I heard the footsteps and voices in the corridor. There were two people, one wearing high heels. They knocked on the door. I heard the knuckles strike the wood three times, the first hit louder than the second two. The two people continued their conversation and the voice of the second, a woman, most probably unless I suddenly taken to rewarding visits from men who wore high-heeled shoes, rose in volume. They were arguing.
“Dom! Dom, can you open up please?” It was the woman’s voice. I recognised it as Rose’s.
I sat up. Ever since my training had started with the Deboles a couple of days ago, my senses had gone into overdrive. I remember it being like this just after my Auror course had finished, but months and months of boring filing and paperwork and lack of action had dulled them down. The training had been very similar to the tuition I had received as part of my Auror course. I had been put through various aptitude trials: physical, reflexes, general wand skill. There was a compulsory medical test where I had been poked and prodded by a nervous looking nurse - with short hair and a strong jaw and dark, unreadable eyes - who also took blood tests. They said I was ‘a little under the weather’ and gave me a couple of booster jabs and vitamin tablets.
I sat on the sofa for a moment, my head spinning slightly and muscles aching. Yesterday had been a hard day. My instructor had taken me on a run through the countryside surrounding Mossbury Walton and the headquarters, insisting that physical fitness was just as important as mental fitness. It had been difficult, stumbling through the marshes and moors that surrounded the village, with the instructor shouting into my ear.
“Dominique!” Rose shouted through the door, and the man hushed her quickly. Last thing I needed was Noah and his bride-to-be nattering on and on about china patterns and table linen and veils and champagne and whether Scorpius should be invited or not. I tipped a few of my new vitamins onto my palm and took them with a glass of water. After shooting a glance at the newest paper, ‘European murderer continues rampage’, I stood up and staggered towards the door and opened it.
“Hey!” A large amount of red hair suffocated me as Rose hugged me tightly. She cracked a few ribs and squeezed all the air out of me before walking into my kitchen and slamming a large pile of paperwork down on my table.
“Hello Dominique.” Noah followed her inside. I wasn’t sure whether it was the new vitamins that made me want to vomit. He kept looking at me with a sad, sympathetic smile that made me want to strangle him.
Rose had already put the kettle all by the time I had returned to the sofa. After glancing swiftly at the newspaper, I felt the bile rise again in my throat and quickly swept it and the pot of pills off the coffee table and into a draw. Rose slumped down on the sofa opposite, and she looked tired. Noah sat next to her, his legs crossed and his superior smirk plastered all over his self-satisfied face. I wondered whether if I told him that he was consorting with a Muggle murderer he would still be that smug.
“So, Dom, how’s the new job going?” Rose asked, rather forcefully. She must have seen me glaring at Noah and decided to punish me with some fun small talk.
“Fine,” I replied. I wasn’t going to allow her complex answers.
“As brilliant as that?” Noah asked sarcastically. Trying to be funny didn’t suit him, so I just ignored him.
“And Louis? He’s all right, isn’t he? I heard the weather’s awful in France at the moment,” Rose continued.
I could tell Rose was angry with me because she was doing that fake smile again. I smirked. Noah just inspected his nails. The kettle whistled loudly and Rose jumped up to make some mugs of tea, leaving me alone to talk to Noah. He was staring at me again.
“I really admire you, Dominique,” he said and I raised my eyebrows.
“Right,” I said unsurely and I squirmed in my seat under his inquisitive gaze.
“No, no, no,” he laughed, “I was just complimenting you. I just think that you’re a marvellously strong person. I mean, you’re still dealing with Lorcan’s death and everything with his brother, but you still have the courage to be such a good friend to Rosie. I know she really, really appreciates it.”
I noticed that he didn’t say Lysander’s name.
“And she’s so happy that you accepted the offer of being her maid of honour. Everything is going to be so perfect, Dominique. Thank you for that.”
“Who’s going to be your best man?” I asked quietly. I knew that Noah and Lorcan had been very close friends at Hogwarts, and had continued their friendship when they left school.
“My brother,” he replied, “it would have been Lorcan, of course, but...”
“Of course,” I quickly interrupted him. Tears had started to creep up behind my eyes, and I dabbed them away.
“You’re just worried about who you are going to have to dance with,” Noah said, obviously trying to joke again, “it is a tradition after all.”
Noah shot me another sad smile as Rose came bustling in, a tray with mugs of steaming tea and biscuits in her hands.
