Chapter 10 : Camden Crazy Carpeting
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It was raining, yet again. I threw myself through the front door and slammed it shut. My hands tore through my hair, separating bedraggled lock after bedraggled lock. If you wanted to personify "wet dog", I was pretty much it; hopefully I smelled a bit better, though. I chucked the new bottle of milk at Molly, who was waiting at the kettle to make us our morning cup of tea.
"If I put an extra spoonful of sugar into your tea, will you be more reasonable?" Molly asked cheekily as I collapsed in a dripping heap onto the sofa. I was having difficulty rearranging my features into a happy expression, or at least one that didn't suggest I'd just walked out of one of Auntie Audrey's dinner parties.
"Aren't I sweet enough already?" I retorted sourly.
Molly looked at me, raising one eyebrow. "No."
"Charming," I muttered, struggling with my boots momentarily before I sent them flying halfway across the room. I picked up the Saturday edition of the Daily Prophet and began to read the headline: Minister for Magic Candidate Gilderoy Lockhart's Lost Memories. "They're not still going on about this, are they?" I had been most surprised when Mum told me that her old professor was running for Minister for Magic after miraculously regaining his memory. She'd been a bit cagey about the circumstances in which he'd injured himself, which I attributed to the fact that she was secretly planning on voting for him. I couldn't really blame her; his smile was captivating.
Molly thrust a cup of tea into my hands, which I nearly dropped from the heat. "Yeah," she mused, taking the paper off me and beginning to read for herself. "He's calling himself a hero."
I snorted. "A hero, right. Dad says he's making it all up, all that stuff about his youthful adventures. If you ask me, I think he went a bit potty in the loony bin."
"I suppose," Molly conceded, admiring the photo on the front page; Lockhart grinned smarmily back at her. "But you have to admit, it would be nice to have a good looking Minister for once. The last one was a right toad."
I nodded in agreement. “Yeah.” The last Minister, Edwin Duckford, had looked like he had crawled out from under a bridge somewhere. "I'd certainly go and see him give speeches. Maybe I could take up politics?"
It was Molly's turn to snigger. "You? Public speaking?" She was now full-on laughing her head off, bearing all her teeth in a llama-ish fashion. "You'd never make it to the end of a speech without food. You’d have to pause to stuff your face, and I'm pretty sure people don't vote for pigs, you know."
I thought this was unnecessarily harsh, considering that we'd both just agreed the wizarding nation had voted a toad into office last time.
"Speaking of food," I said distractedly, "do we have any biscuits left? I noticed you went on a midnight binge last night."
Molly's cheeks coloured, matching her unbrushed hair. "I'll pop to the shops later. But I need to get dressed first."
I shrugged, looking down at my own attire. "I wouldn't bother. The people in the newsagents round the corner never comment on mine."
Molly scrutinised my blue sheep-print pyjamas. "It's not about the people in the shop, Rose," she said snootily. "It's about having some self-respect."
I rolled my eyes. "Do they sell that there too? Maybe you could pick me some up when you go to get the biscuits."
“Yes, I’d noticed you’d run out,” she said smugly, scrunching her face up into a deranged grin that was presumably a declaration of her winning the battle of the wit. She may have won the wit battle, but I won the looks war.
She was so childish. I stuck my tongue out at her and she threw the newspaper at me, which wasn’t actually so bad because the picture of Lockhart landed on top of my face and I got to gaze into his eyes for a moment, before realising I was perving on a man three times my age. I flapped at the newspaper until it fluttered to the floor.
“I don’t know why you’re gloating,” I said waspishly. “I’m not the one who revealed their bum to a whole pub full of people.”
Molly gasped indignantly, turning away from the cupboard where she presumably kept her emergency stash of biscuits to glare at me. “That was an accident! I was just pulling my skirt down, and it just went a bit too far. You know that!”
I grinned, pulling a fresh pack of biscuits from under the sofa. “I know,” I conceded. Molly continued to rummage in the cupboard. “Looking for these?” I chucked the pack of biscuits at her, which she caught.
“Thanks, Rosie.” She took five biscuits out of the packet and stuck them on a plate. Sticking an extra one in her mouth, she wandered over and sat down opposite me. “So, what are you doing this afternoon?”
I tried not to look to shifty “I’m going to visit my parents.” So, it was only a bit of a lie. I might bump into them on the way to my meeting with Scorpius, but I was really hoping that I didn’t. It felt really strange lying to Molly; I was sure she was going to see straight through my attempt to cover up my thing, whatever it was, with Scorpius. I just knew she’d get the wrong impression if I told her what was going on. As far as she was concerned, I had no intention of spending any extra time with him.
