Chapter 3 : Chapter Two
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As it turned out, my parents didn’t even have room for me in the house. Apparently, my empty room has been perfect as a larger study for my father, and both of the guest rooms were already occupied by various distant family members.
I’d had a few reluctant offers of sofas and spare rooms from the army of cousins that seemed to be everywhere I turned, but I had ended up being installed in my Dad’s old room at The Burrow. I think Grandma was under the impression that she was doing me a favour, but it’s really quite disturbing to think that this is the room where my teenage father spent his time… Doesn’t bear thinking about, to be honest.
I sat down gingerly on the corner of the bed and looked about the room. It was exactly the same as it had been the last time I saw it, which is exactly the same as it was the last time my Dad lived in it. For some bizarre reason that I didn’t want explained, ministry policies adorned the faded blue walls and a desk was crammed into the tight space behind the door, in an attempt of my dad’s to gain somewhere to work. Apparently the old table had been rotting away in the shed until he restored it one summer and dragged it up to his room. It definitely shows commitment, but I doubt any other fourteen year old around was committing to swotting up during the holidays.
I didn’t start until I was at least sixteen.
The floor, I knew, was made of wood, but I couldn’t see it for the boxes piled on top of it. This was like my flat, only twenty times worse, as the boxes weren’t just scattered haphazardly across the floor, but stacked up on top of each other as well.
I’d been talking to Teddy earlier and having a good laugh when Grandma, Grandad, Roxanne, Hugo, James and Fred launched an attack on the kitchen. Luckily for me, the great majority of the group was the perfect sort to shift my stuff from the Italian flat to here – apparently they’d just finished setting up the seats at the Malfoy Manor for Roxy’s wedding. After numerous rounds of confused, stiff hugs and prolonged greetings I oversaw as Teddy, Hugo, James and Fred moved the boxes from my old flat to the Burrow and Grandma directed them up the stairs.
I think, after the initial surprise, my appearance knocked them for six and my obvious issues with human contact left Grandma wondering what to do with me. I half expected to be thrown into Uncle Ron’s old attic in the fashion that usually applied to family members, but it seemed that I was being treated as more of a neighbour who may turn their nose up at everything and therefore, was allocated a tidier room. Part of me was glad of it, but the other half felt like total shit, so I’d resolved to try and make more of an effort.
After resolving to do this, I had spent the next two hours locked in my room.
Some people out there may call that anti-social, but I viewed it as a chance for the family to gossip about me a bit – they really adore doing that here – and an opportunity to unpack. So far, I had successfully managed to put my socks in a drawer.
We were just going to have a dinner tonight, nothing fancy and no party, because I had strongly resisted it, though I supposed the least that I could do was let my parents come and see my at din-
‘Molly! Molls! What are you playing at up there?!’
There was no mistaking Hugo’s voice as he came stomping up the stairs. He was a bit of a lanky git, but not athletic in any way at all, so by the time he flung my door open he was panting.
‘Argh… Grandma really… needs to get… one of those muggle… elevators in this place,’ he said, wiping some non-existent sweat from his brow.
‘God, you’re a lazy tosser!’
The shallow breathing continued as Hugo clambered over, and under, the maze of boxes monopolising all available floor space. He then proceeded to flop down heavily on my bed as soon as he reached it, managing to crumple his clothes up even more.
‘It’s not my fault I’ve been forced into manual labour all day. I’m not cut out for this sort of work,’ Hugo said once he had regained the ability to speak somewhat normally.
‘I can see that…’ I said, trailing off as I took another look at his pitiful figure stretched out on my bed. ‘What exactly possessed you to walk all the way up those stairs then?’
Hugo immediately scrambled up into a sitting position and gave me a slightly odd look.
‘What is it?’ I asked.
A few hours ago, I would have panicked at this sort of behaviour, but I’d been well enough acquainted with Hugo to discover that he had a bit of a penchant for melodrama. He was an artist and on each of the many occasions which he had whined today there had been shouts of ‘Hugo, you’re such a woman’ all over the place. Not that he cared.
