“There goes another Sunday,” I said ruefully as Molly and I rang the doorbell.
“You would have wasted it anyway,” Molly scoffed. “A day in bed doesn’t count as productive.”
“It does if it’s a duvet day, which Sunday is,” I argued, scuffing my boot on the stone step as we waited.
Aunt Ginny eventually let us in, and once again I was forced to marvel at how modest their house was; I would have thought with Uncle Harry never really having had his own home and Aunt Ginny never being rich, they would have used their fortunes to build a massive house. Instead, they had a perfectly normal four-bedroom house in a nice area and that was that. Then again, Uncle Harry had never struck me as the flashy type.
Molly and I were late, and as we reached the living room we could hear the whole family nattering away.
“So,” Ginny said, pouring us a couple of glasses of wine. “Audrey tells me you’ve got yourself a boyfriend, Rose?”
Bloody Audrey; she was such a Gossiping Gretel. “Yeah, I have,” I admitted grudgingly. I hoped she wasn’t going to ask me any prying questions; I was quite prepared to forget about Scorpius altogether for at least a day, but it looked like that wasn’t going to happen.
“Matthew, isn’t it?” Ginny pressed.
“What?” I faltered. Molly stifled a snigger beside me. “Oh, right. Yes.”
How long was I going to be able to keep up with this lie? The whole family probably knew by now and were arranging our wedding and it was all going to end up in a complete disaster. Poor Scorpius, he really had no idea what he was taking on as far as I was concerned.
“Well, I hope he makes you happy,” Ginny added, handing me my glass and trotting off to join the rest.
I looked at Molly guiltily. “I need to stop lying, don’t I?” I said sadly.
“It might be a good idea,” she agreed, sipping at her wine. “Scorpius might get a bit annoyed if he found out.”
I sighed. “I don’t think that would be a bad thing.”
Molly narrowed her eyes at me warningly, then grabbed my elbow and steered me towards where all the family were chatting. I didn’t have any feelings towards the whole thing at all; without Teddy here, I had nothing to focus my energies on. Instead, I could foresee an afternoon of drifting from relative to relative, telling them that my boyfriend was Matthew.
I spotted Dominique hovering uncomfortably in the doorway, and I nudged Molly. “We should go and say hello,” I said, pitying her a bit.
She forced a smile when we joined her, eyeing our glasses of wine enviably; in her own hands, she clutched an orange juice. “Happy Easter,” she said glumly.
“We came to say congratulations,” Molly said evenly as Dominique brushed a curtain of fair hair from her face.
“Thanks,” she said emotionlessly. “It’s all a bit scary, really.”
I resisted the temptation to ask her if she knew who the father was; after all, it really wasn’t any of my business who she slept with. I was just trying to imagine what the baby would look like. Naturally, Dominique was beautiful, but that would all go to waste if she’d slept with some minger and the poor baby would never know what it could have had looks-wise.
Molly seemed more knowledgeable about baby things, so I let her hold that conversation without interfering. Instead, I sipped at my wine absently and wondered how Victoire was taking the news. Part of me was secretly glad of this turn of events; I would bet more than anything that Victoire was jealous and more than a bit miffed that Dominique had stolen her ‘happily ever after’ thunder.
Suddenly, Dominique burst into tears. I glared at Molly, wondering what she’d said because I’d tuned out. She glared back at me, looping her arm around Dominique’s waist and leading her out of the room. Great, so that was how it was, was it? I saw what was going on here, they needed some cousin bonding time without me. So be it.
I wandered over to my other cousins, who were littered across various sofas and chairs. James was looking decidedly hungover, with a damp cloth pressed to his forehead and eyes tight shut.
“Rough night, James?” I asked as I joined them.
He groaned, nodding slightly. “I was working,” he managed. “There was this awards do I’m writing an article on. Lots of firewhiskey.”
Somehow, I sincerely doubted much work actually went on; not if the love bites on his neck were anything to go by, in any case.
