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Messes of Men by Roonyskatoony
Chapter 38 : The Curse of Curves
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 12


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 I wasn't even really quite sure at which point I'd ended up at Noble hall, I was pretty sure it was round the point where Antony and I had been curled up in the three broomsticks together over a nice hot chocolate (that was admittedly ignored due to the fact we were more preoccupied kissing) while it poured with rain outside when we got the message saying that Antony's father was 'a little ill and feeling sorry for himself'. 

 

This was his mother’s way of saying 'Antony, your father's apparently had a heart attack and isn’t looking too good. I'm worried and I think you should come down', but of course Antony's family simply did not work like that, 'feeling sorry for himself' being a rough approximation of 'he's bed bound and extremely ill'. 


I don't know why, I guess the whole Marie thing had bound us slightly closer but I insisted on coming. He'd been there when I'd needed him and although he tried to hide it I could see he was worried so I decided that he needed me in return. 
The house was somewhat quieter than usual and despite the indifference of her letter Dione didn't appear so when we came across her. 



She even hugged Antony on arrival and although she never said anything or fully expressed it, the worry hung in the haggard tired air about her. 
I felt a little awkward as a third wheel but I followed them up to the room anyway, giving Antony's hand a squeeze. A storm was beginning to brew outside and it was for that reason that I ended up staying the night and somehow incidentally eavesdropping by the open door of the master bedroom where I’d assumed Antony was.

"Wake up for me Reg," I heard a small voice say just as I began to walk away once more. I turned back to see Dione who I'd somehow missed before. Her back was to me and she was still in her dressing gown, most unusually of all, with her hair down and spilling across her shoulders. 
He stirred and she breathed a sigh, moving both hands around his. 

"I told you to take it easy," She snapped although it didn't really contain the same vehement conviction it usually did, sounding rather half-hearted and...well...worried instead. 

He gave a hoarse barely audible whisper and she was silent for a long time before she let out a breath, nodding ever so slightly. 

"You'll need to rest though, you'll have to let him do it, properly this time, he is capable," She said, seemingly relieved to find she now had some direction. 

I didn't catch what he said but she continued on anyway, i knew it was Antony they were talking about. 

"He is," She agreed grimly before she sighed, sitting slightly straighter now although the age was present in her voice in a way it had never really been before. They sat together like that, in comfortable silence, as they seemed to do oh so often, when he spoke and I heard him this time. 

"I think I like you Dione," He said and some small part of me wanted to laugh at the absurdity of it after 40 years of marriage yet really, I think that may have been his way of saying he loved her, something he'd never said before and she understood that. She must have because it was in the same tone that she answered and suddenly it felt as if I were watching something that I really shouldn't have been. 

I heard plenty of things then that for some reason stuck with me because they were the confessions and admissions of a dying man, Reginald Edward Noble died in the early hours of the next morning as he slept, his favourite plushy slippers on the floor atop the plush carpet, Bertrand by their side, awaiting patiently for his master to awaken, the usual morning gun sitting faithfully in his large jaws.

I didn't understand why it affected me so, maybe it was the thought that he wasn't to be the last, I don't know, maybe it was the KNOWLEDGE that he wouldn't be. 



I went back to school and didn't see Antony the rest of the week or the week after that, his letters were a little more hastily written and the stress was evident. I don't think I'd ever wished so hard that I could be done with school. 

He was inheriting. 

I doubt there was much time for sentimentality, the way things were at the time wasn't helping much either. It was splashed across all the papers, stealing the limelight of the recent deatheater attack that killed hundreds of muggles. 

"Poor boy," Marie said unhappily as we sat on the sofas in her apartment a day or two later. I glanced at her before closing my eyes, my head sliding into my hands. 

"He's stronger than you think though, he'll pull through," She said comfortingly. 

"And what about you?" I said quietly. She paused before giving a dismissive wave of her hand. 

"There's no need to worry about me darling, it's been going for quite some time and I'm still capable. You have nothing to worry about," She told, rubbing my shoulder. I couldn't so much as look at her without thinking of what was happening, how she'd kept it so quiet. 

"Is that why you adopted me?" I said quietly. 

She paused. 

"I..." She sighed and in that moment alone she seemed suddenly so much older. 

"I thought I had no life left, I looked back and I just thought 'well I have nothing to show for it'," She said. 

"How did you both keep it so quiet?" I asked. 

"We can be rather sneaky when we want to," She grinned. 

