Chapter 29 : Secrets
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I laid in bed in silence, listening to the noise of the flat. I couldn’t hear Molly at all, which most likely meant that she was still fast asleep. I hadn’t spoken to her since our argument the week before, and I had no intention of speaking to her until she apologised for both mocking me and bossing me around. I didn’t care that she was right about some things; it didn’t give her the right to be so rude to me and put me down. I definitely wasn’t going to back down this time. She had to apologise.
Being as quiet as I could, I crept out of the flat before Molly could catch me. She wouldn’t notice that I was gone for hours yet and by then I’d be long gone (except not really; I was only going to visit my parents and if she was that bothered she’d work it out. There weren’t that many places I could be). Maybe she would realise I was gone and weep for her mistakes and beg me for forgiveness when I finally returned. She’d spend the day regretting her life and suddenly rethink her personality and become lovable and kind towards me. Perhaps she’d even bake me a cake, made with her real tears.
The weather was starting to warm up, something that brought a smile to my face most days. Today, however, I was too grumpy to even think about smiling. I’d bumped into my Mum in the Leaky Cauldron last week, but other than that I hadn’t had the chance to see my parents since my trip to France. I had so much to tell them and nothing I particularly had any interest in reliving. It was embarrassing enough going through it the first time without a second visit. I would definitely be leaving out certain details that my parents really didn’t need to know.
Going home was something of a ritual for me. There was something extremely comforting knowing that the people on the other side of the door HAD to spend time with me, something which I uniquely attributed to my parents. Cousins clearly felt no such duty towards me.
My Dad answered the door when I rang the doorbell, running a scruffy hand through his hair.
“Come in, Rosie,” he said gruffly before disappearing down the hall into another part of the house. He didn’t even stop to give me a hug or ask how I was. Confused, my furrowed brow and I made our way past the untidy hallway and followed Dad into the living room. The hall was littered with items I hadn’t seen for years, like the Newton’s Cradle Hugo broke one Christmas and the other half of a pair of socks I had lost.
“The house looks like you’ve jinxed it,” I started as Dad rifled through a desk in the corner of the room. “What’s going on?”
“I’ve lost it,” my Dad said frustratedely. I watched as he removed a whole draw from the desk and proceeded to tip it and its contents onto the floor. He got down on his hands and knees and desperately flicked through the heap of parchment and quills.
“Lost what?” I asked, perching on the arm of the sofa to observe him.
“Your mother’s wedding anniversary present. I can’t find it anywhere.”
I rolled my eyes. This was so typical of my clumsy father; he was completely hopeless without my mother to organise him, and clearly he couldn’t have enlisted her help for this.
“What is it? I’ll help you search for it if you want,” I offered. “Have you tried accio?”
“Accio won’t work,” Dad said with a heavy sigh. “I charmed it so that Mum couldn’t try and summon it.”
“I see,” I said, mildly surprised he had thought of such a measure. This was remarkably proactive of him. “Well, is it small? Where did you last have it?”
“I hid it inside the piano,” he said sheepishly. “But it’s not in there now. No one ever uses that old thing so I thought it’d be safe. I thought maybe Hugo had moved it for a joke…”
It was quite likely that my brother had deliberately sabotaged my Dad’s plans for a surprise present, but he seemed to have forgotten the fact that the old piano in the dining room was actually enchanted; when it was hungry it would eat whatever it could grab, whether that be fingers tickling its ivories or gifts stuffed down near its strings.
“Dad,” I said sadly. “I think the piano ate your present.”
He scowled at me. “I can hardly tell that to Mum, can I? She’ll think I didn’t buy her anything!”
I shrugged. “Professor Binns believed me that time I told him the piano ate my holiday homework. Mum’s been meaning to get it fixed for ages, anyway, so maybe you can guilt-trip her into thinking it was her fault.”
My Dad frowned. “You’re a strange girl, you know.” Yeah, like that wasn’t painfully obvious already. How long had he known me for? If he didn’t know that already then I would seriously start to wonder if he was my real father.
“So I’ve been told,” I responded stiffly. “Shall I put the kettle on while you tidy up this mess?”
Dad nodded and returned to the fruits of his unsuccessful search. At least I could assume that Mum was out, so I didn’t need to be so defensive about my recent adventures. She was far too clever and knew me too well to believe many of the lies I’d already fabricated in my mind. She’d see through my insisting that I’d had a lovely holiday and there was nothing much to report. No doubt she already knew that Molly and I had fallen out; she could smell secrets on the wind, I was sure of it. It was very hard to hide things from mothers; they must learn how to sniff out lies during prenatal classes.
In the kitchen, I fumbled about with making tea. Dad joined me soon after, looking dejected.
“So,” he said after I didn’t say anything else. “Tell me about your holiday.”
I grimaced. “It was good,” I said over-enthusiastically. “Victoire is really happy out there. She’s very French now, I think.”
Dad nodded. “We got your postcard,” he told me, gesturing towards the fridge where he’d stuck the postcard up with a magnet. “It sounds like you had fun.” He grinned at me and pulled me into a hug. “We’re very proud of you, you know.”
