Chapter 11 : The Mother of the Enemy
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“So, Jag…where do you live?” I asked. The gang and I were standing in Teddy’s office, waiting as he dug through several filing cabinets to find some Floo Powder. I say ‘office’ for want of a better word, because, personally, I think the room resembled those underground dens where Mob bosses bumped off their enemies. There was a desk in the back of the room, overflowing with heaps of graded essays (to my delight, I spotted one that had AVERY YOU GOT A TROLL FOR THIS SHIT stamped on it with red ink), and bookshelves, and odd artifacts, like shrunken heads, that I didn’t even want to know how Teddy acquired.
“Euuuh…” Jag scrutinized one of the shrunken heads with a look of incredulity. “Is this really a human?”
“Was. It was a human,” Teddy replied, his head stuck in the depths of the filing cabinet. He kept tossing out random objects, like maracas, a crystal skull, and a pair of foot-long shears that narrowly missed Jag's head. The dark-haired boy jumped aside with a strangled shout.
Al, however, leapt forward with enthusiasm. “Oh, mental!” he said, closely examining a shrunken head without touching it. It was roughly three inches tall, a dark green color, and had a creepy, squinty-eyed look that sent shivers down my spine. “Say, Teds, where’d you steal it from?”
“Stole it? Stole it?” A pair of Dutch sandals went flying through the air, slamming my cousin square in the chest . Teddy glanced back exasperatedly. “I’m buds with a tribe of shamans from South America. They gave me a couple of those beauties to keep.”
“So, they are real?” Zelda asked, looking rather aghast.
Al picked it up by the hair.
“Oh, GROSS, Al!” Xander and I screamed.
Al rubbed its cheek with the back of his finger. “Nice. It feels like llama.”
The girls and I looked at him.
“Oh, we had a llama at our house,” Jag said matter-of-factly. “It was evil. Spat me right in the goddamn eye.”
“Where do you live?” I asked again, feeling genuinely curious.
Jag shrugged. “In this rich place. Hey, Al’s been to my house before! Remember, man? We chopped my wall down with a chainsaw!”
My cousin wasn’t paying attention. He was stroking that abominable mini-size head.
He looked up, and saw us staring at him. “What? It’s shiny!”
“AHA!” Teddy straightened, holding a bag of Floo Powder. “Here it is! Smoke as much as you want—ALBUS! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?”
“It’s shiny, dude.”
“YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO TOUCH IT!”
“It’s shiny. And llama-like.”
Teddy rolled his eyes behind his blue glasses. “Those heads have curses on them, you freaking’ prat. Can you comprehend the word ‘curse’ ?”
“You mean like what happened to Indiana Jones?”
Teddy slewed his eyes over to Jag. “And here I thought he was a bit smarter than you.”
“What’s the curse?” I asked, feeling curious than.
“If they come alive and take control of you, you’re dead.” Teddy shrugged. “It happened to a friend of mine. Wasn’t pretty.”
Al was positively beaming. “Can I please keep it?”
Teds sighed. “Fine, whatever. Harry’s gonna Avada Kedavra me when he finds out.”
“Cool!” Al enthused, gazing at the shrunken head sitting in his hand. “I name you—”
“Bob!” shouted Jag.
“No,” Al said quietly. He looked at it with love in his eyes. “I name you…Jorgle.”
“Um, alright, then,” Teddy muttered. Shaking his head, he held the bag out to us. “Here’s the Floo Powder, when you finally feel getting the eff out of this place.”
“Zelda, you go first,” I said, pushing her toward the bag,
“I hope your mum doesn’t mind shrunken heads,” Zelda said to Jag darkly, as she gripped a handful of Floo Powder.
“His name’s JORGLE!” Al shouted at her, before she stepped into the emerald green flames.
here is your mansion, exactly?” Xander asked Jag, like I had. Her eyes suddenly began to sparkle. “Paris?”
“No, a rich place. Not Paris.”
“Paris is a rich place.
“Paris is rich and obnoxious.”
“Exactly like you, you mean?” I shot at him.
Teddy cleared his throat.
Giving Jag a punch to the shoulder, I stepped forward with Xander and both of us took fistfuls of sparkly green Floo Powder. Together, we threw it into the fire, stepped into the muffling, yet tickling heat, and shouted, “THE JAGNEAUX MANSION!” The grates spun past us, spinning past us, dizzyingly, so that I felt my head beginning to throb. Finally, it all came to a sudden, dead STOP and I caught sight of a pretty sitting room with pictures hanging on the walls, before stumbling onto a white shag carpet. Zelda was standing to the right of us, looking down at the now-grimy carpet with some trepidation.
“Oh, man. This place is just how I remember it!” Al said, looking around the room. There was top-end furniture all around, tables made out of precious, dark wood, and light olive-colored sofas. “Nice new photos,” my cousin added with a chortle, eyeing the frames hanging on the wall.
A picture of a little blue-eyed toddler caught my eye. “Awww, Jag, is that you? You looked so—”
“—snotty,” Zelda said, nodding. “A snotty little baby.”
“I WAS ADORABLE!”
“Ooooh, sparkly-ness!” Xander trilled happily, spotting a chandelier in one of the other rooms. She pulled out her camera and began paparazzi-photographing the light fixture.
“Er, Xander…?” Jag called hesitantly. I was sure that she was pretending not to hear.
“Hey, d’you guys still have that awesome house-elf?” Al asked him. He was critically eyeing the dirty rug beneath our feet. “Or has she quit?”
“You mean Coco? Hmph. She’s still with us. She likes cursing me to the pits of hell with a pair of boxers and a pineapple as carryon luggage.”
“You’re lucky she hasn’t murdered you with a meat knife or something,” Al retorted at his friend. “I know I would if I was your servant.”
“Shut up, dude. We don’t need you confessing your love for my mum’s house-elf.” Jag snickered, “Believe it or not, inter-species marriage is sort of frowned upon in most societies—”
“What has Coco done to you?” I asked Jag hurriedly, because Al was starting to look pissed. I didn’t need my cousin whipping out his shrunken head and cursing everybody on the spot.
A dark shadow fell on Jag’s face. “She’s done a lot…Trust me, she’s done a lot.”
Al pretended to cough delicately. “No comment.”
“WHAT THE HELL’RE YOU IMPLYING?”
There was a loud CRACK!
“Ahh, the Young Monsieur Jagneaux. Are you back already?” asked a slightly croaky voice.