‘I was meant to come and drag you straight down to dinner. That plan clearly went out the window a bit, but if you sprint I’m less likely to get a rant on why this would never happen to Gilderoy Lockhart.’
‘I forgot Grandma’s so obsessed with that plonker. Wait… If I sprint? What are you going to do?’
‘I was planning on sliding down the stairs on my arse. Minimum effort required and quite amusing.’
Hugo had just stood up and was busy stretching, but I didn’t need to see his face to know he was deadly serious. I got the distinct impression that he wouldn’t be able to heat up a bowl of soup without incinerating it and, when his sheer laziness was factored in, it didn’t surprise me that Hugo ate almost all his meals at Grandma and Grandad’s. Mind you, James and Rose did exactly the same. Apparently none of the Golden Trio was a dab hand in the kitchen.
I took the lead and Hugo scampered after me as I manoeuvred my way out of the bedroom, but he raced ahead as soon as we were out the door and plonked himself at the top of the stairs.
‘Sit down,’ he commanded.
Oh, Merlin’s Speedos. He was sorely mistaken if he thought I was chucking myself down these stairs.
‘You may be nineteen, but if you weren’t about eight foot tall people would mistake you for nine,’ I said.
Hugo ignored me and continued to bounce around on the top step, blocking any possible escape.
‘We’re getting late,’ I warned him.
The truth of the matter was that I really hated being late. I was trying to turn it on him, but if he didn’t move in a second or two I would not be held responsible for my actions. I weighed up my options and decided that a swift kick to the kneecap would have him in enough pain without causing permanent injury.
‘Oh loosen up, Molls!’
I cringed at the use of my hated pet name. I hadn’t heard it in years, but today I had been called by it thirty two times. Yes, I’d been counting.
‘Just sit on the step, you don’t actually have to do anything,’ Hugo said, gazing up at me innocently.
So I walked the few paces to where he was sitting and sat down myself, as he moved his bent legs out of the way and stretched them out in front of him instead. Everything about Hugo seemed to be in disarray, from the sprawling tangles of his limbs, to his crumpled clothes and to the wayward curls of his red hair. It was all so carefree. And, in the end, it was the idea of this awkward, childish innocence that had me barrelling down the crooked staircase on my arse and landing laughing in a tangled, crumpled, wayward heap at the foot of it myself.
It wasn’t like me, but it was ridiculously good in a hideous, unorganised way. I still wished I was back home though. If that was the case, then I wouldn’t need to be throwing myself down flights of stairs in an attempt to adapt. It was just a given that there was a place there for me to slot into.
Granted it wasn’t a particularly good place, sort of like sitting in the back row at a concert with an abnormally tall person in front of you. Yes, it was like having Hugo sit right in your line of vision. Tall bastard.
The aforementioned tall bastard managed to pull himself off me at this point, using the banister of the stairs for support, and my breathing came a lot more naturally after that. He’s not all bad though - he offered me a hand to help me up too.
We exchanged glances at the thought of Grandma’s possible panic attack over our absence and I trotted off down the hall at top speed as he loped along beside me. I reached the kitchen door first, but hung back, as I didn’t want to be plunged straight into the spotlight. Thankfully, he burst on in without a seconds thought and I was immediately greeted with the loud din of a full house.
‘Molls, it’s so grea-’
‘OH. MY. GOD. Mol-’
I barely had time to register who was calling my name before my mother threw aside her chair at the dinner table and embraced me. It was a little more natural with her, but if only because she was so forceful with it. I didn’t really mind though.
‘Oh-’ she uttered just before she started sobbing on my shoulder. This family knows how to guilt trip.
‘Come on now, love, you’re dripping all over Molly.’
Ever the sensible one, my dad appeared by my mother’s side as if from thin air and peeled her off me, as she sniffed and sent me a watery smile. I then noticed the amount of people at the table who had been witness to this; enough to fill Ottery St. Catchpole by the looks of it.
