Chapter 7 : Worst Case Scenario
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Stepping through the front door, I shrugged my coat off and stuffed my umbrella into the umbrella stand. It was bloody freezing outside, the late January winds messing up my, er, immaculate presentation and icy raindrops soaking my socks. I hated winter and I couldn’t wait for it to be over.
“Rose, is that you?” Molly called from the kitchen. I considered throwing back a sarcastic ‘no’ but decided against it.
“Yeah, it’s me,” I said as I joined her. I passed her the milk from my shopping bag and hopped onto the worktop. “Put the kettle on, would you? I’m perishing.”
Molly raised an eyebrow as she eyed the state of my clothes and hair. “You know you could have just apparated, right?”
I huffed, using my wand to boil the kettle out of impatience. “I only went round the corner to get some milk. If I apparated everywhere I’d end up looking like a right porker. I needed the exercise.”
“Right,” Molly conceded with an eye-roll. She got two mugs from the cupboard; hers decorated with the Ministry of Magic logo and mine the hideous gift I’d got for my birthday from Scorpius two years ago.
“Didn’t I throw that out?” I asked irritably, watching the picture of Scorpius wink at me cheekily from the shiny surface of the mug.
“I salvaged it,” Molly chirped happily, handing me my hot mug of tea. “Never look a gift horse in the mouth and all that.”
I almost went to tug a clump of her copper-coloured hair, but remembered at the last minute that I was supposed to be a mature adult; or, at least, an adult of some sort. “What does that even mean?”
Molly looked from her mug of tea to me and back again a couple of times before sighing. “I don’t really know. It just sounded good. Mum says it sometimes.”
I smiled despite my attempts at being grumpy. “Well, we both know your mum is a bit of a nutter.”
Laughing, Molly started to rummage in the cupboard for a fresh packet of biscuits. She shared a few between the two of us, nibbling thoughtfully. “Do you fancy coming with me to Victoire’s in a bit? She wants me to go over and help me look at some clothes with her.”
I grimaced at the thought of that. Victoire had made it quite clear that she didn’t want my opinion where fashion was concerned and I wasn’t about to go and put myself through an afternoon of torture just because Molly couldn’t handle her on her own.
“Why would I want to do that?” I dunked my ginger biscuit in my tea, eyeing Molly amicably. I was waiting to see what amazing argument she would come up with to convince me. I could almost see the cogs turning in her brain as she looked for persuasive words.
Eventually, she grinned, pointing her biscuit triumphantly at me. “Teddy will definitely be there. I’ll keep Victoire occupied with clothes and you can have him all to yourself, all afternoon.”
I sighed forcefully. “I hate you.”
“No you don’t.” Molly grinned, taking a step towards me. “You love me for securing a date with the love of your life, the man of your dreams, the one who takes your biscuit–”
“Oh shut up,” I mumbled, biting my lip to stop me grinning. “The only thing you’ve secured me is the need for therapy in the not too distant future.”
“You’re such a worry wart,” she said, poking me in the ribs. “Ignore the future, the time is now. How do you expect to steal him off Victoire if you won’t even see him?”
I spluttered as I took a sip of tea. “I am not doing any stealing, thank you very much. He needs to realise he hates her and loves me without unnecessary thieving.”
“Whatever you say,” she said, backing away from me. “But you really shouldn’t let him slip away from you.”
“If you love someone you’re supposed to let them go,” I countered, sticking my tongue at her.
“No, you’re bloody not, Rose!” Molly said exasperatedly. “What is the matter with you? Just tell him how you feel. What’s the worst that could happen?”
“Lots of things,” I muttered evasively. “Like rejection and humiliation.”
“And then what?” Molly pestered, handing me another biscuit even though I’d lost my appetite.
“And then,” I continued petulantly, crushing the biscuit in my hand. “My family would find out. And they would disown me. And Victoire would never forgive me.”
I frowned. “Then I’ll die an unloved and lonely old spinster.”
“Exactly,” Molly beamed. “So it won’t make the slightest bit of difference.”
