Chapter 9 : This Charming Man
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I was awake alright, and the harsh light of day shone into my bedroom, slowly bringing to the surface partial memories of my spectacular meltdown the night before.
I tried to make sense of what had happened, the onslaught of horrifying memories making my head spin, and my stomach churn with shame. I turned over in my bed, bile rising in my throat as I remembered fighting with my family. I caught sight of a basin someone unnecessarily kind had left beside me, and heaved into it, my eyes watering.
Not only had the insecure, petty demon inside of me taken control last night, it had also picked a fight with Dominique, who had done nothing wrong – nothing that would appear wrong to the outside world at least. I had lashed out at Molly, I remembered, cringing, though that wasn’t the worst of it. I didn’t know who I had been crueller to; Victoire, who had thrown me such a wonderful party and helped me out this summer, or Teddy who had tried to smooth everything over even as I misbehaved so.
I couldn’t leave my bed, not when they had all stayed over last night. I noticed Molly was not on my bedroom floor, where she was supposed to be staying. I supposed she and Dom had shared the couch, gossiping late into the night about bratty Lucy, who had ruined everything.
I hugged my pillow to myself. I couldn’t go outside; I’d just have to live in here forever. It would be ok, I supposed, once I gathered enough energy to clean out the basin. I could summon food from Diagon Alley or the kitchen. I could use the same basin for other needs than vomiting, too, though I didn’t like thinking about it. Thankfully, I had kept my wand in my room. I shuddered to think how magic would have helped my mission to destroy the new life I had built for myself.
I wondered where my wand was, remembering there was a hangover potion in the fridge with my name on it. With that, I remembered the other source of my shame.
Mark had seen me kissing Will. Not only had he seen me, but I had pushed him away and did it possibly inches from his face. God knows how Will reacted; if I strained to remember (which only made me more violently ill) I thought I heard him say something, but I couldn’t understand. God knows what Ainsley now thought too. Had I even told her that Will was “the” Will?
It didn’t matter. Who was she to go to a friend’s party and kiss random guys? That was something I could never have the courage to do, and it sickened me.
My door flew open. I winced at the sound not lifting my head.
“We’re going to Sunday dinner at the Burrow. Presumably we’re supposed to cover for you?”
I didn’t answer. Was that Molly? I could barely recognise her voice.
Whoever it was sighed. “Just make sure you get the place cleaned up. Victoire and Dominique are going out and staying at Teddy’s tonight. I’m in the restaurant all afternoon and evening if you need anything.”
I grunted in response, too mortified to actually face anyone. At least I had the day to myself. I celebrated by throwing up again, and sinking back into merciful sleep.
I was roughly shaken awake a few hours later.
“Lucy!” a familiar, foreboding voice scolded. “Lucy Weasley, wake up this moment!”
Oh Merlin, my father was now involved. I sat up in bed, brushing the matted hair from my mascara-crusted eyes. I was still wearing my party dress, I realised.
My dad was not the person you wanted around when hungover. He didn’t even know I was having a party, or that I drank, so I was sure this would have come as a surprise to him.
He pushed his glasses up his nose, his face contorted with rage. I thanked my lucky stars everyday I had taken after Mum’s side in regards to looks, though this was no comfort to me now.
“The place is a mess! There is alcohol spilled everywhere, and vomit! Actual vomit! And I won’t tell you what I found on the floor of the bathroom! Excrement!”
Despite the awfulness of a situation, I did wonder who had thought it wise to take a poo on our bathroom floor, when there was a perfectly good toilet beside them.
“And look at you! Too sick because of it all to even come with your sister and cousins to your birthday dinner!”
The shock must have been apparent on my face as he continued on.
“Oh yes, Teddy told us how you had caught a bug from someone in work. As if I was going to believe that, Harry Potter of all people was the one to inform me that my own daughter was going to be throwing a party! Oh and I put two and two together there…”
“Wait, Teddy knew about the dinner?”
“Of course he did! It was a surprise, they all knew! They said you were too sick to come. They were good enough to lie for your sake, but you wouldn’t even make an appearance! Your grandmother made you a cake!”
The anger that had taken hold of me last night had returned. They knew about my dinner, and hadn’t thought to tell me this morning, or even help me get up. Dominique knew I had a hangover potion, if they had tried I would have gotten to the Burrow. I knew they were probably annoyed at me, but this was too much, getting Dad in on it. There was no way he would have let me away with not attending, no matter how sick I was. I berated myself for letting it slip to Harry at the game that I was having a party. Dad and Harry got on, but they weren’t as friendly as the other uncles and aunts.
“Well, I’m not going to stay here and waste my time any longer. I suggest you clean yourself and this place up before the others return, and reflect on the shame you’ve brought on our family!”
I waited for him to leave the apartment to let the tears come. I couldn’t cry though; it felt like I was past it, dry unforgiving sobs racking my body.
I curled up into a ball again, feeling very small and wishing very much that I had someone to comfort me. I had done wrong by abusing my cousins, but why did they have to always treat me like a baby? Why did they think I couldn’t look after myself?
But then, could I look after myself? I looked up and caught sight of myself in my mirror, barely recognising what I saw.
