Chapter 23 : Confession Time
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I slept fitfully, eventually falling into a deeper sleep in the early morning. I was woken by someone shaking my shoulders gently.
“Rosie?” It was Teddy, who’d brought me a cup of tea as well. “It’s almost ten.”
I rubbed my eyes sleepily, sitting up to accept the cup of tea. He perched himself on the end of the bed by my feet. “Thanks,” I said groggily.
“Did you sleep well?” he asked as I sipped at the hot liquid.
“Yeah,” I lied, smiling. I wasn’t really sure why anyone ever asked that; if I was a guest, I was unlikely to be rude and start moaning about the uncomfortable bed or something. It was always easier to say I slept well than explain I’d been too worried about what to do to actually sleep properly. “Have you been up long?”
“Victoire left at eight,” he explained. “I made her breakfast.”
“I see.” What a nice bloke, really. I wouldn’t get up that early to make breakfast for anyone, not when I didn’t have to. His devotion to Victoire was becoming rather sickly. “So what’s the plan for today?”
“Well,” he began. “There’s an afternoon market in town later, which I thought we could go to. I need to buy some vegetables as it is.”
She even had him doing the shopping for her; I needed to ask her how she made him such a good boyfriend pretty much effortlessly. I was bound to need to know that sometime in the future.
“Sounds good to me,” I agreed. “I promised Molly I’d get her something and I need to buy some postcards.”
“Great,” Teddy said, standing up and heading towards the door. “I’ll make us some lunch before we go. We’ll leave when you’re ready.”
He closed the door behind him, leaving me to finish the cup of tea he’d brought me. I rubbed my forehead, contemplating the day ahead. I loved spending time with him, I knew that much, but I felt like a fraud just being in their house, pretending I was just a friend. I felt almost guilty that I’d come here with the intention of telling Teddy the truth, but now it didn’t seem appropriate. But I couldn’t leave without saying anything… I would regret it in the future.
The same repetitive worries circled my head as I dressed myself and joined Teddy in the living room. He was reading an English paper that was two days old, muttering to himself. I raised an eyebrow.
“Talking to yourself is one of the first signs of madness, you know,” I informed him as I joined him on the sofa.
“Sorry,” he said with a blush. “I forgot you were here. I was just moaning about that Lockhart chap.”
“Oh yes,” I said sourly. “We had him in the shop to do a book signing. It was utter madness, and he wasn’t even pleasant to talk to. Sometimes I wonder if we’d have been better off if he’d never regained his memory.”
“Your parents knew him, didn’t they?” he asked, scouring the front page article. “It says here that he taught them at Hogwarts.”
“Oh yes,” I said indifferently. “I knew that. I don’t think my Dad liked him that much, from what I can gather. He always gets very cagey when I mention his name.”
“I bet he was a crap teacher,” Teddy offered. “Your Mum probably could have done a better job than him even at such a young age.”
I had to agree with him; my Mum could do a better job at anything than most people. My Dad told me she used to be insufferable with it, but in the end it clearly didn’t matter that she knew everything because he loved her anyway. Secretly, I think she won him over by doing all his homework for him.
“I think it’s inevitable that he’ll be picked as the new Minister,” I said sadly. “He’s immensely popular. It doesn’t seem to matter to everyone that he’s a wombat.”
Teddy laughed, folding the newspaper and setting it down on the coffee table. “It’ll make politics a lot more interesting with him in office, that’s for sure,” he said lightly. Standing, he wandered over to the kitchen. “Lunch time, I think,” he called and I followed him in.
After lunch, I grabbed my coat and bag and we headed out into town to visit the market. I was surprised at how large and how busy it was; in my head I’d pictured maybe a street’s worth of stalls, but this one seemed to encompass most of the town centre. I didn’t recognise the place from the day before, relying heavily on Teddy to lead the way. He chatted with the grocers who spoke some English, picking out some vegetables for dinner.
After Teddy had bought everything he wanted, we wandered amongst the crafty stalls as I looked for something to bring back home for Molly. Eventually, I settled on a couple of friendship bracelets and we picked up some postcards on the way out of town.
Surprisingly, after the awful weather the day before, the sun was shining. I stuck on my sunglasses, which I always carried with me in case I saw even a hint of sunshine. I was starting to relax a lot more; I even felt like I was on holiday. My thoughts flitted guiltily to Boris, who I hoped was coping without me.
We were almost back at Teddy and Victoire’s place when he grabbed my hand and tugged me down a small alleyway between houses. “Come this way, we’re going somewhere special.”
The alley, which was sheltered from the sun by the tall buildings, was a lot cooler than I’d expected. Shivering, I realised I hadn’t let go of Teddy’s hand, but I made no move to retrieve my hand from his grasp. He ducked through a small door, dragging me with him into what appeared to be a bar.
“This place is great,” he told me as he sat me down at the bar. “I’m buying you a drink as congratulations on your promotion,” he announced, signalling to the barman, who sauntered over.
