“Molly, throw the bloody Quaffle!” Dom shouts angrily, baring a very strong resemblance to one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, if they flew on broomsticks. There are times that I feel like I missed out on something huge by not going back to Hogwarts for seventh year, like playing on the Gryffindor Quidditch team for one last time. Then I remind myself that had I done seventh year, and had I remained on the team, Dom would have been my captain. And as bad as James was, he was nothing compared to her.
Dom, Laura and I are playing a “friendly” game of Quidditch against Molly, Lily and Victoire. Laura is desperately bad, as is Victoire, while Lily and Molly are quite good, so the teams are well balanced. Molly keeps hanging on to the Quaffle, even when she’s cornered by me and Dom, but she will not pass it to Lily. It’s as if she wants to retain the glory of being in possession for as long as possible. Jenny, who is on the ground watching, keeps yelling up at us not to fly higher than the trees in case we’re spotted by Muggles. She’s worse than Mum.
“Pass it, Molly!” Lily cries, “I’M RIGHT HERE!”
Molly, shooting Lily daggers, deliberately drops the Quaffle, and then flies down to the ground, dismounts and storms off into the cottage in a huff. Lily rolls her eyes at me and we all decide to call it a day, now that the baby's thrown her rattle out of the pram. Victoire looks extremely relieved to have stopped - the only reason she agreed to play was because Dom nagged her into it and because there is literally nothing else to do. We’ve explored the lake a mile up the road, we’ve taken a wander into the nearby village and we’ve confirmed what we knew all along – we are holidaying in the most boring place in the world.
"Good game," I say to Lily as we place the brooms carefully up against the wall. It was Dom's idea to bring the brooms along, just in case we got bored. Apparently she predicted just how dull this weekend would be.
"She didn't get much sleep last night," says Lily, nodding towards Molly, who is sitting down inside with her arms folded, "She stayed up all night talking about her imaginary boyfriends."
"Imaginary? D'you reckon?"
"Definitely," says Lily, "Not to be mean, but who in their right mind would go out with her?"
I call to mind the bloke who used to spend his days sitting in the corner of the library at Hogwarts, John Lawson (cleverly christened 'Library Man' by me and Dom). He is the only person I can think who would want to go out with Molly, but he wasn't exactly in his right mind. I'm not quite sure when they broke up. I have the feeling he just turned into a stapler after years of being the most boring person in the entire world. Molly probably still keeps him in her drawer.
Molly doesn't speak to us when we go back inside, which brings the number of people currently not talking to me up to two. Daisy has yet to say one word to me since yesterday's fiasco on the hill. I haven't tried talking to her, or apologising. Jenny keeps giving me looks, like I should make an effort to get along with her. Apparently Jenny thinks I should respect the sanctity of Scorpius’s marriage. All of a sudden, just because she’s getting married, she is even more Miss Goody Two Shoes than usual.
Daisy does look like she's having a completely miserable time of it - more of a miserable time than the rest of us, I mean. She gets these sudden flashes of anger appear across her face and then they disappear as quickly as they come. I find it kind of frightening, and I'm back to thinking that she's plotting my death. Again.
It certainly doesn't help that Scorpius rings me while I'm in her company. We're sitting in a circle in the living room, talking, because there is literally nothing else to do. It's raining now, so Dom, Lily and I can't even go out and throw the Quaffle around amongst ourselves. So we have to participate in the mindless girl-talk. I'm quite happy to have the excuse to talk to a bloke - too much of female company can drive you mad fairly quickly.
"Just letting you know that I've managed to keep the child alive," Scorpius informs me.
"Well that's good to know," I respond, trying to keep my voice as neutral as possible. I can see Daisy glancing at me, as if she has a fair idea who is on the phone, but is trying to figure it out for sure.
"We went over to James's yesterday. There was a half naked girl on his couch. No more surprise visits to your lovely cousin, I think," says Scorpius. He's clearly trying to have a laugh with me. I don't let any expression cross my face.
"Yes, I think that'd be best," I reply.
"Are you alright?" he asks, "You have your work voice on." I have a work voice that I use when answering the Magi-phone at St Mungos.
"No I don't," I tell him.
"Are you imperiused?" he asks next.
"No!" I reply. I then get up and leave the circle, and go outside so I can talk properly. I keep my voice down, though. I think Daisy has overheard enough conversations this weekend. "Right, I can talk now."
"Why couldn't you talk before? Who was there?" he asks.
