Chapter 6 : Chapter 6: Champagne Supernova
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Chapter title from the song of the same name by Oasis.
His room wasn’t his anymore.
Where Hermione and Ron had retained every inch of Rose’s childhood at their house, it seemed that his parents had wanted to erase any trace that he’d ever existed. Walls painted magnolia, carpet neutral, furniture standard, no trace that a teenage boy – that anyone – had ever lived in it.
Kicking at thin air, he perched on the edge of the white linen of the bed and looked around for any sign of the room he’d known, painted blue for the Arrows, posters lining the walls and bits of old brooms scattered across the floor. Nothing. He stood up and pulled open the pine drawers, all empty or filled with spare sheets, and swore under his breath. Clenching his fists, he walked to the window. The garden had been tidied up and once again, there was no trace of the pitch that he and Albus had torn up as kids, and the pond that Lily had frozen when she was six because she wanted to go ice-skating had been filled in; it was all so adult.
“Don’t be like that!”
The voice came from the room below his, the kitchen, and there was a frustrated scream and the slam of a door. Footsteps stomping up the stairs preceded the door opening and his mother’s continued pleading.
James turned and darted away from the view from the door. Rolling onto the bed, he leant forwards and began picking at the fraying on his jeans. He heard his sister’s footsteps draw to a stop, both of them now talking in harsh whispers that made him want to shut the door on them more than get up and exacerbate things. After another minute, there was an exasperated groan and the slam of a bedroom door.
“What are you doing in here?” Ginny poked her head around the open door of James’s old room and he froze. “Get your shoes off the bed,” she added, raising her eyebrows and he silently obeyed. She softened, leaning tentatively against the chest of drawers. “Lily didn’t take it very well.”
“You didn’t tell her before?”
“Don’t be stupid,” she said. “She’d have been in Bolivia before the night was out.” He let out one short laugh. “You’re–” she paused, “well –”
Behaving. The word seemed to drift in the air around them, an imaginary halo lighting dimly above his head. He shrugged. The sight of his room had given him a jolt, that was all, and once he’d adjusted, he wasn’t going to make this easy for them. He wasn’t going to pretend he was giving in. His mother sighed and stood up. Without another word uttered, she left and James didn’t budge from his seat until her footsteps had melted into the sound of pots and pans clanging in the kitchen; the washing up that Lily had abandoned.
“So do I get it back?”
The nineteen-year-old’s voice was short, sharp, fuelled with cynicism and blankness. Anger gone, upset quenched, happiness? Non-existent.
James smirked. Game on. He leant forward, throwing a nonchalant arm out and cocking his head to the side, eyebrows raised in challenge.
“Get what back?”
Now there was a waver in her tone, a weakness, a sign that her Gryffindor blood was throbbing through her but overrun by the Hufflepuff in her mind, the one she’d shoved away for the Sorting. She’d forced the blood to pump harder and harder until the Hat decided to place her in the house of her brothers. She would not let that be called futile now and she held her ground.
“You owe me five hundred Galleons.” She paused, hands on her tiny hips, hair clipped out of her face and cheeks flushed Weasley red. James stood up and bent down to his bag, pulling open a draw and moving clothes into it as he spoke.
“I hadn’t realised theft came with an interest rate. I thought I took four hundred and seventy three.”
She didn’t splutter. She didn’t complain. She just stared at him until he stopped unpacking and turned to face her. She’d grown. He didn’t know why he was so shocked but in front of him, she kept her gaze steady. She didn’t shout for their father or kick up a fuss. She didn’t cry – she rarely did – and didn’t scream. She let her arms fall from her hips and looked away.
“Why are you back?”
“Why do you think?” he retorted before her question had even been finished. She sent him a fleeting glance but tore it away as soon as he caught her. Tugging on the fabric of her dress, she didn’t press him. She knew the answer. He’d run out of money, out of luck. He’d lost a fortune and in doing so, had lost so much more too.
“You’re disgusting.” He shrugged. “Is that it?” He smirked. She turned around, her foot on the threshold of the door before turning. She was short – if she was nearer to him, she wouldn’t reach his chest – but in the doorframe, she looked powerful, dynamic. “I don’t know why they let you come back here.” Her words weren’t eloquent and they weren’t cruel but they bit at him, little by little. “I don’t know why they even still call you their son.” She paused and looked him up and down, a word on the tip of her tongue that she couldn’t force off and before he could reply, she turned her back and left.
Clicking her door shut behind her, she locked it with her wand – twice – and sank onto the armchair set up in the corner of a room. It sighed with her as she curled up, tugging a cushion from behind her and holding it close. Her excess words were still whirring around her brain; what she wished she could have said to the brother that, in her eyes, was only so in blood.
“For the last fucking time, it wasn’t me!”
Louis winced at Dominique’s tone but their mother stood firm, hands on slim hips and her face set in the finest marble. The redheaded woman scowled like a teenager and her brother glanced warily from her to their mother.
“Language,” Fleur said, “and ’e is not invited to ze wedding?”
