?”
“The problem is that there is no stability! Scorpius doesn’t have any legal access to him and I think it needs to be changed,” she tells me. I really hate this woman. “I get that you don’t like me very much,” she adds, “I know it’s hard to accept that I’m here to stay, but I’m part of Aidan’s life now whether you like it or not.”
“Just because Scorpius married you on a whim doesn’t mean you’re any more part of Aidan’s life than the homeless man who lives outside my building,” I say bluntly, keeping my voice down so none of my family can hear how rude I’m being. This woman brings out the worst in me. “Stop acting like you’re his mother.”
“Maybe you should start acting more like a mother,” she retorts quickly and then immediately looks like she’s regretted it. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean –”
“This conversation is over,” I say, standing up, “Aidan is doing fine with his mediocre mother. Thank you for your concern.” With that I walk away from her, knowing that every chance of us ever being friends has gone completely down the toilet.
A/N: I know this chapter took a while to get out, but if you'd checked my author page you'd have known I was doing exams! I recommend you check my author page before sending rude reviews about how long it takes me to update. (By the way, I don't consider 'update soon!' or the likes as rude, just the very rare one I get. If you're worried you might have been rude, then it wasn't you, I promise! The rude ones are those who say 'I hate your story because you don't update!' and so on.)
There will be more Brian-the-Muggle in future chapters and more of the lovely Daisy too. As for a Scorpius POV, I haven't one planned, but who knows what could happen!
Please keep reviewing, I enjoy reading all of the lovely reviews you send in (and even the rude ones are kind of amusing). I know I'm so bad with replies, but I am so busy and I don't have time for replying and updating. I generally answer questions and queries and compliments in the ANs. The majority of you have been amazing so far, really. Thanks for reading! :)
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