I didn't say anything. 

"You kept it from Antony and Bridgett too," I said after a moment. 

She sighed. 

"You know Bridgett darling, she would have worked herself up into a tizzy and Antony probably would have ended up rounding every doctor possible, I didn't want that," She said. 

"I don't know what I'm going to do without you...I don't know what Francesco’s going to do without you," I said. She didn't say anything for a very long time before she eventually spoke. 

"You have nothing to worry about darling, I promise you, Antony'll look after you and Bridgett too...when she doesn't have so many issues with you dating Antony and Francesco definitely will...nothing’s over darling, I don't want you to be upset, it never does anyone any good," She told me gently. I looked at her before hugging her. 

"It won't be the same without you," I mumbled.

She seemed slightly surprised but hugged me back none the less, smoothing down my hair gently and for just one moment, I really did feel as though she were my mother and I were daughter. 
...of course that notion was broken pretty quickly and the Marie I knew and loved returned in an exclamation of a great need of champagne and shoes. 

"I have recently decided," Marie informed me as we walked out of the small boutique. 

"That people are far too miserable and that's why people like lord whatever his name is, become so uppity. See if we were all a bit more cheerful, he'd become so very irritated with the lot of us that he'd eventually move on," She continued. I nodded slowly, unsure of exactly what she supposed me to say in return. 

"I have also decided that Francesco smokes too much and really ought to stop," She said. 

"You both smoke too much," I said flatly. 

"Ah but darling I speak with the wisdom of the dying. You know it's ever so refreshing, it's like being back in the 60's, people suppose you're either talking utter rubbish or extreme wisdom without being totally sure whether it's the drugs or not...anyway...where were we again...oh yes, anyway, Francesco smokes too much and seeing as it's already done me harm, he should stop before it does the same to him," She nodded. 

"I don't see him liking that much," I said. 

"I know, I suspect a great deal of swearing," She told me with a nod. I gave a small chuckle and she smiled back. 


*


I arrived back at school in time for school the next morning (unfortunately) only to discover that apparently we had mocks.

“What...when did anyone ever mention this?” I said in aggravation to Lily.

“...Iris they’ve been telling us repeatedly for the last month,” She said.

“It’s on transfiguration, right?” I said.

“Yeah,” She said.

I gave an eye roll with a huff before starting to pull my things out of my bag. You know, it was times like these that visions came in handy. My revision usually just meant going into a vision, trying to pin point it for the examiners bit, skimming over all the right answers for the test and learn them. Obviously it didn’t work all the time before my visions were irritatingly unpredictable and up until about 3rd year I used to work my arse off for even the smallest test. Then I got more into having a social life and soon just couldn’t be bothered.

I didn’t think of it as cheating, I thought of it as using my resources.

Plus Hemera had it easy, she not only had photographic memory but had a great passion for sitting and reading solidly for 5 hours straight and not getting bored. It was astounding. Really.

Needless to say it was a horribly boring day, full of reminders that our NEWTs 'REALLY weren't far away now!' and that (in my case), I should take them more seriously. I'm sure Moody would have agreed with the above but I couldn't quite muster the same nervous anticipation or fear our professors seemed to enjoy spreading. 

It was with armfuls of parchments and great huge books that I sat down in the student commons in my usual seat by the window. It was odd really because as with most of the windows in Hogwarts it let in a bit of a draft but I liked it there so it was there I remained. I yawned, slipping of my shoes and curling my legs around me as I pulled one of the volumes onto my knee. I breathed a sigh before opening it up to the correct page and beginning to read; of course I was soon interrupted as one often is with such important complete crap. Needless to say that interruption were the Marauders entering to raucous cheers and applauding from their oh so adoring public. I could only suppose they'd pulled off another prank. 

"Thank you, thank you, you people, you're just too much," James said with a 'shy' wave of his hand despite the huge grin. 

"I would just like to thank my associates here, for helping me in this great and noble quest...oh and but would you look at that, one of them distracted," James chuckled, the eye roll apparent in his voice as a series of wolf whistles and cat calls went up. I looked up, my gaze flattening when it fell on some girl and Sirius snogging. 

Ugh. 

Slag. 

It was irritatingly difficult to stay even remotely focused so I ended up in a sort of halfway field, eavesdropping on them while my gaze stayed on my book. The hype died down after a bit of course and the commons returned to its usual level of noise (which was still fairly rowdy when any 6th or 7th year was about) so I at least got through a few more pages. Annoyingly enough though I could see aforementioned slag sitting on Sirius' lap out of the corner of my eye which was highly distracting. 