"Oh, it was just Molly trying to listen in," I lie easily.
"Oh, right," he replies, "So are you lot having fun then?"
"Yeah, it's a gas," I say sarcastically.
"Do I detect a hint of sarcasm?"
"You're so perceptive."
He laughs. I smile. I just can't help it. Scorpius doesn't laugh very much, but when he does, I can't help smiling. Nobody makes me laugh like Scorpius. We have loads of private jokes, jokes that nobody else ever seems to get, even if I try to explain them. We have inside gags that make us laugh at the most inappropriate of moments.
"Aidan wants to say hi," says Scorpius, "I'll put him on."
I hear Aidan take the phone from Scorpius. "Hi Mum!" he chirps, "I'm having loads of fun at Dad's! We had ice-cream late at night and I didn't have to go to bed until ten!"
I can hear Scorpius in the background saying, "How is that not telling your Mum?!"
"You're spoiled," I tell him, "Don't get used to it."
"And we watched a scary film too, one with lots of blood and guts and killing!" he squeals happily. Scorpius deserves a pat on the back for succeeding to screw up our son in just one weekend.
"Sounds like you're having fun," I say, "Do you miss me then?"
"Dad's going to talk to you now. Bye!"
"Bye love - and be good," I add, knowing my words are completely pointless. He never listened to me before, he's not going to start now. Scorpius comes back on.
"Eh, he's a compulsive liar, I hope you know," Scorpius tells me, "He was in bed by five."
"Compulsive liar? I wonder who he took that from," I say. I peek in the door into the living room and see Daisy staring straight at me, clearly trying to listen in. "Look, I better go."
"Missing out on all the drinking and partying?"
"Don't you know it," I sigh, "I'll see you tomorrow."
I return to the living room. When Molly asks me who was on the phone, I tell her it was Mum and resist the urge to tell her to mind her own sodding business.
I’m so glad that this weekend from hell will be over tomorrow. I’ll be happy once I can breathe again in my own flat. And I’m really missing Aidan too, even though I was looking forward to the break from motherhood. But I’ve come to realise that no matter how far away you go for a weekend, you never get a break from motherhood. You’re always carrying the worry and stress around with you, even if you have left your child in the best hands possible.
“So Jenny,” Dom says wearily, “Are you happy with this send-off into married life?”
“I’m not getting married for another two weeks!” Jenny points out, “And yes, I’m delighted with it. Despite some hiccups.” She looks at me as she says that last part. I frown back. Why is this all my fault? Daisy said some horrible things too. It’s not like I made a completely unprovoked attack on her. I’m not a bully, I just stand up for myself. What’s wrong with that?
Daisy even looks uncomfortable at Jenny's words, along with basically everyone else, except Molly.
"Look, why don't we just address the elephant in the room?" says Laura bluntly. I glare at her.
"I think that would be best," Jenny agrees. Great, the one time in their lives Laura and Jenny agree on something, I come out the shit end. "Rose, Daisy, I know you two didn't get off to the best start, but don't you think you're both being a bit childish?"
I feel like I'm five years old and Mum's giving out to me for fighting with Dom over who gets to play with my favourite doll. Jenny has that influence when she's scolding people. She's going to make a terrific mother, but she's turning into a pain in the arse of a friend.
"I suppose you're right," says Daisy.
"Sorry," I say quietly.
"Me too," says Daisy.
Neither of us are sorry. At least, I'm not. I think we're both just saying it to get rid of the awkward tension and to allow everyone else to get on with their weekend. I'm sick of everyone knowing how relations are between me and Daisy. I'll be much happier when I can go back to my silent hating of her, while still looking like a nice person. Jenny looks satisfied with our non-heartfelt apologies.
"I know it must be difficult for you, Daisy, to be here with your husband's ex," says Jenny, "But I'm glad we can all be friends again."
"Two of his exes," says Molly. Everyone now looks at her. Daisy looks particularly confused, and even I have to think for a minute who the hell Molly is on about. Then the sickle drops and it all comes rushing back. "He went out with Dom and all, you know."
Oh why did we have to bring Molly?
"Thanks for bringing that up, Molly. Things weren't awkward enough," Dom snaps at her.
"Scorpius went out with you?" Daisy asks. She is making it sound like just a friendly inquiry, but she looks very put-out by this notion. I would be too if I found out my husband used to go out with a part-Veela.
"It was ages ago," says Dom, "A million years ago. It was back in our Hogwarts days."