Zelda and I turned around, and we both saw the oldest, crinkliest house-elf of all time. She was wearing a light yellow, ruffled frock over her drooping beige skin and matching slippers on her feet.
“Coco! I haven’t seen you in ages!” Al called out delightedly. He showed her the shrunken head. “I just got this. Whaddya think?”
The old house-elf quivered. “Monsieur Potter, take head of my words: Those heads do catastrophic damage.”
“Imagine yourself naked, Monsieur Potter, surrounded by a tornado of fire and dancing pineapples from hell.”
“I love you, Coco. Give me five.” Al kneeled down and held out his hand.
The house-elf (who looked like a shrunken hundred-fifty year old woman/Tolkienian creature hybrid) slapped my cousin’s hand.
I looked at Zelda. Zelda looked at me.
“Who are these?” the elf croaked, turning to stare at us.
“Uh, this is my cousin Rosie. Rosie, say hi.”
“Bonjour,” I said weakly, wondering if I should bow or shake her hand or salute or what.
“And the dark girl’s called Zelda and she’s Jag’s fiancée,” Al added.
Zelda kicked Al in the Unknowables.
“I’m not Jag’s fiancée, Madame Coco,” Zelda said hastily down to the house-elf. “I’m not, I promise.”
“You may call Coco just Coco, Mademoiselle Nyx,” the elf said stiffly.
“Wait.” Zelda pulled up short. “How do you know my last name?”
“Your parents are in the other room, Mademoiselle.”
Time froze for a moment as we all snapped our heads toward Zelda in shock. She had blanched, gone whiter than snow.
“You can’t be serious,” I told the house-elf. “Zelda’s parents? In this house? How it that possible?”
“It is possible,” said a heavily accented woman’s voice. A young lady walked into the room. She was in her late twenties, I guessed. Blonde curls, green eyes, fashionable sequined dress, my immediate thought was Kai Evergreen’s older sister! Except that Kai didn’t have a sister and if he did, I doubt she would be in Jag’s house. She had to be one of Jag’s cousins.
“I missed you!” Jag said, smiling as he walked forward to embrace her.
“Hey!” Xander popped back into the room, camera swinging from a strap around her neck. “I got loads of pictures of everything! Jag, why in the world do you have so many naked busts of men in this hou—Wait, who’s that?”
“You may call me Irene,” the lady said in her heavy French accent. She gave us a dimpled smile. “Jag, I’ve never met your friends before. Could you introduce us?”
“Er…” Jag looked uncomfortable. “Can’t we just go eat cookies in the kitchen?”
Irene ignored him. “Al, I know. You’re the petit bonbon who came to visit three summers ago, n’est pas? Aw, how you’ve grown!”
“You too, I mean, you look great too,” Al amended hastily, going bright red. Jag looked like he wanted to give Al a solid punch in the gut. I could understand why: Al was totally crushing on this young lady.
Irene turned toward Xander and me. “Hmm, redheads. Are you Rose?” she guessed, looking at me.
I nodded and smiled. “I’m Al’s cousin.”
“So, you must be Alexandrina!” she said, smiling at Xander.
“Yup! Are you, like, Jag’s cousin or something?” Xander asked in her bubbly voice. “He never told us he had a sister!”
In the background, Jag groaned painfully.
“Oh, I’m flattered, bonbon,” Irene said affectionately. “I’m his mother!”
“You’re WHAT?” I said in a flabbergasted voice.
She giggled. “His mother, yes. I know I look young.”
Jag looked distinctly grumpy. “You are young, maman.”
Irene kissed her son on the cheek. “You silly boy.”
We stared. Merlin, they looked nothing alike! His hair was black, hers was yellow-blond, his eyes were pixie-blue, hers were… hazel-ish green.
Jag can’t be adopted?
“Your darling offspring forgot to name one of his friends, Madame,” Coco said dryly. “Speak up, Nyx girl! Those married to the French must have opinions!”
Eyes going wide, Irene spun around to face Zelda. A genuine smile spread across her face and she hugged her. “You’re Zelda? Finally, I get to meet you! Jag always talks about you, bonbon!”
“R—really?” Zelda said unsteadily, looking distracted. “Er…are my parents really here in this house?”
Irene’s shoulders sagged. “Oui. Coco, make sure these kids stay right here. I’ll be back.” She disappeared past an archway into another room.
Zelda made to follow her, but I caught her elbow. “Don’t! Do you want to see your parents again?”
“What are they doing here?” she cried, her blue eyes widening with anger.
“Friends, Mademoiselle,” Coco grunted. “Old-school, pureblood friends.”
Zelda turned horrified eyes upon Jag. “You… you didn’t tell me,” she whispered faintly.
Jag gestured frantically. “How could I know?”
“I’m going,” Zelda hissed, shrugging my hand off.
“Jorgle doesn’t think it’s a good idea,” Al warned, dangling that revolting shrunken head in front of Zelda’s face.
“SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT JORGLE!”
“Zelda, don’t!” Xander yelped, and we all ran after her.
We screeched to a dead halt at the doorway. On a white plush sofa, against blood-red walls, sat two people—one man, one woman. They had dark hair, regal faces, and wore gold-trimmed black robes. The woman had a sheet of straight black hair, dark eyes, a hooked nose, and a pucker to her glistening, red lips that reminded me of a vampire. The man had pale, icy eyes and sideburns that were so last century. I considered whispering this to Xander, but I held myself back. No need to make Zelda’s parents angrier than they already looked.
“Daughter,” the man spoke coldly.
Oh, Jesus, even they talked formal.
Zelda gazed at the floor, stiffening her shoulders. I put my hand on her arm and glared at the Nyxes in her stead.
Morticia Nyx touched her husband’s shoulder, and stared coolly at her daughter. “Have you made your decision?”
“Isn’t it obvious? I hate you.” Zelda spat back disgustedly. She and her mother were almost mirror images of each other—except for the hair length and eye color.
“I am ashamed to have you as my daughter!” her father roared, standing up. His eyes, so like his daughter’s, flashed menacingly. “I wish your mother had borne a son who would have faithfully carried out the deeds of this age-old family!”
“Tish!” Irene pleadingly looked at Zelda’s mother.
“Asmodeus!” said Mrs. Nyx impatiently. “Sit down and stop making such an outrageous scene.”
Zelda’s father did so, but still glared furiously at his daughter.
“‘Deeds of your old-age family’” Zelda said dryly. “What, beheading people and sticking their skulls over the attic doorway?”
