Chapter Eight: Shattered
The knock on her door was frantic and Rose started. She’d fallen asleep in her armchair and with a quick glance around, she pulled herself back into reality and leapt to her feet. Grabbing her wand, she swept James’s clothes behind the chair just in case, and flicked the lock of the door open. Whoever was on the other side took the click of the door as an invitation and opened it gently.
Louis’ soft tone floated through before his body and as he peered around the door, Rose tried her best to smile as though everything was normal, as though she wasn’t harbouring the family’s current number one enemy in her bedroom. There was something of James’s aftershave in the air, and she was hoping that the voices wouldn’t attract his attention and call him out of bed.
“Yeah?” she asked softly. He came inside properly and shut the door. Her eyes fell on the box in his hand and she frowned. Without another word, he walked past and sat down on the settee. “You look a mess,” she said, putting a hand gently on his shoulder. “Have you slept?” He shook his head and now she could see his eyes drooping. His skin was coloured a paler white than normal and for the first time, everything about him seemed lifeless. She sighed and squeezed his arm. “I’ll get you a drink.”
“No, I’m fine,” he said, turning to face her and she stopped. He held up the box, his arms shaking a bit from the exhaustion and she took it obediently. It was hurriedly wrapped and undoing it was tricky but nonetheless, the ribbon fell away and she uncapped the box.
Her fingers traced loosely across the shattered outline of what had been a carefully chosen and even more carefully crafted wedding present.
“I’ve fixed every single one but I can’t work this one out,” he said and the irritation was rife in his voice. Rose’s spell work was second only to Louis’ and she knew that he would not have come to her except in a moment of desperation. She cradled the box as delicately as he had.
“Are you sure you’ve got all the pieces?”
It looked smaller now it was smashed to bits yet there was still the refinement and elegance to it that had attracted her eye in the first place. He nodded then shook his head and groaned.
“I don’t know. I think so.” He rubbed his eyes and Rose set the box down on the floor. “I can’t fucking believe him.” She cast a furtive glance back to the bedroom and murmured a low agreement. Louis’ fists were clenched, beating gently against the arm of his seat and Rose sighed.
“Go home,” she said and he looked to her like she was mad. “Or go to Nanna’s, wherever you’ve been, and sleep.” He went to protest, flailing one hand towards the box. “I’ll fix it.” There was a hesitation in his movement that she read as a lack of faith in her ability. “Let me try.” He still seemed a little sceptical but he pushed his hair back from his forehead and stood up wearily. Even from where Rose was stood, she could see that every bone in his body ached. “Are you okay to Apparate like that?”
The last thing anyone needed at the minute was a splinching to deal with. He nodded and murmured something that sounded like it could have been ‘I’ll be fine.’ He walked towards the door which Rose was holding open and they gave each other a firm hug.
“I’ll get it back to you as soon as I can,” she promised. He smiled his thanks and disappeared through the door. Rose shut it softly, wandering to the window and watching Louis appear, look around for signs of life before Disapparating, not so much as half an eyebrow left behind. She relaxed. Picking up the box on the floor, she turned to the settee and sat down, placing it on her lap and poking at the shards with her wand.
It was ruined. She was sure she could make it whole again but the magic of it would be lost. There had been something so perfect about it, sitting on the shelf of that shop in Caernarfon, alone and unique. The care and thought that had gone into it was irreplaceable.
She looked behind her. There was no sound from her bedroom. He slept on in silent oblivion whilst everything he’d left behind became ash.
Dominique held tighter and tighter to Matt’s hand with every step they descended. The sound of voices had grown steadily louder with the sound of their rumbling stomachs and now facing the family was unavoidable. There was always the option of making a break for it, leaving and forgetting it all, going on the honeymoon a few days early but he would never let her and underneath it, she was grateful.
She had thought that most people had gone home the night before but as they stepped into the kitchen, there seemed to be as many faces if not more that turned to watch; Victoire had come back, Little Molly hadn’t left, the aunts and uncles were conspiring in a corner. Out of the mix came her grandmother, still quick on her feet and quick to action as she could remember. “I’ll put some toast on,” she said, squeezing Dominique’s hand. The redhead smiled and stepped forwards. The conversation had started to die away a little now and Fleur stepped forward.
“Look,” she said, and in the corner of the room she hadn’t looked at, void of people, was a table filled with neatly wrapped gifts, piled as high as those she had passed yesterday. Dominique glanced confusedly to her mother who merely smiled.
“Louis.” Audrey’s voice carried over the rest as she stepped forward. “He stayed up all night.” Dominique’s eyes scanned the room but there was no sign of her brother.
“He sleeps,” Fleur said and the swell of Dominique’s heart grew again. Next time he talked about looking after her, she vowed not to laugh. She took the plate that her grandmother thrust into her hand and let her mother guide her into a seat near the table. The family began to disperse now they’d seen her, leaving only Victoire and Molly behind. In the garden, the marquee still stood and they watched as the rest made their way inside, congregating to continue the conversation.
“How are you?” Victoire asked, sitting down on one of the other chairs. Molly followed, keeping a cautious eye on the room for prying ears. Dominique shook her head.
“I don’t know.” She’d forgotten for a second that Matt was there and he squeezed her hand softly. “I’m just not thinking about it.” It was a lie. Every other thought that crossed her mind was surrounded in a picture of James amongst the destruction but even if the other two didn’t believe her, they still nodded along as though her word was true. “How is everyone?”
“Oh, you know,” Victoire said, “ranting and raving. What you’d expect, really.” She brushed her hair out of her eyes and smiled. She glanced over to the presents. “Louis is exhausted. He could barely form a sentence when he brought them down.”