Roxanne caught my eye, nodding and offering me a small smile. I would have to check that none of these people claiming to be my cousins were actually some randomers under polyjuice potion because they were all acting very strangely. I would have thought that Roxanne would return to her usual self after I refused to give her the job; then again, I did know her secret so it was in her best interests to keep me sweet.
There was a lull in our conversation as we all took a moment to consider our thoughts. Our parents chatted loudly amongst themselves, no doubt spreading the gossip faster than any of us could.
“I’m going to Australia,” were the words that interrupted our musings.
We all looked between each other blankly. “Australia?” Lily repeated. “That’s on the other side of the world, Fred.”
“I know,” Fred said impatiently, shifting uncomfortably in his armchair. “I want a fresh start somewhere new.”
I raised my eyebrows but didn’t comment. If truth be told, I didn’t really care where he went, as long as it wasn’t near me. He’d always been a whinge bag, so maybe him going to the other side of the world would cheer him up a bit and make his presence more tolerable when he returned.
Roxanne looked horrified. “What about Mum and Dad?”
“What about them?” He shrugged. “They’ll cope.”
I could see the cogs turning inside Roxanne’s head as she struggled to decide if this was a good thing or not; probably she was weighing up the consequences of Fred leaving against the consequences of her having dropped out of law school.
“We’ll miss you, Fred,” Louis offered, though I suspected no one else would actually miss Fred at all. He was a complete stick in the mud.
“When do you leave?” James asked weakly, not bothering to open his eyes.
“In two weeks.”
Bloody hell, my cousins were dropping like flies. If anyone else wanted to move to a warmer clime, I hoped it would be Roxanne; I liked pretty much everyone else who was left after that.
We lapsed into silence, again, everyone looking to the others for something to say. I caught Albus’ eye and jerked my head towards the door. He didn’t get the hint, looking at me through squinted eyes.
I sighed. “Don’t you think that looks like an interesting bird?” I asked him pointedly.
“What bird?” he said thickly.
Sighing again, I grabbed his arm and hauled him outside. “I was trying to be subtle. You’re hopeless.”
“Sorry,” he said, sitting down on the wooden bench against the wall of the house. “It’s a bit cold out here.”
“Man up,” I grumbled, joining him on the bench. “I have a problem.”
“Well, we all know that,” Albus said rudely.
“Shut up,” I huffed, poking him in the thigh. “As a man, you can help me with certain issues,” I began. “I need your help with Scorpius stuff.”
Albus raised his eyebrows. “You want my help?”
“Yes,” I said slowly. “I just said that, didn’t I?” He nodded and I worked out how to best phrase my problem. “Well, I don’t really understand Scorpius,” I said apprehensively. “He’s quite… full-on.”
“He likes you, that’s why,” Albus said blandly. “I would have thought that much would be obvious.”
“But it’s not just that,” I added. “I don’t … I don’t really want to … I only like him as a friend. I thought maybe I needed more time, but I can’t even stomach kissing him. I don’t know what to do.”
Albus nodded wisely, looking like a giant nodding owl. “You’re going to have to tell him.”
“I know,” I agreed sadly. “But I don’t want to hurt his feelings.”
I could imagine the scene now; I’d break it to him that any romantic efforts on his part made me want to throw up and then he’d start crying, exclaim “you’ll regret this, Rose Weasley” and then murder me with a bar of soap whilst I slept. Then, he’d smother my body in hair gel and mummify me and keep me in his shrine of me. Hey, it could happen.
“There’s no way around it,” Albus said. He pushed his glasses back up his nose. “It’s either tell him now or go along with it and tell him later and hurt him more.”
I groaned. This conversation with Scorpius was going to be the most embarrassing of my life, there was no doubt about it. “How do I tell him?”
“Just be honest, for once,” Albus said archly. “That’s all you can do. He’ll probably respect you more if you do tell him the truth. Then he’ll be free to go and terrorise some other poor girl.”
I moved some gravel around with my toe. “You’re right, of course,” I sighed. “I’ll tell him this week. Thanks, cuz.”
