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Chapter 5 : The Turning of the Tables
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They did everything together: eating, sleeping, shitting, bathing. They even played together, sprawled out on a blanket in the middle of the garden, slobbering over each other’s toys and smiling toothlessly.
No matter how much Lucy liked to deny it, there was proof of their friendship in the form of photographs.
Lots of them.
In a few of the pictures, they were naked, holding hands in the bath with foamy white beards made out of soap and wide grins on their faces. Ah, the good old days.
Rose was the first to learn how to talk.
And that’s where it all went downhill.
Lucy wasn’t dim, not by any means. In fact, she was incredibly bright. Out of all of her cousins, she was the first to match the shapes to the correct cut outs in the square and push them through. Getting them out was another story, but Molly always swooped in to help her, one way or another.
The moment Rose started talking, however, was the moment everyone forgot how about Lucy’s achievements with the shapes. Everyone was too busy cooing over Rose and her spittle coated “Hi” to notice Lucy, sitting on the living room floor all by herself, looking forlorn at all of the shapes stuck inside of the giant plastic square.
From that day on, the two girls had been in near constant competition. Who walked first (Lucy), who coloured inside of the lines first (Rose), who performed the first bit of magic first (Louis surpassed them both), who went potty on the big girl toilet first (Lucy), who successfully rode their broom around the Burrow first (Rose, but she crashed into a tree as she was gloating), who got their acceptance letter first (Lucy).
Their competition only increased when they entered Hogwarts, where they relentlessly competed over marks until Lucy realised she was much better at making friends than making ‘O’s. Year after year, Rose was the top of the class, but Lucy was always surrounded by friends and for that, Rose was jealous of her. Naturally, Lucy was equally jealous of Rose’s Outstanding marks as she was under intense pressure from her parents to be perfect.
The feud, so to speak, only got worse once they graduated.
Rose was the first to secure a high-paying job at the Ministry. She was the first to move out of her parents’ house. She was also the first to have a complete mental breakdown. Lucy, on the other hand, was satisfied with her job at the Apothecary; she worked lax hours and her boss was easy-going. She was also well-liked by everyone she met, even complete strangers. Poor Rose was either the highest and mightiest bitch to ever grace the planet with her revolting presence or possessed the social skills of a fork.
Lucy liked to think it was a mix between the two. She also liked to think the worst of people, but that’s because they had proved her right time and time again. Especially Rose, who was so boringly predictable in her behaviour that Lucy was actually caught by surprise at the sight of her cousin the phone box.
Molly, apparently, was not. “I thought that was you.”
Outraged, Lucy rounded on her sister, cheeks puffed out and flaming. “If you knew that was Rose, why didn’t you say anything?”
“I didn’t want to scream her name in case I was wrong,” Molly sniffed, turning up her nose. An onlooker might have thought she was the bloody queen, the way she was regarding her sister and her cousin. “You might be okay with Muggles thinking you’re completely bat shit, but I’m not. Besides,” she continued, flipping her hair over her shoulder, “we wouldn’t have had the element of surprise if I’d hooted and hollered.”
“We don’t have the element of surprise now!“ Lucy exclaimed, arms flailing. Somehow, she managed to smack Molly upside the head. Whether on purpose or by accident, neither was certain, but the eldest had her suspicions.
“We had some elements,” defended Molly, rubbing her nose, which had gotten clipped by Lucy’s unusually elbow.
“We ran right up to the door and you knocked! With zest!”
Molly opened her mouth to shout back, but was interrupted by Rose.
Typical, Lucy thought bitterly as her cousin cleared her throat primly. Bloody proper bint.
“Um, excuse me,” Rose simpered, her voice muffled by the glass separating them. “There might be glass between us,” she indicated the panes of glass and then herself and then her two cousins, “but I can still hear you.”
“And we can see you,” Lucy said with a roll of her eyes. “Are you really so starved for attention that you have to point out the obvious?”
“Lucy!” Molly warned.
“Don’t be mean.”