Morticia Nyx pursed her lips. “Yes…well, that was one of our political enemies.”
“SO YOU CHOPPED HIS FUCKING HEAD OFF?”
“He was blood-traitor,” her mother went on, unperturbed.
“I’M A BLOOD-TRAITOR! ARE YOU GONNA CHOP MY HEAD OFF? HUH?”
Zelda’s mother went silent. Her father opened his mouth to snarl something, but his wife’s hand held him back.
Jag made a low growling noise in his throat.
“Friends, please,” Irene slowly walked forward. “Now is not the time.”
Asmodeus Nyx stood up and stomped past us and into the other room where the fireplace was. I cringed at the filthy look he gave Xander, Al and me as he passed us. Morticia slowly followed her husband, but before leaving, she locked eyes with Zelda and said clearly, “You have dishonored us, daughter, but we have not disinherited you. Expect word soon. I will most definitely make a suitable match out of you with another pureblood family.” She bestowed a small, cold smile upon Jag’s mother, and then left in the same manner as her husband.
Irene collapsed onto the white couch. “Fantastique! My social schedule is ruined!”
Zelda was shaking. “What the hell did she mean by that?”
“Arranged marriage,” said Jag grimly.
“No!” I exclaimed in disbelief. “Who does that anymore?”
“You are so better off without them, Zelda,” muttered Xander.
“I wouldn’t worry, chérie,” Irene said tiredly. “Your mother cannot force it upon you, according to the law. And you aren’t even of age.”
Zelda still looked troubled. “Ms. Jagneaux…how do you know my mum? I mean,” she added awkwardly, “you’re decent and she’s not.”
Irene cracked a small smile. “I wouldn’t say that. Our parents had us meet when we were children and we struck up a quick friendship, back then.” She sighed. “Your mother has changed beaucoup…”
“Want some cookies anyone?” Jag asked, trying to lift the mood.
We silently followed Jag into a cavernous kitchen.
“What’re you going to do?” Xander asked Zelda.
“Tell the Ministry! Become my adopted sister!” I begged. “Get rid of those mangy crows!”
Zelda laughed. “Nice, Rose. They do look like a pair of old crows. I don’t know what I’m going to do, but”—a smile graced her face—“if they try to marry me off to Malfoy or someone equally foul—”
“We’ll kill them!” Al put a comforting hand on her shoulder. “Do not worry, ALBUS IS HERE!”
Jag came out of the walk-in pantry, several boxes of cookies stacked in his arms. “Albus, you cannot be intending to marry my future ex-wife.”
We laughed; Zelda, on the other hand, grabbed a butter knife from the counter and chucked it at him.
“Violent woman!” Jag yelled, whipping his head back with superhuman speed to dodge the knife. “You’re getting to be worse than Madame Coco!”
There was a silence. We stared at him.
“How’d you do that?” Zelda was the first to demand.
“That Matrix-thingy!” Al insisted, looking awed. “You moved really fast.”
Jag furrowed his eyebrows. “What?”
“Don’t bluff!” I insisted. “No human can do that!”
“I’m not human!” Jag said in a sing-songy voice. He danced his way to the foyer. “I’m half-caaaaaaaaaat!”
The more Jag lead us around the mansion, the more I kept wondering how rich his family was. Each floor sprawled several hallways and corridors, filled with sitting rooms, mini-kitchens, bedrooms and the like. We passed several enormous marble busts of old people with beards—I counted Circe, Zeus, Merlin, Michelangelo, and several French poets with unpronounceable names. (They glared at me as I walked past them. Guess they still don’t like us ole Brits.)
“Yo, mate, what does your mum do for a living, again? I forgot how effin’ rich you people are,” Al commented drily, waving his hand toward a gold-plated faucet in the ‘Tuesday’ bathroom.
“Or did a wealthy relative die and you were left with all the gold?” Xander asked, enviously looking around at the beautifully furnished surroundings.
Jag shook his head; his shaggy black hair flopped from side to side. “Nah, me mummy’s a designer. Owns some brand—”
“DESIGNER?” Xander shrieked. “YOU NEVER TOLD ME!”
Jag rolled his eyes. “This is exactly why I haven’t, Mademoiselle Alexandrina. You’d go mental.”
“What kind of designer?” I asked out of curiosity.
“Er…” Jag bit his lip. “Dunno. Clothing? Something like that? She started a line called ELLE.”
The name ELLE sounded vaguely familiar to me…Probably something that Kai would rave about…
Jag didn’t seem to care much about his mother’s business, which I didn’t find that surprising. Jag pointed his wand at a disco-ball in one of the rooms, and the lighting slid aside to show a dark trapdoor in the ceiling. Another gesture from Jag, and a set of ladders fell from the hole.
Al whooped in joy. “Hell yeah, bitches! It’s the Man Cave!”
Following Jag, he quickly ascended the ladder.
“Er…Man Cave?!” I shared a wide-eyed look with Xander and Zelda.
“After you,” Zelda muttered. “Frankly, I feel scared.”
Sucking in my breath, I climbed up the ladder. When I stuck my head through the hole…like, OMG….
Dude, ‘Man Cave’ was about the perfect word to describe what Jag had transformed his attic into. Imagine a sprawling space, about the size of the first floor in a decent-sized house, without any walls. Now, take that bare area and fill it with beanbags, arcade machines, flat-screen TVs, iWand consoles, everything a teenager could dream of. There were pizza boxes, Chinese take-out containers and Chocolate Frogs littering every inch of the plush, dark-blue flooring. On one end of the space, was an unmade king-size bed. On the other side, I could make out a mini-boxing ring.
“Holy…” Zelda murmured, she and Xander coming to stand next to me.
“Like my kip?” Jag jumped in front of us, grinning.
“Like, NOFAIR! I WANNTA ROOM LIKE THIS!” Xander threw herself into one of the beanie bags and pretended to fake-cry.
Zelda didn’t say anything. Her eyes were glazed, her face stoic.
“AND LOOK AT HIS, BABY!” Al yelled, kicking a portion of the wall. The wall collapsed outward to a view of the blue winter skies. “Me and Jag call this the Doorway Into Open Space. You jump outta here with a broom! YEEHAAAAWW!” He grabbed a Firebolt off a nearby pile of blankets, and did just that.
“Look around as much as you want,” Jag told us grinning. “I’m going with Al— HELL, MAN, THAT WAS MY BEST BROOM!”
“I want to try out the iWand!” Xander said. She reached for a console and hooked her wand. “Look, he has the Dress-Up Harry Potter game! EEK!”