My hair, first of all, was a mess. It was stressed and split from all the styling and colouring I had been doing, matted on my head, instead of being neatly brushed out. My face was blotchy and discoloured; late nights and unhealthy binge drinking was taking its toll. Black makeup ran down my face, I could see marks of it on my pillow. The dress I had never changed out of pushed my chest out and created the illusion of curves I did not have. My skin, once pale and unblemished was dry and covered in little bruises all over – I must have been stumbling into things all night at the party. My teeth, even, were disgusting –alcoholic drinks and all the vomiting I had been doing as a result had been clearly more harmful than I thought.
And on the inside – who was this person who had let her first kiss, yes her first though it was horrible to admit it at the age of nineteen, be so self-destructive? Though it was with a person I clearly liked, I did it out of jealousy, out of a need to prove myself. Physically as well as figuratively I pushed away my best friend and a newer friend, who believed himself to be something more.
I didn’t know what the Lucy Weasley, fresh out of Hogwarts would have thought. This wasn’t the life I had dreamt about, surely.
What did I have now? I was in my family’s bad books, I probably had no friends, too – I had pushed away my own and the others were really friends of my cousins. I certainly had no Mark and no mysterious Will – what would he want with a train-wreck like me?
And what was the use of my Head Girl status and all the hard work that had lead to my excellent N.E.W.T. results? The job I was barely holding on to in Flourish and Blotts? Because I was just hanging on to it – once more day of reporting in “sick”, turning up hungover, or still a little drunk would surely be the end of my working there. Even on the days when I was not any of these things I was usually disinterested, thinking of my next night out or meeting with a new, interesting person.
An owl tapped at my window, interrupting my reverie. It had two letters, one just a slip of parchment and the other a scarlet red that sent shivers down my spine. I had only ever received one howler before in in my life – when I failed a potions test on first year, when I was horribly homesick.
This was to be no less shaming.
“What is wrong with you, Lucy?” Ainsleys voice screamed. “It’s bad enough you think you’re Victoire now, and you basically ignore Sarah and the others, but me? We’re supposed to be best friends Lucy, or don’t you remember first year, when we were both terrified of being in Gryffindor and tried to make a break for Ravenclaw?”
I heard her take a breath, and tears sprang to my eyes. “I thought last night was going to be brilliant!” She roared. “All of us together again, us actually getting on with Epperly and Molly, mixing with all these new people. I was so excited for you, I thought last night was going to be a chance for you and Mark, but you ruined it! I talked to one guy at the party, Lucy, and I really liked him but you had to ruin it for me! You didn’t even introduce us, but you still had some claim on him I was supposed to know about. I can’t believe you’d do that to me, and Mark! Who do you think you are?”
The howler started to go up in smoke, the last words proclaiming that my best friend didn’t even know me anymore.
I felt cold, inside and out, and it took me a moment to remember the second letter. I scanned it quickly, my breath catching in my throat.
Don’t know what happened last night, really sorry for everything. Dinner this evening? Meet you on the Muggle side of the LC at 8 if you’re interested. I really need to see you.
Had I been given a second chance? And did I even want it?
I looked around myself, at all the havoc I’d caused. I stepped out of bed, entering the main living area and kitchen. Out here was even worse than my room. I had realised how late it was, nearly 7 in the evening. I had just been lying in bed, wasting the day away.
Wasting my life really. But what was I to do to correct it? Will was the only person who was there for me at the moment; he forgave me for being such a mess. I had been so happy with him; maybe he’d help me figure it all out. Maybe once things were right with him, everything else would fall into place.
That is what happens in a story. The young heroine loses her way, and is left with who was really there for her all along, who will make her life all that she desires.
Will was there for me now, and I knew what I had to do.
And so, I found myself after a shower squeezing into one of Victoire’s dresses, the white strapless one that I had thought was a top. I slid into some killer heels, and painted my face and teased my hair until I looked well again. I put a smile on my face, and thanked my lucky stars that my life had been saved again.
And so, I found myself tottering down toward the Leaky Cauldron, stopping at the wall between my world and the other world, hesitating. Like a ghost I saw Mark Seton glide by, gripping his guitar case with a grimace on his face. He looked over at me, pausing, and seemed to mouth my name. But there was no going back to Mark, I was afraid. This terse meeting only proved he was sickened by my behaviour, and wasn’t ready like Will to forgive just one night’s mistake. The old Lucy, boring and reliable would have raced towards him, thinking him the best thing in the world, but I knew different. He was not what I needed now – he had told me once he didn’t know where his life was going either, a million years ago. He couldn’t help me. I wanted to move forward, and forward was Will.
And so, I found myself in a nice restaurant, flirting with a gorgeous, charming man. I laughed my troubles away, not worrying that I wouldn’t be able for work tomorrow; or that Victoire would return to see I hadn’t fixed the apartment up. I felt much better than I had just an hour ago. I didn’t think about Ainsley or Mark or Molly or my parents. I thought of Will and me, and me and Will, and that was what I needed to do. I sipped at my glass of wine, refill after generous refill, and decided that this was who I was. I looked into Will’s eyes, and thought that this feeling must be love – this warm feeling spreading through me, this desire, the excitement.
And so, I found myself the next morning, with a thumping headache and a sick stomach, in my bed in my cousins apartment, Victoire’s dress on the ground beside me. I saw the dress out of the corner of my eye, and grabbed at the sheets around me, realising I was just in my underwear.
What had happened?
Where was Will?
Who was Will, really?
And most importantly – who was I?
Please, please keep reading. You probably don’t like me very much for this chapter, but it had to be done. I uploaded this in a hurry, please let me know if there are any problems with it, or if you liked it. Thank you if you did read this, I hope to have the final two chapters up soon!
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