“Aah, my wonderful fiancée, thank you so much,” Noah said. I smiled weakly at Rose when I took my cup.
“I was thinking we could head down to the new place that just opened up by Fortescue’s? Apparently it’s very good,” her voice was still bright and cheery,
“That sounds magnificent, Rose.”
“But I have to be back to the office by three,” she continued, “and Noah’s seeing his brother. Have you got plans this afternoon, Dom?”
I nodded, blowing across the surface of my tea to cool it down. Now they both had that stupid smile spread across their faces, and I wanted to slap them. They obviously didn’t believe me, and thought that I was simply going to sit at home and weep silently for my dead boyfriend, listening to Celestina on the wireless and using up box after box of tissues. I would probably do that (minus the Celestina Warbeck part) but later, after my meeting with the Deboles and another night’s worth of training.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m seeing Victoire,” I lied easily. Noah’s head turned towards mine, and he had an annoyingly impertinent look on his face.
“That sounds lovely,” Rose said, genuinely filled with enthusiasm, and she sipped delicately from her mug. Noah merely nodded in agreement, his eyes still fixed on mine. A shiver swept down my spine at his piercing gaze, his brown eyes unusually cold, and for a moment I thought that Noah could see right through me, and knew that I was lying about meeting my sister. I froze again as I wondered whether he could tell I was going to kill a mass murderer at his wedding. Then guilt filled me as I realised that their wedding would be ruined by the death of Copperfield, and I would be to blame for blighting their special day. Surely they would understand though, if I was ever to tell them, because so many more lives had been devastated by Copperfield and his murderous mind.
We stayed in the flat for another half an hour of biscuits, tea and awkward chat about work and family and whether Scorpius should be invited to the wedding or not - an issue that kept reoccurring, with Noah insisting that he shouldn’t, me insisting that he should and Rose blushing slightly, playing with her fingers in her lap and saying nothing at all. When Noah asked what she felt on the subject, she would ‘err’ and ‘umm’ for long enough until someone started speaking again. When the topic changed away from Scorpius, Rose would speak loudly and ardently, her eyes bright and her hair crackling with electricity. I knew that she hated it when Noah brought up her relationship with Scorpius, and so she talked passionately about other things, desperate for Noah to be distracted. Her and Scorpius were still the best of friends, despite the feelings he felt for her. I looked at Noah, with his handsome features and expensive clothes, and wondered whether he knew that Scorpius considered Noah’s future wife to be the love of his life.
After packing and washing up the various mugs and plates, I grabbed my coat and we all headed out into Diagon Alley, which was packed with shoppers and workers. I stumbled through the crowd, now bored with the conversation the couple were having, and missing Lorcan more than ever in the enormous throng of people. I thought about what Lysander was doing at that very moment: whether he was alone in the house, afraid to step outside for fear of being found. That coward ness didn’t suit him somehow, so instead I imagined him out on the streets of Paris, getting into Absinthe-induced fights and adding to his vast collection of scars. Perhaps he’ll even murder someone. It wouldn’t be the first time.
“A table for three, please.”
The restaurant was small and quaint, and I followed Rose and Noah inside. The clientele seemed to largely consist of couples and I suddenly felt very sick. They all had their heads closed together, their food left unnoticed as their hands lay intertwined atop the table linen. Some were even kissing.
We were lead to our table by a waiter in a white shirt and smart black trousers. It was a warm day, rare for this time of year, and he had unbuttoned the top buttons of his shirt. There was a sheen of sweat on his forehead and upper lip. He looked around sixteen - this, obviously, was some sort of holiday job - so he had no wand. His fingers shook nervously with his order notebook and quill. There were ink stains on his fingers, and his gaze often shifted to a surly looking man sitting at the bar in dark robes. The boss, no doubt, if his smart clothes, efficient-looking clipboard and demeaning glare were anything to go by.
I let my head collapse into my hands, totally aware that this detailed observation of people was going to ruin me somehow. I felt Rose’s hand on my arm, and her eyes were caring and concerned. Noah just shot me an anxious look over the top of his menu.
“What’s wrong, Dominique?” He asked.
“The music’s too loud. I’ve got a headache.”
Noah signalled to the waiter and the music died down, and clatter of cutlery on plates and the chatter was suddenly louder.
“What are you going to eat, my Rose petal?”
I wanted to leave.