I scowled. “You’re making fun of me.”
“Of course I am, Rosie,” she said lightly. “Now stop being so precious and go and tart yourself up a bit.”
I drained my mug and did as she said; there was really no point in arguing with my cousin. She was too clever and too witty to beat in an argument and I’d accepted long ago that my part in our relationship was to provide amusement and entertainment, not wisdom. I shrugged on a silk shirt and found a clean pair of jeans. Dragging a hairbrush through my hair, I began to wonder why I was even bothering to make myself look presentable; I really doubted my own motivations. Keeping Molly happy would just have to be enough for now.
Molly beamed as I plonked myself down beside her on the sofa. “There,” she cooed. “That’s loads better. Are you ready to go?”
I nodded half-heartedly, grabbing my handbag from underneath a pile of magazines. Molly chose to ignore the mess I’d made and we left, heading towards my inescapable doom.
I wasn’t really one for house envy, but standing at Teddy and Victoire’s door made me automatically wish I could kill them both and steal their house. It was, admittedly, in the middle of nowhere, but I figured that would be a selling point – no ‘accidental’ stalking incidents.
They were moving soon, I remembered, thinking about potentially bribing my rich and famous family to buy me this house. Then again, would I really want anything that belonged to Victoire? This house was tainted. I shook my head. Why on Earth was I standing here acting like an estate agent? I wasn’t here to buy the damned house.
Molly rang the doorbell, holding an umbrella above my head so my hair didn’t frizz up. I appreciated this gesture, but unfortunately it was too late to save my silk shirt, which had gone rather see-through. No matter, I’d use a drying spell once inside to save any embarrassing flab incidents.
The door was flung open to reveal a beaming Victoire, her hair neatly pulled away from her face, the fancy old cow. “Molly!” she exclaimed in delight, standing back to let us in. “And Rose, too. Hi.”
Yep, that was me – the afterthought. I wasn’t all that bothered, seeing as I hadn’t come here to see my overbearing cousin and the less time spent in her company the better.
She whisked Molly upstairs after pointing me in the direction of the kitchen. I took a deep breath and sucked my tummy in, readying myself for a very awkward but secretly enjoyable afternoon. I stepped through the door, calling in my most beautiful voice, “hello!”
Unfortunately, my lovely vocals were wasted; the kitchen was empty. I sighed heavily, realising I had actually been put on tea duty, not sent to see the man of my dreams (not that Victoire was allowed to know that, of course). I made us more tea and trotted upstairs to hand over the offending drinks.
“Thanks, Rose,” Victoire said as Molly pulled various outfits out of the wardrobe. I pretended to be interested for all of five seconds before returning downstairs and finding myself somewhere comfy to sit.
Stupid Molly, convincing me to go with her – what was I supposed to do now? I put down the cup of tea I hadn’t really wanted (and I couldn’t recall why I’d made myself one, anyway) and rummaged around the sitting room for something to do. As I stuck my hand down the back of a cream sofa, I wondered if Victoire would feel it necessary to clean after we’d left. Eventually, I found an old copy of the Daily Prophet and settled down to read the three-week-old articles.
By the time I’d got to page three (The Miraculous Recovery of Gilderoy Lockhart), I heard the front door swing open and a set of feet pad through the hall. I had a ten-second long discussion with myself about how I should react when Teddy walked in; should I pretend I hadn’t heard him and continue reading the paper? Should I put the paper down ready for his entrance? Should I compose a song and welcome him in with singing? By the time I had decided to pretend I hadn’t heard him, he had already walked in and caught me off guard.
“Rose,” he said warmly, crossing the room to greet me. He kissed me on the cheek before I could put the newspaper down, leaving my arm and the newspaper squashed between us. I was about ready to die. “Hi.”
“Hello,” I said, my voice a bit throaty after scalding it with hot tea. “The kettle’s on – er, I mean, I just boiled the kettle if you want a cup of tea?”
Thankfully, he declined my offer. I really couldn’t handle working out how to make his tea drinkable, it was too much pressure. He reached into his bag, drawing out three books and handing them to me.
