Chapter 14 : Chapter 14
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I usually didn’t care what I wore, or tried to look feminine. I certainly hadn’t with Scorpius, and as much as I felt that no one could date someone like me, I hadn’t truly tried to change my appearance.
Now, faced with the prospect of dating a man a few years older than me, and a Muggle, I apparently felt the need to look nice. It had been a long few hours, but now, staring back at me in the mirror, was a fairly well-mannered image.
I was wearing a dress, which was new. It was black, but classy. I’d even pulled out heels (old and battered, but he didn’t need to know that). I’d done my makeup and hair, and could safely say that I looked respectable.
It was a bloody miracle.
The clock slowly approached seven, and I wandered about the house, trying to distract myself. I’d already gone around and hidden anything that was obviously magical, which had taken quite a while, surprisingly. My wand was stashed in my bag, which was, as always, outfitted with an undetectable extension charm. I had both Muggle and wizarding money on me, just in case.
I was ready. Well, I hoped I was.
I spent a few more minutes pacing around the house, but eventually, there was a crisp knock on my front door. Turning slowly, I stared at the wooden barrier for several moments.
He was on the other side of that door. My date.
The word seemed foreign in my mind. Dating. It was a completely different world.
Slowly, I pulled the door open after having done a thorough check of my appearance. My hair was flat, my makeup wasn’t smudged, and my dress was without wrinkles. It was time.
“Hi,” I said as maturely as I could as I smiled at him.
He smiled back, so obviously I’d pulled that off. Score one for me.
“You ready to go?” he said, offering me his arm.
I blinked, taking in the car parked behind him. We were driving somewhere, it seemed. That was new.
“Okay,” I said meekly, grabbing my bag, and closing my door behind me.
I turned, pretending to lock it with my keys when really I was using my wand. I was careful to hide it from him, and turned back with a smile on my face.
“Where are we going?” I asked as he escorted me to the car and opened the door for me, like a perfect gentleman.
Rather unlike Scorpius, I must say. Phillip was certainly mature and knew what he was doing.
“Oh, just a restaurant in one of the neighbouring towns. I hope you like Italian food?” he asked as I slid into my seat.
I nodded in reply, and he closed my door and headed around the car to his side. I was a little overwhelmed at his attitude – he was so polite and charming, but at the same time, it was a little boring. So far he’d done everything perfectly.
I sat back and waited for him to start the car, deciding to wait and see.
“So, Rose, do you follow cricket?”
We were only about twenty minutes into this whole ‘dating’ thing, and I’d already decided I hated it. I’d had to lie to answer almost every single question he’d asked me, and the restaurant itself was a stuffy place, and completely wrong for me. Yes, I was dating, but I was dating like an adult. I wanted spontaneity and laughter, and stupid drunk escapades.
“Ah, no, sorry I don’t,” I said, which was, for once, a truthful answer.
I grabbed the glass of water in front of me and gulped, sighing. He’d said ‘drinks’ with the possibility of food when he’d asked me out. I hadn’t, not once, pictured a restaurant in our evening plans. To be fair it wasn’t a posh place, and was full of families (noisy things, rather irritating), but it was still far from what I’d been expecting.
“What about football?”
God, this evening was just going from bad to worse. Sure, he was a nice enough guy, but we had absolutely nothing in common. I couldn’t imagine how people dated Muggles, or married them, there was just too much of a difference in our cultures. You’d have to keep a massive secret from your significant other for a long time, and risk them freaking out when you did reveal it.
I didn’t think I could do that. Yet, people clearly did, and I was rather impressed with those who’d managed it.
“Err…I’m not really into sports,” I said lamely, looking around at the other people in the restaurant, begging for a distraction or diversion or, well, anything to get me out of this situation.
“Oh,” he responded, and I could tell I’d killed the conversation.
Funnily enough, I didn’t care. I wanted this to be over, quickly. I’d thought it would be a good distraction from Scorpius. Boy, had I been wrong.
I fiddled with my napkin, I readjusted my cutlery, I took two trips to the bathroom in twenty minutes – none of it helped.
At some point, there was a shrill ringing noise coming from Phillip’s jacket pocket. I refrained from sighing in relief at the distraction, though I desperately wanted to.
“Excuse me,” he said with an apologetic smile, grabbing his phone from his pocket and walking away from the table.
I sighed, fighting the temptation to run from the table, and from this disastrous date, while he was gone. However, that would be rude and immature, and whilst Hogwarts age Rose would have done that, I liked to think I wouldn’t act that way now.
It was still rather tempting, however.
A few minutes passed, and I drummed my fingers on the table in an erratic rhythm. The family at the table next to mine kept looking at me oddly – I suppose Phillip running out to answer the phone and my pissed off look weren’t a winning combination.
I turned my head to see where he’d gotten to, finding him standing on the other side of the restaurant’s glass front window, standing on the pavement animatedly talking into the phone. I couldn’t quite tell what was going on, but he looked frustrated.
I watched, curious, as he hung up the phone, running a hand through his hair anxiously, and hurried back inside. He didn’t pull out his seat and resume the awkward conversation, as I’d thought he would. No, instead, he pulled his jacket off the back of the chair, pulled out his wallet and dumped some money on the table, before shrugging the jacket on.
“Something’s happened at the school. I’m not sure what, but it’s an emergency of some kind. We need to go.”
I sat there blinking at him, my brain slowly catching up. Emergency at the school. On a Saturday night.
That didn’t sound good.
We hurried to Phillip’s car, and I couldn’t help but wish I could have apparated instead, it was a lot faster.