Urgh, vomit. “I only went away for a week, it wasn’t like I went backpacking across South America or anything,” I said defensively. I slipped out of his arms and returned to making tea where I was safe.
“I know,” Dad said with a smile. “But we like to see that you’re happy.”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m happy,” I said grumpily. He didn’t look particularly convinced,
I passed Dad a mug of tea and grabbing a packet of biscuits we sat down at the kitchen table. “Now,” Dad continued. “Your Auntie Audrey tells me that you and Molly have had a bit of a tiff.”
“Yes,” I said blankly.
“Are you going to tell me what that’s all about?”
“No,” I said equally blankly. There was no way I was going to tell Dad all about my Molly troubles, mostly because it involved telling him all about my Scorpius troubles. There was some things that Dads just didn’t need to know.
Dad frowned. “I might be able to help…”
I sighed heavily. “We’ve just had a difference of opinion concerning certain things,” I mumbled. That was hopefully vague enough.
“Can’t you agree to disagree?” Dad offered.
“That’s the problem,” I retorted. “She thinks she’s always right.”
Dad sighed. “You two really should just listen to each other. You’ve always been like this ever since you were little. Both of you are so pig-headed.”
“I am not!” I denied, feeling extremely indignant. What - was this attack Rose’s character week? Couldn’t anyone just leave my personality alone for like a day?
“You are,” he replied gently. “So why don’t you be the bigger person and compromise first?”
“It’s her turn to compromise,” I snapped. “She never apologises and this time she’s in the wrong.”
Dad shrugged. “You have to do what you think is best, Rosie. But don’t lose a good friend over this, especially not one who’s your cousin.”
I knew what point he was making; we didn’t really need more family drama. Family gatherings would be extremely uncomfortable if Molly and I declared war on each other. I didn’t put it past her to throw knives at my knees under the table.
“She started it,” I said childishly, after which Dad seemed to get the message and dropped it.
“Right,” he conceded. “Well, I have some news for you. Your cousin Roxanne has dropped out of her law degree.”
This was extremely old news, but I decided to go with the flabbergasted look. “What?” I exclaimed loudly. “What a shocker!”
Dad raised his eyebrows. “Yes, well we were all surprised too.”
“Is Angelina mad?” I asked. “I bet she’s furious.” It gave me a small amount of satisfaction that Roxanne was probably in a whole heap of trouble right now.
“She’s not best pleased,” Dad said. “But I think it’s for the best if Roxanne has changed her mind about what she wants to do with her life.”
Yeah, she’d changed her mind all right if she thought begging me for a job was a valid career path. I decided not to divulge my mine of secrets about Roxanne in the hope that I could use it as blackmail in the future. You never knew when you’d need to blackmail one of your cousins.
“I suppose so,” I agreed.
“I think she’s happier now anyway, from what George tells me,” Dad added.
To be honest, I didn’t think it was particularly fair that Roxanne of all people got to be happy. Victoire I could understand, because she’d made a real effort to go somewhere where she could be more herself away from the pressures of family here. But I never really had much sympathy for Roxanne, mostly because she’d bullied me a lot during our childhoods. I could hold a grudge for a long time.
Eventually I made my excuses and left, hurrying outside to Apparate to the pub where I was meeting Albus for lunch.
The sun was shining on the Hogsmeade high street and I leant my head back to warm my face.
“You look like a beached whale,” someone behind me commented.
I turned on my heel and came face to face with my dear cousin Molly. I glowered.
“What are you doing here?” I snapped. “Are you following me?”
Molly looked scathing. “Why on Earth would I do that? My world doesn’t revolve around you, you know. I’m visiting a friend. I actually have other friends, you see.”
“Good for you. As it happens, I’m meeting a friend for lunch,” I shot back.
Molly rolled her eyes. “Good. Fine. See you at home.”
And with those abrupt words she stormed off down the high street and disappeared down an alleyway. Furious, I stomped into the Three Broomsticks with a deep frown on my brow. Without looking around, I sat down at the first empty table I found and glared at the woodwork. I couldn’t believe the nerve of her; she’d had the opportunity to apologise and she’d been extremely rude to me. She was clearly in the wrong; I’d never asked for her opinion on my personal business, especially not where Scorpius was concerned. What did she know about it, anyway? I was certain she just wanted me to go out with him so she could have a good laugh. Well, I wasn’t prepared to be the butt of her jokes anymore.
“Now that’s a look that could curdle milk.” I looked up to see Lorcan beaming at me from across the table.
I sighed. “If you’ve come here to tell me to apologise to Molly you can think again,” I informed him. He shrugged off my comment and sat down.
“I’m not here to tell you what to do, I wouldn’t dare,” he said, fiddling with his ‘Milkman of the Year’ award that was still hanging around his neck months later. “I’m here with Albus – he’s at the bar.”