"Would it be so difficult to ask you to shut up?" I snapped eventually after a particularly loud laugh, turning in my seat to see them all lounging on the sofas, Sirius having now gone back to snogging the slag whose name I didn't know. 

They all looked round, ready to retort when they saw it was me and remained silent, James' face settling into a scowl as everyone else just looked exceeding uncomfortable. I hadn't realised I was so close, they were sitting in the cluster of settees and sofas behind me, resulting in my back just being to them. 

Either way, it was the slightest bit of satisfaction that I saw Sirius surface. 

"If you wanna study, why don't you go to the library?" He said flatly. 

"Because before you arrived this was a perfectly decent place to be," I said pleasantly despite the slightly acidic undertone, my gaze slowly drifting to the girl by his side. He seemed to get the jibe because his gaze promptly flattened. 

"Look I need to err...Sirius didn't McGonagall wanna speak with us?" Remus cut in before he could retort. 

Sirius glared but James sighed, getting to his feet. 

"Yeah, I'm sure she did," He said, looking at Sirius perhaps a little pointedly, the resignation apparent. I'm sure it killed him as much as it killed Sirius to walk away from this. Sirius of course remained obstinately put until his slag got up with all the others and he eventually followed, glaring at me slightly before moving his arm over her shoulder and moving out. 

Idiot. 

Like I...but my thoughts were interrupted by a blinding aching White light and I gave a small choke, doubling with my hands pressed against temples as it spread across my vision, searing all the way. 


It was dark, simply dark as I landed, absolutely pitch black but eventually, lighter patches became distinguishable. I remained crouched for a moment, the sound of my breathing being the only thing I could hear before slowly I straightened. There was another moment of absolute silence and then suddenly it was like someone had flicked a switch or pushed up the volume. There was a howl, a long savage sound that had the hairs on the back of my neck and arms standing on end and I turned in time to hear the sound of limbs pumping, the sound growing closer before I could almost feel the rush of wind that brushed past me, a musty smell clinging to it. There were screams, hair rising, war splitting screams followed by the sound of teeth and tearing. I didn't catch most of it but I heard a familiar low bark, the one thing that sounded familiar in the cacophony of feeling, noise and sound. 
Sirius. 
There was another different sound followed by what sounded like a clash of some sort, a great yelp following. I couldn't see a bloody thing and that frustrated me, I pushed the boundaries as hard as I could, fighting to clear them, forcing my mind further forward and then in one split second, like a still capture frame I saw it. The moon hung against stormy seas high above the familiar dark mass of the forbidden forest, a dullness settled over the grounds and then, lying by my feet was the huge shaggy black dog, the thick fur parted and drawn back, a gruesome wide bloody gash, the huge stag standing over him, facing the huge misshapen form of what, or who, I soon released was Remus. I paused, simply staring before my gaze slowly travelled down to a pale hand behind him, lying against the saturated grass...

I woke, blinking to clear the dark spots from my vision too confused to really fully grasp the full extent of everything but certain enough to feel the great urgency running through me. 

"Sirius," I called as I got to my feet, slipping my shoes back on properly before running out after him. 

He, James and Pete (and his slag) stopped a way off but I could still almost sense James' discontent. I suppose Remus must have gone in the opposite direction which I was actually pretty thankful for. He didn't need to hear this. 

"Move," I said, ever so slightly out if breath as I addressed her...I was pretty sure I knew her name...at some point. 

Sirius opened his mouth to protest but I ignored him. 

"I said move," I snapped. She glanced at them but really didn't waste much time hanging around. 

Nice to know I still had it. 

"What is your problem?!" Sirius snapped. 

"Don't go out tonight," I said simply. 

"What?" He said, his expression crumpling. 

"I said don't go out tonight, stay INSIDE," I said forcefully, levelling slightly and meeting him evenly, despite the throbbing in my temples. 

"Why would we listen to you?" James said rudely. 

"Because this is important, please Sirius, don't and I mean any of you," I said looking at both of the other two. 

"We can't, Rem..." Pete started when Sirius gave him a low thump sending him a pointed look to be quiet. 

I still understood what he meant though and it was with that I rolled my eyes. "For god’s sake that's what I'm talking about! Don't go tonight, leave him to do it by himself," I said.