That was out of the question, however, so I settled for jiggling my foot up and down anxiously in the car for the whole drive. Anticipation and nerves were so much worse when you had to drive somewhere, and wait. I hated it. I suppose I was spoiled by magic in that way, everything was at my fingertips. Patience was not something many witches and wizards had to learn a lot of.
I could sense that something was up a couple of blocks away from the school. The complex was lit up, a clear sign that something was happening. As we drew closer, I could see Muggle police cars parked around the school, along with what looked like half the town. When things like this happened, word apparently travelled fast. Everyone was curious and wanted to see and be a part of the drama.
“What happened?” I gasped as we pulled up to the curb.
Phillip just looked at me and shrugged, before stopping and turning off the car. He darted off without waiting for me, so I took my time standing up and getting out of the car, surveying the scene carefully.
The police were everywhere, clearly some sort of crime had been committed. I could see other teachers hovering about, and it wasn’t long before Penelope came (or more accurately, waddled, because of her ever-growing belly) over to me.
“I need you to help me with the classroom, Rose, to check that everything’s still there,” she said hurriedly, grabbing my arm and heading to the building.
I blinked. Why did we need to check the classrooms? I could see other staff doing the same.
“Why?” I asked simply, and I could see she was surprised.
I would guess she had thought I already knew what was going on. It didn’t surprise me that I was once again out of the loop when it concerned Edgeston Primary School, however.
“There’s been a break in,” she said quickly, and a chill went over me.
A break in. Somehow, I doubted this was a Muggle crime.
“Any suspects?” I said after a moment’s silence.
Penelope sent me a quizzical sideways glance, clearly she didn’t expect me to be asking such questions.
“None. No signs of forced entry either, according to the police.”
That wasn’t good. That information only served to solidify my hypothesis, that this wasn’t a Muggle crime. I already knew the traders were after me and Sophia. What better place to find information than the school? I could be wrong, however, but I resolved to snoop around carefully, to see what was missing.
I had a feeling nothing apart from the official records and our classroom would have been touched.
Not surprisingly, I was right. In the classroom, Penelope’s desk was uprooted and had been gone through. Nothing had been taken, as far as we could tell. The front office also reported that nothing had been taken, though all the records had clearly been rifled through.
I suspected a geminio charm, it would have been easy for them to duplicate whatever they wanted to take. Clearly whoever these guys were, they knew enough about the Muggle world not to leave fingerprints.
“Nothing’s missing,” I reported to Penelope, who conceded.
The police quickly wrapped everything up, and I returned home, as did everyone else. I could sense the tense atmosphere of my neighbours, everyone was curious and gossiping about this new drama.
As I walked down the street to my house, I did not expect to find yet more drama in my night. It took me a moment to notice. My door was shut, which was considerate of them, but something was off.
As I unlocked my door and pushed it open, a gasp left my lips.
The school wasn’t the only place that had been broken into tonight. My home had been violated, by belongings searched.
That confirmed it. This was definitely the work of the traders.
I stood in the middle of my living room, fuming silently. The traders had definitely been here. They’d already known where I lived, and from what I could gather, they’d broken into the school trying to find out more about both Sophia and I. They’d had an easier task with me, as they could ransack my home as well.
And ransack they had. The photo I’d had in my possession that I’d taken from them was now gone, and I could tell they’d been looking for personal information. I was surprised they hadn’t left any traps for me, clearly they wanted to get rid of any evidence that exonerated them, and disabling me would have been a good way to do so.
I was worried, and I wasn’t going to hide it. Sure, they’d only broken in to get rid of the solid evidence, but they’d already tried to obliviate Sophia once, so we knew they were after our memories and the evidence in them as well.
It was scary, and I was now forced to face the reality of that.
I quickly flooed my father, as I knew both this break in and the one at the school was something he and the Aurors ought to look into.
As I waited for him to arrive, I set about cleaning things up the best I could, and determining exactly what had been tampered with. It wasn’t a fun job, but nothing about this was fun any more.
I turned as my Dad’s voice came from the fireplace, and looked at his face. He was worried for me, I could see that. Without really thinking, I moved forward, collapsing into his open armed hug. This was just one of those times that I needed my father.
Sure, I was independent now, or at least I pretended to be. Things like this still rattled me, however.
Dad asked what had happened, and I quickly ran him through the situation at the school and here at my house.
“You should go stay at one of your friend’s houses for a few nights, Rose, whilst we sort all of this out,” he said, and I could tell his mind was elsewhere, whirring over the facts of the case he was now going to have to solve.
“Okay,” I said meekly, not seeing the point in fighting with him on this.
Wordlessly, I stood up, noticing that my hands were shaking slightly. I was shaken by this, yes, but clearly it was affecting me much more than I’d initially realised.
Dad noticed as well, because he grasped my hand in his and spoke to me earnestly, his eyes meeting mine.
“I’ll catch them, Rosie, don’t you worry,” he said with a warm and reassuring smile, and I found myself smiling back at the man I so admired.
He was my father. I had faith in him.
“I’ll head to Miranda’s,” I said, and I moved to pack up the essentials. A few clothes, the contents of my handbag, toiletries, things like that.
As I zipped my bag up and moved to the living room, however, I knew I wasn’t going to go to Miranda’s. I needed to talk to someone, I needed comfort, and whilst Miranda was good in some situations, she wouldn’t be able to deal with my insatiable desire to find the men who did this, and punish them.
There was one person who could, the one person I’d told myself I was going to stay away from. I suppose the events of this night had changed my perspective on that matter, in more ways than one.
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