‘Molly, dear, over here,’ Grandma Weasley called from the stove as she pointed to an empty chair sandwiched in between Lucy and Lily.
The gap between them looked to be about 10 centimetres wide, but that’s what happens when there’s a Weasley family gathering in winter. I squeezed round the outside of the kitchen, trying to avoid the regiment of family members sitting at the table and getting away with a nod and a smile where possible, but before I had even reached my seat Lucy had jumped out of hers.
‘Hey, sis!’ She cried as she drew me into a huge hug.
‘Alright there, Luce?’
‘I’m doing as well as can be expected when I’ve got Hugo sitting on one side of me,’ she said laughing.
The atmosphere in the kitchen was raucous and as Lucy and I wedged ourselves into our seats there were about ten different conversations flying around us. Lily offered me a shy smile before resuming her playful, sibling banter with Albus. Albus was just nodding along as Lily tried to interrogate him about his girlfriend and wedding possibilities. She seemed to be the image of Grandma personality-wise, but with the looks of Uncle Harry’s mum.
I sat silently observing the table. It was all way over my head and I opened my mouth a few times to speak but the conversation seemed to have raced on in my momentary hesitations. All the family members I had been reacquainted with so far had been extremely welcoming, but I didn’t seem to click in when everyone was together. I bloody hated the fish out of water feeling.
The table was piled high with cutlery and sauces and it surprised me that the whole thing hadn’t collapsed and crushed us all to smithereens. Nobody else was worried, so I was determined not to be either. It wouldn’t be my fault when we were all writhing around in pain in the St. Mungo’s waiting room. Understaffed disaster of a place - must remember not to say that to James again; he takes being a Healer rather seriously.
I was just glancing at a precariously perched gravy boat when I caught Teddy’s eye and I saw the laughter in it. He was pissing himself at how out of place I was.
‘When did you get there?’ I asked.
‘What do you mean when did I get here?’ he replied, cocking an eyebrow at me.
‘Last time I looked you were sitting way down the other end of the table.’
I motioned down the table towards Uncle Harry who Teddy had been sitting beside moments earlier.
‘I moved to sit closer to you,’ he said as he winked suggestively at me.
It was incredibly sexy. And. I. Did. Not. Care.
‘Flattery will get you everywhere, Mr Lupin, no matter how full of shit you are,’ I said, doing that self conscious hair fluffing thing I’m prone to.
‘That’s what I was counting on,’ he said cocking an eyebrow.
We then looked at each other for a second, before simultaneously bursting into laughter at the absurdity of it all. The smiling muscles in my face even began to hurt due to lack of recent use. Embarrassing really.
We were beginning to recover when I noticed that Lily was staring at me wide-eyed and open-mouthed, her face full of the glow of gossip.
‘Are you two flirting?!’
Her head swivelled between us and rapidly until, after a few seconds, she fixed her eyes on Teddy.
‘Lils, you know that you’re the only girl in my life.’
‘Don’t give me that one, mate! Teddy Lupin isn’t a name that sets my heart a-fluttering,’ she said scoffing. ‘Now, spill. What’s going on with you?’
‘I’m an old man. You wouldn’t catch me flirting with anyone,’ Teddy said, propping his elbows up on the table and leaning closer to Lily in order to be heard.
‘What you have to understand is that he’s thirty years old! He’s expired by now,’ I interjected, looking directly at Lily.
‘You haven’t seen him when he’s out and about or wandering around the Ministry!’ Albus called from Lily’s other side, leaning back in his chair to speak to me.
‘I can imagine,’ I laughed.
‘Albus, wouldn’t you say that they’d make a lovely couple?’ Lily said in an attempt to get someone in on her little scheme.
‘I’m saying absolutely nothing.’
For some reason Lily still looked smug and I decided the best course of action was to join the fray and try and shout down the table at my mother to give her a few updates.
A/N: Sorry that it was a bit slow XD I tried to skip the family out, but it wasn't working, hence the slow update! I still hope you enjoyed it though and are read for some action ^_^.
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