Chapter 18 : A Time For Wine
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She’s kind and caring,
Loving and giving,
A devoted mother and grandmother,
A hard worker,
A brave colleague
A loyal friend –
Vote Hermione Weasley for Minister of Magic.
Hermione Weasley talks about family values –
Did you know her daughter got pregnant at sixteen?
Hermione Weasley talks about being a loyal wife –
Did you know she cheated on her husband?
Hermione Weasley talks about equality for House Elves –
Did you know she has five of them working for her?
Vote for Percy Weasley – the honest candidate.
“I don’t believe this! Half of this crap isn’t even true! I do not have five house elves working for me!”
“Honest candidate, my arse,” Dad growls, casting a very dirty look at The Daily Prophet, “That woman is the devil. Come back Voldemort, all is forgiven!”
While I think that Mum’s pitch was somewhat over the top, it seems Auntie Audrey has resorted to downright lying in Uncle Percy’s campaign. Okay, so I did get pregnant at sixteen, and Mum may have kissed another man while she and Dad were engaged, but I’m fairly sure that there are no House Elves working here.
“Mum, I think it’s time you started playing dirty,” says Hugo, who has been playing with Aidan in the corner, “You know, spread some rumours, dig up some dirt.”
“I don’t think you’d have to do much digging,” Dad chips in darkly.
Mum bustles over to the oven and turns it on for dinner. “I am not stooping to her level,” she says, “And anyway, saying bad things about Audrey isn’t going to get me very far. Are we forgetting that it’s Percy running for minister?”
“I have dirt on him too,” Dad tells her.
“And I have some on Molly,” I add. Not many people know about her heavy-drinking marijuana-smoking phase that lasted all of a week, and if Audrey found out she’d throw a complete shit fit.
“Why don’t they just take a bath?” Aidan asks. Sometimes I can’t help but smile at his innocence. I hope it lasts forever. I hope in a couple of years he’s not trying to dig up dirt on his family members. Because like Dad said, he wouldn’t have to do much digging, especially where I’m concerned.
I suddenly get a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach when I remember the letter I got this morning from Scorpius. He couldn’t even bare to ring me, he had to write. And he didn’t write very much.
I’m coming over tonight at 7. We need to talk.
I have potions class at eight, however, so he can’t keep me too long. And Aidan is staying here with Mum and Dad tonight so at least I don’t have to worry about him hearing us arguing again. Especially considering we are going to be arguing over him.
I haven’t told anyone about Scorpius asking for a custody agreement. The one person I would consider telling is currently in New Zealand and not speaking to me. And the other two people I would consider telling are spending so much time together recently that I haven’t seen either of them in days. Brian and Dom are the new Al and Jenny – where you see one, the other isn’t far away. I’ve created a monster.
And as for Laura, I haven’t heard from her since after the hen weekend. I don’t know what she’s been doing – or who for that matter – and whenever I try to ring her it goes straight to voicemail.
“Well you have to do something, Hermione,” says Dad, “You can’t just sit back and let her get away with this.”
“What do you want me to do, egg their house?” Mum snaps.
Dad and I look at each other and nod. Mum rolls her eyes. “I don’t know why I even bothered running. I should have known it would just cause trouble for everyone. Maybe I should stand down –”
“NO!” Dad, Hugo and I together can be very loud when we want to be.
“You can’t let Audrey win!” Hugo exclaims, “Evil does not triumph over good, I don’t care what you say! You beat Voldemort, you can beat that bitch!”
“Language, Hugo!” Mum hisses, “And for the last time, it’s not Audrey that I have to beat!”
“Come on Hermione, everyone knows that behind every pig-headed man there’s a devil woman pulling the strings,” Dad tells her, “Percy wouldn’t be half as evil without Audrey.”
“On that note, I must leave you all,” I say, getting up to leave, “I have potions class in a while.” It’s half six now. Scorpius will be at the flat soon. After saying goodbye to everyone, I floo home and wait for him to arrive.
He arrives early. Scorpius is rarely early for anything, so I know this can’t be good. And he has a briefcase with him. There’s something odd about a young man in a pair of jeans and a red hoody carrying a briefcase. It’s like a Ministry worker using a skateboard.
“Right, let’s just get this over with shall we?” He says this before he says hello. He walks right into my kitchen, puts the briefcase on the kitchen table and opens it up. He then proceeds to take out lots of different forms and complicated contracts and lays them out. “So have you thought about the agreement?” he asks.
“Yes,” I reply. But I don’t know what else to tell him. Aside from the fact that I don’t want any agreement other than one that would involve Aidan living with both of us all the time – the three of us together. He clearly doesn’t want the same.
