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Chapter 20 : It's Not Me, It's You
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Molly glared at me as I stood in front of her mirror, repeating sentences over and over to myself. She probably didn’t really appreciate me chanting rubbish at myself at seven in the morning, but I needed to rehearse what I was going to tell Scorpius later. We already had plans to meet for lunch, but I’d also planned to dump him then too. I was going to be a nervous wreck all morning.
“It’s not you, it’s me,” I repeated. I tried to look apologetic, but ended up looking pained. I rearranged my face. “It’s not me, it’s you – no, wait, that’s not right…”
Sighing, I gave up. At the end of the day, there was no way around saying “I think you’re too weird for me to fancy” or “your romancing techniques nauseate me”. Hopefully he wouldn’t decide to murder me after the day was out.
When I was dressed, I knocked on my bedroom door to see if Boris was ready for work. He actually was, for once; he sat fully dressed on the end of my bed, clearly waiting for me. He even seemed more cheerful.
We got to work reasonably early and set to work on preparing the shop for the day. I’d missed having Boris around, even for doing menial tasks like cleaning the kitchenette.
“Boris,” I began hesitantly.
“Yes?” He boiled the kettle and started pouring the tea.
“Why did your wife ask you to leave?” It wasn’t that I was being nosey (except I was), but I really wanted to know why he had to leave and if she’d ever take him back. He couldn’t live with me for the rest of his life.
“She thinks I’m having an affair,” he wailed miserably.
“Oh,” I said, drawing out the vowel. “And are you?”
Boris looked at me blankly. “She thinks I’m having an affair with you.”
“What?” I spluttered indignantly. Oh, well this was a whole new level of shit. Boris’ wife probably hated me and I’d gone and made everything a million times worse because he was now staying at my house. “What did you say to her to make her think that?” This was entirely his fault; there was no way I could have done anything to give her that impression; I’d never even met her for goodness’ sake.
“I talk about you quite a lot outside of work,” he admitted bashfully. “I think I gave her the wrong impression.”
“Have you denied it?” I demanded, getting quite panicky. I didn’t want to be that “other woman”. Everyone always hated the other woman and I didn’t want anyone to hate me.
“Of course I have!” he cried. “She doesn’t believe me. She thought I gave you the promotion because I’m sleeping with you.” He looked as embarrassed as I felt.
“This is a disaster,” I said hysterically. “She’s going to press charges for something or other and I’ll have to go to Azkaban and no one will visit me because they’ll think I was the other woman. I’m not the other woman, Boris!”
“I know, I know,” he said apologetically. “I’ll sort it.”
“How are you going to sort it?” I ranted. “You haven’t even spoken to her since last week!” I tried to breathe properly in order to calm myself down. “You can’t stay at mine, you’ll have to leave.”
Boris looked horrified. “Leave? Where will I go?”
I groaned. “I don’t care. It was completely irresponsible of you to stay at mine, given the situation. You could have at least told me what was going on.”
“I’m sorry,” he said, tears swimming in his eyes. “Please forgive me.”
“Just-” I began disbelievingly. “Just sort it.”
We lapsed into silence for the rest of the morning, leaving me with my nagging thoughts and worries. As if I didn’t already have enough on my plate; now Boris had just gone and added an extra-large bag of chips to it. How could his wife even think that? I was at least thirty years younger than Boris; it didn’t even bear thinking about. What should I do? I was considering going to speak to Boris’ wife myself, but then I would have to admit that I let Boris stay at my flat for the last week and she’d probably get even more mad.
By the time lunchtime arrived, I was a mess. Boris’ news had sent me into a nervous panic and the fact that I had to inform Scorpius of my problems today didn’t help at all. When he skipped through the shop door to collect me, I was shaking.
“You look terrible,” Scorpius stated, eyeing my trembling hands.
“I’m fine,” I lied, sticking my hands in my pockets so he couldn’t see them. “Shall we go?” My voice had become alarmingly high-pitched.
He looped his arm through mine and we skipped off up the street to grab something to eat.
“Today is a good day,” he declared, tucking into a pie. He did look particularly happy today, which wasn’t helping with my nerves. I waited until he’d finished his lunch (so that he wouldn’t choke) before I broke the news.
“Scorpius,” I started, and then stopped awkwardly. Even after all my practice this morning, I didn’t know how best to phrase it.