Daisy looks quite relieved by this.
"Yeah, until Scorpius fell madly in love with Rose and got her pregnant," says Molly. She is so spiteful, just like her mother. And she is only doing this because we shouted at her during the Quidditch match.
"That's not what happened," I mumble, "So drop it, Molly."
"Yes it is," says Molly, "I remember!"
"Well you remember wrong!" I snap.
"Yeah, Rose got pregnant before I started going out with Scorpius," Dom points out, as if that makes me look better. It really doesn't. It makes me look like a big pregnant cousin's-boyfriend-stealing whore. Daisy now looks very uncomfortable by this whole conversation, but not half as uncomfortable as I'm feeling.
Then again, I can't help but wonder why Scorpius never told her all this before.
We let the conversation die, and eventually head off to bed. Our last night at Jenny's cottage is turning out to be the worst one yet.
We head off on the road at nine o'clock the next morning. We put Molly in the front with Jenny so we don't have to listen to her waffle on for four hours. The tension has lifted slightly now that nobody has mentioned Scorpius, Aidan or anything to do with relationships that blossomed at Hogwarts. Most of us sleep the whole way home, due to the fact that none of us got a proper night's sleep in that drafty old cottage all weekend.
Because of traffic, and after we've done the rounds dropping everyone home, it's almost three o'clock by the time I get back to the flat. Scorpius is dropping Aidan and Ollie home later on, so I have a few hours to myself before they arrive. There is a letter from St Mungo's waiting for me when I get in the door, indicating when my nightly Potions classes will begin - the beginning of March - and what books I should buy.
I almost forgot about my Potions classes between everything that's been happening lately. When I told Brian about them, he got so excited at the thoughts of magical potions, he insisted I tell him everything I learn from the classes. It's kind of funny how interested he is in magic. I suppose it must be weird for Muggles, not knowing how simple life can be with the flick of a wand. Sometimes I get random phone calls from Brian, asking me questions about the magical world such as 'is it possible to turn back time?' and 'what would happen if I tried to use your wand?' He's like Grandad Arthur, except in reverse.
I decide to pop over to Mum and Dad’s, to see how things are going with Mum’s campaign for Minister. I feel quite bad that I don’t check in with my parents more often. It’s always them ringing me, visiting me, writing to me. Even Hugo keeps in touch more than I do.
Hugo is there when I arrive, with his girlfriend, Robin, who is very quiet. Quiet people generally don’t get noticed in our family, which is why I usually forget that Dom has a younger brother. Poor Louis is so frequently forgotten by everyone. Robin is like Louis – she blends into her surroundings. She speaks very quietly, and only speaks when spoken to.
Audrey is also here, again. Dad is gone to the pub with Uncle Harry, according to Hugo, and Mum looks just about ready to snap. She doesn’t even ask me how the hen weekend went – it looks like she hasn’t slept in days. It’s easy to tell when Mum is really frustrated. Her hair gets much more out of control than usual, and she gets a look on her face reminiscent of a bulldog chewing a wasp.
I help myself to a bottle of Pumpkin Juice and join Hugo and Robin in the living room. There are campaign posters everywhere, newspaper cuttings, photographs – just about anything you can think of that makes Mum look good. I haven’t seen the house this messy since the brief period a few years ago when Mum and Dad split up and Mum moved out.
“How long has Audrey been here?” I ask Hugo.
“Since Saturday,” he replies darkly, “She never went home. They’re announcing the running candidates tomorrow, so Audrey’s on super-bitch mode at the minute.”
We all jump at the sound of Mum’s scream from the kitchen. I rush in to stop my mother from committing first degree murder and ending up in Azkaban – I’m sure it wouldn’t look good for someone hoping to be Minister.
“I’m just trying to help you, Hermione! You’re being most ungrateful!” Audrey says snootily.
“I – DON’T – WANT – YOUR – HELP!” Mum screams, “You’re driving me up the wall, Audrey! I’m sorry, but you can’t be my campaign manager anymore!”
“But Hermione –”
“NO!” Mum yells, tears of anger brewing in her eyes, “I can’t take it! I haven’t slept in two days! My house is a bloody tip! I haven’t had time alone with Ron in ages! NO MORE!”
“You’re being unreasonable!” Audrey complains, “The candidates are being announced tomorrow! You need me!”
“No I don’t,” says Mum in a viciously quiet voice, “Now please leave.”
