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Chapter 4 : Whisked Away
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As expected, the pillow didn’t do much to silence the incessant noise of her ringing phone, so after the fifth ring, Roxanne reluctantly rolled out of bed, the sheets tangled around her lower half, and stumbled out of her bedroom into the small kitchen. Her eyes bleary with sleep and head throbbing, she slapped her hand against the wall until she found the phone’s cradle, removing it with a distinct grimace on her face.
“Yeah?” she croaked, her words tasting like alcohol.
“Roxanne?” her mother asked loudly. “Is that you?”
She winced at the sheer volume of her mother’s voice. It sounded as though she had magically magnified it and, if Roxanne knew her mum as well as she thought she did, the older woman had probably done it on purpose.
“Who else would it be?” Roxanne replied irritably, hitching the blanket further up her shoulders and leaning against the wall. She wedged the phone between her shoulder and her cheek, subconsciously twirling a strand of hair around her finger.
“No need to get snappy, I just wanted to make sure it was you,” Angelina Weasley responded sensibly. “The last time I attempted to call you, I ended up dialling the emergency services by accident.”
Roxanne shook her head. She didn’t even want to know. Pushing a sigh through her lips and trying to ignore the brutal stabbing in her brain, she pinched the bridge of her nose in hopes of quelling the need to vomit. Where the urge had come from, she wasn’t quite sure.
“So,” she continued, her voice strained, “what do you want?”
On the other end of the line, Angelina scoffed. “What makes you think I want something? Can’t a mother call her daughter out of curiosity?”
“Yes, but it’s -” she paused to squint at the clock on the wall. Her eyes widened and she gripped the phone tighter. “Oi, why are you ringing at eight o’clock in the fucking morning?”
Unlike most mothers who would be offended at being addressed so crassly by their own daughter, Angelina knew better than to warn Roxanne about her language. For one, she was a Weasley, and the spawn of George to boot, so it was only natural that she was grouchy when woken at an “ungodly” hour of the morning and two, the result of her reprimand would only lead to more profanity. Though it didn’t bother Angelina, sometimes it boggled her mind at how inventive her daughter could be at times.
Again, she wasn’t the child of George Weasley for nothing.
“I was calling to remind you that Sunday Brunch has been moved to today,” Angelina explained in a tone one might use to read the phonebook.
“Apparently, Grandpa Arthur has convinced Nana Molly to let him attend a Sunday Quidditch match with Harry, Ron, your father, and Charlie.”
“Oh, that sounds…great,” she responded, inwardly groaning as she readied her next question, “What time?”
It was pointless to ask if she had to attend as she knew what the answer would be. Angelina would say that Roxanne was more than welcomed to skip it, to lay about her flat as she recovered from her hangover, but she wasn’t going to be the one who informed Nana Molly why she wouldn’t be there. That was Roxanne’s duty, and she did really want to hear the note of disappointment in her elderly grandmother’s voice? Her mum might have played Quidditch fairly, but in life, the gloves came off and the grit came out.
She could practically hear the smile in her mum’s voice. “The usual time - eleven o’clock.”
“So half twelve then?”
“No,” Angelina said. “Eleven.”
Roxanne groaned audibly, pressing her forehead against the smooth expanse of the mercifully cool wall. It soothed the ache in her head. “But Mum,” she whined. “I didn’t get in until nearly three this morning.”
“And that’s no one’s fault but your own,” said Angelina, a note of finality in her voice. “Be there by eleven or else I’ll know the reason why.”
Roxanne rolled her eyes. “You do know the reason why.”
“Hush up, you. Merlin knows no one forced those bloody drinks into your hands.” She sounded exasperated and Roxanne was almost entirely certain she heard her mum muttered, “You take after your father in that respect.”
Tired of being berated and just plain exhausted, Roxanne asked, “Are you finished yet? I’d like to go back to bed for a few hours before I’m forced to face the family.”
“I love you, too, darling,” her mother snorted derisively into the receiver. “See you at eleven.”
Slamming the phone into its cradle, Roxanne picked up the bottom of the blanket so she wouldn’t slip and shuffled into the bedroom, collapsing face-first into her bed. A loud, happy noise floated past her lips and as she burrowed into her mattress, she felt as though she could curl her toes in happiness. Despite the fact she would have to wake up in three hours’ time - Merlin knows she wasn’t waking up sooner than absolutely necessary - a little sleep was better than none at all.
