A/N: Chapter 2 covers the action at Netherfield. I do not own anything you recognise.
The sun peeped out through the windows of the spacious living room.
‘Rise and shine!’
I internally moaned. Leave it to Al to wake somebody up when the sun was still barely out. I think Uncle Harry and Auntie Ginny raised all the children to wake up at the crack of dawn and play Quidditch or something.
He shook me and I groaned out loud this time. I took a minute (or several) of mushing about in the warmth of the doona, and slowly dragged myself from a lying position to a sitting one. I noticed I was still wearing what I was wearing the previous day. A Friday. That made today Saturday. I was about to go back to sleep again as I realised it was Saturday and the clock said it was only 7:30am.
‘Rosie,’ Al said, ‘I slept at two o’clock trying to help poor Jana from vomiting over my furniture and I woke up at six to find her still sick. Spare some compassion for me.’
I remembered the last time I had came to Al’s apartment. That was his 21st birthday ‘gathering’ and when I was sick all over his furniture he just gave me a potion and offered me the sofa.
It was clear that he liked her.
Al took a seat next to me on the rumpled, makeshift bed. He started talking again.
‘I know you hate waking up early, but I wanted you to get some overnight stuff for Jana and yourself,’ he said.
‘Fine,’ I said. ‘I don’t fancy nursing an invalid all weekend. I’ll apparate to my apartment, than Jana’s as long as you can find out her address.’
It turned out Al was a step ahead. ‘I know her address but there is one problem. She lives in an Apparation-Exclusion Zone. It’s a 2-mile radius where no apparating is allowed in or out.’
I probably looked confused, and I was. I had trouble navigating with maps and walking straight into a Muggle area knowing only an address would probably lead to trouble.
Al took a piece of paper from his back pocket.
I took the map from his had and observed it. It was obviously written by Jana, due to my knowledge of Al’s sub-standard handwriting. The lettering was neatly formed and a slanted cursive. They say that handwriting indicates your personality, and apparently Jana was not an exception.
Thankfully, the map was very detailed and legible, with just about every street near her home labelled.
Al had wandered off to a closet and from it had taken out a pair of track-pants, a t-shirt, sweater and a ratty pair of sneakers. I recognised them as my own. He threw the items to me and I got changed in the privacy of the bathroom.
By the time it was 7:52am on my watch I was out the door of Al’s apartment and then at the door of my block. I rushed in, chucked my own things (among them were several books adding unnecessary weight) into an overnight bag and rushed back out of the door, not even bothering to change out of the mismatched outfit.
By consulting the map, I apparated to an alleyway nearest possible to Jana’s home. It was evidently a Muggle area I had never encountered. I looked like a lost tourist, always staring at the map and muttering to myself.
I was very glad that I wasn’t wearing heels, because after one and a half miles my feet were sore and my breathing strained. I needed to improve my cardiovascular capacity. I soldiered on, opening the door with a key that Al had kindly decided to include so I wouldn’t have to resort to magic to break down the door.
It was weird. Not her apartment, which was decorated fashionably and rather uncluttered and minimalist, but what was weird was entering someone’s own haven after just one day’s acquaintance.
I easily located all her stuff and by half an hour, after a rigorous jog I had made it back to Al’s living room. I noticed that someone had cleared away my temporary sleeping arrangements. And I also noticed Malfoy and Burke sitting at the nearby table with mugs of coffee.
Damn. Malfoy lived with Al in London. And Burke was their guest.
Burke looked pretty well put together, but it was Malfoy that was really annoying me. It wasn’t even nine in the morning and he looked put-together crisply enough to have an audience with the Minister for Magic. Even the suit looked freshly pressed and with matching cufflinks. In front of those two, I felt oddly underdressed.
Burke looked me up and down in disgust.
‘My God, did you walk to get dear Jana’s stuff? In all the mud and Muggle filth I hear her apartment is near to?’ Burke said.
‘Yes I did. Do you have any problem with it?’
Burke pursed her lips and then she leaned over Malfoy’s shoulder, who was currently pursuing the Morning Edition of the Daily Prophet.
‘Scorpius,’ she asked, ‘would you like to tell Rose here where Jana is so she can give to Jana her possessions?’
He looked distinctly irritated; whether at Burke or me I couldn’t really tell.
‘Don’t worry,’ he said, and then he got out from his chair. He formally offered his arm to me and I took it. I felt a little tingly when he hooked his arm in mine, but it subsided to nothing but a small edginess at the pit of my stomach.
Burke was jealously looking on.
It was barely half a minute and when I thanked him for showing me to Jana’s room, he stiffly nodded and walked back up the corridor. Maybe he wasn’t just extending a courtesy to me; he might have just been doing his daily power walk?
He left behind a faint smell of cologne. It really did seem like he was a weird form of extra-terrestrial to be so utterly prepared and presentable so early in the morning.
Holding both overnight bags, I entered Jana’s room. She was sleeping now, a little weak but not vomiting anymore. That was definitely a relief.
‘Jana. I’ve got your stuff. Is Al taking care of you well?’ I asked.
‘Just leave the bag there. Al is taking care of me really well.’