“Later,” I said, shaking my head. Uncle Harry in leopard-colored boxers and pink stockings was probably the most funniest and disturbing ever…except, I wanted to talk to Zelda. I found her standing by Jag’s dresser. “What’re you doing? Going through his underwear drawer?”
“Haha, very funny,” she said tartly. “Really, Rose, look at this.”
She motioned to a pair of framed photos sitting on the dresser. One was a picture of his mum, but Zelda was referring to the second photograph. It showed a group of people, kids, adults, teens, all smiling at the camera. Every single person in the photo had some shade of blond hair, from corn-colored to platinum, and all had the same, cheerful celery-green eyes. Except for one person. A boy was standing in the edge of the frame: he had pitch-black hair, and his eyes sparkled like sapphires. Next to him, with a hand on his shoulder, was Irene. Then I realized with a jolt that this was obviously a family picture. Jag’s mum’s family.
“Weird,” I commented. “He doesn’t look anything like the rest of them.”
Zelda pursed her mouth. “Exactly. It makes you wonder who his father was.”
This struck an intrigue with me. “He never talks about his dad. Do you know anything?”
She shook her head. “I don’t think he knows anything himself.”
I was silent for a moment. This was interesting…the shadowy, unknown identity of Jag’s father…Maybe we could work together and solve this mystery!
Then Zelda said thoughtfully: “I think I remember something…”
“Jag’s grandparents—Irene’s parents hated her for some reason. She got disowned.”
“Wait,” I said, trying to get the facts right. “Jag doesn’t have any contact with his grandparents?”
Zelda nodded. “His grandpa’s dead, though. But he said his ‘evil nana’ liked to visit now and then.”
“Maybe his grandparents got pissed ‘cos his mum eloped with his dad. Then his dad ditched her when she was still pregnant,” I said, offering the likeliest solution.
Zelda shrugged. She gazed at the photo. “His eyes…are so strange. Bluer than blue, like the sky on a hot summer’s day. You know what I mean?”
I nudged her, smirking. “Yeah, very sexy right?"
She slapped my shoulder. “Shut up!”
We heard a loud THUMP! The boys were back through the Doorway Into Open Space. Al immediately went bright crimson and started screaming over why his dad was ‘prancing around’ on the TV screen wearing ‘a sunflower bikini and aviator goggles’.
“It’s a Dress-Up Harry Potter sim game!” Xander squealed, tossing my cousin a console. “They have your mum, too! Oooh! Try doing her up!”
“What’re you two sneakin’ through my things for?” Jag had walked over to us. His face was raw and pink from prolonged exposure to the cold December winds howling outside. He didn’t even have on a jacket.
“She was just trying to find your underwear drawer,” I told him, grinning cheekily at Zelda. She scowled and gave me a painful punch on the arm. “Oi, really? Fine, I’ll—” I shoved her backward onto the covers of Jag’s bed. I snickered at her suddenly wide-eyed, flustered look.
“DIEE!” she tried to jump on me; I stepped out of the way, making a dash toward where Al was trying to wrest the iWand console from Xander’s hand—
Irene’s voice rent the air, screaming something French.
Jag swore and started scrambling down the ladders. “I’M COMING, MAMAN!”
“What was that about?” Xander asked.
“Aha!” Al finally got a hold of the console and X-ed out of the sim game. He turned to Zelda and me. “His mum said to come downstairs.”
“You know French?” Zelda eyed him incredulously.
Al shrugged. “Bits and pieces. J-Man’s been trying to teach me the last couple of years.”
“’Cos, they’re getting married, you know,” I stage-whispered into Zelda’s ear.
“Rose, dammit, we’re not gay!”
We heard Jag’s voice from down the trapdoor. “OI!
“YEAH?” we yelled back.
“AL, SHOW THE GIRLS THEIR ROOMS!”
“What happened to you?” Al shouted down the trapdoor. “Why’d your mum need you?”
Jag replied something; we couldn’t hear.
Al stood up, facing us. “Jaggy’s stuck helping Irene. Apparently, we’re going to have some more guests over.”
Our rooms were on the second floor. They were large, square bedrooms with soothing aloe-colored walls and mahogany four-poster beds. I was stuck with the room on the outer edge of the corridor. I unpacked quickly, set a few books on the bedside table, and used some magic so that the sweaters and jeans would hang themselves up neatly in the closet. I was halfway down the hallway, and about to barge into Zelda’s room (so I could tease her about being in love with Jag)—when I heard Jag’s really unmanly, profanity-filled scream from the first floor.
“Al, Rose, get the FUCK DOWN HERE!”
Zelda burst out of her room; she looked startled to see me there. “What happened now?”
“I have no freakin’ clue.” I saw Al appear, looking frazzled. I caught him by the arm. “Do you know why Jag’s freaking out?”
Another tangled scream of French words and English profanity drifted up from the first floor. Al’s green eyes widened in horror. I remembered that he could understand French.
“I got to get down there. Hold up, Rose.”
He ran down the stairs.
I chased after him. “WAIT!”
We made it into the kitchen; Jag was banging his fist into the wall.
“Damn!” Jag shouted when he saw me. He grabbed Al’s shoulder. “C’mon, I can’t tell Rose!”
“What is it?” I demanded, now genuinely feeling rankled.
“C’mon!” Jag repeated, pulling Al’s arm. “I’ll tell you upstairs! COME ON, DUDE!”
Al went with him, stumbling a bit. I stared after them. A minute later, Al yelled:
“NOOOOO! ROSIE, YOUR LIFE HAS COME TO A FREAKIN’ END! A ― FREAKIN ― END!”
I was already halfway sprinting up the stairs to the second floor.
What the hell is it, Al? You NEVER lose control!
“ROSE!?” I heard Al’s voice, very close. He was coming down the stairs too, careening down at full speed. “WATCH IT—”
I bashed right into him, and conveniently felt my ankle twist, and then I fell backwards—I screamed and tried to reach out to Al with a hand, but then the back of my head hit something sharp and painful. The blinding pain of it, I couldn’t describe…worse than any Quidditch injury…
My eyesight blotted out like black ink spreading on parchment.
My eyelids groggily opened.
Then, realization came spiraling back.
Did I faint?
I was nestled in the depths of a four-poster in the guest room. Sunlight streamed through the arched window on the right-hand wall, casting a blinding glare onto the wall and the white sheets draped over my body. I pushed them aside, tried to sit up—and then almost died from the sudden pain in my head.