As she rolled onto her side, pulling her knees closer to her chest, Roxanne vaguely wondered if Teddy’s headache was anywhere near as bad as hers.
The bathroom door nearly rocketed off its hinges as Teddy violently shoved it open, dropping down onto his knees in front of the toilet. Thankfully, the lid was already up and as he gripped either side of the porcelain bowl, pouring the contents of his stomach into it, he made a mental note to swear off drinking forever.
Or at least to never accept an invitation to karaoke night with Bert Hughes and Roxanne Weasley ever again.
He had been surprised, to say the very least, when Roxanne informed him that she would be singing along with him. After all, she had said it was her way of exacting revenge upon him for making her sing one of his favourite childhood songs; it was the tune his grandmother would hum as she washed the dishes, a young, blue-haired Teddy at her elbow with a rag in hand, impatiently waiting to dry. When the man in charge of the sign-up list called their names, she leapt up from her seat eagerly, nearly knocking aside her thrice-emptied mug of beer and held out her hand, twitching her fingers at him.
“Come on,” she said, a wry smile on her face as she stared at him, her head slightly tilted.
Reluctantly, he slipped his hand into hers and allowed himself to be dragged towards the stage. It quickly became apparent that Roxanne was one of the bar’s favourites as the entire room went up in tumultuous applauses and outrageously loud shouting as she mounted the steps to the stage, tugging Teddy behind her. Several men in the back of the shabby, but friendly place stood up and wolf-whistled. One even called out, “You go, Roxie!” which made her laugh.
As she adjusted the microphone, her long hair swinging over her shoulder, Teddy couldn’t help noticing how she seemed to be a completely different person once allowed to let her hair down - no pun intended.
From what little he knew of her, she was relaxed, yet refined in her actions, careful, but not overly cautious, and quiet, but not without an opinion. Perhaps it was the alcohol swimming through his veins or the atmosphere of the pub, but it was like he was seeing her in a new light. Here in the Hog’s Head, standing in front of a microphone and tucking her hair behind her ears, her eyes squinted slightly due to the bright spotlight as she stared out into the crowd, she looked comfortable. At home, almost.
“Hey guys,” she said into the microphone. Another wave of obnoxiously voluminous shouting followed the simple greeting and Roxanne laughed again, her nose scrunching up in the way he was quickly becoming fond of. When she looked over her shoulder at him, she smiled reassuringly and waved for him to come closer.
Begrudgingly, he stepped up to her side, narrowing his eyes in an attempt to block out the bright lights. As Roxanne addressed the roaring patrons, Teddy shuffled his weight from foot to foot, wondering what on earth she was going to make him sing. Much to his surprise, as soon as this thought passed through his head, another microphone appeared with a faint “pop”.
“Bugger,” he muttered under his breath, knowing that there was no way he could back out of this now.
Suddenly, the music started up, startling Teddy. His eyes as wide as saucers, he turned to Roxanne, who looked very much like the cat that ate the canary. Unfortunately for him, he was the poor canary who’d strayed to close to cats. He furrowed his brow; why did everything concerning Roxanne seem to entail cats in some way, shape, or form?
Before he could contemplate the peculiarity of it all, Roxanne started singing. It was a familiar song, one he was sure his godfather had listened to when he was a child. Her voice wasn’t beautiful or powerful - hell, it was hardly better than anything he could manage, but there was something about the way she sang. The way she held onto the microphone, the way she tipped her head and flailed her limbs about, that contained a certain charm. It was easy to see why everyone at the Hog’s Head loved her.
Through the cover of her dark lashes, she sent him a pointed look and he reluctantly joined in the sing. His voice was faint at first, weak even, but as Roxanne’s voice started to grow in volume as the crowd clapped their hands, completely out of time, his became sturdier. Louder. It took one verse for him to realise why Roxanne and Bert made a tradition out of singing karaoke, and it took three choruses for his voice to overpower Roxanne’s.
As the song faded and another took its place, it was not Roxanne’s name that the crowd was chanting. By the time the third song began to play, she was a part of the crowd, leaning against the bar with a beer in her hand, a winning smile on her face, and Bert at her side. He was fascinated by the way her lips formed the words he sang; so fascinated that he didn’t even notice the rest of the pub had started singing along with him.
“BA BA BA!”
A small smile worked its way onto Teddy’s face as he recalled the evening, but it vanished as soon as his stomach made an unpleasant squelching noise. Latching onto the bowl once more, his entire body heaved as he vomited. Two upchucks and several dry heaves later, he was curled in a ball on the floor, his forehead pressed against the cool base of the toilet.