Sirius gave a snort. 

"Unlike some people Iris, we don't just..." He started. 

"Stop being so petty and listen for gods sake!" I snapped furiously. He stopped, looking slightly taken aback. 

"You'd rather put everything in danger than listen to me?" I said admittedly a little hurt. 

"I'm not putting anything in danger," He grumbled. I looked at him for a moment before turning to James. 

"Look, right now I don't give a shit how you feel about me or anything I've done but I'm trying to help. Keep Remus in tonight, don't roam the grounds, don't leave the shack," I said as calmly as I could. 

"What's going to happen?" He asked. 

I opened my mouth and closed it again. I...well...I didn't know really, I just knew that that tight feeling in my chest and stomach meant something...and the more I thought about it, the more ridiculous it seems. 

"I'm just asking you to trust me, please. If someone with foresight tells you not to do something, the logical thing would be not to do it, I shouldn't be any different," I said. 

James nodded, rubbing his neck. 

"Ok," He sighed. 

I looked at them once more before giving a slight nod and turning away. 


*


I remained seated, almost statuette as I heard them murmur to one another, the portrait hole swinging shut behind them. 

"That was too close," I heard James say, his voice unusually serious, wavering and splitting tiredly. 

"You shouldn't even..." Remus began but he was immediately cut off. 

"Yes we should, it's done more good than harm, right?" Sirius said. 

"Don't turn this into something stupid Moony, we're your best mates," James said. 

"...we should have listened to Iris though..." James said. 

"Yes. You should've done," I snapped into the darkness before lighting my wand. They of course all jumped, turning to stare at me. 

"Do you have any idea how...stupid that was?! Someone could have been killed! I warned you for a reason!" I said furiously. 

"Wh..." Remus began. 

"This has nothing to do with you, go to bed," I snapped. 

He opened his mouth but Peter gave him a gentle nudge. I don't think he really had the energy to protest and left shortly after.

"Not to listen to me, that's fine, you can go right ahead but when I TOLD YOU that something was going to happen and you IGNORE ME?! For what?! Your pride?!" I yelled angry beyond belief. 

"It wasn't..." Sirius started heatedly. 

"THEN FOR WHAT?!" I exploded. 

The silence rang through the air for a moment before Sirius turned to the others, murmuring something and they left shortly after. 

I just stood there, by the fireplace, watching them. 

"You'll wake up the entire house," He said eventually. 

"Don't avoid it, I want to know why you ignored me. You know everything I am and you come to the conclusion that I'm...I'm trying to trick you?" I said, my voice wavering ever so slightly. 

"He needed to get out, we..." Sirius sighed. 

"That's bullshit Sirius," I spat. 

"I know as well as you do he's fully capable of staying inside, he did it for years," I snapped. 

"You didn't give us a reason," He said and I don't think I'd ever wanted to hit someone more than I did then. 

"I didn't give...I DIDN'T GIVE YOU A FUCKING REASON?! WHAT OTHER REASON DO YOU WANT?!" I demanded. 

"See how it feels?" He said in a low voice. 

"What?" I said waspishly. 

"When you try help someone and they kick it back up in your face?" He murmured, watching the fire. 

"And that's why you did it? To give me a taste of my own medicine?" I said. 

"No, it wasn't our fault Iris, he's bloody strong," He said almost defensively. I looked at him for a moment before I shook my head and turned. 

"Fuck you Sirius, you know what fuck it," I said, holding my hands up. 

"Iris," He started as I started to walk away but I ignored him, grabbing my dressing gown off the sofa which was where he managed to grab my hand, pulling me to a stop. 

"Let go of me," I said calmly. 

"Nothing happened," He said forcefully. 

And that's where I about lost my rag. 

"BUT IT COULD HAVE DONE!" I yelled, shoving him away from me. 

"ANYTHING COULD HAVE HAPPENED!" I cried driving him further away from me. 

"I..." I started, poking him in the chest but he seemed to have tired of the whole thing because he irritably caught hold of my hand. 

"Let go," I snapped, pausing from my rant. 

"No," He retorted flatly. 

"I said...!" I started. 

"Will you just let me speak?!" He demanded. 

"Then let...go...of...me!" I snapped shoving him. 

"I told you nothing happened," He said forcefully. 

"YOU COULD HAVE DIED!" I cried. That shut him up. 

He stared at me, slowly allowing my hands to drop to my side again. 