I tried to slip the barman some euros in order to contribute towards my drink, but Teddy grabbed my hand and pushed it back towards me. “It’s my treat,” he insisted.
Two tall cocktail glasses were placed in front of us, and he toasted his to me. “Well done, Rosie,” he said, grinning at my embarrassment.
“It’s a bad habit to drink before six o’clock,” I said lamely, slipping at the liquid. “People might get the wrong impression.”
He chuckled. “There are worse sins than drinking in the afternoon, you know.”
“Such as?” I asked playfully. “What sins have you committed, Teddy?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” he joked lightly. “Perhaps the sin of neglect - I should have written to you sooner.”
I rolled my eyes, placing my hand on his arm. “Don’t worry about that. You’ve been busy, and for once so have I.” This time, I was the one who toasted. “To new beginnings,” I said with a smile.
“Yes,” he agreed. “To new beginnings indeed.”
We lapsed into a comfortable silence, both of us drinking slowly. I felt his gaze on me and I blushed. “What?” I demanded.
“Nothing,” he said quickly, looking away. He coughed awkwardly, and then turned to look back at me. “I was just thinking how much you’ve changed since I left.”
“You haven’t changed at all,” I said sadly, aware that the drink was probably encouraging me to say more than I should. “I was sort of hoping you would have – then maybe I wouldn’t miss you so much.”
My cheeks reddened as I said it, and I dearly wished I could claw the words back into my mouth and unsay them. Teddy looked at me curiously. “You miss me?”
“Only a little bit,” I said, hastily backtracking. “Not at all, really.”
He grinned, pointing a finger at me. “You miss me,” he said accusingly.
“No I don’t,” I denied, my cheeks warming even more. I looked down at my glass, noticing that I’d drunk a lot more than I’d thought I had.
He didn’t look convinced. “Whatever,” he grouched. “If you don’t feel like you can tell me, that’s fine.”
I huffed; now he was trying to emotionally blackmail me into talking to him about it. “Okay, fine,” I said grudgingly. “I do miss you a bit, especially at family gatherings. There, are you happy now?”
“Very,” he said with a grin. “I didn’t know you cared.”
Oh, Teddy, did you know what you were saying? How could he not know that I cared? I didn’t really care about anything else; it had always been about him. “Of course I care,” I said despondently. “It’s you.” And it’s me, I added in my head.
He seemed satisfied with this answer, for he didn’t mention it again. As we finished our drinks in silence, I wondered what he was thinking and if he was thinking at all. It struck me as bizarre that he didn’t know how I felt about him, because it should have been written all over my face, considering how much I thought about him. He clearly didn’t understand how much it pained me that he’d left.
He was right, though; I had changed since he’d left. I had been determined not to mope, that I would take my mind off it and keep myself busy. I did feel different now, but I wasn’t sure if it was because he’d left or because good things had happened in my life since then. It had been nearly two months, and a lot had happened in that time. I had meant what I said; he really hadn’t changed at all, not in my eyes. That made it all the more hard to accept the reality that he wasn’t coming back and he was happy with Victoire.
Throwing his arm around my shoulder, we sauntered back home in silence. His closeness comforted me, but at the same time I wished my heart wouldn’t beat so fast. It didn’t feel natural to be affected by one person so much; I had fleeting moments where I wanted to run far away from him before it all got too much and I broke down in the middle of the street and sobbed.
Victoire still wasn’t home from work when we got in, which I was sort of glad about. I needed a moment to give myself a stern talking to before I saw my cousin, for fear of the betraying thoughts showing on my complexion. I was, no doubt, pink-cheeked from the various stages of my thoughts. She’d twig that something was up if she saw me like this.
Teddy and I stood awkwardly in the kitchen as the kettle boiled. The effects of the cocktails seemed to have worn off during our brisk walk back to the house and we were left with a large, noticeable silence between us. It hung in the air, thick and heavy and charged with electricity; I waited for the spark with baited breath.
“Rose,” Teddy said quietly, interrupting our silence. “I’m sorry if I’ve made you feel uncomfortable.” I looked away, counting the number of tiles on the kitchen floor. “It wasn’t my intention.”
I swallowed audibly. “It’s fine,” I mumbled, still refusing to look at him. I felt like if I looked at him, the reality of the truths I’d spilled would be waiting in his eyes. I wanted to pretend that I’d never admitted anything to him.
“I just…” He stopped mid-sentence, clearly struggling to find the words. “I miss you, as well.”
I could feel the heat creeping up my neck uncomfortably. I didn’t want to hear this, it was dangerous. I’d replay his words over and over at night and fool myself into thinking they meant something. It was slowly becoming clearer to me that I couldn’t stay here anymore.
“Please,” I said throatily. “Please don’t.” I was very close to crying and it took all my focus not to tear up in front of him. I waited for him to say something, but he seemed to sense that I wasn’t finished. Trembling, I headed in the direction of my room. “I think it’s best that I leave. I can’t stay here.”