“So have I,” he tells me, “I’ve thought about it a lot actually. And I’ve come up with an arrangement that I think will suit us both. And I think it’s more than fair.” He’s talking very quickly. It’s almost as if he’s nervous.
“Right...well that’s good.”
He nods. “Okay, well here it is then.” He takes a deep breath. How nervous is he? He hands me a document with a lot of legal jargon. I have absolutely no idea what it says.
“I don’t have all day Scorpius,” I sigh, “What is this?”
“Well, I went to see my solicitor,” he tells me, “And I asked him to draw up this agreement. All you have to do is sign.”
I frown. “What exactly am I signing?”
“Basically...I get Aidan from Thursday to Sunday. And you have him Monday to Wednesday. Joint custody.”
I feel like I’m about to get sick. Suddenly the person standing before me isn’t the same one I’ve known and loved all these years – in fact, at this moment, I hate him. How could he possibly ask this of me?
“Let me get this straight.” I’m struggling to keep my voice steady. “You want me to give you my son for four days out of the week?”
“Our son,” he answers. “He’s our son. Not yours. And you know, you’ve had him full time for so long...”
Don’t hit him. Don’t hit him. I clench my fists. “Tell me, when he woke up at three in the morning, whose son was he? That time he got the chicken pox, whose son was he? When he took his first steps, who was there to hold his hand?” Don’t cry. “He has lived with me for six years –”
“He’s five,” Scorpius tells me.
“He lived in me!” I yell, “He lived in me six years ago! I was the one with the morning sickness and I’m the one with the stretch marks!” Don’t cry!
“I knew you were going to pull that one on me!” Scorpius snaps, “I’m sorry I don’t have a fucking uterus, but that doesn’t make you a better parent than me!”
“Oh, and marrying some woman in Las Vegas does?” I snort.
“I’m offering him a stable home, Rose. I’m offering him a bigger bedroom, two parent figures, a better income.” That does it. I can’t hold back the tears anymore.
I can’t believe I’m crying. Pull it together, for the love of God!
“D-don’t cry...” Scorpius mumbles uncomfortably.
“Get the hell out of my flat!” I cry, “I am not signing that! You are not getting him for four days out of the week –”
“You still get three!” Scorpius tries to reason with me. I’m so close to hitting him right now.
“Lucky me! I get the three days I’m working and he’s at school!” I spit, “Get out of my flat, Malfoy! We are keeping the arrangement we have –”
“No, we’re not,” he tells me. “And if you don’t want to settle this outside of court...then my solicitor will be in touch.”
He gathers up his documents and puts them back in his pathetic little briefcase. Without another word he disapparates, while I try to pull myself back together before I have to leave for Potions class.
I’m actually stunned. I thought I knew him. How could he possibly ask me to give up my son? Doesn’t he realise that Aidan is just about the only good thing in my life?
When I arrive back from my class, there is letter from Scorpius waiting for me. Well, it’s not a letter as much as a single word written on a piece of parchment.
I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean. Is he sorry that he brought the whole issue up? Is he sorry that he’s planning on taking me in front of the Wizengamot? Or is he sorry that he got married? There are so many things that man needs to be sorry for.
Apart from the letter, there are two other things waiting for me when I arrive home – Dom and Laura. They are both sitting in my living room, eating my crisps and watching my TV.
“You do realise you have homes of your own, don’t you?” I sigh tiredly, throwing my bag down in frustration. It’s not that I don’t want them here, it’s just that I had planned on crying myself to sleep and eating a piece of Honeydukes chocolate the size of a rather large child.
“Yeah,” Dom shrugs, “We find that here is more peaceful.”
I frown at her. “Who are you avoiding?” Dom is always avoiding some crazy bloke who won’t stop ringing her. “It’s not Brian?”
Dom and Laura look at each other guiltily.
“Not you and all!” I look at Laura.
“We just need a break from certain men,” Laura tells me.
“What’s wrong with Brian? He’s really nice, he’s good looking, he’s funny –”
“Then why don’t you go out with him?” Dom snaps. A tense silence fills the living room. Laura stares at the TV uncomfortably.
“Where the hell did that come from?” I ask.
“Doesn’t matter,” Dom mumbles, and also pretends to watch the TV again.
This pisses me off.
“Okay, you can’t just come in here and start snapping at me for no reason!” I snarl, “This is my flat, Dom! If you don’t like Brian then just tell him and stop avoiding him like a child! And you!” I turn to Laura. “I haven’t heard from you in weeks! Why don’t you ever answer your bloody phone? It seems like we’re only friends when you feel like it, and then you just disappear!”