I followed Lorcan’s gaze and did indeed see Albus hovering at the bar trying to catch the barmaid’s attention. He wasn’t having much luck and had resorted to fiddling with his glasses in order to look less awkward. Needless to say, he wasn’t succeeding particularly well. In fact, he was still fiddling with his glasses ten minutes later when the barmaid finally acknowledged his existence.
“Hullo Rose,” Albus said as he plonked our drinks down on the table and joined us.
I reached for my drink and nodded in greeting. “Wassup, cuz?”
I wasn’t really sure why I felt the need to act cool, but I’d clearly pulled my effort off flawlessly. Albus looked at me like I was deranged. “I’m fine, thank you. I got your postcard last week.”
“I didn’t get a postcard,” Lorcan chipped in, looking wounded. I rolled my eyes.
“I presumed Molly would share hers with you,” I lied. I’d actually just forgotten to send him one.
“Oh,” Lorcan said. “Well, she did so you were right.”
Remembering what I’d put on Molly’s postcard, I suddenly felt very embarrassed. “Did she show you both of them?” I asked cautiously.
Oh dear. He’d probably already worked out what the whole situation was already. I was so dead. I cleared my throat and searched for a new topic of conversation.
“Do you know how Fred’s getting on in Australia?” I asked quickly.
“It’s really hot, apparently,” Albus replied. He clearly didn’t notice my deliberate change in conversation. “He’s got a nice house overlooking the beach and a job interview on Monday. I might move out there myself, you know…”
I snorted in an unladylike manner. “I’m not sure you’d cope, Al. You’re not exactly the most adventurous bloke, are you?”
“Don’t call me Al,” he snapped out of habit. “What do you know, anyway, Rose? I’d definitely cope. I’m very adaptable.”
He fiddled with the same glasses he’d had for ten years and I raised my eyebrows. Albus was the least adaptable person I’d ever met. It was necessarily a bad thing; I liked him that way. He was dependable, but I definitely couldn’t see him changing his whole life and moving to another country.
“Rose,” Lorcan interrupted our conversation before I could tell Albus exactly why he wouldn’t be able to adapt to moving to Australia. “Drop it.”
I scowled. “Don’t you start telling me what to do as well. Everyone I talk to just ends up bossing me around and I’m so sick of it.”
Albus sipped at his drink during an incredibly long awkward silence. My words hung in the air like a bad smell. I glared at Albus until he looked away.
“I’m not trying to boss you around,” Lorcan said quietly. “But there’s no need to insult Albus.”
I hid my head in my hands; there it was again, the lecture on being rude. It wasn’t that I said anything with malice; he was my cousin, I was only teasing him. Perhaps Scorpius was right and I was overly honest.
“Did Molly put you up to this?” I probed.
Lorcan gave me a look that seemed to say “are you really asking me that?” I sighed, realising that Molly had probably already told him all about our argument and he’d naturally taken her side. This was exactly why people shouldn’t go out with someone in their friendship group; she’d destroyed our whole dynamic.
“You can’t expect her not to talk to me about it,” he said defensively.
I glared. “What else has she told you? As we’re sharing, why don’t I just tell you all my secrets? That saves her having to tell you later.”
Lorcan held up his hands in defence. “There’s not need to be like that,” he said. “If she can trust me then so should you. I don’t know why you’re getting so worked up.”
“It’s not about trusting you,” I countered angrily. “There are some things I don’t want you to know. They’re not her secrets to tell.”
Lorcan sighed in exasperation. “This is about Teddy, isn’t it? It’s hardly a secret, I already knew about that. Lysander told me before Molly did.”
“What?” I asked, horrified. “How does Lysander know?”
Lorcan shrugged. “James told him, I think.”
“Why is it any of his business?” I said through gritted teeth. My blood ran cold at the thought of them all gossiping about me behind my back. It was humiliating, thinking that they all knew about my most embarrassing secret and were talking about it freely like it was of no consequence. How long had they known?
“And I suppose Molly told James, did she?” I asked, furious. “How could she do that? James works for a newspaper, he could have told anyone.”
“No, she didn’t,” Lorcan argued. “Teddy told him.”
“Teddy told him?” My cheeks burst into brilliant heat at the thought of Teddy telling anyone what had gone on between us (or rather, what hadn’t) during my stay. I couldn’t believe how fast news travelled in my family and friends, it was sickening to think about. How could Teddy have told anyone? I thought we’d agreed to forget it had ever happened. I almost cried at the thought; how could he have told everyone? I was humiliated. I took deep breaths, trying to calm myself down. I felt so betrayed.
“Teddy asked him to be the godfather,” Albus interjected.
“He – what?” My heart rate slowly dropped. They weren’t talking about me, they were talking about Victoire (unless I was secretly pregnant and they all knew without me knowing). “Victoire’s pregnant?”
“No, Dominique is,” Lorcan explained. “Teddy’s the father.”
Oh my God.
AN: I KNOW, right?! I'm so glad that's all out in the open. So I'm pretty sure Rose is going to react terribly to this news. I finished writing this story last week and I'm so excited to post the next 7 chapters! I hope you enjoy. Please leave a review, they make me happy :)
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