“Never…again,” he mumbled, letting his eyes drift shut. But Teddy knew that if another invitation was extended to him, he would accept it in a heartbeat.
Apparation had always made Roxanne feel a little queasy - and that was when she was sober. Doing so with a monstrous hangover was an entirely different story. As soon as she appeared in the Burrow’s garden near the pond, she doubled over, placing her hands on her knees and dry heaving into a bush. Nothing came up, but a frog croaked at her, its beady eyes staring up at her critically.
Frowning to herself, she waited until the world stopped spinning and her lungs stopped stinging with effort before straightening up. Roxanne smoothed down her hair in hopes of taming the wild locks; she had woken up a half hour later than she intended and hadn’t had the time nor the energy to stand under the spray of the shower, so she left her tangled hair around her shoulders, hoping it would distract from her bloodshot eyes. The very last thing she needed was her brother or one of her more annoying cousins to point this out and take the mickey out of her for three straight hours.
When Roxanne drew nearer to the house - it was quite a walk from the pond where she had landed to the yard of the Burrow - she winced. The noise, as always, was deafening. For some reason, her family seemed to find it necessary to all but scream at each other as they conversed, if only for the sake of being louder than the person sitting next to them. That was the thing about the Weasley family - everything was a competition and Roxanne, being the least competitive of the lot, was often left to her own devices, which meant talking with her aunts and uncles, who had long since given up trying to insert their opinions in the conversations of their offspring, nieces, and nephews. She didn’t mind it though; it was nice, not having to scream herself hoarse in order to be heard.
She fought off a groan as Louis’ called out her, drawing the stares of her entire family. Great, just great. She had wanted to make a discreet arrival in the hope of shaking off the curious stares and unwanted questions concerning her appearance, but now, thanks to Louis, it didn’t seem likely.
For once, they didn’t come rushing at her with their arms wide open, all but begging to be hugged and kissed before flouncing away to resume their previous activities. She picked her way across the yard slowly, stopping when a small body attached itself to her legs.
Laughing, she looked into the face of her godson, Ezra Malfoy. It was still hard to believe that Dominique had actually married Scorpius after she got pregnant, especially since Dominique made her opinions on marriage very clear at an early age; she thought it was an archaic practice and vowed to never go through with it. Roxanne snorted to herself. Funny how things turned out.
Roxanne bent down and scooped the little tyke into her arms.
“I missed you!” Ezra proclaimed, taking her face within his tiny hands and staring at her intensely. “Did you miss me too?”
Again, she laughed, pressing a kiss against his temple. “Of course I missed you, ‘Ra.” She shifted him onto her left hip and moved towards the house. “Where’s your mum?”
“Inside,” he said as he played with her hair.
“Shouldn’t you be inside with her? I doubt your mum would like to idea of you playing n the yard all by yourself.”
Ezra shook his head. “Nope. She told me to go outside, so I did.”
“Were you being naughty?” she asked with a pointed stare.
The blonde boy flushed a deep red and buried his face into the crook of her neck. Chuckling, she tightened her grip on his small body. “I’ll take that as a yes.”
Though he was heavy, Roxanne was glad for the weight of her godson as it prevented her cousins from getting too close to her, thus noticing her somewhat haggard appearance. The more daring ones (Louis and Molly) pulled her into a one-armed hug anyway, exchanging a few words with Ezra as well. Ezra seemed content in her arms as she made idly small talk with her cousins until James appeared.
At the sight of the tall, raven-haired man, Ezra began to squirm incessantly in her arms, calling out for James, who grinned broadly and hurried away from his conversation with his brother.
“Ezzie!” James said, lifting the boy out of Roxanne’s arms with ease. His eyes sparked with mischief as they settle on her. A feeling of dread sank like lead in her stomach. “All right there, Rox?” His smirk was a little too smarmy for her liking.
She tried to hide her flush of embarrassment by lowering her head. “I’ve been better,” she responded, tucking her hair behind her ear.
“Not to worry,” James said, clapping her on the shoulder, “I won’t tell anyone.” He winked ostentatiously.
Roxanne raised a sceptical brow. “So everyone will know by noon?”
“Of course,” he said with a wicked grin, hoisting Ezra onto his shoulders. They headed off towards the corner of the garden where an apple tree stood, an old yellow sandbox underneath it.