“Poor thing,” Dominique said softly. Her little brother had always meant the world to her, even amongst their silly arguments about Quidditch teams and her dislike of his girlfriends. When she was in school, she’d once said she’d rather James her brother than Louis. The pair of them had marched off with a melodious cackle and linked arms. She hadn’t looked back. She wondered if he still remembered. She’d almost forgotten herself. It was funny what moments like these could do.
“Eat,” Molly said, and Dominique recalled with a jolt the plate on her lap. She picked up a slice of toast, nibbling on it gently. “Immy said you looked like a princess.” A flash of yesterday came back to the bride, of a tiny dark haired girl with eyes bluer than hers grinning up at her in awe; Molly’s daughter, her goddaughter. “I think she wants to be you when she grows up.”
“God help the world,” Victoire murmured and for the first time, Dominique’s smile cracked through. Matt’s arm slipped around her and she leant against him. Taking the cue to leave, her sister and cousin excused themselves and disappeared into the garden. He kissed the crown of her head and she drew back a bit to look at him properly.
“It’s going to be okay, isn’t it?”
It wasn’t a question looking for reassurance. It was almost a statement, a recognition that a ruined reception wasn’t the end of their world. He tilted her head up and placed a gentle kiss on her lips before taking her back in for a hug.
James stretched out, his legs tangled in the sheets and for a moment, he forgot where he was. The bed underneath him was hard and the pillows too soft and he sat up. His head was throbbing just a little bit and he glanced down to the couple of glasses that he realised with a crash back to earth had contained the remedies Rose had made him. There was unease, deep in his gut, that he’d not felt for a long time. It wasn’t the feeling of a hangover. It was heavier, drilling deeper into him, past physicality and into the depths of his mind.
He stood up, dressed in clothes that were too long and too big for him, and glanced in the mirror. Almost instantly, he recoiled. He was the colour of the head of a fine pint of ale and the way his hair stuck to his forehead gave the illusion that he’d dunked his body into one too. How did anyone find that attractive?
Over the top of the unrest in his stomach was a growl of hunger and he looked to the door. There was nothing but silence and he thought that maybe if Rose had gone out, he could help himself to a couple of slices of bread and something to put some colour back in his cheeks. He opened the door, hinges squeaking, and peered out. The place was tiny. From where he stood, just inside the threshold of the bedroom, he could see every other room, covered in clutter. Strange, he thought, given that Rose had always been one for the big and simple; men included.
“Rose?” he called and jumped when his cousin’s head poked up from the sofa where she’d been lying or sleeping or reading. She rubbed her eyes and pulled herself up. “Can I grab something to eat?” He almost cringed at how needy he sounded but she nodded and stood up, yanking her sleeves down to cover her hands and passing him as she went into the kitchen.
“I’ve not got much,” she said, opening a cupboard and showing him the contents. “Toast?”
He nodded silently. There was something awkward about it now, being in this place that was so un-Rose that he thought he was missing something. He’d not given much thought to his immediate family, and none whatsoever to the extended Weasley clan. He’d changed – that much was obvious – but he’d never imagined the others would too. From her obsessively neat, pristine past, Rose had stepped forward into a similar world of vaguely organised chaos as he and Dominique had always loved.
He started when his cousin held out a plate for him and took it with a small smile and whispered thank you. Was it guilt? Was that what he was feeling? Dominique’s name made his stomach shift more violently.
“Am I going to be that family member nobody ever talks about?” he asked as Rose moved a pile of paper so he could sit down on the armchair. His clothes from the night before were draped across the back of the sofa and he yanked his trousers up a bit again. She lay down on the settee, curled into a small ball and looking at him as though she didn’t know what to say.
“You already were,” she said, a twinge of sadness to her voice that he thought he might have imagined. They fell into a momentary silence until Rose stopped picking at her nails and looked back up. “Why the fuck did you do it?”
Rose had sworn. Rose never
swore. He’d taken the piss out of her so much for it in their youth – in his mind, he was still a youth only now it felt like he was cheating, like he’d missed out on that turning point that everyone else was coming through – and yet here she was: Miss Goody-Two-Shoes, swearing.
“They didn’t invite me,” he said and for a moment, it sounded like it made perfect sense. Then it was as though he’d misheard himself and he frowned, trying to get his head around his own words as the redhead in front of him raised her eyebrows and shook her head. She propped herself up on her elbow and sighed. “And that’s not a reason.”
“You’ve got that right.”
He sighed, running his hand back through his hair. It was slowly drying off now but he could smell the sweat on himself and gagged. It wasn’t that he wasn’t used to it. When he’d been off on his travels, he’d often go a week without finding a suitable place to bathe but now, back in civilisation, back in an enclosed space and with a clear head, he found it disgusting.
“Can I have a shower?”
Rose seemed to hesitate before answering, as though she wanted to press a question from earlier but she nodded, gesturing to the one door he’d not been through yet.
“Towels are in the cupboard,” she said. He stood up and nodded, gathering his clothes from behind her and making his way into the room. Shutting the door, he sighed. This was not the way things were meant to go.
A/N: And there blows chapter 8. I've been on a bit of a writing spree with this and it's actually now sat complete - backed up, twice - on my computer. I'm going to issue updates every 5 days so keep an eye out.
However, in reading back the first 5 chapters, I've realised the parts I've been writing lately might seem a bit strange and there may very well be plot holes. If you spy anything that doesn't seem right, just let me know!
I hope you enjoy ♥