Chapter 10 : Family Matters
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Have you ever experienced something so horrifically boring that you would rather be listening to Professor Binns talk about goblins than doing what you’re doing? Well, try working in the transportation department and you’ll experience that feeling daily. And that’s saying something, because Binns actually bored me to tears once, where actual tears streamed down my face.
I look down at the piles of paper cluttering my desk; the sight of it all fills me with despair and self-pity.
All this boring work is going to make me late. I’m supposed to be meeting Al in the atrium at three so we can go to his grandmum’s house, but I have a bunch of unexpected work. Apparently, there is a big clog dancing festival and the S.W.C.D.U (Scandinavian Wizard Clog Dancers United) needed twelve last minute portkeys set up because Sven forgot to bring the clogs, causing everyone to miss their portkeys. I don’t know who this Sven fellow is, but I am not happy with him.
“Leah?” I ask, popping my head into her cubicle. “Are you leaving soon?”
She looks up from the pile of papers on her desk, “Sadly, no. I’ll probably be stuck here for a while, I’m swamped with work. Why?”
Before I can answer, Mrs. Carey’s door opens, and out comes her and Connor. I see that she has stuck with her favorite color, black, wearing it basically head to toe. Everything about this woman depresses me, even her clothes.
“Hopefully the issue will be sorted out. If you need any more help, just let one of my staff know. Merlin knows they don’t work enough,” she says coldly before closing her office door.
From time to time, someone from the Auror’s office will pop up needing information on one thing or another, so I’m assuming that’s why Connor is here. I give him a friendly nod before turning back to Leah, “Oh, it’s nothing. If you were on your way out, I was going to ask you to let Albus know I’m going to be a tad late, but you’re stuck with just as much work as I am. I’m sure Al will figure it out.”
“I can let him know. That meeting with Mrs. Carey was the last thing I had to do today, I’m sure I’ll pass him on my way out,” Connor says with a friendly smile, having heard the last bit of our conversation as he walked over.
I try to sound nonchalant, but Leah shoots me a look that conveys what I’m secretly feeling; that having Connor and Al talk is probably not a good idea. I know that my relationship with him is completely platonic, but Al was not too happy when he found out Connor asked me on a date, and since then he’s harbored some negative feelings. Not going to lie, I thought it was kind of cute that he was getting all jealous, but it’s also rather annoying.
“That’s nice of you to offer, but you don’t have to, really! He’ll be fine. I don’t want to trouble you!” I say a little too enthusiastically.
“Nonsense,” he replies with an easy smile. “It’s no trouble at all. I’ll just tell him you’ll be done later than expected.”
I give Leah a panicked look, hoping she’ll have a good excuse for why he shouldn’t do it, but she just shrugs. Damn. “Oh, um, thank you. I really appreciate it,” I say, giving what I hope looks like a friendly smile.
He smiles back, “Anytime, I’m always glad to help out! I’ll see you around, June. You too, Leah!”
Connor walks out of the office and I allow myself twenty seconds to freak out. But once that time is up, I take a deep breath and dive back into my work. The faster I finish up, the faster I can get to Al. Maybe he’ll even be civil to Connor and they will become friends!
Ha, yeah right.
September 29th, 3:05 P.M. – Atrium
I stare at the people coming out of the lifts, trying to decipher if one of them is June. Grandmum Weasley is completely cleaning out the burrow today, and she’s coming with me to help. Grandmum’s asked all the young, able bodied family members to help out, and when she asks us do to something, we do it. Nothing is more frightening than a Molly Weasley scorned. Although, I don’t think it will be too bad. With all my cousins, it’s always a good time, and Grandmum always provides us with bloody fantastic food.
So much delicious food. I’m practically drooling just thinking about it. I’m no pig, but I am a Potter/Weasley man. We can’t help but think with our stomachs. Now, if only June would come down already and we could get over there…
“Potter,” I hear an obnoxiously cheery voice say from behind me.
I turn around, “Hello, Thompson.” I try to sound polite, but it’s very hard. I have to be nice because he’s June’s friend and my superior at work, but that doesn’t mean I like it.
“June wanted me to let you know she’s going to be a little late, she has to deal with some unexpected paperwork,” he tells me, that stupid grin of his never leaving his face. “She didn’t want you to have to worry or wonder what was taking her so long. She’s very thoughtful.”
Yeah, I know she’s thoughtful you git, she’s my girlfriend. “Thanks,” I say through slightly gritted teeth. “I guess I’ll just go on up and wait for her in her office.”