“That’s nice,” she said, mercifully missing the blatant lie. “Say hi to them from me.”
I nodded. “I will.”
“Except that you’re won’t get the chance to,” she added as an afterthought.
I stole a biscuit off her, hoping it would distract her.
“What do you mean?”
Molly grinned. “Your parents are celebrating their wedding anniversary in the Lake District. Try again, Rose.”
Crap! “It’s my parents’ wedding anniversary this weekend?” Double crap.
“I already sent them a present from you, don’t worry,” she said with a roll of her eyes. “Now, why don’t you tell me what you’re actually doing this afternoon that you don’t want me to know about?”
I groaned. I knew the game was up; Molly was way too persistent for me, and I hated keeping secrets. There was no point trying to hide it from her now. “Do you promise you won’t get the wrong impression?” I asked cautiously.
I glowered at her. “Fine. I’m meeting Scorpius this afternoon. For a thing.”
“A thing?” She looked way too happy about this news. “Like a date thing?”
“It’s not a date,” I growled. “And don’t you dare tell anyone. I’m actually really nervous.”
“Whatever,” Molly said, waving my comments aside with a hand gesture. “Stop being a Worrying Wendy, you’ll be fine. He likes you; what could go wrong?”
I shuddered as I thought of all the things that could go wrong; my clothes could blow off, I could accidentally get cosy with Scorpius, I could get kidnapped by an illegal immigrant on an illegal magic carpet. Really, I couldn’t think of anything that could go right about the whole situation. In the end, I just shook my head. I changed the subject. “What about you? Do you have a full biscuit-eating day planned ahead or are you going to do something useful?”
Molly grimaced. “I’m taking Lucy to look at some universities. Granddad has managed to convince her to further her Muggle Studies by immersing herself in their community. She wants to start in September.”
I raised my eyebrows. “Doesn’t she need some sort of qualification for that? She can hardly waltz in with a N.E.W.T. in Charms, can she?”
“Well, no, but I’m sure Dad can swing something. A quick Imperio should sort it.”
I doubted Uncle Percy would resort to an Unforgivable Curse to get his daughter into university, but I supposed anything was possible. Dad said he was almost a Death Eater at one point, though that was probably just a bit exaggeration caused by brotherly love. Uncle Percy was much too square to break the law.
“Right,” I muttered. “Well, get yourself dressed. I can’t be bothered to cook breakfast or lunch, so why don’t we head to Jesús’?”
“Sounds good,” Molly called over her shoulder. She walked off down the hall, grabbing the rest of the biscuit packet as she left.
I followed her shortly afterwards, launching myself onto my bed face down. It was extremely comfortable, I had to admit, but it did nothing for the mane of frizzy hair I’d been hiding under a top hat all morning (don’t ask… I’d sort of got it for my birthday from Hugo a couple of years ago, except that he got it free with a fast-food meal so it didn’t really count). What I wouldn’t give for a duvet day… would have to be my stuffed toy owl that sat primly on my dressing table. I wasn’t about to give that away.
I started to rifle through my wardrobe in search of something suitable to wear; no low necklines or short skirts, otherwise I’d give Scorpius the wrong impression, but I couldn’t afford to look ugly. My safest option was probably my favourite old black jumper.
“Rose?” Molly called from her room next door. “Take off that hideous jumper right now. You need to look pretty!”
I scowled, having barely taken the jumper off the hanger. I put it back. “I wasn’t going to wear it!” I lied indignantly.
The thing was, looking pretty took such an effort and I wasn’t sure Scorpius was worthy of such attention. I reserved looking pretty for people I was trying to impress or people I hadn’t seen in a while and wanted to show that I’d turned into a successful young lady. People I actually liked clearly didn’t care whether my hair looked like a hay bale because they enjoyed my company and sparkling wit… or something. Was I trying to impress Scorpius? I mused as I searched for something else to wear. I had never bothered looking nice before and it hadn’t put him off. More to the point, did I want to impress him? I shuddered at the thought of that. I needed to be careful, otherwise I’d find myself swooning and blushing and all sorts of other hideously pathetic girly things.
“Ready?” Molly poked her head around my door, having taken next to no time to make herself look presentable and I was still standing around in my underwear. “Oh come on, Rosie. You can’t go out like that. He’ll get the complete wrong impression.”