“My God, you woke the beast,” Laura whispers audibly to Dom, who laughs.
“This isn’t funny!” I cry angrily, my voice now shaking.
“Rose, what’s wrong?” Dom asks seriously and switches off the TV. I tell them everything, from the kiss at the wedding, to the fight with Jenny, to the custody arrangement that Scorpius is seeking. They stay quiet through the whole explanation. And when I’ve finished talking, Laura summons a bottle of wine and some glasses from the kitchen and cracks it open. This is definitely the time for wine.
“I can’t believe you two kissed,” says Dom, “Not that I didn’t see it coming of course.”
“Well obviously,” Laura shrugs, “A blind man could’ve seen that one coming.”
“I bet Daisy didn’t,” I add, “She doesn’t have a clue.”
Laura and Dom look at each other with an annoying knowing look on their faces. “I don’t know about that,” says Dom.
“What do you mean?”
“Well,” Dom sighs, “She’s not thick. There is always a certain tension between you two. You argue like an old married couple, and there is always, always drama with you. While she mightn’t know that you and Scorpius were kissing in the hotel at Al’s wedding, she knows that there’s something between you. Everybody knows.”
I don’t know what to say back to that.
“I bet it’s her putting the custody thing in Scorpius’s head!” Laura exclaims, as if she’s just solved the world’s greatest mystery. “Think about it! It was her who brought up the custody thing in the first place. And she knows that this custody arrangement will keep you and Scorpius apart more – I’m telling you, she’s a crafty bitch.”
“How do you know that?” I ask cynically.
“Takes one to know one,” Laura shrugs.
“You know, as odd as it might sound, I think Laura might be right,” says Dom thoughtfully, “I mean, you can see why Daisy would be insecure. I know – I’ve been the Daisy.”
It’s not very often that Dom refers back to the time when she and Scorpius went out, and when it happens, I feel very uncomfortable. Mainly because I know things that she doesn’t. While she thinks that Scorpius was just emotionally cheating on her with me, I know of a few stolen kisses that should not have happened, but did. Maybe she knows deep down that those kisses happened, but I never told her, and I know Scorpius didn’t. On paper if you asked how Dom and Scorpius’s relationship ended you would discover that Dom cheated on him with the boy who turned out to be her Hogwarts sweetheart, Mark Matthews. In reality, their relationship ended the day she found out I was pregnant.
I decide to awkwardly change the subject. “So why are you two hiding here? Or should I ask, who are you hiding from?” Laura and Dom look at each other again. I hate being left out of this; it’s obvious they both know each other’s secrets, but I’m just the outsider. “You have to tell me. Or else maybe I’ll just take back my remote...”
“A bloke from work,” Laura says, though not at all convincingly. I raise my eyebrows at her. “He’s pissing me off. Won’t stop ringing me. Last time I sleep with a Muggle.”
Too much information. I should really stop asking Laura things.
“And you?” I turn to Dom again. “Come on, what did Brian do?”
“Nothing,” she mumbles.
“Don’t you like him?”
“I suppose,” she shrugs.
“So...what’s the problem?” I get the feeling that I might be pushing boundaries and treading back into uncomfortable territory. But I can’t seem to stop myself. “Brian’s really nice. You just have to get to know him.”
“I know he’s nice,” says Dom shortly.
“And...you’d prefer them to be bastards?” I only ask this because this tends to be the kind I go for. The ones who want to take your kids away – you know the type.
“No,” she sighs, “I’m just not sure yet. That’s all.” I can tell by her tone that the conversation is finished. I don’t push it. And now I’m even more pissed off because I know they are both hiding things from me. I don’t see why they came here if they were just going to keep me in the dark. Annoyed, I tell them I’m going to bed and retreat to my room to do my Potions homework.
I sort of feel like a teenager again. With much bigger issues.
“So here are your tickets...best seats in the house.”
James hands me an envelope with two tickets for the coming Chudley Cannons match against Puddlemere United. I’ve promised to take Aidan, and Dad, Harry, Teddy and Remus are coming too. We used to go to see James play all the time when he first joined the team as a reserve player, but once he became permanent and played almost every week, we decided to just attend the really big matches. Like this one for the League Qualifiers.
James’s apartment is unusually tidy. He’s usually far too lazy to flick his wand and clean up the place, but today it’s squeaky clean. In fact, it’s even cleaner than the day he moved in.
“James...why is your apartment so clean? Was your Mum here?”
“Nope – she stopped visiting after the rat incident.”
“Oh yeah,” I say pensively, “Didn’t Dom shoot that though?”