“No.” Dominique’s voice was fuelled with the labour of keeping controlled under her mother’s attack. “And in case you’ve forgotten, that wedding is tomorrow and I really need to go home.”
“Attends,” her mother called as she turned her back and made to walk to the fireplace. “If ’e comes, what do we do?”
The redhead looked at her mother tiredly. She could almost feel the bags under her eyes weighing her down and her whole body had lost the zeal that had fuelled it thus far. Calmly, with more poise and politeness than even Fleur would have liked, she shrugged and without another word, she walked to the fire and disappeared in a spit of green flames, leaving Louis alone to deal with the worried mutterings of their mother.
She landed with grace in the fireplace of her home, her bridesmaids all lounged out over her sofa before her, waiting on her arrival. She said not a word to them, breezing past and shutting the kitchen door of the little cottage. She leant against the worktop, twisting her hands together nervously and almost jumped out of her skin when there was a gentle knock on the door. She said nothing and the door creaked open, bringing her chief bridesmaid, Molly, into view.
The older redhead shut the door behind her and eased herself into the chair that sat in a corner. Dominique shook her head and looked away, her cousin respecting her request for silence for only a second.
“You want him to come, don’t you?” she said, one hand protectively held over the bulge of her stomach. Married herself merely a few months before, Molly had beaten Victoire to the role of Dominique’s right-hand woman in spite of her pregnancy, and knew full well that while Dominique had not invited James to the wedding, that she would not turn him away if he were to turn up.
“He was my best friend,” the bride-to-be replied, shaking her head and looking to Molly. “I didn’t invite him but if he turns up, then I’m not going throw him out.” She paused, taking in Molly’s distant look of almost pity, sympathy. “Don’t look at me like that. I thought you were on my side in this.”
“I am,” Molly said. She, like Dominique and Rose and Fred, had not taken quite so harshly to their cousin’s actions. Though nobody could justify them or make them right, they were certainly not as ready to pretend he didn’t exist as everyone else appeared to be. She sighed, her hand absentmindedly drifting over her stomach. “Come on, come inside. Everyone’s worried.”
She stood up and held her hand out. Dominique didn’t take it but smiled gratefully and followed her cousin into the living room. Tomorrow was her wedding day. James didn’t seem to know anything about it and perhaps that was how it ought to stay. It was not the place for a family bust-up. She would not let it be.
James woke late the next day, listening to the whispering through the house creep under the door. He hadn’t said a word to either of his parents, and certainly not his sister, all night, shutting himself away in his room and fiddling with every inch of it, trying to discover the slightest thing that would register as familiar. After finding that everything really had been ripped from the character he had given it as a teenager, he had opened the bottle of alcohol – he wasn’t sure what it was – that he’d bought from the Muggle off-licence before knocking on his parents’ door with his tail between his legs, blushing a furious red out of shame at how he’d given in rather than at what he had done. It had landed to his parents to misinterpret it, and he hadn’t planned on correcting them.
On first sip, it hadn’t seemed quite as strong as much of the magical drink he’d subjected his body to, but after quarter of the bottle had disappeared, he had begun to feel queasy, and once it was half empty, he’d had to give in and put it away. His slumber came quickly and easily, and he woke fully dressed and feeling as though somebody had knocked him over the head with an exceptionally large and heavy club. He stood and his stomach shifted uncomfortably. Now his throat was beginning to throb every time he swallowed and he was sure that the ground had never been so uneven before. He lurched to the door and stopped.
His parents must have been talking in the hall because their voices were louder now. His head was weighing him down and so he crouched carefully, making sure his body didn’t cast a shadow through the crack above the threshold.
“- serious?” his mother was saying and he heard his father sigh that same sigh that flaunted his dissatisfaction without causing an argument. James could almost hear his mother raising her eyebrows and pressed his ear closer to the wall.
“We can’t babysit him if he’s not with us,” was the argument in return. “God knows what’s going to happen if we leave him here.”
“He won’t make the same mistake twice.” His father scoffed and the whole scene was playing out so vividly in James’s head. He knew his mother had shaken her head and began to walk away, the floorboards creaking under her weight before she turned and carried on. “He’ll cause more trouble there. Not a soul will be looking at Dominique, it’ll all be about him. It’s her big day. Let her have it.”
“So, what? We’re going to take our life savings with us in case he does it again?”
“Even James isn’t stupid enough to do that again,” Ginny said and on the other side of the door, her son froze. “It’ll be fine, love. We’ll only be gone for a few hours.”
“Yeah, and he only needs a few seconds to upset the entire thing.”
The conversation fizzled out and James could only assume that they had migrated to their bedroom to continue the conversation. He stood up, his head still feeling like a boulder on his shoulders, and leant against the frame to keep his balance. They had no faith in him, that he had been aware of when he made his return, but his mother’s naivety was really something else. He glanced to his watch. Already half-past eleven, he had less than three hours to change their minds.