‘I actually think that Al enjoys you being here sick.’
‘How could you say that?’
‘I’m pretty sure it’s true though!’
And speaking of the devil, Al let himself in.
‘How are you going Jana?’ he asked. ‘Can I get anything for you?’
She smiled sweetly back.
‘No, I’m perfectly fine here. Thankyou for all your kindness.’
He smiled sweetly back at her.
‘It’s my pleasure to have you here.’
‘Guys?’ I said. ‘It seems that Jana’s going to be fine here as long as Al takes care of her. I’ll be going back to my room now.’
To be bluntly honest, I had left the room just so Al and Jana would have a much longer opportunity to talk.
But a few hours later, several stacks of paperwork, and two cups of tea later I was wishing I had stayed with Jana. It was only 4pm and I had already run out of productive things to do. I trawled through the bag I had packed and picked up a copy of Persuasion.
It was a beautiful copy of the book. It was a red hard-back and painstakingly protected by my mum. It was a surprise I had managed to keep it that way, considering the state of my other books.
I walked out of the room; book in hand, to stretch my legs a little.
I just read.
For me, it was sheer pleasure to see a woman, past all hope of ever seeing a lost love again, to be reunited with him. I would give so much to live in an Austen romance.
At this point, I actually sighed out loud. I had to clear my head of any preposterous musings that it would be possible to go back to the 19th century via a time turner.
My mum had passed down an obsessive liking of Muggle books, particularly those from a bygone era.
After immersing myself into a fictional world for a few further minutes I decided I needed to snap back into reality.
I put the book very far away from the kitchen. If Al was going to try and cook, I didn’t really want to be anywhere near. The last time he tried to cook I was hanging around him. Half an hour later I wasn’t near him and was instead in his bathroom still trying to get half-cooked dough out of my hair.
I meandered around for a little, had a shower, and arrived back to see four white cardboard takeout boxes on the table. We were having Thai tonight.
I presumed Al had learnt his lesson: cooking wasn’t his thing.
I sat there stupidly for a while before Al showed up.
‘Hi Al! How’s Jana?’ I asked.
Al smiled and looked proud as punch as he gave a blow-by-blow analysis of all the nursing techniques he had used to make her better,
‘ - And then I gave her some soup I went out to buy and she instantly looked so warm! And -
I interrupted him. He could defer his raptures until later. Or preferably forever.
‘Al, did you get any food for Jana? I notice you only have four boxes of food.’
He looked at me confusedly at first but then smiled again.
‘I got her some plain noodles and another bowl of soup. She told me her appetite wasn’t that great.’ He said.
‘And I don’t suppose you would know what was wrong with her?’
‘She probably had some rancid meat within the past week or so.’
‘Are you sure it wasn’t the food she had last night?’
‘Rose, don’t be silly. Hannah and Neville wouldn’t use contaminated food.’
Malfoy had come in with Burke staying close to him. Judging by the annoyed expression, Burke had been annoying Malfoy during the hours since morning. I couldn’t help but feel sympathy for him for being stuck with Burke.
I definitely didn’t feel sympathetic towards him for any other reason. He deserved just about anything for being such a pompous, cold, and arrogant being.
On the table I seated myself next to Al. Frustratingly Malfoy took the seat opposite. Burke took the seat diagonal to me. Which was lucky. She could be Al and Malfoy’s problem for tonight.
We ate in relative silence. I clumsily handled the chopsticks that had come with the food and had satisfied my hunger properly within five minutes. Both Burke and Malfoy stared at me distastefully.
They were both awkwardly twisting the pad thai around a fork, as though they were eating spaghetti.
I snorted and Burke ignored me. Malfoy however stared at me again. He then ignored me and continued eating.
Al had finished his food in a reasonable time. Malfoy took a long time. Burke did too, but when I observed closely I noticed she was sneaking glances at Malfoy all the time. I suspected that she timed her eating so she would finish eating the same time Malfoy did.
If imitation was the highest form of flattery, I’m sure Malfoy would have been pleased. But even for him, I didn’t think he appreciated the flattery coming from Burke.
We displaced onto the sofa that I had slept on last night. Al and I took a seat together, and Malfoy and Burke onto another.
Malfoy had taken out a letter and was leaning forward onto the table to write it.
‘You write so fast and neat,’ Burke purred with syrup dripping in her voice.
I could have been sick.
Burke received no reply however so she quietly sulked for a few moments before launching yet another assault on Malfoy.
‘Are you writing to dear Lola?’ she asked.
I don’t think she would have been capable of calling anyone ‘dear’ if she were a competitor for Malfoy’s attentions.
‘Is Lola your sister Malfoy?’ I blurted out.
‘Yes.’ He replied without even pausing from his writing.
‘Tell Lola how much I want to see her.’ Burke swooned.
It seemed that Malfoy had a good sense of hindsight. He replied he had already put Burke’s request for Lola’s company into his letter, and that he had done so in every previous letter without receiving a sufficient answer.
Even though I didn’t know Lola, I empathised. Poor Lola. To be fawned over by such a sick and sycophantic creature would drive me crazy.