“Nah, she missed and got the hamster.”
“Oh that’s right...”
“Poor old Bubbles just didn’t see it coming,” James shakes his head sadly. We have a moment’s silence for his dead hamster. I can’t even remember where Dom got her hands on a gun. I have a feeling she was going out with a dodgy character at the time, who may have given it to her for her birthday.
“James, are you shaking?” I ask. He’s shivering like mad, even though it’s nice and warm in here.
“What? Oh, yeah, a bit chilly,” he shrugs, “So how’s Little Red?”
James calls Aidan ‘Little Red’ because he had reddish hair when he was a baby. Despite the fact that he has extremely blonde hair, he remains ‘Little Red’.
“Fine. Except for his father wanting full custody,” I grumble. I then instantly regret telling him. I had thought not voicing this would make it go away. And the fact that Scorpius has said nothing to me since his pathetic little ‘Sorry’ note just strengthened my delusion.
“What? Are you shitting me?” he splutters in disbelief.
“I wish I was,” I mumble, not failing to notice that James has successfully changed the subject from his obvious shivering.
“Well...he’s a twit!”
“Wow, that was tame for you, James,” I observe.
“This is ridiculous, Red! He wants full custody? I’ll kill that little –”
“Let’s hold off on the killing for a few days, shall we?”
James is now pacing back and forth quickly. I haven’t seen him this angry in quite some time. He usually laughs things off, or tries to put a positive spin on things. Right now, I’m sort of afraid of him. “I knew I hated that git for a reason...”
“You were best man at his wedding!” I exclaim. Yes, I still haven’t forgotten that one.
“Yeah, but I hated him back in second year. I should always go with my instincts...”
After calming James down and making him drink a cup of tea, I go to collect Aidan from school. It’s funny how when somebody else is worked up about something, it calms you down more. I found myself convincing him that Scorpius wouldn’t take this any further, and that it was just a spur of the moment decision that I’m sure he’s regretting. Now I sort of feel better about the whole thing.
Thinking about it, I can see why he panicked. What we did at the wedding was wrong, I know that, and I suppose he just thinks distancing ourselves from one another is the only way to rectify the mistake. And the only way to distance ourselves from one another is to spend as little time together as possible, and only face each other when it’s totally necessary. Maybe if I show him that we can spend time together without playing a heated game of tonsil-tennis, then he’ll just drop the whole thing.
Aidan is in a happy mood when I collect him due to the fact that his reading teacher gave him a gold star. Usually he comes home in a bad mood because he has ‘special’ classes at the end of the day to help with his dyslexia, and also because he still hates Brian.
“Mia asked if I wanted to go to her house on Saturday,” Aidan tells me as we walk home from the school.
I’m thinking this may be the main reason for his happy mood.
“Can I go?” he looks at me hopefully.
“I don’t see why not,” I shrug, inwardly making plans to meet her mother to make sure she’s not a crazy junkie or weirdo. I am also inwardly making plans to sit Aidan down and tell him that he is completely forbidden to kiss a girl until he turns seventeen. Or until after I die – whichever happens first.
“Mrs Murphy is coming back to school on Monday,” Aidan tells me, “So Mr McDonald won’t be my teacher anymore.”
I wouldn’t think Brian will be too upset about not teaching Aidan’s class anymore. I imagine my son can be quite intimidating when he wants to be.
“So will you finally stop sulking when he comes to the flat then?”
“Is he really going out with Auntie Dom?”
I change the subject.
When we arrive home, there is an envelope addressed to me on the floor. I wonder if it will be another pathetic ‘sorry’ note from Scorpius.
It’s quite the opposite.
It’s from his solicitor.
Dear Ms Weasley,
This letter is to notify you that Mr Scorpius Malfoy will be seeking a legal custody agreement in regards to your son, Aidan Ronald Weasley. The Family Law Wizengamot shall meet at a date to be decided in order to discuss this arrangement, and your attendance at this meeting is essential.
Mr Henry J. Summerville
Department of Magical Family Law
I should have just let James kill him.
A/N - In defence of Scorpius - you are only seeing him from Rose's POV! He isn't evil, and I hope you all don't hate him (even if he is kind of annoying). I know things are quite sucky for Rose at the minute, but they are going to keep getting worse for a while. But I'm still going to try to keep the humour alive!
Sorry this chapter took so long. Thank you all for your support and your constant reviewing! It makes me so happy! *LOVE!*
Oh, and about the Magical Family Law - I know that there isn't a department of magical family law in the Harry Potter books, but this is 30 years later than DH so I imagine the Ministry would have developed and expanded in those years...
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