“You’re welcome. Have you talked to Molly about this?”
“She said I should give him a chance,” I admitted. “But I just can’t. I’d be lying to myself and to him. It’s not fair.”
Albus nodded, patting my hand sympathetically. We sat in silence, watching the wind rustle through the trees of the garden.
I did trust Molly, but this once I couldn’t take her advice. This thing with Scorpius was causing me way too much stress, it wasn’t worth it. I’d rather be single than have to deal with him and my issues every day. She probably just wanted me to be happy, but being happy wasn’t working out so far so I’d stick with what I knew and be alone.
“Rose? Albus?” Molly was calling from the door. “Come inside, we’re about to eat.”
We dutifully followed her inside, where a large table had been stretched and spanned the length of the hallway. Ginny had cooked us an amazing roast lunch, which we all tucked into hungrily.
“I’ve decided I’m going to call it a day with Scorpius,” I informed Molly in a low voice.
“What?” She looked surprised. “I thought we agreed you’d give him a chance?”
“I have, I tried to,” I said quietly, for fear of being overheard. “But there’s no point in denying it any longer. I’ll tell him tomorrow, I think. He’s sweet, but… I don’t fancy him.”
“You’re so picky,” Molly said sniffily, nibbling on a roast potato. “Not long ago you were moaning that no men liked you; now you’re moaning that someone does like you.”
“I shouldn’t just throw myself at the first man that comes along,” I said grumpily. “Scorpius and I are better as friends. He’ll make someone else very happy, I’m sure.”
“You’re never happy,” she grumbled.
“I am!” I denied. “I’m happy right now, actually. I feel better for having decided that.”
Molly rolled her eyes. “Well, you did say he was a big Lockhart fan. You’re probably better off without him.”
She grinned and I laughed, knowing that at the end of the day this fact held far more importance than it should have done. It was the little things with Scorpius that made him completely ridiculous and the bigger things that quite frankly made him creepy. I felt like a massive weight had lifted off my shoulders now that I knew I didn’t have to pretend to like him anymore.
“Who are you better off without?” Lucy leaned around Molly and peered at me.
“None of your business,” Molly snapped. “Bugger off.”
Lucy looked highly affronted at this display of sisterly aggression. “Mum!” she cried. “Molly swore at me!”
I rolled my eyes, considering burying my head in the gravy. What was it about siblings that made everyone act like they were seven years old again?
“Molly,” Aunt Audrey scolded from across the table. “What have I told you about that filthy habit?”
“She was being nosey,” Molly said with an exasperated shrug. “She shouldn’t earwig.”
“I wasn’t,” Lucy said, bashing her shoulder into Molly’s. “I’m worried about Rose.”
The conversation was starting to lull and I really wished they’d all keep their voices down.
“What’s the matter with Rose?” Aunt Angelina asked, peering round Lucy to look at me.
“Nothing,” I said tetchily at the same time as Hugo yelled, “lots!”
Uncle Bill cleared his throat loudly and pitched in. “I’m sure this isn’t helping whatever the matter is,” he said heavily. “Rose will speak to us when she’s ready.”
“There’s nothing the matter!” I insisted, but nobody looked like they believed me.
Louis, who was sat next to me, patted my back sympathetically. “There, there,” he offered lamely.
“I’m fine,” I snapped.
“There’s no need to get worked up, Rosie,” Mum soothed from the other end of the table.
The conversation had completely ceased at this point and everyone was watching me with pitiful looks on their faces.
“I’m not getting worked up!” I yelled, glaring at anyone who dared to look at me (which was everyone). Molly patted my thigh under the table, presumably to calm me down but it didn’t work. “You’re all putting words in my mouth. Stop interfering!”
Silence; I looked down at my plate, realising that none of them had ever seen me lose my temper. I was normally so quiet and placid, they expected nothing else. Fred’s mouth was hanging open, his roast potatoes on show for everyone to see.
“We’re only concerned, Rose, dear,” Gran said softly into the silence.