“I don’t know, Noah,” Rose replied, removing her hand from his to turn the page of her menu, “the chicken sounds delicious.”
Her fiancé murmured in agreement, before turning and ordering a bottle of wine for the table. A new waiter was serving our table, and I spotted the nervous looking boy in the corner, cowering under the ferocious scowl of his boss. Sympathy washed through me as he fiddled with his fingers worriedly. The new waiter, a tall man with sandy blond hair, poured me a glass and I drunk it quickly as the couple across from me debated some new issue. Noah had unfortunately stumbled upon the topic of house elves and Rose was away, gesticulating wildly, but he gazed at her lovingly with great brown eyes.
A basket of bread arrived, but I didn’t touch it. Rose tried desperately to include me in their conversation, asking me questions that would require a longer and more complex answer so that I couldn’t simply answer with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or ‘it’s fine’. Noah just continued to give me that sad, sympathetic smile as if I was a small child that has lost her favourite toy.
The food arrived. Rose and Noah had both ordered the chicken.
“And I just couldn’t believe the European authorities where being so lenient,” Rose was saying, “it’s quite unforgivable. Imagine if you were one of the victim’s families!” She shuddered.
“I sent out a couple of reporters to cover the story last week,” Noah said, “and some of the rumours that went around were just horrible. Apparently this one man was found with his...”
“Noah, darling, we’re eating.”
I knew that Copperfield and his various escapades were hot topics in newspapers and radio broadcasts, and hearing about it made my stomach squirm horribly so I tended to tune out when people discussed it. Noah and Rose talking about hadn’t affected me as much as it usually would. I pushed my food to the edge of my plate, conscious that my fitness instructor definitely wouldn’t approve of the fatty steak I was eating, or the chips that came with it.
My eyes shot up to meet Noah’s, and I plastered a fake smile across my face.
“Is your steak alright? Is it too rare? Too well done?”
“It’s perfect, thank you Noah.”
He nodded before spearing a piece of chicken and some beans onto his fork and raised it to his mouth. He never ate it though, and instead I saw a flash of anger cross his eyes, staring at someone who had just entered the restaurant. I saw Rose’s grip tighten on her glass, and I turned around quickly.
Scorpius was walking towards our table, a letter scrunched in his clenched fist and looking generally dishevelled. Noah stood, his food lying forgotten on his plate. I marvelled at the way Noah’s expression changed from once of surprise and rage to one of forced politeness.
“Malfoy!” He held out a hand for Scorpius to shake. The blond man returned it weakly, looking around the table at Rose and me. I saw his eyes linger for a moment on Rose.
“Hello Noah.” Scorpius’ voice was rough and hoarse, and came out as a croak. From my seat, I looked up at him and from that position I could see him closely. He had great bags underneath his eyes, and stubble covered his chin. He smelt horribly of firewhisky. I stood up quickly, gripping onto his arm and pulling him away the table.
“Scorpius...” I warned, “you’re drunk.”
“I’m really not,” he insisted loudly, peering over my shoulder to look at Rose.
“What are you going here?”
His stare was still focused on Rose, but he shoved a letter into my hand.
“What is this?”
“You read it, Dommy-kins,” Scorpius replied, his words slurring before laughing at the nickname he had invented for me.
I opened up the folded piece of parchment to find Rose’s neat handwriting. I skimmed through the note, too concerned to read it all, but only picking out certain words. Love. Noah. No. Never will happen. I gaped stupidly at Scorpius.
“She sent you this?”
“I hate to sound like your personal therapist or some over crazed Seer, but you two need closure. You need to tell him that nothing is ever going to happen between you.” I never thought that she’d be so insensitive as to send him a letter. I thought that she would least go see in person, explain to him why she was doing what she was doing. I hoped that she would let him down gently. I really hoped that she wouldn’t even tell him at all and she would realise that Noah was a stuck up arrogant arsehole and that she deserved so much better.
I crumpled the letter in my hand as my other gripped Scorpius tightly on his arm. Rose was suddenly very interested in her hands, which lay in her lap, and her face had gone very pale. Noah, who had returned to casually ignoring Scorpius (as he did whenever he was around), was eating the rest of his food, humming tunelessly to himself. The chatter in the restaurant became louder.
I turned back towards Scorpius, who was now fiddling with a button on his shirt, his fingers fumbling.
He looked up with the slightly dazed look of someone whose liver was disintegrating.