“Rose? Are you alright?”
I looked to the side. And stared.
Sitting by my bedside on a chair, was a gorgeous, beautiful woman. She had shining, tight curls swept onto her shoulders—I thought they was white, but then realized it was actually very blond. She wore sparkling teal robes that matched her eyes exactly. Her face split into a smile when I met her gaze.
“A—angel,” I choked through all the pain. “What do you know... I made it to heaven.”
She threw her curly hair back and laughed musically. “You’re still on Earth, darling! How are you feeling?”
“Like a there’s a porcupine in my brain,” I replied, not taking my eyes off her face. There was something about it…something I couldn’t place. A feeling.
I know this woman.
“Do I know you?”
She shook her head, but smiled. “I don’t think so. I’m Irene’s pal, just visiting for Christmas.”
“Oh,” I looked down at my hands. “Why’re you here—I mean, where are my friends? I crashed into Al and…blacked out…”
The woman put a warm hand on my shoulder. “Your friends are downstairs. They’re worried, but I wouldn’t get up. You took a seriously big boo-boo to your head, Miss Rose.”
I reached up and tentatively touched the tips of my fingers to a bandage on my temple. It stung painfully at the slightest prod. “Great. Now I’m going to end up with a bump on my head. Stupid cousin!”
“Oh, he told me the whole story.” She flashed me an amused look. “I can’t believe all that commotion was caused because of me. Apparently Albus was under the impression that you wouldn’t like me.”
I stared at her in surprise. “Er…you’re okay for an adult—I mean, I don’t dislike you.”
“Why, thank you! I’ve never believed in growing up, anyway.” She put a hand on her chin. “Don’t you just love Peter Pan? I used to believe in him when I was little…still do…but…”
I stared at her. “I LOVE Peter Pan!” I said, my eyes widening in enthusiasm. “I didn’t know someone else read Muggle storytales!”
She beamed at me. “How about Shakespeare? Or Jane Austen?”
I crinkled my nose. “Well, Shakespeare’s decent, but Jane just pisses me off.”
“Oh…you should try reading Pride and Prejudice.”
“No! I don’t read romance!”
The woman pulled a smile, and then held up Gone With the Wind. I’d left it sitting on my bedside table. “What’s this then, eh?”
“Oh…” I felt my face begin to color. “That’s not mine…I got it off a classmate…”
“I see.” She opened the front cover, looked down, and then closed it softly. “You haven’t read any of it?”
She raised an eyebrow at me.
I blushed even more. “Well, okay, maybe a bit.”
“Page 187 counts as ‘a bit’ to you?” she flicked open the book to my dog-ear. “Call me impressed.”
I groaned. “Okay, I’m on the second chapter. Happy? I HAVE to find out what happens, but don’t tell me!”
She pouted a little. “Fine, Rose. You should know that I love spoiling.”
The use of my name jolted me back to reality. “Wait…if you don’t know me…how do you know my name?”
She waved a hand; her fingernails were green and silver swirlies. “Oh, Irene mentioned. Have you read Lord of the Rings?”
“Legolas is gay,” I said firmly. “He. Is. Gay.”
The woman laughed again. “Yes, I think so too. The character I admire the most is Arwen. She’s so brave to stay back alone on Middle Earth for the sake of her love…”
I eyed her. “You really adore romance.”
“Quite. I suggest you try reading Pride and Prejudice.”
I shrugged, not wanting to disappoint her. "Yeah... I might someday. Maybe. What's it about?"
“Well, to give a brief summary, the story is about a man and a woman in the late 1800’s….”
I groaned. “Great. Historical.”
“The man, Mr. Darcy, was egoistical, prideful, but yet very handsome. The woman’s name was Elizabeth Bennet and she was the second oldest out of a family of five sisters. Her mother wanted to find a match for Elizabeth, but she spurned all her suitors’ advances. Then, Darcy came along. They detested each other at first sight—”
I felt suddenly relieved. “Oh, good.”
“—and then fell in love.”
“Dammit. Why they all fall in love?” I raised my eyes to the ceiling, speaking more to Lord Almighty than the woman sitting next to me. “I mean, why can’t those couples just stay hating each other?”
“Oh, sorry about that,” I said to the woman, “I was just…er…just complaining to God.”
She laughed again. “Let me guess, in your life you have a boy who you abnormally detest?”
“You won’t believe,” I said fervently. “He is a git, I tell you! I can’t even begin to catalog all the horrid things he’s done to me!”
She looked amused. “I see.”
“Really! I mean it!”
“Hmmm…” the woman didn’t sound that convinced.
Suddenly in a bad-tempered mood, I threw the covers off my legs and sat up on the edge of the bed. My head had thankfully stopped hurting.
“Rose, I didn’t mean it,” she said, putting a hand on my shoulder. “I’m sure what you’re going through is tough. What is the name of this horrendous boy?”
I looked into her kind face, and felt myself marginally soften. “Oh…it’s…er….Scorpius Malfoy. Don’t tell anyone, I’m not supposed to mention names.”
“I won’t.” She helped me to my feet. I leaned on her arm, and we walked out onto the landing.
“GUYS!” I yelled down to the foyer. “I’M AWAKE!”
Zelda’s voice responded frantically. “DON’T COME DOWN HERE! DON’T!!!”
I turned to the woman. “What’s going on? Is there a manticore loose or something?”
She shrugged. “Nah, I think your friends are feeling a bit hyper. They all nearly passed out a few moments ago.”
We went down the stairs, slowly. The conversation turned, randomly, back to Lord of the Rings. We started laughing about how messed the characters got in the last book.
“Do you like Frodo?” she asked me as went into the kitchen.
I pulled a mock-horrified face, then started laughing again. “Uh, no way. Number one, his hair’s like a brown shag carpet, and number two, he goes psycho in the end!”
“Oh Lord, I agree completely. His personality almost turned into Sméagol’s! ”
“My preciousssssssss….” I imitated in a Gollum-like hiss.
“ROSE!” Al jumped in front of me. His wide green eyes snapped in a panicky way from my face, to the woman’s face, back to my face. “H—HOW?”
“Huh? Spit it out!” I said irritably. “What’s wrong with her?”
“Rose, don’t you know who she is…?”
Then, I noticed someone who was standing lazily by the stove.
My heart stopped.
“Mum!” Scorpius Malfoy said angrily to the woman. “Why are you fraternizing with her?”
“YOU!” I said, frozen shock-still. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?”