“I’m not being mean! I’m trying to help her improve her insecurities.”
Rose was glaring so intensely, it looked as though she was trying to melt the glass with her brain rather than express anger towards her least favourite cousins. “Might I point out that in pointing out the obvious, you pointed out the obvious?”
“No!” the girls shouted in unison, the echo of their shout ringing across the park, scattering pigeons and children alike.
Sighing in exasperation, Molly turned her attention back to Lucy, the lesser of two evils. “Where was I?”
“I think you were going to yell about how I’m the idiot and you’re the smart one, but then Rose started talking and neither of us cared.”
“Right!” exclaimed Molly, smiling.
Behind the glass, Rose harrumphed pathetically. She folded her arms over her chest, a bit of parchment sticking out from in between her fingers. “Obviously you care if you’re taking the time out of your argument to take the piss.”
Lucy tilted her head and touched a hand to her heart. “Aww, Rosie,” she said, adopting a falsely concerned tone. “You still think the world revolves around you? That’s cute.”
“Oh, shut up, Lucy,” spat Rose, her nose wrinkling so much, it almost disappeared. “It’s not like you were ever good at Muggle Studies either!”
“At least I know the sun is a star and not a big yellow lemon drop in the sky!”
“I WAS ELEVEN!”
Lucy jabbed a finger at her cousin. “It happened in third year and we both know it!”
Rose wanted to argue, but her mouth flopped open and shut uselessly, her would-be arguments coming out n small squeaky puffs of air. She finally settled on a disgruntled shriek, which sounded more like a dying cow than anything else.
Feeling victorious, Lucy turned back to her sister. “So,” she began as though Rose wasn’t two metres away from her and able to hear everything they said. “How do you want to go about this?”
“Go about what?”
Lucy’s hand cracked across the back of Molly’s head, causing the elder to lurch forwards violently. “Ouch! What the fuck, Luce?”
“And you have the audacity to call me dim,” said Lucy, shaking her head. The look she pinned Molly with was deadly serious - or as serious as Lucy could muster in a situation like this. Which actually wasn’t very serious at all. “Did you or did you not pull me out of my comfy bed despite my hangover to get to the bottom of the mystery of the Elusive T?”
Molly had the gall to look sheepish. “I might’ve done.”
“So, I say again,” the other repeated, with a little less enthusiasm than before. “How do you want to go about this?”
“We could always just take it from her,” Molly suggested.
“If it were anyone else, that’d probably work, but this is Rose. She’s got talons,” reminded Lucy. “And a beak, if the rumours are to be believed.” When she smiled sweetly at her cousin, Rose hissed.
“I’m right here, you know.”
“You’re also trapped in a box.”
The shift in her expression was so sudden, it was almost comical. Her gloating smirk melted off her face like ice cream on a hot day, pathetic drippings and all. As the panic set in, Rose pushed against the door violently, but Lucy was one step ahead of her. Leaning her shoulder against the door, she turned back to Molly.
“Any other ideas?” she prompted.
“Let me out of here, Lucy! You let me out of here right now or I’ll - I’ll tell your mum!
Rolling her eyes at the threat, Lucy grabbed her wand out of her pocket and cast a Silencing charm on the box, completely disregarding the Stature of Secrecy. Wizarding laws be damned, when it came to shutting Rose up, Lucy would break them all just for a bit of peace and quiet.
Rose banged against the door, but no sound emerged.
Molly smiled her approval. “Nice one.”
“I have my moments,” Lucy replied with a shrug.
“Few and far between, though they are.”
Lucy bit her tongue, deciding to keep the conversation on track. They had experienced far too many delays over the course of the day. “Do you think maybe we could force it out of her?”
“No, with a crowbar. Of course with magic!“
Molly pulled a face at her sister’s tone. She was the only one allowed to talk like that, not Lucy. “I’m not sure. There are too many Muggles around. One spell is enough.” Folding her arms over her chest, Molly started to pace in front of the phone box, completely obviously to her cousin’s furious, but silent screams.