I glared at her. “I wasn’t going to.”
“Good,” Molly said, looking relieved. “I can see all your wobbly bits.”
I looked down at my near-naked body; it wasn’t that bad, certainly not bad enough for my cousin/best friend to make rude comments. “I have not got any wobbly bits!”
Molly rolled her eyes, a grin forming on her lips. She poked one of my boobs solemnly. “That’s wobbly.”
“Shut up,” I said wittily (or not…). I found one of my favourite old blouses at the back in between my orange ski suit (Mum’s idea) and my leather leggings (Lorcan’s idea). Throwing it on over a skirt and grabbing my coat, I declared myself ready and marched Molly out of the flat.
I really hated February, actually. Jesús’ café was not far from where we lived, yet I was already blue by the time we arrived. It was impossible to go anywhere in a composed manner because you were too busy shivering to notice that your skirt was askew or something had got stuck in your hair (like a bird… which actually had happened to me once).
As we approached the shop front, we noticed that Jesús was standing at the door, wrapped in what looked to be artic furs. He wore a massive furry hat over his pony-tailed hair, and in his furry gloved hands he held a large sign. I almost mistook him for a huge Spanish bear.
Molly nudged me in the ribs with her elbow, nodding towards the large sign in his hands. “Free main courses for all customers this week”. I knew exactly what she was thinking and I grinned.
Jesús finally seemed to notice us, turned his ski-goggle covered eyes towards us briefly before hastily tucking the sign behind his back.
“Free main courses, eh?” Molly leered, standing rather a bit closer to Jesús than I would have advised was healthy.
“No,” Jesús barked, backing up to the front window so the sign was squished between him and the glass. I didn’t think he realised the sign was twice as wide as he was and he barely covered up the sign. Instead, it now read: “Free customers this week”, which was probably not a deal he could legally fulfil. “I don’t know where you heard that. It says that nowhere.”
I glanced at Molly sideways. “What’s that behind your back, eh?” she said accusatorily. “Hiding something, eh?”
“Think it’s cool to say eh, eh?” I muttered sarcastically. Molly glared at me.
Jesús gave us the Spanish evils (which looked like normal evils, except that I expected him to start flamenco dancing at any second). “There is nothing for you.”
“Oh,” Molly said pointedly. “In that case, we’ll take our custom elsewhere.”
What the hell was Molly doing? I was bloody hungry; she needed to stop faffing around and feed me.
She made a big deal of turning around and slowly lifting her foot as though to step away. She turned her head to me mid-step, glaring and hinting that I should follow suit. I couldn’t be bothered to join in in her lame slow-mo walking, so I’d just wait until she reached the corner and catch her up at normal walking pace.
“Don’t go,” Jesús said after a minute of Molly’s slow-mo walking. She’s only managed a few metres. “I just cannot afford to give you free meals. You are my only regular customers.”
Both Jesús and I, standing side by side, waited for Molly to turn around and slow-mo walk back. When she reached us again, she nodded approvingly. “We’ll pay for meals,” she bargained. “as long as we get a couple of glasses of sangria on the house.”
“I don’t like sangria,” I whispered to her.
“Nor do I,” Molly muttered. “But it’s one of the most expensive things on the menu.”
Jesús seemed to consider her offer, and after realising that it would take longer to get rid of her (because of the weird walking) than to earn the money back he’d lose on our drinks, he nodded his head. “Come inside.”
I let Molly do the talking for most of lunch, my own thoughts preoccupied with Scorpius. I wasn’t sure why I was getting so worried, or where all this sudden pressure had come from, but I didn’t like it and I was almost getting sweaty with nerves.
“If only this sticky toffee pudding was free,” Molly said over-loudly and overdramatically, waving the dessert menu wide as Jesús walked past. “Then I’d come here again. But I’m only poor and can’t afford that luxury.”
I tried not to raise my eyebrows, I really did. But anyone who thought any Weasley or Potter was poor probably hadn’t ever read the papers and definitely was born yesterday. We were one of the richest wizarding families in the country. Then again, Jesús was a muggle and had probably never heard of either of us before we moved in up the road.
As we left, I left an extra tenner as a tip for the trouble Molly had put him through. Standing outside the café, Molly and I bid goodbye to each other. We both walked off in different directions.