“Astoria’s one of my dear friends,” Irene said from where she was sitting on the kitchen counter, sipping her green mug of coffee. “But, chérie, ze the timing was a beet off…”
“Yes,” Astoria Greengrass said from next to me. “But Draco had to go abroad at the last minute and staying without family and friends during Christmas is just too lonely…”
I grabbed Al’s arm and began edging away. Malfoy isn’t here, he can’t be here...
THIS HAD TO BE NIGHTMARE!
Irene waved a hand. “We can manage, don’t worry a smidgeon.”
“Ehhhhh….” I made a choked-up like sound. Xander patted my back comfortingly.
“Weasley, you got something to say?” Malfoy said coldly, directing his gaze toward me.
“Scorpius,” Mrs. Greengrass said sharply. “Her name is Rose.”
He looked away and didn’t answer.
I didn’t know what to make of this. Malfoy’s mum obviously had known that I was Rose Weasley from the very start….does this mean she doesn’t hate me? I shook my head. Of course she doesn’t hate me! We were laughing and giggling about Lord of the Rings and all those books….
A dead weight settled in my stomach. Oh, no. Oh, hell no. Gone With the Wind. She saw the book, she knew it was her book—the one that I’d taken from Malfoy back in September! It even had her name on the inside front cover!
With dread, I lifted my head and made eye contact with her.
She smiled. “Rose, I know there is a deep chasm between us because of my son’s uncalled-for behavior, but I would love to get to know you and your friends over the holidays. I hope you don’t mind.”
A thought filtered into my brain. She’s on my side. Malfoy’s mum is on my side.
Ignoring Malfoy’s horrified look, I said without hesitation, “That would be great! I don’t mind at all.”
Time: Mid-Afternoon (before lunch)
Place: Jag’s room (the attic)
Why: Emergency Powwow (Malfoy has invaded Jag’s house)
“Karma hates me, Karma hates me like he’s never hated me before,” I said in a sort of hollow tone of voice. My mind was sort of blank…
Malfoy’s here. I talked to his mum without knowing it. His mum’s actually nice.
“How do you know Karma’s a man?” Al asked. “It could be a woman up there, pulling the strings of life.”
“A really fucked up, mentally insane blond woman,” I muttered.
“I thought he was a hot gay guy…” Zelda said, smiling.
“Karma’s a gay guy who cross-dresses as a blond woman,” Jag said firmly.
“Um, guys?” Xander asked tentatively. “Is any of this actually helping the problem?”
“No, it is not.” I said. “Jag, this is your house. Can’t you kick out Malfoy’s ass?”
“Mum would pike me through the gut if I did that.”
“But why were you laughing along with her?” Al demanded for the fourth time.
“I didn’t know she was Malfoy’s mum!” I protested, not bothering to say that I secretly thought she was pretty cool.
“You like her, don’t you?” Xander said instinctively, catching my eye.
I shrugged and looked away. “She’s nice.”
“No sinister mother-in-law for you, then,” Zelda muttered under her breath.
I pushed her over onto a beanie bag.
“You know what really sucks?" Jag kicked the floor moodily. "My evil nana's coming over here too."
“Evil nana?” Zelda asked skeptically. “Explain.”
“Okay, so you know how my mum got disowned by her parents, right?”
We nodded, even though none of us really knew the whole story.
“Ever since my mum’s dad stuffed it from dragon pox, the evil hag’s been coming over for every holiday break. God, do we want her to kick the bucket.”
“Ooone biiiig happyyyy familyyyy,” Al sang.
Jag grimaced. “The woman’s beastly. She’ll hate your guts, so be ready.”
“Er…when exactly did you say she’s coming over?” Xander ventured.
Jag glanced at a cuckoo clock on the wall and grimaced. “ She’s already here. I’d rather starve than face her.” Jag told us, looking distinctly disgruntled. “You guys can go; its lunchtime.”
We heard Irene’s exasperated voice from the first floor. “YOU STUPID SON, COME DOWN HERE! WE’RE ’AVING CHOCOLATE LASAGNA!”
Jag leapt up, forgetting all about his troubles. “VRAIMENT? HELL YEZ, COME ON, GUYS!"
I stopped for a few seconds to dash into my room and grab Gone With the Wind, then in a solemn, single-file procession, the girls and I went down the stairs and entered the kitchen. Irene was sitting at the counter, drinking more coffee, this time from a turquoise mug. Astoria Greengrass sat next to her in a hard-backed ebony chair, likewise sipping a drink from another mug. I exhaled with some relief; Malfoy’s ugly face wasn’t anywhere in sight.
Al and Jag, however, were standing stiffly in a corner. Backs straight, hands to their sides, eyes looking straight ahead, they reminded me of soldiers lined up for inspection.
The military commander inspecting them was Cruella De Vil.
I’m not kidding. The towering old lady standing in front them looked exactly like the villain from 101 Dalmatians. She had black and white hair, red lipstick, and even a white, black-spotted fur coat.
Xander gulped. “Is she a cosplayer?”
Cruella De Vil spun around. Despite the concealer, I could still see wrinkles patterning her face like crepe paper. “Daughter, ‘oo ar’ zese?”
“They’re my son’s friends,” Irene answered stonily and did not offer to introduce us. She delicately sipped some more coffee, and then added, “I have had Coco air the third floor bedroom out. Go put your stuff down there.”
Hmmm…so Irene makes it obvious that she doesn’t like her mother.
Madame De Vil ignored her. “What iz your name, girl?” she barked at Xander, who visibly flinched.
“A-Alexandrina Voss,” she muttered, staring at the floor.
“Please, Maman,” Irene’s eyes flashed. She looked at her mother with the expression: Just lay off the kids, old lady.
“And you?” Madame De Vil addressed Zelda, her eyes becoming green slits.
“Zelda Nyx. Pleased to make your acquaintance, Madame,” Zelda answered coldly.
“Oh ho!” Madame De Vil shot Jag a narrowed look. “Picking up ze runaways, like your dear mother, are you?”
“That’s it!” Irene bashed her fist down on the counter, glaring at her mother. “This is my home, one that I have built from scratch with my own, hard-earned gold. I will not have you ruining the sanctity of my life, like so many years ago!”
Well…seems like there’s a long and tragic catfight between them.
Cruella De Vil pursed her red mouth into a thin line. “We will talk later, daughter,” she said, and stalked away imperiously.
Jag slunk over to us and muttered, “Told you she’s a beast.”