“Yeah,” Lucy said indignantly. “So tell us who you’re better off without.”
“My boyfriend, okay?” I roared. “Now leave me alone.”
“What boyfriend?” I heard my Dad growl from next to my Mum.
“How many boyfriends as she got?” James yelled irritably.
“What a slag,” Louis added.
“Shut up, all of you,” I thundered, getting up from the table and marching off. “It’s none of your business!”
And, with that, I flounced out of the house, marching along the street in the cold as fast as I could. The bloody nerve of my relatives, it was unbelievable! They thought everything was their business, whether or not it was embarrassing for me or not. My cheeks were burning up as it was, and it took me a long time to calm down enough to Disapparate.
When I got home, I saw that Boris had just made a pot of tea. I poured myself a cup and sagged into an armchair. My boss looked up from the newspaper he was reading and raised an eyebrow.
“You look like you’ve had a bad day,” he said shrewdly.
“You could say that,” I grumped, draining my tea in one and going off to raid the kitchen for biscuits. “I bloody hate my family.”
“At least you have a family,” he said forlornly, his eyes brimming with tears. Oh bloody fantastic; was I the most tactless person ever to walk the planet? Probably not, but I was having a good go at it. “Nobody loves me.”
“Err,” I said awkwardly. “I love you, Boris.” Well, at least I got to say it to someone, I supposed; it was better than nobody.
He sniffled, blowing his nose on a giant floral hankie. “You’re just saying that,” he mumbled.
“I’m not,” I replied. “You’re a great boss, when you’re not having a mid-life crisis.” What the hell was I doing? I couldn’t just announce an engineered love for my boss; if I’d learned anything over the last few months it was that I gave everybody the wrong impression of me without even trying.
“Thanks, Rose,” he said thickly. “You’re a good employee. You saved the shop, you know,” he said in a mock whisper. “I thought we were going to have to shut down. But you saved us.”
I blushed, deciding to top up the pot of tea in order to break the awkward love-fest that was going on between us. I really needed some more female friends before my life spiralled out of control and I was left surrounded by weird men who were surprisingly needy. Boris smiled widely at me as I poured us both another cup of tea. At least my presence had cheered him up a bit, which was more than could be said usually.
When Molly returned a couple of hours later, she looked frazzled. “I can’t believe you just abandoned me like that,” she said haughtily. “They grilled me for ages about Scorpius – I’ve only just escaped.”
“What did you tell them?”
“Not a lot,” she said, helping herself to my cup of tea. “Just that he’d been stalking you for years and you misguidedly found it attractive but you’ve wised up now.”
I shook my head in disbelief, but decided that I’d had enough of arguing for one day. “Thanks,” I said sarcastically. “You’re a great friend.”
“Well, it’s sort of true, isn’t it?” she said with a shrug.
Well, she did have a point, but I wasn’t going to lose sleep over it. I’d go and see Scorpius in the next few days, explain everything and life could go back to how it was before.
“Oh,” I started, suddenly remembering. “What did you do to make Dominique cry?”
Molly raised her eyebrows. “That wasn’t my fault,” she said indignantly. “She’s scared for the future, as you can understand. I took her outside for a chat.” I grunted, deciding that the matter wasn’t that interesting after all. Of course she was scared, but as far as I was concerned she should have kept her legs together if she didn’t want a baby. Molly poked me. “I know that face,” she accused. “Don’t be so insensitive. Everyone makes mistakes.”
“Yeah, I know,” I conceded, looking over at Boris. I still hadn’t discovered what had happened between him and his wife for him to be chucked out over it. Then again, I didn’t see what business it was of mine (except that I was sharing Molly’s bed whilst he had mine).
Perhaps I was being a bit harsh on Dominique; it wasn’t like I was perfect. My mind went to Scorpius, who would surely be spending the week crying because of the mistakes I’d made. Bloody brilliant, I was the bad guy again. How did I end up in these situations so often?
AN: Thanks once again for the reviews and reads! I love you all :)