Fighting the urge to flip him the bird, Roxanne curled her hand into a fist and marched towards the house. She was over ten yards away from the opened kitchen door when the scent of the food hit her. Inhaling the delicious smell, she tried to stop her mouth from flooding at the mere thought of consuming bangers and mash, beans, and toast. She crossed the threshold.
If the noise outside was alarming, it was nothing compared to the kitchen. Everywhere she looked, there was a head of flaming red hair bustling about the tiny space, narrowly avoiding collisions with one another. It would have been impressive if it wasn’t like this every time the Weasleys gathered and Roxanne, who was skilled at dodging oncoming traffic no thanks to her job, weaved through the crowd, earning a happy smile and a jovial “hello” from most of the women in the kitchen. Aunt Ginny even kissed her cheek.
“There you are!” Angelina Weasley cried when she saw her daughter. She looked like an absolute mess; there was flour smeared across her left cheek and her hair was frizzy. If the mad glimmer in her dark eyes was anything to go by, her mother was not pleased to be surrounded by all of the other women. Angelina was a fair cook, but she hated tight spaces, which was one of the main reasons she preferred the Quidditch field to the kitchen. Roxanne didn’t enjoy either activity, so she really couldn’t offer her opinion on the matter. “Where’ve you been? I’ve been waiting for hours!”
Roxanne rolled her eyes. And people wondered where Fred got his flare for dramatics from. Everyone accused their father, but compared to their mother, he was as cool as a cucumber. “It’s only eleven forty, Mum.”
“Oh, well, come help me,” her mother said with a dismissive wave of her hand. Latching onto Roxanne’s upper arm, she tugged her to the far side of the kitchen. “Your grandmother set me the task of whisking the eggs.”
“What the hell is whisking?”
Angelina lifted a shoulder. “I have no idea, which is why you’re going to help me out.”
Gritting her teeth, she allowed her mother to shove an apron over her head. When Angelina attempted to tie the strings for her, Roxanne batted the older woman’s hands away and said grumpily, “If I knew I was going to be put to work, I would’ve told Hannah I was available today. At least I would be getting paid.”
“Shush, you. It’s not like it’s a difficult task.”
Roxanne snorted derisively as she pushed her sleeves up to her elbows. “Says the woman who doesn’t even know what whisking is.”
The remark earned her an elbow to the side. Frowning, she massaged her bruised ribs, though she didn’t have much time to pout as her mother launched into a fragmented explanation of what she should be doing. Ninety percent of it soared right over Roxanne’s hand and when Angelina passed her a silver device with curved and connected spokes, her eyes widened.
“Just whisk, Roxanne.”
Another grimace overtook her lips as she grabbed the nearest bowl and brought it close to her side, one armed cradling the base of the bowl as though it was a newborn baby. It didn’t take her long to get the hang of whisking, but as she beat the eggs, she couldn’t help wrinkling her nose every time some of the yolk splashed on her shirt.
Work was looking like a much better option as Teddy would be there, looking endlessly more attractive than she did with his sleeves rolled up to his elbows and a rag in his hand as he wiped the bar clean. As she imagined the cords of muscle moving underneath his skin, the concentrated look on his face - the way it pulled his brows together oh so slightly, the tip of his tongue poking out of the corner of his mouth, wetting his full lips -
“FUCK!” Roxanne shouted as the bowl slipped out of her hands and splattered all over her feet. Silence engulfed the kitchen, the only sound the soft ringing as the silver bowl spun in a pathetic circle.
Someone laughed. Roxanne’s stomach plummeted. She didn’t have to look up to know who had laughed. She could recognise his deep baritone laugh from anywhere.
As though an enchantment had been lifted, the chaos resumed. Ginny went back to flipping hotcakes, Fleur was trying to show Lucy how to properly roll a croissant, and everyone else was doing what they did best - making it up as they went along. Even her mother returned to the task at hand.
Surprised, but not all-together disappointed, she bent down to clean up the mess she had created; quite stupidly, she had left her wand on her nightstand. It was only when she was on her hands and knees that she realised she didn’t have a towel to mop it up with. Almost as though he had read her mind, he appeared in front of her, holding a dishrag within her line of vision.
Sitting back on her haunches, she looked up and he grinned.
“Hey,” Teddy greeted warmly, his expression strained. It was obvious he was trying to hide his laughter.
The muscles in her face went slack with embarrassment. “Hi.”
“Need any help with that?” He nodded towards the mess coating the floor. “I’ve got supplies,” he added, flipping the rag in his hand.