I begin to turn away but he stops me, “I wouldn’t bother, she said you didn’t have to wait for her. You just go on ahead and she’ll catch up with you later.”
I look at him skeptically, but if she really is that busy I don’t want to go up there and bother her, or make her feel like she has to rush. “Alright, if she says so, I’ll be on my way.”
He waves goodbye, but there’s only so much niceness I can fake at a time, so all I manage is a nod.
That sod really rubs me the wrong way, I tell you.
September 29th, 3:25 P.M – Atrium
I practically run to the elevator. I swear, that Sven guy better pray he never meets me. I didn’t even finish all the work, which means I’ll have to come in early tomorrow, but I don’t want to keep Al waiting any longer. I make it in the lift, but it’s scientifically proven that the faster you need it to go, the slower the lift will be. Trust me, there have been studies.
Once in the atrium, I look around, but there is no boyfriend in sight. I walk around for a bit, the voices of the bustling people creating a pleasant buzz of activity. Cloaked people brush by, face after face, but none of them are Al’s.
I guess he decided not to wait. It’s not a big deal; it’s just a little strange that he didn’t tell me first.
No sense in waiting around, I suppose.
September 29th, 3:33 P.M. – The Burrow
I make the trip to the burrow on my own. It takes hardly anytime at all thanks to the handy skill of apparition. It’s very useful for getting you where you want to go. I would be perpetually lost if it weren’t for magic, I’m so awful with directions. My dad insisted I get my driver’s license, and I’m actually a decent driver, but I couldn’t drive my way out of a paper bag. It’s a rough life, let me tell you. I once got lost in Hogsmeade, which is no easy task. But with apparition, you just need to know the place you want to go. Thank Merlin for that.
“June! Nice of you to show up,” Rose greets me as I reach the house. Her appearance is usually pristine, but today she’s dressed in old, raggedy clothes and her hair is up in messy bun and a light blue bandana.
“I like the new look Rose, the street urchin look really works for you,” I joke, playfully nudging her in the side.
“Glad you think so, because I have a matching outfit for you to wear. Unless, of course, you’d like to clean in your work clothes,” she says with a wicked grin.
I look down at my outfit. I probably don’t want to be cleaning in cashmere. “You know, I heard the street urchin look is actually really in this year, I think I’ll try it!”
She leads me inside and I change into the set of clothes in the bathroom, looking identical to Rose except my bandana is purple.
I visited the burrow once before, but it was only briefly. The inside of the house is even more amazing that I imagined. I love the house I grew up in, but there’s a quality to this place that can only come from a huge family. It’s so homey and warm, you can feel the love Mrs. Weasley has for her family by just walking through the house.
Rose gives me a brief tour of the house; every room I enter there’s another Weasley/Potter. First stop is the kitchen, in which Molly is helping her namesake clean out the cupboards. Mrs. Weasley greets me with a warm hug, her eyes shining with kindness. It only takes her about ten seconds to tell us we’re looking a bit peckish, and offer to whip up some food. Rose ushers me away, assuring her that we’ll both eat plenty later.
“Once she starts feeding you, you’re stuck. She usually doesn’t let anyone leave until they have had at least two servings of everything. I nearly explode every time. The boys never seem to mind though, or Roxy for that matter. She has a stomach that could rival my dad’s,” Rose says to me under her breath.
I laugh in response as we head over to the next room, where Fred seems to be having a good time. Waving his wand conductor-style, he has an arsenal of cleaning supplies bewitched doing the work for him. A look of joy gleams in his eyes as they magically whisk across the room, and I swear I hear him giggle as we pass. Sometimes I worry that boy has a little too much fun.
“The next room I’m going to show you is probably my favorite in the house,” Rose says, opening the door.
We walk inside a cozy study. The walls are painted a warm brown, complementing the large couch that looks like the most comfortable piece of furniture I have ever seen. The shelves are stuffed with books, and the view out the large window is gorgeous. But the most amazing thing about the room is all the pictures. Every way you turn there’s another picture of a Weasley/Potter family member.
Shots of five year old Hugo and Lily chasing a garden gnome around out back, Teddy on his first birthday, various Hogwarts graduations, Dominique and Freddy putting makeup on a sleeping Louis; the list goes on and on. There are even pictures of Al’s dad as a kid, with Rose’s parents. Wow, I’m looking at childhood photographs of Harry Potter. I know I should be used to it by now, since I’m dating his son, but it’s weird to see the man I studied in history of magic in his young teen years. He and Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were such cute first years!