“Dude, she was poking my chest like I was some piece of beef!” Al snarled.
Irene, meanwhile, was almost pulling her own hair out. “THAT BLOODY ’AG!”
I couldn’t help it: I started giggling hysterically.
Mrs. Greengrass put a hand on her friend’s shoulder. “Forget it. The events of sixteen years ago don’t need to be brought back.”
“Why are you laughing?” Jag demanded of me.
I hastily straightened my face. “Nothing. Even though you two look nothing alike, it is so obvious that you’re her son.”
“What is your mum talking about, though?” Zelda asked. “What horrible thing happened sixteen years ago?”
Jag retorted, “I was born.”
Xander, Zelda, Al and I looked at each other.
An hour later, according to Irene, Madame Coco the house-elf was still preparing lunch. By that time, we were moaning and groaning with starvation — especially Al, who decimated the entire Jagneaux cookie supply in less than ten minutes, much to Zelda’s chagrin. Xander spent the time chewing on a nutritional stalk of celery and chatting with Irene about her designer clothing company, ELLE. I sulked around the entrance to the living room—where Mrs. Greengrass was relaxing, reading a book—until I finally summoned the courage to go and talk to her.
I stood in the archway quietly, still battling the nervous flutters in my stomach.
This is the Mother of the Enemy. You must be careful, Rosie.
But she’s nice! I argued with myself.
The Mother of the Enemy cannot be NICE!
“Rose?” Mrs. Greengrass looked up, and saw me fluttering about in the archway. “Are you alright, honey?”
Just say it! You need to talk to her!
I took a deep breath. “I need to talk to you.”
She smiled, putting the book down on the cocktail table. “That’s fine. Here, sit down,” she patted the olive-colored sofa cushion. A little stiffly, I did so, clutching Gone With the Wind until my knuckles went white. When I didn’t speak, she asked gently, “Yes?”
“I’m sorry!” I thrust the book toward her and looked away. “I don’t like your son at all, but it was really wrong of me to take this book from him, especially when it says in the front cover that it’s your book and not his.” I bit my lip and didn’t dare look at her. “P—please forgive me.”
You’re saying SORRY to the MOTHER OF THE ENEMY! ARE YOU MENTAL, GIRL?
“It’s not me who you should be apologizing to, but apology accepted anyhow,” I heard her say simply.
I slowly twisted my neck to glance at her. She didn’t look angry or pissed or perturbed at all. Instead, she took the book from my hand and set it down on top of the one she had been immersed in earlier.
“Le Fantôme de l'Opéra,” I murmured, reading the old, worn binding. “The Phantom of the Opera?”
“Yes,” Mrs. Greengrass said, waving a hand, “dear Irene is infatuated with the book. She must have at least ten copies lying about on this floor alone.” She sighed, “Although with her past, I don’t blame her. She truly did meet the real Phantom all those years ago.”
My eyebrows contracted. “Real Phantom—?”
“Whoops!” she laughed cheerily. “I wasn’t supposed to say that!”
This snipped of information made my mind go into overdrive. There were so many missing pieces in Jag’s and Irene’s story that none of us understood. The identity of hus father, his eye-color changing, his suddenly heightened sniffing senses, Irene’s feud with her Cruella De Vil mother, and now this Phantom character.
Hey, I totally know that none of this is my business. It just makes me want to know even more.
“Well, actually, I wanted to make a truce with you, Rose,” Mrs. Greengrass was saying.
I stopped zoning-off. “Er…what? Did you say truce?”
This doesn’t sound too good.
She sighed. “From what I have heard from Scorpius, I’ve always thought that you were a…well, let’s not get into that—”
I was immediately incensed. “What? No, tell me!”
“MUM!” yelled a deep voice from somewhere in the house. We heard someone coming down the stairs. “Is lunch ready yet?”
“A few more minutes, Scor,” she replied before I could react. “Come into the living room, I want to have a word with you.”
“No! What—” I started to say in alarm, but Mrs. Greengrass quelled me with a look.
Malfoy appeared in the archway, his face going the color of sour milk when he saw me. “What’s SHE doing there? Forget it, I’m leaving—!”
“Scorpius,” his mum said warningly.
Malfoy turned back to us, conflicting emotions on his face. He wouldn’t meet my eyes. “What do you want?” he muttered stiffly.
I tried to stifle a snigger. Nice, so there’s at least someone in this world who knows how to rein a leash on Mr. Malfoy.
“Sit down, dear,” Mrs. Greengrass said in the sweetest voice imaginable. She patted the cushion on her other side. “I would like to have a word with you and Rose.”
Oh, hell no. This has AWKWARDNESS AWKWARDNESS AWKWARDNESS stamped all over it.
I stood up hastily. “Er…sorry, I er…have to go unpack my stuff.”
“And I’m bloody hungry,” added Malfoy in a low snarl. “I’m going to try whipping that house-elf.”
Mrs. Greengrass, it seemed, was restraining the urge to roll her eyes. “Rose, you have already unpacked your stuff. I was inside you room, remember? And Mr. Malfoy, if you even dare utter something as horrendous as that, I’ll stuff you inside a toga and make you cook lunch.”
Malfoy in a toga…I cracked up laughing. Malfoy gritted his teeth, looking distinctly unamused.
“Well, glad that lightened the mood,” Mrs. Greengrass said. “Now can you two please sit down?”
Malfoy bad-temperedly threw himself into an armchair, and I sat down in a sofa that was as far away from him as I could get—though admittedly it wasn’t very far, since the sofas and armchairs were clustered in a tight circle around the cocktail table.
“How long is this confrontation going to last? I’m hu—”
“Dude, we know you’re hungry! So am I! So shut up!” I snapped. God, he’s worse than Al…
Malfoy smirked and I instantly regretted saying this.
“Er…sorry, Miz Greengrass,” I muttered, shooting a quick glance at his mum. She didn’t seem perturbed.
“Apology accepted, Rose. I prefer that you two use civil language while addressing each other—”
“Not going to happen,” Malfoy muttered, using a hand to flatten his bangs.
“I second that statement,” I said, though it pained me to agree with Malfoy on any account.
Mrs. Greengrass clapped her hands together. “See? You two agreed on something!”
“Er…” I enunciated, with lack of anything to say. Malfoy just twisted the corner of his mouth into a grimace. “That didn’t count!” I said finally.
“Fine.” She smiled at us. “What’s Frodo’s last name?”