“Mm?” he inquired curiously.
“We need to talk,” I blurted out, cringing at the cliché phrase. My words wiped the smile off his hair-gelled face immediately.
“Oh,” he mumbled. “Do we?” There was an almost hopeful note in his voice. I felt like such an evil person; I tried not to cry.
“Yes,” I said firmly, though my voice was still two octaves too high. “We do.” We lapsed into silence as Scorpius waited for me to speak. I was having difficulty making words, unfortunately, which left me looking like a goldfish. “This isn’t working.” I gestured between us.
“It isn’t?” Oh, poor Scorpius. What was I doing to him? He looked so forlorn and hurt.
“No,” I mumbled. “I… It’s not me, it’s you. I mean-” Oh bugger. “I mean, I don’t – I can’t…” This was not going well. I needed help, of the mental kind. “I don’t love you.” There, that would do it.
“You don’t love me?” Please don’t cry, Scorpius. I couldn’t handle it if you cried… He was crying. This was so embarrassing; we were right in the middle of a pub. People would start to stare and then point at me and accuse me of sleeping with their wives and then they’d throw me into a cell in Azkaban and I’d die there, lonely and ashamed.
“I’m sorry,” I said, offering him a tissue. He blew his nose loudly. “I’ve tried, I promise. I just think we’re better as friends.”
“Friends,” he repeated, blubbering all over the tissue. “Only friends.”
“Yes,” I said sadly. “I’m really sorry. You’re a great guy, just not for me.”
I needed to shut my mouth; I was making everything worse. He was now sobbing hysterically.
“What did I do wrong?” he moaned loudly.
“It was the hair gel,” I said honestly, trying to make a joke. He just looked at me darkly and clutched his hair. Then, he sobbed some more.
“Nobody loves me,” he cried dramatically. “I’ll be alone forever.”
He probably would be if he didn’t stop this ridiculous behaviour. I felt the eyes of everyone else in the pub on us and I blushed. This was so bloody mortifying; I had to get out. Throwing a bunch of sickles on the table, I apologised and left as quickly as I could.
It could have gone worse, I supposed. At least he hadn’t clung to me as I left, or proposed to me in a wild bid to stop me leaving. Saying no to the only marriage proposal I was ever likely to get would have been very hard.
I heard footsteps clattering behind me as I made my way back to work. Turning, I saw Scorpius running towards me as if in slow motion (whether he was just running weirdly or my mind slowed everything down I was unsure) and when he reached me he fell to his knees and grabbed my legs.
“Don’t do this, Rose,” he sobbed into my shins. “I love you, I can’t be alone.”
Bloody hell, this was embarrassing. I looked around and glared at anyone who dared to look at us. If I was honest, him not wanting to be alone was not a good enough reason to love me. I was beginning to wonder if that’s all I had ever been to him – his best chance at finding a companion.
“Scorpius, stop it,” I said awkwardly, trying to pull my legs free. I ended up tumbling backwards and ending up on the ground with him. “Look what you’ve done!”
“Now we can be together,” he said with a grin, climbing towards me.
I pushed him away. “You’re mental,” I shrieked. “Look at yourself! This is why I can’t be with you, ever. You’re just too weird and intense.”
He pulled the tissue out of his sleeve and started sobbing again. “At least I’m not cruel, Rose Weasley.”
That was a bit harsh! I shuffled backwards away from him and stood up. “I’m sorry,” I said again. “Goodbye, Scorpius.”
Did leaving him sobbing alone in the middle of Diagon Alley make me cruel? Probably, I admitted, but I had to get away from him before he kidnapped me or something. Shuddering at the thought, I ran into the shop and locked the door.
Matthew, who had been serving a customer, glanced over at me, looking alarmed. He tilted his head towards the customer, raising his eyebrows at my hand on the lock. Nodding, I unlocked the door and retreated to behind the counter. Locking customers in the shop wasn’t a particularly clever idea.
I managed to keep myself composed with a fake smile on my face until after the customers had gone. Then, I started crying miserably. I was a horrible person; I’d handled that in the worst way possible.
“What’s wrong?” Matthew asked, bringing me a cup of tea and a biscuit. I appreciated the gesture, seeing as he didn’t even like biscuits.