Albus stood in the doorway of his sister’s room, watching as Lily pulled at the curls that fell around her face, biting her lip and trying to work out whether they looked quite right. Switching her position in front of the mirror, flicking her wand to change the angle that the light fell over her, she started when she saw her brother watching her and scowled.
“It looks fine,” he said when she glanced hesitantly back to the mirror, tugging again at the way it fell against her cheek. “Mum wants to know if you’re ready.” She nodded and turned to her dressing table, picking up her bag. “Seen him?”
“Not today. Still asleep, I think.”
“Right.” He dug his hands into the pockets of his dress robes and looked around the room, unsure as to where to land his gaze.
“Dad wanted to bring him with us, you know?” Lily said as she closed the clasp of her bag and ushered her brother out. Shutting the door behind her and locking it twice with her wand, she led the way downstairs. Albus rolled his eyes.
“Well, we know that for a hero of the world, he’s a bit of a dunce.”
“Don’t talk about your father like that.”
The eyes and ears of Ginny Potter were trained everywhere and from the downstairs loo, where she was touching up her make-up, their mother sent them a warning look. Albus muttered a low apology and she smiled.
“Come on, chin up,” she said, reaching up to rearrange Lily’s hair and tutting at the mess that Al had made of his tie. They both smiled, though neither reached their eyes, and their mother stopped fussing with a content nod. “You two can get off, if you like. We’ll follow you.”
They didn’t argue and kissing her a swift goodbye, they left the house. Once out of the garden gate, they both let out a breath.
“You don’t think he’s going to do anything whilst we’re out, do you?” Lily asked, glancing up at the side of the house as they made their way away from the protective enchantments which kept them safe from prying eyes. Al shrugged.
“I don’t know. With him, I don’t think anyone does.”
Her heart had never felt quite like this before, like it was getting bigger and bigger and filling every last inch of her body. Her fiancé’s – husband’s – hand in hers made her breath choke and even though she’d promised herself that she wouldn’t cry, looking at every lace handkerchief raised to every damp eye made her eyes sting. Her mother looking up at her, every inch the epitome of composure in normal circumstances, was smiling broadly and using manicured fingers to wipe the tears away from her eyes. Her cousins, her friends all kept their heads down but Lucy’s shoulders were shaking from trying not to let herself cry and Fred was looking decidedly tense beside his girlfriend, who was grinning and playing with the camera in her hands threateningly.
Dominique glanced behind her, where Molly was clinging to her daughter’s hand and Victoire was trying to restrain her son from making a run to his father. Both smiled broadly at her, and she grinned back, shaking her hair out of her eyes.
With the marquee behind them, she leant into her husband who kissed her forehead and helped her into the house. Laughing between them as the noise from the garden began to erupt, Matthew stopped first. Still unaware of anything wrong, Dominique’s laugh died into a whimper.
Every single wedding present, stored so tidily when she had last been in the room, had been knocked over or ripped apart. She shook her head and let go of her husband’s hand. Her dress dragged noisily across the floor and when she stopped, everything about her that had glowed just seconds before was ripped away.
She stepped forwards and her foot cracked over something. Shards of green glass from the smashed bottles of empty champagne – flown in from France, courtesy of Tante Gabrielle – and dribbled down the front of his stained white shirt and undone tie were the contents of them. He stumbled to his feet, lurching towards her.
“Nice to get an invite.”
“What’s taking so long?” Bill’s voice made Matthew start and he leapt towards the door. Dominique and James didn’t move and not even the sounds of her father’s heavy footsteps made a mark on their staring contest. “Christ. Get Ginny.”
The words were like gobbledygook in their ears and Dominique felt her mouth opening and closing in shock.
“What? Oh don’t worry, there was nothing decent. Cheapskates, the lot of them.”
“The drink, the food,” was all she could reply and when the noise of the crowd grew nearer, she jumped at a hand on her arm. She let it guide her away, though whose it was made little difference. She passed Ginny, George, her grandmother and Charlie, all pushing to get to the front. The smell of her brother’s aftershave cut against her and she realised it was Louis who was holding onto her. She stopped at the head of the crowd and turned.
Charlie and George had yanked him to his feet, their looks of contempt equally matched. Their mother was looking on sadly and Ginny’s face was set in stone. She stepped forwards, took everything in and then turned her back.
“Get him out.”
She walked with her head hung and when she passed Dominique, she whispered the smallest of apologies. The young woman shook her head and watched her cousin – the man she had once called her best friend – be dragged from the house through the throng of family members and guests who had arrived for the reception.
Not a soul cried.
He wasn’t worth the tears.
A/N: If I actually have any readers left, I just have one message: sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry. I had this written but then wanted to rewrite it, as it was dreadful. Then I moved to France and I’ve not had internet nor the time to sit down and look at this story, for which I completely lost inspiration.
I’m not 100% happy with the chapter but I thought I owed you all something, at least. From now, the mood is going to change and hopefully it will all improve. I hope you’re still reading – I promise you the next update won’t take anywhere near as long – and I hope you enjoyed.
A thousand hugs of apology,
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