“Baggins!” Malfoy and I said at the same time. I looked at him with disbelief. It had been an automatic reaction for me…I mean, it would be a disgrace if I didn’t know what Frodo’s last name was. But Malfoy…
“You’ve read Lord of the Rings?” I asked him incredulously.
“Yes,” he said, looking bored.
“It’s his favorite Muggle series,” added Mrs. Greengrass, her silver eyes sparkling.
“I thought you hated Muggles!” I told him in amazement. “You bloody hypocrite!” I quickly looked at Mrs. Greengrass, “Sor—”
“No, it’s fine,” she laughed and stood up. “My son is a horrible hypocrite.”
“I hate you, Mother,” Malfoy muttered angrily.
She just laughed harder. “See what I mean?”
Then, in a split second, his mum was already out of the room and halfway down the hallway to the kitchen. “I’ll leave you to it!” she called cheerfully over her shoulder.
My gaze went back to Malfoy. He was slouched low in his armchair, with his head tilted back so he deadpanned emotionlessly at the ceiling. His gray t-shirt had a deep V at the neck, and I could see a silver dog-tag glinting against his chest.
Well. That’s badass…
I forced my eyes back to a more modest area on his body…er…where should I look? Face? Nah, that’s ugly.
Oh, stop repeating that bullshit. You know it’s not true.
“Yes, it is,” I growled softly to myself. “It is! It is! He’s UGLY!”
I glanced quickly at Malfoy—and breathed a sigh of relief. He hadn’t heard me. He remained in the same position, staring at the ceiling.
Mussed- up white-blond hair, partly sprinkled over his eyes, lips parted, breathing—
“GAH!” I propelled myself upright from the sofa. “KARMA, I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU!”
He tipped his head forward and regarded me with a sneer. “I wouldn’t be hatin’ Weasley. For all you know, the bloke’ll get back to you somehow.”
“It’s Karma, you dumbass!” I sneered in reply. “It’s a religious—er, religious aura-something, and it can’t ‘get back to me’!”
He smirked. “Or can it?”
I turned away from him slightly, gritting my teeth.
Great. Now the damn boy’s reading my mind.
“And anyway,” I said fiercely, facing him. “Karma isn’t a bloke. He’s a blond woman.”
Malfoy stood up, exaggerating a harried sigh. “By Lord, Weasley, you made a philosophic concept into a transsexual. I don’t know how the hell that’s possible and—”
“Lunch is ready, bonbons!” Irene’s voice rang out in the hallway.
Without another word, Malfoy stuck his hands in his jeans pockets and sauntered out of the room. I followed, trailing two meters behind him—so it didn’t look like that we were coming from the same place.
The table in the dining room was beautifully set—white lace tablecloth, china tea set, and silver plates of something cake-like, delicious and chocolaty set in the very middle. Jag was nearly salivating over the platter, until his mum pulled him back by the earlobe and ladled generous amounts of the lasagna onto our plates. Jag sat at the head of the table, with Irene and Mrs. Greengrass sitting on this right hand side. Across from them sat Al, Zelda, and Xander. There were two seats left empty. They were both to Mrs. Greengrass’ right.
“Zeldaaaaa,” I moaned helplessly, slumping against the side of a china cabinet. “Let me switch seats with you, pleeease!”
“Huh?” Zelda snapped her eyes onto me. She looked lost and confused. “What is it?”
I could tell by that expression alone that she was still mulling over what her mother had said earlier that morning; arranged marriage….
“No need for that,” Mrs. Greengrass said briskly. “You can sit next to me, Rose.”
I heard Malfoy groan softly.
“Um…” But I had no choice. With everyone’s eyes on me, I slid into the seat. After a minute of awkward silence, Malfoy sat in the chair on my right. I stiffly looked down at the slice of chocolate lasagna in my plate. Despite how hungry I was and how gorgeous it looked, all I wanted to do was at that moment was smash the damn plate into Malfoy’s face.
Irene was going off about how awesome her house-elf was—
I picked up the fork and poked at it; my elbow brushed against Malfoy’s. I flinched and pulled my arm against my side—
I heard someone snigger; I looked up. It was Xander. She was waggling her orange eyebrows at me. She looked to my left, then to my right, and then sniggered at me again.
I stared at my plate and kicked her hard under the table.
Xander’s squeal of pain was cut off by Irene, who was asking Malfoy’s mum in a clear, fond voice, “Tori, do you know how long you and Scorpius want to stay? My home is your home, chérie.”
“Weren’t you complaining about us a few moments ago?” laughed Mrs. Greengrass. She horribly imitated Irene’s voice, magnifying her French accent, “‘Ze timeeng waz off’!”
“I do not sound like that!” Irene exclaimed indignantly. “Do I have such atrocious diction, Jaggy?"
“You have a beastly accent, mum,” Jag said wryly, “and I hate it when you charm your clients with it.”
Irene winked at us.
I shook my head a little, thinking how young Jag’s mum was probably. If it wasn’t laser treatment—which I doubted— she could hardly be out of her early-early thirties. Maybe even twenties. It’s possible to have a kid when you’re thirteen, right?
“You should give your mother more credit, young man,” Mrs. Greengrass was telling Jag good-naturedly, “I’ve hardly seen anyone become so successful in such a short period of time.”
“But enough about that,” Irene waved a hand, “You still haven’t answered my question yet, Astoria.”
Malfoy’s mum shrugged, her tight curls bouncing over her shoulders. “Maybe until Boxing Day?”
I stiffened and began to count the days up in my head. Today was the 22nd …okay, so four days. Four days of Malfoy’s company in the same bloody house.
Al’s foot nudged my shin. We gave each other horrified looks across the table.
“Surely you can stay for longer,” Irene said desolately. “I swear the timing is not a problem.”
“I wouldn’t want to intrude, especially with your mother here as well—”
Jag’s mum snorted. “Oh, that hag. Forget about her, she cannot do anything. How about until New Years’, Tori?”
My fork dropped to the floor with a loud clatter. Malfoy began choking on his food.
Mrs. Greengrass was fighting the urge to smile. “You don’t mind?”
“Of course not, chérie. Oh, what fun we girls will have!” Irene beamed around, not noticing our appalled faces.
I did some counting on my fingers, and nearly screamed.
A little less than two weeks.
Me + Malfoy + [two weeks x same house] = Rose Weasley + Dead.
Malfoy elbowed me and whispered in my ear, “This’ll be fun, Weasel, ‘cos”—I could feel the cocky smirk radiating off him in waves— “my room’s riiight next to yours. Cozy, eh?”
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