Audrey looks tremendously offended. She stands up, not taking her eyes off Mum, waves her wand and makes all of the stray papers and posters disappear. Robin, who is a Muggle, looks quite amazed by this, while still looking quite terrified of my mother. “You’ll live to regret this, Hermione,” says Audrey, “Good-day to you.” She disapparates. Hugo snorts. I manage to restrain my laughter. I’ve always wanted to say ‘you’ll live to regret this!’ to someone, but I would never say it in a serious context. Audrey has just succeeded in making herself look a bigger tit than usual with the most ridiculous empty threat I’ve ever heard.
“Percy should have just stayed single!” Mum cries.
“Amen to that,” I agree, envisioning a life without Molly.
I make Mum a cup of tea, and then tell her to take a nap, as she looks exhausted. I’ve told her that I’ll help her out with her campaign, if she needs me. Hugo and I are going to the Ministry tomorrow for the election candidates’ announcements in support of Mum.
I head back to the flat after I’ve put Mum to bed. Shortly after I arrive home, Scorpius drops Aidan off, looking very disgruntled and not at all as cheerful as he sounded on the phone yesterday. I wonder what could have changed. Perhaps he and Daisy are getting divorced.
Aidan is very cheerful, however. He and Ollie are so hyper that they just run around the living room, Ollie barking loudly and Aidan playing with an invisible wand. Ah, to be young again. If I did that, I’d just look mental.
“Fun weekend?” I ask Scorpius.
“Yeah,” he replies in a dull voice.
“Well, you sound like you had fun,” I say dryly.
He gives me a very dark look, one that makes me feel quite intimidated. It’s as if he’s deciding whether or not it’s my fault that he’s in such a bad mood.
“What did you say?” he asks very quietly. Aidan turns on the TV now, and is not listening, but we still have to be careful what we say.
“I said it sounds like you had fun,” I say, confused.
“You said something to Daisy,” he says, “What did you say?”
Oh crap. I didn’t think she’d tell him. I thought it was all water under the bridge – apparently not. I bet she made me look worse than I actually was.
“She told you, then,” I mumble.
“Told me what, exactly?” he whispers fiercely, “She hasn’t told me anything! See, to tell me things she would have to actually speak to me! What did you say to her, Rose?”
“Why is everything always my fault?” I snap at him.
“You’re saying it’s not your fault? It’s always your fault!”
I have no response to this. Really, it is my fault Daisy is in such a mood. But he doesn’t know the full story, and I’m not sure which way I can swing it so I don’t look so terrible. “I’m not the one keeping secrets from my spouse,” I whisper.
“What are you on about? I have no secrets from Daisy,” he says, frowning at me.
“So you told her that you proposed to me two years ago, then?” I ask slyly. I do feel bad bringing it up, not to mention extremely awkward. We’ve never spoken about that night – we just like to pretend it didn’t happen.
“You told her?” he gasps, “I can’t believe you’d be so manipulative!” You know you’ve gone down a dark road when a Slytherin is calling you manipulative. Not just any Slytherin – a Malfoy. “Why the hell would you tell her? What’s wrong with you?”
“It sort of...slipped out,” I say, “I am sorry, you know. I didn’t mean to –”
“Don’t give me that,” he says loudly, suddenly forgetting to keep his voice down for Aidan’s benefit, “You never liked her! I thought we were getting on alright, you and me! I thought you could actually be happy for me, but it seems you won’t rest until I’m completely miserable! You don’t want anyone to have me, and you sure as hell don’t want me for yourself! You are so twisted, d’you know that?”
“Will you keep your voice down?” I hiss, nodding over to Aidan, who is glancing over at us, “It’s not like that -”
“Why do you hate her so much?” he asks, “What could she have possibly done for you to want to hurt her like this? Why can’t you just be nice to her, for Merlin’s sake?” He’s using ‘Merlin’ because of the child. If Aidan wasn’t here, I’m sure his language would be much stronger.
“Because she has you, Scorpius, that’s why!” I say frustratedly, “I hate her because she is married to you. And I know that’s stupid and childish, but it’s just how I feel!”
He’s momentarily lost for words, trying to contemplate what I’ve said. I can’t believe I’ve said it, even though I’ve just voiced what he – and everyone else – already knew. “What are you on about?” he asks.
“What do you think I’m on about?” I reply, with tears running down my cheeks. “You know how I feel about you –”
“Don’t do this, Rose.”