"I was just trying to protect you Sirius," I breathed. 

"I don't understand what could be so hard to get about that? You helped me when I really needed it, I didn't forget so why accuse me of doing so? What do you get out of it? Does it make you feel better about it? If I'm a vengeful bitch than the whole Antony thing doesn't matter, is that it?" I murmured. 

"No," He snapped. 

I looked at him for a moment before breathing a sigh, running a hand over my face. 

"This is ridiculous," I muttered. 

"I didn't do it on purpose," He sighed. 

"Well isn't that nice to hear," I said a little sarcastically. 

There was a moment of silence before I spoke again. 

"You should go to bed," I said eventually. 

"Iris I didn't do it on purpose," He said seriously, ignoring me as he moved to catch my gaze. 

"I swear," He breathed. 

"I don't care anymore Sirius, you know what next time I'll just leave you to your own devices and whatever happens can happen," I said. 

"For...! Iris, I...do you have ANY idea what it's like trying to restrain him when he's like that?! Someone came too near to the shack and he caught their scent, ok? There wasn't enough space to manoeuvre him, there was nothing we could do until we got out. This has nothing to do with you! It was an accident," He said. 

"That accident could have got someone killed," I said. 

"Well what did you want me to do about it?! There was nothing I could gave done!" He said. 

"If you'd taken me seriously you would have secured the fucking place!" I snapped. 

"You know what THIS is why it was a problem. You have attitude problems Iris, everything you say it's like...I have no idea if it has a fucking double meaning or if you're just trying to get under my skin and you know when you do tell the truth you say it like you don't WANT people to believe you. We had no idea what we were up against Iris! We couldn't have prepared for that!" He said. 

"You could have barricaded..." I started. 

"THERE WAS NOTHING WE COULD HAVE DONE!!" He yelled. 

"THEN STOP ACCUSING ME OF BEING UNHELPFUL!" I cried. 

"Fine! You win this one! You were right! Is that what you want?!" He snapped. 

"Don't do that!!" I snapped. 

"Do what Iris?" He said. 

"Patronise me!" I snapped. 

"Why? 'cause you don't like it? S'pretty annoying isn't it?" He said so I slapped him and he just sort of...snapped I think. 

I just know I ended up pinned against the wall...and then somehow we were kissing. 

Pretty fiercely too. 

His hands were either side of my face, my back pressed against the wall as my thoughts turned to mush beneath his touch, every memory, every feeling slowly fading...but I didn't want to forget I reminded myself, that was the last thing I wanted, Antony...I couldn't cheat on him, I cared about him, I...

I'd pushed Sirius away before my mind had even really settled on the action, panting as I stared at him. 

There was just utter silence for a moment and I remained somewhat wide eyed, appalled by my own actions. Antony needed me and I was off snogging the crap out of other blokes? When I KNEW how I felt about him. 

"Iri..." He started but I ignored him, turning slowly and picking up my dressing gown once more. 

"Iris..." He tried again. 

"That's not happening again...ever. You have whores for that," I said quietly before climbing up the stairs to my dorm, pausing behind the soon closed door, letting out a long breath. 

Fantastic. 

Just. Great. 


*


To be honest, I don't think I'd ever really had to avoid anyone before but I discovered to be rather skilful, even if, for the most part, it involved ducking behind statues, slipping into the girls bathrooms (if I was fortunate enough to be near one) or, occasionally, simply making detours to avoid him. 
Funny how the person you don't want to see often becomes the one you see most often. 

"Urm...explain to me why we're hiding?" Hemera whispered as we remained crouched by the half wall of the courtyard. 

"Because," I huffed. 

"...because...?" She said. 

"Because," I reconfirmed. 

"I don't get who we're even avoiding," She said. 

"It doesn't matter...I think we can move now," I said after a moment of simply listening. 
I stayed still for a moment before crawling forward, eventually reached the other side, breathing a small sigh as I pushed a hand through my hair, grumbling quietly under my breath. 

"Are you going to tell me what happened?" She said amusedly as she caught up with me. 

"No," I said flatly. 

I wasn't really in the mood to be honest and I certainly didn't want to talk about. Saying it out loud would almost be confirming what I'd done and I didn't want to face it and I didn't want it to be true. I liked Antony, I really didn't want to be messing him around or anything like that. I wanted to be right for him. 

Bridgett was right and I guess so was Ace. Antony did deserve better and it was looking more and more likely that I'd be the one to fuck things up. 