While Molly contemplated their options, Lucy glanced over her shoulder into the phone box. Rose’s face was scrunched up in concentration as she tried to figure a way to get out of the box and out of sight. Unless Rose’s Apparation skills had improved since last Christmas, the chances of her getting out of the phone box without Lucy moving out of the way were slim to none.
It made Lucy smile.
This might not have been the most mature approach, but Lucy would do anything to save an innocent from Rose. Most people, including their entire family, thought the feud between the two of them was ridiculous and that they were childish to continue it into their adult years. Lucy could scarcely count on all of her fingers and toes how many times her dad had begged and pleaded with her to make some kind of amends with Rose. She never listened, of course, always choosing to turn a blind eye on the situation. It frustrated Percy as well as the rest of the family to no end, but Lucy didn’t care.
They didn’t have to grow up with Rose. They didn’t know just how mean she could be. Granted, Lucy could be equally as cruel, but that was hardly the point.
The point was that Rose had caused Lucy a lifetime of headaches - and they were only in their early twenties. From the moment she stole the spotlight from Lucy, Rose had gone out of her way to prove that she was better than Lucy. She won every award at school, earned Outstandings in all of her lessons, and wrote articles for the most pristine publications. She was the good girl, the one who always did as she was told. She was the perfect daughter, the perfect student, and would have been the perfect girlfriend if she wasn’t so goddamn insufferable.
Lucy couldn’t even put a finger on what made her so damn horrible - there were too many things to name! From her nitpickiness to her gloating to her annoyingly perfect hair to her tendency to point out every flaw and use it against you, she was the worst type of human being.
A waste of space, if you asked Lucy, but no one ever did. They were too busy fawning over Rose.
Deep down, Lucy knew she was being petty. And deep down, she tried to rustle up some feelings of resentment, but try as she might, she couldn’t find them. If she had any feelings other than contempt for her cousin, they were long gone.
Or just buried underneath layer after layer of spite.
“I’ve got it!” Molly shouted, pulling Lucy from her thoughts.
Eager to know what the grand plan was, Lucy scooted closer to her sister, throwing out an arm to keep the phone box’s door firmly in place. The last thing they needed was for Rose to escape. Puny though she was, the bitch could run extremely fast.
“We rush her. Force the doors open and push her to the furthest corner of the box. I’ll grab the number while you keep her preoccupied.”
“And risk getting my face clawed off?” Lucy snorted derisively. “Fat chance of that happening.”
Frustrated, Molly threw her hands up. “If you don’t like that idea, then you’re shit out of luck because that’s all I got.” Still irritated, Molly went over to the bench and plopped down. “This is hopeless.”
Frowning - and completely disregarding the fact that she was the only thing keeping the door shut - Lucy hurried over to where her sister sat on the bench, taking the seat next to her. “It’s not that it’s a bad idea,” Lucy began in her best maternal voice, placing a hand on her sister’s shoulder. “It’s just - well, don’t you think that’ll draw a lot of unnecessary attention from the Muggles? I mean, it’s a fairly violent approach and while I’m all for inflicting as much pain as possible on Rose, I don’t fancy getting carted away by a Muggle copper.”
“Unless he was fit.”
Lucy laughed, patting her sister’s shoulder. “Unless he was fit,” she agreed, smiling. She felt her mood lifting because, for the first time that day, things were looking up.
Until Lucy looked up and made a startling discovery.
The door of the phone box was swinging in the faint breeze, the interior empty. Lucy felt her stomach drop as she pushed herself to her feet.
“No, no, no,” she repeated in a mantra, hands flying to her hair as she spun around in a circle in the hopes that Rose was somewhere in sight.
“Shit!” Lucy cried, stomping her foot. “She got out!”
“How’d she get out?” Molly demanded. “I thought you locked it!”
“I did -” Lucy cut herself off, remembering that she hadn’t, in fact, locked it with a spell. She’d only held the door shut while Rose banged away on the panes. Bowing her head, she closed her eyes, feeling like a complete idiot.