“And you got married so suddenly without even thinking how I might feel –”
“Stop!” he shouts. Aidan jumps and stops watching the TV completely. He sees me crying, so I wipe away my tears as quickly as possible and pretend nothing is wrong.
“Are you fighting?” Aidan asks, frowning.
“Of course not,” I say quickly. He looks to Scorpius for confirmation.
“We’re not fighting, mate,” says Scorpius.
Unfortunately, Aidan is more perceptive than we give him credit for. “You usually wait until I’m in my room to fight,” he says, “You think I don’t hear you.” Scorpius looks as guilty as I feel.
“We don’t fight,” I lie, “We’re just messing about.” Scorpius frowns at me.
“Why are you crying?” Aidan asks me.
“It’s nothing,” I tell him softly, “Don’t worry about it, okay?”
He looks very sceptical, but nods anyway. He takes Ollie into his bedroom, clearly not wanting to listen to us lie to him any further. There are some lies that parents just need to tell for their child’s own good.
I turn back to Scorpius. Scorpius, who has finally realised the extent of my feelings for him. He gives me a look that is saturated in pity and anger. “Don’t say anything, Rose,” he says, as I open my mouth to speak, “Please. I have to go.”
He’s gone before I can finish calling his name.
I meet Hugo and Al at the Ministry the next day on my lunch break from work. The candidates announcement will be made live on the WWN network by the stand-in Minister. The Wizengamot have been debating all morning on which of the nominated Ministry workers are the most promising. The candidates’ names were put forward by random Ministry workers – for example, Mum’s name was put forward by Audrey and seconded by Uncle Harry. Now it’s up to the Wizengamot to decide which two or three candidates will go forward to the elections.
“Your Mum looks nervous,” Al observes as we take our seats in the main hall of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. There are a few families of potential candidates gathered here. Dad and Uncle Harry are here, and we are very surprised to see Auntie Audrey and Uncle Percy in the front row in support of Mum.
“Wow, Audrey is a bigger person than I gave her credit for,” I say, “I didn’t think she’d come.”
“Maybe she’s hoping Mum will re-hire her if she’s chosen,” says Hugo, “I wonder who else is up for it.”
“I think I heard someone nominated Dean Thomas from the Department of Games and Sports,” says Al, who works in the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Office, “And someone nominated Dad too, but he pulled his name out. Said he’d be a rubbish Minister. Doesn’t like talking to big crowds.”
The Deputy Minister, Timothy Russell, stands up behind the podium to address the crowd, and the hall falls silent. I cross my fingers for Mum – she looks so nervous. I know she wants this more than she lets on.
“Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for being here today,” says Russell, “Before I get to the announcements of the candidates who will be running for Minister of Magic in the coming months, I would like to remember Luca Livingston, who passed away recently.”
Al smirks at me and I look away. He’s always trying to make me laugh at the most inappropriate of moments – not this time.
“He was a true leader, a fantastic Minister and it is a great loss to the wizarding community. Let us bow our heads in a minute’s silence for Minister of Magic, Luca Livingston.”
The minute seems to drag on for a lifetime. Just get to the bloody announcement!
“Now, on to the issue of the day. Two candidates have been chosen to run for the post of Minister for Magic. They have been carefully selected by the Wizengamot to run, and one of them will be elected by you to represent the whole of the British Wizarding Community. Both candidates are more than capable of the job. They are as follows: Hermione Weasley –”
There are lots of cheers and applause. Hugo, Al and I stand up and whoop loudly, and Mum blushes furiously, looking quite pleased with herself. Thank Merlin!
Audrey, on the other hand, looks disgusted with the announcement.
“Yes, yes,” says Russell, looking a bit put out that we interrupted his speech, “Congratulations to Mrs Weasley. She will be running for election against...” he looks down at his piece of paper, “...Mr Percy Weasley.”
This comes as a shock to everyone. Al and Hugo look at me in disbelief. Hardly anyone has started clapping. Mum looks livid.
And Audrey – well, she looks like Christmas has come early. Apparently her threats weren’t so empty after all.
A/N - Percy up for Minister! Scorpius finally knows about Rose's feelings! Al and Jenny's wedding coming soon! Stay tuned!
Hope you liked the chapter - it's a bit choppy in places, but it's not too bad, I hope! Thank you so so so so so so so much everyone who has reviewed - you are so amazing! And thanks for everyone's constructive criticism on my new banner(s), I was well sick of the old one! :P Please review
P.S - Hope you enjoyed the HBP movie - I did! :)
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