I sighed again. 

And I had absolutely no idea what was going on with Ace either. I hadn't spoken to him since the argument over that stupid bloodstain, I'd barely even seen him at meals. 

"That bad?" She said. 

"Just leave it," I snapped before lengthening my strides, soon pulling away from her. 
I didn't really have anywhere to go or indeed know what it was I wanted to do but I soon found myself in the owlery, sitting in the small wooden seat by the corner of the window. 
I sat for a moment looking at the wintery scenes beyond the window before I moved my head into my hand, brushing my temples. 

"Idiot, you are the biggest idiot sometimes Iris," I muttered to myself before breathing a sigh and straightening up again conjuring a bit of parchment and some ink. I sat for a while, the quill simply poised above the page before I started, writing Antony in my usual thin slanted writing. 

I just...I needed to see him I guess, he was unbelievably busy and most probably stressed too seeing as the transition of taking over such a large thing wasn't exactly smooth. I told myself that it was because he most probably needed me, truth was I needed him. I had an idea of how to put it but it either sounded too demanding, too accusatory or too needy. So of course after several crossed out lines of writing I settled with 'are you free this weekend?' and after a further 10 minutes of waiting for some kind of inspiration, I finished it, tied it up and strapped onto one of those bloody birds. 

His reply came 5 days later with a hastily written apology, followed somewhat thoughtfully the next morning with a bunch of flowers and a post it note saying he'd do his best to be at Marie's party. 
It depressed me and cheered me up greatly at the same time. I probably didn't deserve flowers but I liked them and they made me feel special (as pathetically corny as that sounds), at least he was busy and still thinking of me as opposed to busy and suddenly uninterested. 

"Shouldn't he be spending more time worrying about the actual bank? I'm sure he could pick up another ho some other time," Katy said distastefully. 

"I think it's sweet," Lily said from where she sat on her bed. 

"Yeah but something not so sweet is people losing the money they've got stored in that bank," Katy replied pleasantly. 

"Piss off," I said as I lay back into the pillows, twirling one of the long stems between my fingers. 

"Plus he's more than capable," I replied. 

"Is that reference to him in bed or actual important things?" Katy snorted. 

"Shut up," I said rolling my eyes as I untucked the small book from beneath my pillow. 

*


"Darling! Iris darling! Are you in that bloody dress yet?!" Francesco said impatiently. 
"I only just started getting changed!" I cried in aggravation as I shimmied out of my skirt.

“The cakes ready!” Marie chimed happily from the other room.

“Now is not the time for cake darling!” Francesco snapped.

I rolled my eyes as I slipped on the dress, moodily trudging to the door.

“There,” I said flatly.

“Excellent...you can take it off now!” Francesco grinned seeming to lose interest the moment after clapping eyes on his ‘creation(!)’. I scowled before closing the door and slipping my dressing gown on. It was Marie’s party that evening and Francesco had of course made the decision that he was going to use me as a dress up doll again and ‘show those bloody bastards’ despite the former slander against his title having been recently removed.

I trudged back out to the kitchen where they were both sitting, Marie standing happily by the kitchen that, up until about a few days ago, she’d never realised she owned...despite the place being her main residence for so many years.

"They never look right," She complained.

"Well as long as they put a few more inches of fat round your middle it's all the same," Francesco said helping himself to some icing. Marie smacked him.

"How is Iris supposed to maintain healthy feelings towards food if you're constantly scare-mongering? We're supposed to be bringing up a well mentally balanced girl," Marie reprimanded.

"Those parenting books aren't doing you any good darling," Francesco sighed with an eye roll.

“And don’t make those feelings too healthy darling, else I’ll ship you off to a fat camp, I won’t have a fat daughter darling, I just won’t allow it,” He told me, waggling a finger at me sternly.

“Francesco! Iris darling we’ll love you know matter what happens,” Marie said in what I supposed she thought was an approximation of ‘motherly affection’.

Francesco shrugged.

“I just like to think Iris has ‘the skinny gene’. I do darling,” Francesco told the two of us somewhat proudly. Marie’s gaze flattened.

“Widdle, I honestly don’t know how you’ve got on so long without somewhat trying to shoot you. The things that come out of your mouth sometimes...they give the fashion industry a bad name,” She scolded. He gave a wave of his hand.

“It’s what everyone in the industry thinks, they’re just too high or too ‘grounded’ to say it,” He said.