I examined the covers; they were all in gobbledegook or something and I struggled to make out what they said.
“I just went to Fleur’s to pick these up for you,” he explained, brushing damp hair from his face. “I thought you could have a look at them before you come and visit us in France.”
Ah, they were French! I blushed from the gesture, smiling at my feet to save me from looking into his eyes and getting trapped there. “Thanks, Teddy. That’s really sweet of you.”
“It’s no problem.” He plopped himself down on the sofa and I resumed my seat beside him. I sincerely hoped he couldn’t hear my heart drumming against my chest with nervous energy. After so many years of knowing him, how was it this hard to act normal around him?
“Did you enjoy Roxanne’s party?” I asked, trying to fill any potential silence. My ears grew hot just at the memory of our exit. I really needed to owl Albus and give him that voucher for therapy I got free in Witch Weekly last week.
“Yeah, it was okay,” he said, clearing his throat. “I’m sorry that you had to leave early.” I hoped I imagined that mocking tone in his voice.
“Yeah, so am I. But you know what Molly’s like, she’s like a dog with a bone.” I smiled edgily, glancing at him out of the corner of my eyes as he smiled along with me. We were doing too much polite smiling, it was far too awkward. I looked away again.
“I wouldn’t worry if I were you; there’ll be other parties for you to gate-crash,” he joked, biting his lip to stop himself smiling more.
I grimaced. “Thanks, Teddy. I’ll look forward to that.”
“Well, you got an invite to my – our- leaving party, right? So that’s one that you definitely can’t gate-crash.”
I sighed inwardly, wondering if I really wanted to go and bid the happy couple farewell as they embarked on their happily ever after. I’d much rather spend the night at home drawing moustaches on pictures of Victoire.
“Yeah, I got the invite.” I fiddled with the hem of my shirt (which was still damp, I realised). “It’s the week after next, isn’t it? I should be free.” Obviously, I’d need to consult my very full diary. I was just so popular that I was sure to be invited to at least four other parties that night. Pulling out my diary from my handbag, I hid the pages from Teddy as I skipped forward a couple of pages, pretending to read through a long list of appointment. In all honesty, the diary was just a prop; I never used it and every page was empty save for the occasional doodling. “Well, there’s this other party that day, but it’s not important. I’ll definitely come to yours.”
“Good,” he said with a grin. I snapped my diary shut and hastily stuffed it back in my bag before he could call my bluff.
We sat in thoughtful silence for a bit. It was going to be weird without him around; all the excitement in my life was about to leave and I’d be left with nothing but my eccentric cousin and my ex-stalker to keep me company.
“It’s going to be weird moving,” Teddy said sadly, pulling his knees under him and turning to face me. It would be rude if I continued to stare at my sodden shoes, so I huddled my knees to my chest and swivelled.
“It will be much more quiet, I’m sure, without us lot hanging around all the time,” I offered, unsure of why I consoling him. I didn’t want him to leave, after all.
Teddy laughed, allowing me to glimpse a moment of his unguarded emotions. His eyes crinkled as he chuckled, cheeks glowing. I smiled, too, hoping that I looked anywhere near as gorgeous as he did. “That’s true, Rose. I’m looking forward to the peace and quiet.”
How was I supposed to express how much I would miss him? I didn’t want to reveal too much, but Molly’s advice was still ringing in my ears. I had to tell him how I felt, even if it wasn’t the whole truth. I should just tell him that I’ll miss him; that would be enough.
“I’ll…” I began, my heartbeat picking up again. Miss you. Just say it, woman! “Er, I’ll… put the kettle on.”
Dammit, I was such a failure. This made me look like even more of a freak than “I’ll miss you” would have done. Teddy’s eyes flicked towards my untouched cup of tea. I blushed, deciding that I still had to commit to my freakishness. I stood, leaving him to ponder how weird I was, and scuttled off to the kitchen.
“Rose?” he called after me.
“What?” I said, trying to keep the embarrassment out of my voice.
“You forgot your mug.”