She didn’t answer immediately, just continued to stare at him while simultaneously wishing the floor would open up and swallow her whole. Apparently, Teddy didn’t need an answer. He dropped down on the floor next to her, taking the job upon himself.
“I can do that!” she protested, reaching for the rag. Their fingers brushed and like a schoolgirl with a crush on her teacher, butterflies erupted in the pit of her stomach. Her eyes found Teddy’s very briefly and she was taken aback at what she saw - was that…was that shock? Did he, too, feel butterflies? Almost as soon as the thought entered her head, she shook it away. No. That wasn’t it. It couldn’t be. He used to be engaged to Victoire, the likelihood of him liking her…well, it was laughable. If anything, he was probably just disgusted by the feel of her hands.
Pulling his gaze away from hers, Teddy swallowed heavily, trying to ignore the peculiar swooping sensation in his stomach. He wasn’t a pre-pubescent thirteen year old boy anymore, he was a grown man, for Merlin’s sake. Swooping sensations didn’t happen to strapping men like himself.
“No,” he insisted, nudging her elbow out of the way with his own. “I’ve got it. Besides, you need to clean up your shoes. They’ll start stinking if you don’t.”
Even though the remark wasn’t very funny, Roxanne laughed loudly enough to draw the attention of several family members. She said something back to him, grabbing the rag out of his hands and bumping her shoulder against his. Being the gentleman that he was, Teddy plucked the rag out of her hands and scrubbed at the floor. Roxanne rolled her eyes in exasperation and started to mimic him.
A significant look passed between Ginny and Hermione as they observed the pair bantering as they argued over the dishrag. Hermione cleared her throat and caught Angelina’s attention, who looked at the two with a smile that could only be described as knowing.
It was only after they had finished cleaning the floor and Teddy was showing Roxanne how to properly use a whisk that Victoire stepped through the kitchen door, greeting the remaining family members who hadn’t been in the garden when she arrived. She quirked a brow in curiosity, but couldn’t observe the scene any further as her mother called her attention, all but begging her to help Lucy with the croissant. Victoire did as she was told and instructed Lucy, who was little more than helpless in the kitchen.
However, Victoire couldn’t keep her body from involuntarily jerking when she heard his booming laughter from the corner swiftly followed by Roxanne’s pleasant chuckle. Her grip on the lip of the sink tightened, her knuckles turning white. She tried to ignore it to the best of her ability, but it was difficult seeing as how every fibre of her being yearned to be in her cousin’s position, laughing and joking with Teddy over something as stupid as whisking eggs. Before she knew it, she couldn’t even control herself from glancing over her shoulder every other second.
Roxanne was the first to notice Victoire’s near-constant staring. She didn’t say anything at first, instead opting to watch the way that Teddy moved the whisk around the bowl and half-heartedly listening as he recounted his version of last night’s events. It was slightly different from the way she remembered them, but who was she to correct Teddy? He was willingly talking to her after she had made a fool of herself, much like she did every Friday night at the Hog’s Head.
But when Teddy started pulling at the collar of his shirt uncomfortably, a decidedly unpleasant expression on his face, she muttered lowly, “Don’t look now, but Victoire’s staring at us.”
His eyes flashed with alarm. “Really? She’s here?”
“Hmm, that’s funny.”
Roxanne furrowed her brow. “What is?”
“I didn’t even notice.”
It was difficult for Roxanne to hide her smile.
On the other side of the room, Molly came rushing into through the doorway, grabbing her younger sister by the arm. “Guess what?” She was all but squealing.
“What?” Lucy said, abandoning her slave labour at the first chance she got. If she thought Aunt Fleur was maddening, it was nothing compared to Victoire’s incessant remarks about her failure at making croissants. Like it was her fault for not being French.
“Lily told me that Albus told her that James told him that Teddy told him that he went out with Roxie last night to go sing karaoke at the Hog’s Head!” Molly revealed in an exciting rush.
“What?!” Lucy cried, outraged by the thought. “I’ve been wanting to go to that for ages, but apparently it’s a ‘sacred’ tradition between Bert and Roxanne!”
“I know! Which is what makes this so -”
Molly was cut off by the abrupt sound of a glass breaking. Brown eyes wide, she turned to stare at her eldest cousin, Victoire, who was the holding the stem of a wine glass in her hand, the rest in shards on the floor.
A/N: Questions? Comments? Concerns? Am I moving too fast? Was this chapter entirely pointless? Let me know.
Also, brownie points for whomever can guess the song that Teddy performed on his own! =)
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