“I am so embarrassed,” I managed to choke out, brushing ugly tears away. “I shouldn’t be allowed out in public.”
Matthew frowned. “What happened?”
“I dumped Scorpius,” I mumbled through my tears. “He didn’t take it very well.”
My cheeks turned red at the thought. I’d go and see if he was still there on the cobbles when I left work later, but for now I didn’t want to see him ever again. How could I have even thought we could be friends after all of that? I should have known he was going to kick off. He was completely incapable of acting like a normal person, even in public. I’d let the situation escalate this much myself, I was a nincompoop.
“Poor guy,” Matthew said sympathetically, looking sorry for Scorpius a bit until I glared at him pointedly. “I mean, I’m sure he’ll get over it. You were too good for him.”
“Thanks,” I said, eyeing up the next lot of customers that had walked into the shop. “Is Boris around?”
“He’s crying in his office, I think,” Matthew said sagely. “Is everything okay?”
I groaned, burying my face in my hands. “Not really,” I muttered. “His wife thinks he’s been having an affair. With me.”
I looked up to see Matthew’s eyebrows almost shoot off his face. “Ah,” he managed eventually. “I’m assuming that’s not true?”
“Of course it’s not bloody true,” I said bitterly. “But no matter what I do, I’m only going to make the situation worse. In the meantime, Boris is crying his eyes out instead of fixing this damn mess.”
“Oh dear,” Matthew offered unhelpfully.
I sighed, putting on a smile briefly to serve the customers who had approached the till. When they’d gone, I lay a hand on Matthew’s arm, an attempt to console him. “We’re not this mental usually, I promise. Boris is a bit of a nutcase at the moment, unfortunately.”
“I got that impression,” Matthew agreed.
I excused myself and headed upstairs to see if I could help Boris. I knocked on his door, hearing him stifle a few sobs before spluttering, “come in.”
The office was an absolute mess; the blinds were shut, casting a gloomy dusty light over the surfaces, which were covered in used tissues. In the middle of some ruffled paperwork sat Boris, sobbing into his sleeve.
“Boris,” I barked, causing him to look up, startled. His eyes were watery and bloodshot and I suspected he’d actually been there for hours. “Get up. You can’t spend your life in here – you need to sort this out.”
“I don’t know how,” he moaned.
I waved my wand and the blinds flew open; Boris winced at the sudden sunshine. Then, I quickly tidied the room until I could reach him without treading on anything. “You can start by telling your wife the truth.” He made to interrupt me but I held my hand up. “I don’t care what it takes, make her believe you, because until you do you’re going to be homeless.”
“Homeless?” he repeated with a sniffle. He was honestly even worse than Scorpius sometimes. I’d completely had enough of pathetic men for one day.
“Yes,” I said forcefully. “I want you gone by the time I get home this evening. Sort your marriage out.”
“You can’t do that,” he panicked. “I haven’t got anywhere to go!”
“Go home,” I said through gritted teeth. “If this “affair” is the only problem your wife has then this can be explained away. Grow a backbone.”
Oh, the irony of the situation. I was being an adult, giving responsible advice and the one in control. Usually it was me moaning or avoiding doing something difficult and unpleasant, but no, I was telling someone thirty years my senior how to live his life. What a strange turn of events; my mother would be so proud.
Boris continued to sniffle but I had to leave him to it; I had a job to do, something which Boris often forgot. I calmed myself briefly before heading downstairs again, deciding that I’d need to treat myself somehow this weekend in order to make up for having such a stressful week. It was a shame it was only Monday.
Matthew had started re-alphabetising the textbook section ready for when the students went back to Hogwarts after the Easter holidays and I joined him as we sat surrounded by piles of books.
“You look like you could do with some time off,” he said as I tried to calm my heartbeat. I had to admit, I was exhausted.
“I can’t,” I said evenly. “Not with Boris in his current state. After firing that last assistant we had, that leaves me with only you and Boris to look after the shop when I’m gone. It’s not fair to burden you with it as a result of my problems.”
Matthew frowned. “When was the last time you took time off?”
I laughed. “I’ve never taken time off.”
He looked horrified, and I hoped he didn’t assume that meant he couldn’t have his paid holiday either. “What - never? How long have you worked here?”
“Oh, years,” I said with a dismissive wave of my hand. “I don’t want to take time off, I love working here. I’ve never really had a reason to take any time off, anyway.”