I didn’t stop walking for a while, not quite ready to apparate to Scorpius’ house. I checked my appearance in almost every window I walked past, as if I’d suddenly grown a second head in the time it took me to walk from one shop to the next. I stopped in front of a house for a good minute before realising there was a family sitting in their front room, all looking at me curiously as I prodded my tummy and readjusted my skirt. I flushed red and hastily disapparated in a blind panic; maybe they’d think I was just a figment of their imagination or something and agree to never speak of it again.
I walked up to Scorpius’ front door, glad that I’d managed to miss the obviously recent rain shower and rang the bell. A loud MOO sounded on the other side of the door. I raised an eyebrow.
The door was flung open, and there stood Scorpius, wearing stripy jeans and a beige shirt. It actually wasn’t that offensive, and I was glad. I could be seen in public with him (admittedly only with strangers; I still didn’t want anyone I know to see me with him).
“Afternoon, Rose,” he said deeply. I swear he was altering his voice so it sounded lower and more manly.
“Hi,” I said awkwardly, stepping out of the doorway so he could lock up.
“It’s nice to see you,” he said quickly, squeezing my hand briefly before shoving his hands in his coat pocket. I smiled at this gesture; I think he knew that I was a little nervous, either because he was psychic or had noticed my massively shiny forehead. Either way, I actually relaxed a bit. I reminded myself that I didn’t have to worry about how I behaved around him. Breathing out, I started to wander with him down to the high street in Hogsmeade.
“I’m looking forward to this,” I admitted, breaking the silence.
Scorpius grinned, bearing all his teeth. “I am too,” he sang. “It’s a bit crazy, isn’t it?”
I nodded, quickly checking my pockets to confirm I had remembered the tickets for the race. Luckily, I’d thought about it in advance and put them in there two days ago.
“I don’t normally do this sort of thing,” I reassured him. “Breaking the law, I mean.”
Scorpius winked. “It runs in my family.”
I laughed, though I couldn’t help but feel slightly guilty. Back when we were in Hogwarts together, he hadn’t exactly been all that popular. Apart from the fact he was a little strange, he didn’t seem to be able to relate to anyone else. He had very few friends and people seemed to like to keep it that way. I myself had always avoided him; it wasn’t that I thought him evil or anything, it was just that it was always going to be awkward between us due to family history. What was I going to say? “Oh, hi Scorpius Malfoy, how’s the family? Still in Azkaban thanks to my Uncle? Say hi to them for me!” No, I was bound to say something really inappropriate. All the other students were probably expecting a massive rivalry between us and him, but we never bothered. Everyone left him be and that was that.
“Well, my family didn’t always do things by the book,” I reminded him. “My Uncle used to be Enemy Number 1.”
He knew I was kidding, luckily. We didn’t really have much else to say on the subject, so we lapsed into silence again.
We eventually reached the edge of the village, where I took Scorpius’ hand and Disapparated to where the carpet racing was taking place; Camden, London. I’d taken us to a back street near to the canal. A handful of people had already climbed on top of the rooftops above us; some spectators, some clutching their carpets in anticipation of the race.
“How do we get up there?” I asked, looking around for a way up.
“We climb,” Scorpius said calmly, taking a pot of hair gel out of his pocket and applying it to his hair. He pointed to a ladder propped up on the side of one of the houses in a narrow alley.
Oh bloody hell. Why did I wear a skirt again? This was not going to be elegant in the slightest. I gallantly let him go first, following shortly afterwards. He was actually pretty agile, pulling himself up onto the roof with little difficulty. When I reached the top, however, I discovered I didn’t have enough upper arm strength to get myself up. Instead, I just hung from the gutter, looking pathetic. And then he pulled me up with him, without even making a snarky comment about my weight. What a gentleman. I didn’t even pull a Molly and flash my bum to everyone below.
We settled ourselves at the back of a group of about six people, with one magic carpet-er. From our pew, I could see across the whole of the Camden markets, past the canal and out into Greater London. The buildings looked almost like something out of a fairy-tale; old and crooked, leaning in all directions with chimneys as tall as two people. It was a shame I was scared of heights, really.
A young fat man with a spotty face stood up on the roof across the street from us, a green flag in his hand. He pointed his wand at his throat, muttered a spell and then began to speak. “Welcome ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to the special Valentine’s Day race at Camden Crazy Carpeting!”
Everyone around us cheered, whilst a knot of panic was twisting in my stomach. Boris had bloody gone and set me up; he never mentioned this was in honour of Valentine’s Day, which was actually two weeks from now.