My gaze simply flattened.

As I’ve said many times before (with the usual amount of sarcasm); you just can’t beat my ‘role models’.

“And in any case, I’ve learnt a great deal from my parenting books such as ‘how to talk about sexual relationships with my teen’,” Marie sniffed.

 "You don't need a book for that darling. Iris my dear, get as much of it as you possibly can while it's still good," He told me.

"No Francesco! We're supposed to be discouraging her!" She scolded.

"Why on earth would we do a thing like that? Darling we're going for well balanced," Francesco said.
I couldn't help but laugh at the two of them.

"Francesco," She said shortly.

"I am trying to ensure that she is decent," She said.

“What like you?” He said amusedly.

“Yes, as her sort of mother I would like to think so,” She said pleasantly.

"Steven Copper," Francesco coughed.

Marie narrowed her eyes at him.

"That was not..." She started.

"Thomas Aerie, Philip Davis, Roberto Carles, Martin..." He started listing them off on his fingers.

"I didn't sleep with Martin," She put in.

"Really?" he said.

"He's awful darling,” She said.

“Oh really?" He said.

“I am still here you know," I interjected

“So how many are you up to in your twenty something years?" Francesco said ignoring me.

"Well my last twenty something birthday I was up to 30,” She said.

Pfft, well that was bloody unlikely...

“Darling we both know it's far higher than that," Francesco said flatly.

“I'm going to go get ready," I put in after a moment or two.

“Oh yes! I didn't realise how late it was! I need to have a bath!" Marie cried.

Four hours later and we were only just nearing completion.

It took another 2 until we were all completely ready by which time the guests had began to arrive.
I was of course, as per usual, dragged around by Francesco for the first half hour or so, so that he could shamelessly boast about the beauty of his dresses etc etc admittedly my reflection was pretty pleasing but it was still a little on the tiring side. I was however soon preoccupied with my annoyance at discovering Mary and Elsa had arrived but by some horrid twist of fate found myself having to talk to them, all three of us flashing a whole host of hideously false smiles to please the horribly unaware audience. It was a while before I saw Antony and promptly excused myself from the small group around me.

"You're late," I chuckled softly.

He jumped and turned.

“Oh...Iris, there you are,” He said. 

I studied him for a moment before speaking. 

“Are you alright?" I asked gently, dropping my voice slightly. 

He nodded.

“Of course,” He replied softly before kissing my cheek.

“I didn’t think you were going to make it,” I said quietly.

“I promised didn’t I?” He said softly. I smiled.

“So...would you like to dance Mr Noble?" I asked. He smiled. 

“Sure,” He replied holding out his hand for me. I took it before allowing him to lead me onto the dance floor. He was a little clumsier than usual but I guessed he was just tired, between work and the order I doubted he had much time for normal things like sleep.We stopped after a little while, joining another conversation and I could feel Antony glance at me every so often but every time I attempted to meet his gaze he simply looked away.I frowned slightly but continued the conversation none the less, he seemed a little...distracted.

“I...Iris may I speak to you?" He said eventually. I smiled, nodding at the others before following him out although I couldn't stop the slight anxiety. Was there something wrong?
We moved through the hall in silence, leading me into the drawing room and from there onto the balcony.

He seemed to relax a bit after that, leaning against the wrought iron railing and I followed.

“Antony are you ok?" I said softly.

He looked at me before looking back over the city landscape, the lights twinkling from the different buildings as London lay mapped out before us.

“I...I've just been thinking,” He said finally.

“About?" I said.

“My dad, things in general. I'm letting things pass me by. I...Iris these past 2 months have been the best of my life,” He said turning towards me.

I could almost hear the 'but' ringing in the air. It didn't come though.

“I spend every day waiting to see you again, waiting for the weekend,” He said.

I smiled at him.

“So do I," I said softly.

“And...well..." he said before he shifted. I think my heart quite literally skipped a beat as he got down on one knee, pulling a small velvet box out of his top pocket.

“I know it's soon but, Iris Tear, will you marry me?" he said opening the lid, presenting the glittering diamond ring to me.

Oh. My. God.





Author's Notes: 

Dun, dun, dun! 

Sorry, couldn't help myself :P Well anyway, there's the cliffhanger for you, sorry if the chapter seems a little bitsy, I had to split the chapter in half and move things round a bit so that'd be why :P As always, reviews much appreciated! 


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