“I think you should go back home,” I said kindly, “go home, get washed and go to bed. I’ll talk to Rose.”
“No!” He shouted, and one of the couples at the next table stopped kissing to look at him. “I’m going to talk to her.”
“Scorpius, please don’t. You’ll regret it.” I tried to hold onto his arm to restrain him, but he easily broke out of my grip and walked towards the table. I watched him uselessly from my spot by the door, my feet frozen to the floor of the restaurant, the waiters and customers moving and talking ceaselessly around me.
After Scorpius had walked over, stumbling slightly, he leant heavily on the back of Rose’s chair. She did not look at him, her eyes fixed on something in her lap, and he bent his head to whisper something in her ear. Rose’s eyes widened and then sharpened, and she began to argue with him. I wanted to look away, to give them some privacy in this public place, but I couldn’t. Instead I stared intently at the way Rose’s cheeks flushed with anger, or how Scorpius tried to seize her hand but she pulled it out of his reach. I watched as Noah stood impressively, pulling Scorpius around by the shoulder and shouting at him. I saw as the other customers in the restaurant looked up from their meals, and the expressions of irritation (or of attentiveness) on their faces.
“Malfoy, it would better if you just left,” Noah said forcibly.
“Shut it, Bryant.”
“I really think it would be best.”
“I think it would be best if you just shut up.”
“Oh please,” Rose added exasperatedly, with a hint of sardonic laughter, “you’re fighting like you’re in fourth year.”
“Rosie,” Scorpius said, his voice low and sarcastic, “can I talk to you? Just for a second, then you can hurry back to your beloved Noah.”
“Oh and speaking like that is really going to make me want to talk to you... ” Rose replied sharply.
“Wait, you are actually considering it?” Noah interrupted. Scorpius glared at him.
“Well... I thought I - “ She stumbled over her words.
“Rose. We are getting married in three weeks. Please tell me you don’t love him.”
A member of the eagerly watching crowd took a photo. The flash blinded me for a second.
“What? Do you really... “
“Shut it Malfoy.”
“You’ve had seven years to get this right, Bryant, and if she’s doubting anything then that’s obviously... “
“What do you mean ‘doubting anything’?”
Rose’s small voice seemed to soar above the shouts of the two men. Scorpius merely stared at her, looking utterly defeated, whereas Noah was smirking satisfactorily. I wanted to punch him.
“If you loved me,” she began, and her voice tripped over the ‘l’ word, like she wasn’t used to it, “why didn’t you do something about it before? When we were in Hogwarts? When I wasn’t engaged? Why didn’t you tell me? You had seven years, Scor. Seven years. You’ve seen me everyday since then. Was it really so hard to say it? Were you scared that I might laugh in your face? We were... no we are so close. I wasn’t going to reject you so cruelly. But here you are. You’re drunk and you’re alone. You still have it in your mind that I’m going to leave Noah and rush into your arms. You need to get over it. I’m never going to do it. I’m rejecting you now, Scor. It’s over. ”
She stopped. There were tears in her eyes. Noah’s smug smile had returned.
“You kissed me,” Scorpius pleaded desperately, as if this revelation was going to make her change her mind. Instead it just made her angrier, and I saw her eyes flicker towards her fiancé. Noah looked sharply from Scorpius to Rose, his expression changing so fast.
“You’re not invited to the wedding,” she said assertively.
Silence. Even the other costumers stayed quiet. Noah kept gazing despondently at his fiancée, even though I expected him to happy at his rival’s rejection. Scorpius looked like something had just died inside of him: his shoulders were slumped and his hands hung limply at his sides, but his gaze never left Rose’s face. I didn’t like the inconsiderate look she was giving him. I felt anger grow inside me at Rose’s decision and they way in which she had written him the letter, and how she had rejected him so cruelly in this public place.
“He’s still coming,” I said simply, and Rose and Scorpius turned to face me. They looked like they had forgotten I was there. “He’s my date.”
Scorpius smiled weakly at me, moving away from the ‘happy couple’ and coming to stand by my side. Noah was still staring at Rose, his jaw clenched. Both were still and silent, looking like beautiful stone statues whose visages had been torn and twisted to make something horrifically angry, yet horrifically perfect.
Fast updating, no? It might come slower because I've started sixth form college. Bleh. Read and review please!
P.S. If you read Raining, please please go look at my author page and click on the link.