“Oh, no, Luce. Please tell me you locked the door. Please tell me you actually used common sense for once and performed a spell other than Accio.”
“I cast a Silencing charm!”
Molly gave an extravagant roll of her eyes. “Typical. Bloody typical!”
Lucy tried not to be too offended by the tone of her sister’s voice, but the disappointment registered in her ears and made her feel like a popped balloon. All of her enthusiasm was gone; it was all her fault, just like always. Hanging her head, Lucy stared down at her hands morosely. “I’m sorry, Molly. It slipped my mind.”
The two stood in the middle of the path, each looking in opposite direction. The cogs in Molly’s head turned as she tried to recall any Tracking spells that might help them in their current situation, but nothing came to mind. Cursing under her breath, Molly once again resumed her pacing, muttering darkly under her breath about useless sisters and stupid Muggles.
Doing her best to ignore the mutterings, Lucy approached the phone box, running a hand along the cool metal frame. The phone was old, the silver encasing stripped down to the copper wiring within. There were blobs of dried and cracked gum caked to the graffiti covered walls. Lucy thought it gave the box some character, a sense of purpose and time and -
She stopped in the middle of her appreciation when a wisp of white on the grime coated floor caught her eye. Curious, Lucy bent down to pick it up, careful not to put her hand in the mud-like substance caked to the bottom corner of the box. The paper was dirty, but nothing a quick spell couldn’t fix. She accidentally tore the paper, having never been very handy with housework spells, but it was clear enough that she could read it.
Bernstein, T, 22A Gusfield Street
She’d found it.
She’d found him.
She'd actually found him!
Well, Lucy corrected herself, Rose found him, but I found the paper, so that makes me the winner!
Her mouth going dry, Lucy straightened and whipped around. Her hands shook as she clutched the piece of paper in her hand. “Molly!”
“Not now, Luce. I’ve almost got the spell.”
“No ‘buts’. If we want to catch Rose before we’re eighty, you need to give me a minute to concentrate.”
“Lucy, button it, will you?”
Expelling an impatient sigh, Lucy grabbed her sister by the arm, forcing her to stop her frantic pacing. Only Molly didn’t get the message and Lucy nearly ripped her arm out of socket in her attempt to stop her. Molly was prepared to complain to high heaven about how this day was turning out to be the worst experience ever when Lucy shoved a small sliver of parchment into her hand.
Without even looking at it, she asked, “What’s this?”
“But what we need with -” Gasping, Molly looked up at Lucy, startled by the wolfish grin taking over her sister’s lips. “It’s not!”
“Oh, but it is,” Lucy said in a sing-song voice. She took the scrap of paper from Molly and beamed with pride. Grabbing Molly’s hand, she pulled her sister into the phone box.
“I thought the idea was to go look for him, not lock ourselves up.”
Rolling her eyes, Lucy placed her sister’s hand on her elbow. It was going to take some inventive manoeuvring, but they could make it work. Lucy was determined to make it to her destination. “Remember how much Rose fails at Apparation?” she asked as she withdrew her wand from her pocket.
Molly eyed it uneasily. “Yeah…”
Lucy’s blue eyes danced with mirth as she regarded her older sister. “I passed on the first go.” Still grinning hugely, she gripped onto Molly’s hand. “Hold tight!”
Squeezing her eyes shut tight, Molly turned on the spot, entangling their ankles and their arms and smashing her face against the window before the familiar feeling of being squeezed through a very small tube pressed in on her.
In the blink of an eye, they were gone.
The chase, as they say, was on.
A/N: So it’s been a while since I’ve updated this, but I’ve been slowly updating all of my fics, and it was this one’s turn. I had a lot of fun writing this chapter, and I really have to thank Georgia (Jellyman) for helping me out. I appreciate it, darling! The next chapter is also the last one, so you can all probably assume what that means: we find out who the Elusive T actually is!
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