Matthew shook his head, passing me a stack of new editions of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them to stick back on the shelf. “You’re crazy.”
“The place would fall apart if I wasn’t here,” I reasoned, stacking the books neatly. “Boris isn’t exactly the most reliable boss.”
Matthew said nothing in response to that, though I shouldn’t have expected him too. He’d barely been working with us two weeks; he was probably waiting for Boris to return to his normal self before he judged him. Or, at least, I hoped that was the case.
When five o’clock eventually arrived, I headed home in the hope that Boris had moved his stuff out of my room. The flat was empty when I got there, and Boris’ stuff was nowhere to be seen. Relieved, I sagged onto the sofa, waiting for Molly to get home. Putting my feet up on the coffee table, I knocked a bundle of letters onto the floor. Sighing, I picked them up, flicking through them to see if there was anything for me. There was one, my name written neatly on the envelope in unfamiliar handwriting. I opened it curiously.
I’m sorry that it’s taken me so long to write to you – moving to a foreign country proved to be more time-consuming than I’d anticipated. I’m currently job-hunting, without much luck seeing as most people here expect me to speak French. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m starting to miss England a bit – only a bit, mind.
Fleur’s parents told us you got promoted at work – congratulations! I hope things are continuing to look up for you and luck is on your side. If you need a break from all this hard work you’re doing, the offer for you to visit us still stands. It’d be great to see you.
I stared at the letter for a good ten minutes, rereading every word with a silly grin on my face. He hadn’t forgotten me at all, he’d just been busy! I clutched the letter to my chest, stood up on the sofa and danced happily.
“Rose, what are you doing?” Molly said from the doorway.
Jumping down, I thrust the letter at her, smiling broadly. “He wrote to me!” I sang.
Molly scanned the parchment, her eyebrows raised. “Well, that’s a bit out of the blue,” she muttered, handing it back to me. “You’re not going to go, are you?” She looked doubtfully at me as I skipped around the room joyously.
“I don’t know,” I said, stopping by the kettle. I stuck it on to boil and leant against the kitchen counter. “Do you think I should go?”
At that moment, there was a thump against the living room window. Molly and I turned to look at where the noise had come from and came face to face with Scorpius, who had his face squished up against the windowpane.
“He didn’t take it well, then,” Molly observed shrewdly.
I shooed him away crossly, pointing my wand at him until he got the message and left, leaving a Scorpius-shaped smear against the glass. “No,” I said irritably. “I shall never speak of what happened so that I can erase it from my memory. And Boris has moved out because he failed to tell me that his wife thinks we’re having an affair.”
“Are you?” she asked.
I frowned. “No,” I said through gritted teeth. “Why does everyone always assume the worst?”
“You always look guilty,” Molly said with a shrug. I made us both a cup of tea and joined her on the sofa. “It’s your expression.”
“Thanks,” I muttered sarcastically. “What do you think I should do?”
“Teddy,” I reminded her, brandishing the letter. “I need a break from all the drama; why don’t I go and visit?”
“That would be avoiding drama how?” she asked sceptically. “I think that’s a recipe for rejection and embarrassment. Nothing good could possibly come of it.”
“That would be no different from staying here,” I argued, rereading Teddy’s letter yet again. “Except that he’s invited me to go. It would be rude not to accept.”
Molly rolled her eyes. “I think it’s a bad idea, Rose. I’m normally right about these things, listen to me.”
“Well, I think it’s a good idea,” I said decisively. “I’ll go in a couple of weeks. That’ll give Boris time to sort his marriage out and cover my shifts.”
“Rose…” Molly warned. “Don’t go.”
I sighed. “Why not?”
“You can’t just run away from everything. It will all catch up with you eventually,” she said grimly.
“I need a holiday,” I said. “You’re not going to change my mind.”
Molly shook her head sadly. “Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
I grinned, taking this as her approval and started to rummage around the kitchen for some fresh parchment. She was always so negative; I was going to be fine. I could take care of myself, if that was what she was worried about. Never mind all the pessimism - I was going to France!
AN: Thank you once again for the reviews! You guys all make my day ♥ If you're enjoying this, keep an eye out for my new Next Gen fic 'Saturdays', which is now up! Hopefully you'll like that too :D
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