“Rose!” he called after me as I disappeared behind the door. I leant up against it, listening as his footsteps stopped outside my room. When I didn’t answer or open the door, he coughed. “Please talk to me,” he said softly. “Have I done something to upset you?”
My legs were shaking so much that I had to lean even more forcefully against the door to stop myself falling. Inside my head, I was telling myself not to say anything, because it would only end badly if I did. This was the inevitable moment I knew I’d have to face one day; I should have known when I decided to come out here that I wasn’t prepared for it. How could I possibly tell him the truth? Putting it into words would make it all real, and I’d have to face the fact that he and Victoire were perfect for each other as it hit me slap bam in the face. I couldn’t and more importantly, I shouldn’t.
“Rosie?” he called again.
I knew I couldn’t tell him, but what was the alternative? Hiding from him for the rest of our lives, knowing that facing him would be to destroy the hopes I’d once had? I was only putting off the inevitable.
I opened the door, brushing tears of embarrassment away. He looked at me with such concern on his face that I had to look away.
“Tell me what’s wrong,” he coaxed, putting his hand on my arm comfortingly. I didn’t feel comforted by his embrace at all.
“I love you,” I muttered at my shoes.
I hadn’t intended to tell him, not yet. My words were ringing awkwardly in my ears as he stood there, stunned, in silence. Eventually he swallowed. “What – what did you say?”
I knew he had heard me, and he knew that I knew that. I shook my head, my cheeks hotter than I could ever remember them being. My ears burned, my throat was dry. “It doesn’t matter,” I said miserably, pulling myself out of his grasp and turning away so I had my back to him.
He breathed heavily for a few moments, then stepped forward to rest his hand on my shoulder. “You should have told me,” he managed eventually.
I shook my head, again stepping out of his reach. I sank down on my bed, still refusing to look at him. “I couldn’t.”
He stayed where he was, which I was grateful for, because I wasn’t sure I could stand him being any closer; it would have only added insult to injury.
“I’m sorry,” he said quietly. I didn’t need to ask what he was apologising for; I knew this was his way of him saying that he didn’t love me. I knew it already, deep down, so it didn’t surprise me in the slightest.
“I know,” I mumbled.
He nodded, lost for words. At that moment, we heard the door open and we snapped out of our thoughts. He smiled sadly and I watched him go out to greet Victoire with a heavy heart. I had no choice but to close the door quietly behind him and start packing. Now that I had confessed, there was no way I could stay here for the rest of the week, not now that Teddy knew. Gathering my belongings, I placed them in my bag.
I stayed alone in my room whilst I debated over what to do. I couldn’t just leave without explaining to Victoire, which meant I had to come up with a reason. I was drawing blanks on why else I would need to leave, unless I invented some sort of emergency. Knowing my luck, she’d eventually find out I’d lied anyway, so that would be tricky to pull off successfully.
There was a soft knock on my door and I wiped my eyes hastily with the back of my hand.
“I brought some tea,” Teddy said without looking at me. His eyes flicked over my packed bags and he shook his head forcefully. “You’re not leaving?”
“I’m sorry,” I said, finding the courage to look him in the eye. He met my gaze hesitantly. “I can’t stay here now… now that you know. It’s not fair.”
“Please don’t go,” he said strongly. He placed the mug of tea on the bedside table and then strode closer to me. “It doesn’t matter – we can pretend like it never happened.”
I shook my head sadly. “I can’t. You don’t understand,” I added softly. “It’s not just that I’m embarrassed, because I am. But this isn’t something I can just wish away – believe me, I’ve been trying for years. That’s why I have to leave, because nothing’s going to change.”
“What will you tell Victoire?” he asked numbly.
“I don’t know.” I looked away, aware that I hadn’t yet thought everything through. It didn’t matter what I told Victoire as long as I could get away from him.
“Rosie, please,” he said with a sigh. “Just – why don’t you sleep on it?”
“I shouldn’t have come here,” I muttered to myself.
He closed the space between us and took me in his arms, holding me so close to him that I could hear his heart beating. “I’m glad you did. I don’t want you to go.”
I pulled away from him, his closeness unbearable. Everywhere he touched me turned into hot flames, my body uncomfortably hot. “Please don’t,” I said forcefully. “It’s hard enough as it is.”
He nodded, looking stunned. I returned to my packing and he left the room without another word. How could I have been so stupid? I should have known this would be a bad idea, but I’d deluded myself into thinking that I’d be fine. Not saying anything would have been unbearable, I knew that, but I didn’t realise that saying those words to him would have ruined everything we’d had forever. We couldn’t be friends now, and when he returned for Christmas I would do my best to avoid him.
I dug out the postcards I’d bought earlier and chose one at random. I addressed it to Molly, stuck a stamp in the corner and then hastily wrote her a message.
You were right about everything.
AN: eeek! Poor Rose! Still, it had to happen at some point. I hope you're still enjoying! Thanks for the reviews on the last chapter, I appreciate it so much!
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by Ellyn Rose