“Oh my, this is definitely a contender for my favorite picture,” I say laughing, pointing to a picture of Al and James. I’d guess James is eight years old and Al is around six. He is missing his two front teeth, and he and James are in matching sweater vests. They are both making funny faces until Rose comes barreling into the frame out and nowhere and knocks them out of the picture with a huge grin on her face (a grin that also lacks a few teeth).
I freeze as I feel an arm wrap around my waist, “Personally, I’m not a huge fan; my style has seen better days.” Al whispers in my ear with a smile.
“Way to sneak up on me!” I laugh, his breath tickling my ear and his familiar scent filling the air. “I don’t know though, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear you still wear that vest sometimes.”
He lifts me up in a bone crushing hug, spinning me around. “I’m too manly to wear a sweater vest! Admit it or perish!” he says, squishing me even harder.
“You’re too manly for sweater vests, you’re the manliest!” I manage to get out before my lungs explode.
He lets go of me and kisses my cheek, “Aw, you think so? You’re so sweet.”
“No, you’re so sweet, Mr. Manly!” I joke, giving him a playful shove. He laughs, making a comment that I push like a girl.
“Can I go and vomit now please?” Rose asks, leaving the room before either of us answer.
I smile, “Looks like our cuteness was too much for Rosie.”
“Amateur. She’s lucky I didn’t whip out the pet names or Eskimo kisses, now that would be nauseating.”
“You go that right, Albie Busbus,” I say with a wink. “Speaking of nausea, I think if I ever look at paperwork again I’ll be sick. Sorry I was so late, it’s all Sven’s fault. I don’t blame you for not waiting up, although a heads up would have been nice so I would know not to look for you.”
A confused look crosses his face, “First of all, who’s Sven? And I was told by Thompson that you didn’t want me to wait, so I didn’t want to disturb your work by telling you I was leaving when you said I should go.”
Hmm, that’s strange, I never told Connor to tell him that… Maybe he just assumed that’s what I meant? Unless he was trying to cause –No, it was just an honest mistake. I’m sure he thought that it was implied.
“Oh, right! I forgot I said that, silly me. Of course you didn’t have to tell me if I said you didn’t have to wait in the first place!” I say, trying to recover. I don’t want Al to have another thing to hold against Connor, especially not something as silly as a miscommunication.
“Alright,” he says skeptically, “if you say so. And you never answered my first question, who is Sven?”
I scowl, “Sven is the idiot who forgot the clogs.”
“Is that supposed to make sense?” he says, still confused but also amused.
“Nope, but don’t worry about. Basically, I had a lot of paperwork because a group of clog dancers missed their portkey’s, and it was Sven’s fault.”
He shakes his head, “The transportation department seems like a crazy place.”
“Sometimes crazy, definitely strange, and all too often boring, but at least it helps pay the bills. Now, we should really get to cleaning, that’s why we came here after all,” I say, changing the subject. I don’t want to talk about work or Connor, the first subject being annoying for me and the latter only makes Albus angry.
He sighs, unhappy about the prospect of more cleaning. “You’re right; Grandmum is a formidable woman, she wouldn’t be happy to see us slacking”
September 29th, 6:57 P.M. –The Burrow
With all the cleaning finally done, I sit down at the dinner table completely exhausted. I can only imagine how insane this place must be when their whole family is together. Not even half of them are here now and it’s already a tad overwhelming. Seated at the table we have Rose, James, Fred, Roxy, Dominique, Victoire, Teddy, Albus, Molly, and me along with their grandmum and granddad.
There’s also enough food to feed an army; potatoes, roasted chicken, glazed ham, corn bread, puddings, and lots of greens. I’m practically drooling at the sight of it, and I can see that Fred actually is.
“Oi, ever heard of a napkin, Fred?” I tease him.
He laughs, wiping off his chin with the napkin Roxy throws at him, “Sorry, everyone, I’ll do my best to keep the drooling to a minimum in the future.”
“Well, dig in, I don’t want the food getting cold,” says Mrs. Weasley, pilling food on all plates within her reach.
It takes no time at all for almost all of the food to be divided amongst everyone. Rose said that it’s the boys who eat the most, but her plate looks nearly as full as theirs, and I saw Molly nearly stab Teddy with a butter knife over a chicken leg. These people are serious about their food.
I find myself taking plenty of food also; I haven’t had a home cooked meal this amazing in Merlin knows how long. My own Grandmum Betty was an amazing cook, but she died when I was thirteen, and my granddad died even before that. I never even met my grandparents on my mum’s side, dad told me they died before I was born. Cooking responsibility fell to my dad, and he could whip up some great meals, but he didn’t cook often. He usually came home late from work during the summer when I was at home, so I ended up making dinner most nights. It took a while, but I consider myself to be a decent chef.