‘Lola is such a young and accomplished woman. And she must have bloomed over the months I haven’t seen her! Scorpius, tell her to come to London!’ Burke said obstinately.
‘Geez, every woman I happen to meet is described as intelligent and accomplished. Soon everyone I meet will be introduced as the new Albus!’ Al said after a lot of silence.
I laughed, and I even saw a hint of a smile curving on Malfoy’s lips.
It was one of Al’s inside jokes. He always compared himself in jest to his namesake, Albus Dumbledore. On this occasion however he was commenting on the fact that soon everyone would be introduced as having the same courage and genius that Albus Dumbledore had.
I was pretty sure Burke found the situation not amusing at all. To retain her image of supposed knowledge however she laughed both falsely and shrilly and her smile was as artificial as I had ever seen.
‘Well,’ she said while she stood up and paced about the sofas, ‘I do consider a sound understanding of Charms, Transfiguration, Potions, Astronomy and Arithmancy necessary -
She seemed to leave out some essential subjects. For example, wasn’t Herbology important? Wasn’t learning how to defend yourself from the Dark Arts vital? Wasn’t learning and appreciating the ingenuity of Muggles something that was a desirable trait? Apparently not, at least according to Burke.
‘ - along with a fondness for refined forms of music and dance. Knowledge of the modern languages must be had, and it must be a fashionable language like French and not something horrible and scholarly like Latin.’
What right did Burke have to say about what languages I should learn? My mum had taught me some basic Latin and bred in a deeper appreciation of the structure of the language. Also, something about the way that Burke had said the words horrible and scholarly suggested to me that she thought the concepts synonymous. Despicable.
She paused for a little; evidently preparing another jaundiced and completely stereotyped rant.
‘She must have a stunning sense of fashion and must be good around the kitchen. But most of all, she must have an aura of delicacy and femineity surrounding her.’
Burke was a bigoted sexist. But I have to say I was shocked that her vocabulary extended so far as to include the words aura and femineity.
Malfoy had now sealed his letter and was paying full attention to the conversation.
‘And of course she must be capable of independence, and not be clingy, desperate or a manipulator,’ he added in.
I had a feeling this opinion was directed to Burke, but the subtle hint flew right past her tiny, wimpy and delicate head.
I analysed all of what Burke had described as the traits of an accomplished woman, and I had to say they were pretty formidable. If one did exist, they would have to be a magical mutant created by the Department of Mysteries.
‘Malfoy, Miss Burke, I am rather surprised you know any accomplished women. Who could boast both a flawless curriculum vitae and an extensive knowledge of culinary cooking? I certainly fail on both counts, and I’m sure most women wouldn’t be able to boast natural talent in all areas of life.’ I said rather smugly, imitating Burke’s high and mighty airs and faked voice.
The discussion was at an end. We simply sat (well Burke was still pacing) there, waiting for someone to bring up a topic.
Burke turned towards me and extended her hand out. It was the second time today that someone had formally offered me their arm. Linking arms, I followed her; stupidly pacing about, wondering why I was walking for no obvious reason.
We circled the sofas for what felt like the tenth time when she stopped in front of Malfoy.
‘Would you like to join us?’ she asked.
I had much rather not have Scorpius join us. That would increase the unease I already felt.
‘No,’ he said. ‘You might have private business to discuss. The other is that you’re aware that your figures look much better moving than idle.’
Burke laughed that shrill and artificial laugh again. It was the answer she had expected and wanted.
She took my arm and said, ‘That was such an untruthful speech! Rose, you chose how we should avenge him.’
I mulled over this for a while. This was an opportunity to humiliate him and I was most definitely going to take it.
‘We could always laugh at him. I love a good chance to laugh.’ I said.
Burke stared at me queerly and replied.
‘Well, I suppose the lower classes of people have to entertain themselves as well.’
My opinion of Burke took an even bigger nosedive. Not that my opinion of her was very high to start with.
I walked up closer to Malfoy and stared him down.
‘What are your faults Malfoy? I know you think you’re all perfect and everything,’ I said.
He seemed to reflect on that point and gave a composed answer.
‘Pride is a virtue when there is justification. Arrogance is also usually only the misinterpretation of someone’s character. They might be shy.’
I stared back at him. He actually thought that his arrogance and pride was justified?
‘He that is proud eats up himself. Pride is his own glass, his own trumpet, his own chronicle; and whatever praises itself but in the deed, devours the deed in the praise.’ I recited fluently.
He looked at me with a gleam of appreciation in his eye.
‘Yes. I didn’t know you read Muggle works.’ I replied.
‘I’ve read much.’ He said.
‘The extensive reading doesn’t seem to have improved your character Malfoy.’
I strode back to my seat, and I realized that I might have just ruined all chance of a friendly working relationship with Malfoy. But that didn’t matter very much to me at least.
It was late enough already, and the company was not very stimulating. Al and I shooed away Burke and Malfoy and by 10pm I was happily lying on the sofa again, feeling reflective.
Sparring with Malfoy was definitely fun. That irritated and simultaneously curious and arrogant look on his face was priceless.
A/N: I’ve tried hard to translate this scene appropriately for the story, but it seems I just can’t do justice to Austen.