I cringed, grateful that he couldn’t see my face. “Right,” I conceded, deliberately looking away from him as I retrieved my mug and went to hide in the kitchen.
It was about time I disapparated and did everyone a favour. Why had I let Molly convince me that coming here was a good idea? This was bloody torture. Teddy was going to leave no matter what I did and I was still here, making an absolute idiot of myself. How low could I get.
I sniffled, trying to ignore the fact that quite a bit of time had elapsed since I went to “make tea”. It was as though with every passing minute I was becoming more like Scorpius (a loner with no friends and a slight propensity to act like the village idiot). I wanted to go home and hide under my duvet with a custard cream.
“Rose?” Now was not a good time for Teddy to wander in; my eyes were watering and I was probably drooling at the thought of food. I coughed awkwardly. “What’s up?”
“Nothing,” I squeaked. What the hell had happened to my voice? Panicking, I looked around me for an alibi and spotted my mug. “I, um, I just got tea in my eye.”
“You got tea in your eye,” Teddy repeated evenly. Fortunately, he decided to just humour me. He reached round behind me to get me a tissue and pressed it into my hand. “There, that should help.”
This was humiliating. I was now pretending to wipe tea from my eye, which really made the whole situation seem more dismal. To my dismay, the eye-watering only got worse. Teddy watched me curiously as I tried to deal with my problem. I blinked hard, hoping to dispel the pesky tears. I really didn’t need to be feeling sorry for myself right now.
He passed me another tissue, scooting round to lean against the counter beside me. “Thanks,” I mumbled awkwardly.
“Why don’t you stop poking yourself in the eye for a moment and tell me what’s wrong?” Teddy probed.
“It’s nothing,” I said, flustered. He raised an eyebrow, and I sighed dramatically. “It’s stupid.”
My shoulders sagged. “It’s just,” I said into my tissue. “I’m weird.”
Teddy frowned. “No you’re not, just tell me what’s bothering you.”
I glared at him. “That’s what’s bothering me! I wish I was normal and I didn’t act like a freak all the time and I didn’t keep embarrassing myself.” I drew a breath. “And I don’t want to keep being humiliated because I can’t act like a normal person. And I don’t want any more tea!”
Teddy raised his eyebrows, taking the cup of tea further away from me. “There, no more tea. That’s one problem solved.”
What I had just said was finally catching up with me and I felt my cheeks go hot. If I hadn’t left my wand in my bag I would have just disapparated there and then. I looked away from him.
“Listen, Rose,” he said gently. “Being normal is overrated. And you’re not weird. You’re just a bit quirky.”
“Quirky,” I repeated limply. “Right. Well, thanks.” I stuffed the tissues in my pocket. “I suppose I ought to go,” I added awkwardly. “Bye.”
I turned to leave, but Teddy grabbed my wrist. “You’re not weird, Rose. Stop putting yourself down.”
I stared at where his hand joined my wrist, trying to kick my brain into gear. “Thanks, but I really need to go now. I’ve humiliated myself enough already. Tell Molly I’ll see her at home.”
I felt really queasy as I went to fetch my bag, leaving the premises with a sinking feeling in my heart. This afternoon had been a complete disaster. Normally, it was an effort to act normally and hide myself, but I had gone above and beyond the cause and basically revealed myself. No wonder Scorpius used to be so keen on me.
As I let myself into the flat, I spotted the wilting roses still stuffed in our wheelie bin. He was the only person who had looked past my weird self and I had even chased him away. I had serious issues. I shook my head, resolutely deciding to ignore all my woes for the evening. I was going to enjoy a fresh pack of biscuits with Molly when she returned from cow-face’s house and she would help me laugh at myself and call me affectionate terms like Negative Ninny and Miserable Minnie and things would pick up. I only had two weeks until Teddy left, anyway, and then life could go back to normal, whatever that was. It wasn’t like I was an expert in normal.
A/N: Thanks so much to everyone for reading this far and thank you for the faves/reviews/reads etc. If you have a moment, please review! I appreciate all feedback. -Marina
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