“This really is amazing, Mrs. Weasley, thank you,” I say as I reach for a second helping of potatoes.
She shoots me a sweet smile, “You’re welcome dear, I’m glad you could join. Thank you for helping with the cleaning, thank all of you,” she says turning to face everyone.
A chorus of ‘you’re welcome’ comes from all the full mouths, sounding more like ‘ooo elkum’.
“I have to agree with June, this food is delicious,” Teddy adds. “Especially the chicken! I’ve never tasted better in my life.”
She blushes at the compliment, “You’re too kind, Teddy. I took the best chicken from the coop; I thought you all deserved an extra special meal after being so helpful.”
At those words, all the blood drains from Fred’s face, “For the love of Merlin, please tell me I did not just eat part of Raymond!” He says before jumping up from the table and sprinting outside.
Before I can even ask what that is supposed to mean, Fred lets out a straggled yell. “NO! RAYMOND, YOU HAD SO MUCH LIFE LEFT TO LIVE!”
He comes running back inside and grabs the plate that contains what is left of the roast chicken, “I knew something like this would happen,” he says, barely holding back tears. “You should have let me keep him!” He then takes the plate with him while he runs back outside.
I look back and forth between Al, Teddy, and James, who are all rolling their eyes. “Okay, I hate to ask, but I’m going to anyway; what was that about?”
Al answers, telling me the tale of Fred and his chicken.
Apparently, it all started at the beginning of summer. They boys decided they wanted a guy’s night, so they set out to the Leaky Cauldron for a few drinks with no real plan, just planning on allowing the night to unfold by itself. As one would reasonably assume, they ended up doing some crazy stuff.
A game of truth of dare was initiated after several drinks, and the night became total chaos. When Fred’s turn came around, he was dared by Louis to obtain a chicken by any means necessary (yeah, I don’t understand boys either). Fred disappeared for about an hour, and returned with a chicken. He wouldn’t say how he managed to get a chicken, but he seemed pretty proud of himself. He named it Raymond, and became pretty attached. Everyone thought it was hilarious for a day or two, but when Fred tried to have the chicken live at his flat, and he brought it with him everywhere, it wasn’t funny anymore. Al and James managed to get it away from him for a bit, but before they could find a place for it to live, Al stupidly allowed Fred to win Raymond back in bet.
The cousins had to take drastic measures; they told their grandmum that Fred was keeping a chicken in his flat. She did not approve, and with a little persuasion (yelling/demanding), she convinced him to let the chicken live in the chicken coop at her house. He reluctantly agreed, conceding that Raymond needed the fresh air.
But it would seem that Raymond was accidently just served for dinner.
“We should probably go see if he is okay, my brother is a rather emotional person,” Roxy says, and we all nod in agreement.
Mr. and Mrs. Weasley stay inside to start cleaning up, but the rest of us head outside to find Fred digging. He looks up from the hole with red, puffy, eyes. “Will you guys help me bury him?” he asks sadly.
And we tell him yes. Even if it seems strange, it’s what Fred wants.
So, we stand behind him as he lowers the remains of Raymond into the hole. He says a few words before James and Ted refill it with dirt. Then, we bow our heads and follow behind Fred as he walks back inside.
“That was the most beautiful chicken funeral I’ve ever been to,” I whisper in Al’s ear as we walk back inside.
He stifles a laugh and shoots me a devilish smile.
With Raymond laid to rest, and the dinner done, everyone starts to filter out. Al and I are some of the first to leave, dissapparating back to my place.
“I’m sorry for all the craziness,” he says, opening my door for me.
I smile, “It’s okay, I love every minute of it. Although, spending time today with your family today got me thinking…” I trail off nervously.
“What?” he asks, leaving against the doorway.
“Well, do you think you could look around in some of the files at work and see if there is any mention of my mum? I know it’s a long shot,” I add quickly, “but it drives me crazy not knowing. There might be something about her that I can use to locate her. Maybe she committed a petty crime or something, I don’t know, I just need to try. I have to,” I choke out, suddenly emotional.
He grabs my hand and pulls me into a hug, “I don’t know what I’ll be able to find, but I’ll try. I promise.”
“Thank you,” I murmur, resting my head on his shoulder.
Part of me feels really relieved after asking, but there’s a smaller part that wonders if I just made a huge mistake.
I guess I’ll have to wait and see.
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