The carpet racer leaned down to receive a kiss from a woman who was presumably his other half as the commentator started to read out a list of rules. I cringed. What the hell was this, some sort of snogging marathon? He was enjoying this kiss so much that he didn’t realise he’d stepped on a loose roof tile; he lost his balance, sliding down the roof until he hit the gutter. In his panic, he’d thrown his carpet into the air, which managed to land in my lap.
“Oof!” I said as it knocked the wind out of me. Scorpius watch on in horror as the carpeter wobbled on the edge; I looked up in time just to see him wince in pain.
“I’ve only gone and fucking sprained me fucking ankle!” He called to his partner, outraged. He moaned, going a very odd shade of white.
The commentator looked our way, where the idiotic carpeter was making a real fuss. He shook his head, probably lamenting the fools who sat too close to the edge. “All right, all carpeters this way! The race is about to begin.”
There were some real weirdos getting up to move to the starting line; most of them had numerous piercings and seemed to be fond of black and leather. I looked sideways at Scorpius, who hadn’t seemed to notice that there was anything odd about the whole setup.
The commentator pointed at me as all the other carpeters waited. “Come on, madam, we can’t wait all day!”
I looked behind me; there was no one there. Then, I looked down at the flying carpet in my lap and looked at Scorpius in a panic. “I can’t go up there,” I hissed to him. “What if someone recognises me?”
Scorpius made a big drama about looking around. “We don’t know anyone here.” When I looked at him scathingly, he shrugged and dug his hands in his pockets. Pulling out his hair gel, he thrust it at me. “Here, use this. A new hairstyle is a really good disguise.”
Was he bloody insane? I was not going to gel any of my hair; it looked bad enough already without any help from him. When I didn’t seem to be cooperating, he pinned me to the ground.
“What the hell are you doing?” I growled.
He was way too close. He trapped me against the roof using his knees and used his free hands to apply a load of gel to my hair.
“Stop it!” I cried, feeling the gel smear against my forehead. “I already look like a freak, don’t make it worse!”
Once he’d finished destroying my hair, he sat up and admired his handiwork. “You look beautiful.” At least I didn’t have a mirror; I didn’t think I could face my own reflection. He gave me a push. “Go on.”
I stood up, hoisting him up with me as I did so. “Not so fast.” I pointed to the other racers. “They’re all couples. If I’m doing this, you’re going with me.”
He looked a little terrified at the determined look on my face and chose not to argue. We clambered on the carpet and soared over to the starting line.
“You can fly magic carpets?” I asked incredulously; did he actually have a talent?
“Well,” he said coyly. “I guess that’s another thing that runs in the family.”
I looked of the edge of the carpet and almost threw up; how bloody far away was the ground? I shut my eyes immediately, clutching at the pile on the carpet. Scorpius placed a comforting arm around my shoulders.
Oh god, who was calling my name? It couldn’t be Scorpius because he was right beside me and I would have heard him. Now I was fighting a battle between curiosity and fear; did I really want to know who it was enough to face how high up we were?
“Rose!” A different voice this time; when did I suddenly become this popular? “Over here!”
“It’s the press,” Scorpius whispered in my ear. “Don’t look.”
Oh crap! The press! They couldn’t see me like this. Oh no, I was doing something illegal. Damn it, I was going to be seen with Scorpius! I couldn’t decide what was the biggest problem out of all of the awful things that were going on right at the moment. I decided to take a small peek.
To my left, I saw a young man clutching a large camera. I squinted; crap, it was my cousin James. I stuck my hand up to shield my face from him (unfortunately my hand wasn’t big enough to cover my disaster hairstyle). To my right stood a slender young woman; squinting again, I saw it was my cousin Dominique.
I shrieked in horror. “What the bloody hell are you two doing here?” I yelled at them. “Are you trying to turn this into a press conference?”
I could only assume that Molly had ratted on me and gone and told someone in the family. Naturally, Dominique and James would have got wind of the story; they were reporters for rival newspapers. Bloody hell, my own family were selling me out.
“Hide me!” I shouted at Scorpius, who seemed to think that hijacking this man’s flying carpet was a brilliant idea for a getaway. We soared over the rooftops of London as Camden grew smaller and smaller behind us.
Once my heart had stopped attacking my ribcage, I breathed slowly and deeply. “We’ll go back to yours then, shall we?” Scorpius asked lightly.
“What a good idea.”
AN: Just a quick note to say thank you so much to everyone who has read and reviewed so far; I love you all! I post this a couple of days before my 4 year HPFF anniversary! I can't believe I'm still here and posting and that I still have readers. So, thank you everyone. I'm extremely grateful! -Marina
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