I paced up and down outside the door to Scorpius’s house for a good twenty minutes before I finally summoned the courage to ring the doorbell. I couldn’t think straight; I’d left the Three Broomsticks without saying another word, heading straight up the high street in the direction of the Shrieking Shack. Now I was waiting outside the door of the only person left I could possibly talk to.
Scorpius opened the door and beamed at my pale face.
“I need a friend to talk to,” I informed him abruptly and pushed past him into the hall. I went straight for the living room, climbing onto the sofa and lying face down onto the cushions.
Dominique was having Teddy’s baby. Dominique was having Teddy’s baby. Dominique was having Teddy’s baby. No matter how many times I said it, the thought still made me want to throw up, or at least bury my head so deep into Scorpius’s sofa that I’d suffocate myself. How the hell had this happened?
“What’s wrong?” Scorpius asked from above me. My only response was to groan into the material.
How could they have done this to Victoire? No wonder Teddy had looked so shocked when I’d told them. It explained so many things. I remembered Dominique crying at their leaving party; she had presumably told Molly everything that day when they had gone outside to talk. That was two months ago, and Molly had kept that from me all this time. She had let me go all the way to France to see Teddy… I groaned once again, feeling sick from the thought of how I had humiliated myself. How could she have let me go, knowing what they’d done? Teddy had cheated on Victoire with her own sister. For all my berating myself that fancying him was the ultimate betrayal of my cousin, at least I hadn’t actually slept with him… and then got myself pregnant.
I had really thought I stood a chance. I had gone to France to tell him, as if my feelings really mattered. And he had sat there and pretended to put it behind him like I was in the wrong. All the while, he was probably thinking about Dominique. He was prepared to cheat with Dominique whilst planning to get married to Victoire. It was so awful, I couldn’t think straight.
There was a clink of glass as Scorpius set a mug down on the coffee table. “I brought you a glass of firewhiskey,” he said. The sofa dipped as he perched on the edge and patted my back awkwardly. “Talk to me.”
I couldn’t move. My whole body was tingling with shock and shame and confusion. Did Victoire know? Was he ever planning on telling her? I kept asking the same question over and over in my head: how could he do it? The only way I could explain it was that both he and Dominique had been extremely drunk. If not… I couldn’t even bear the thought.
Scorpius continued to pat my back consolingly. Eventually, I shifted so I was on my side and facing him. “Something awful has happened,” I said, my throat hoarse with emotion.
I gulped and closed my eyes. I didn’t know if I could say it out loud; doing so would make it real and I wasn’t ready for the consequences of that particular reality. Was I supposed to do something about it? Should I confront Dominique? Should I write to Teddy? Should I tell Victoire? I didn’t know what to do.
“Dominique’s pregnant,” I croaked. There, that wasn’t so hard. Scorpius nodded; he knew this already, of course. “It’s Teddy’s.”
He stopped patting my back and let his mouth drop open. “What did you say?”
“It’s Teddy’s baby,” I repeated. “He’s a disgusting, lying cheat.”
Scorpius didn’t say anything, instead reaching for my glass of firewhiskey and drinking straight from it.
“Blimey,” he offered. “That’s a bit of a shock.”
“I know,” I agreed miserably.
Everything I had ever admired about Teddy was destroyed. He wasn’t faithful, he wasn’t loyal, he wasn’t a good person. I couldn’t understand it; if he and Dominique loved each other or something, he should have left Victoire first, not asked her to marry him and then done one with her sister. I thought back to our lunch together in France, how Victoire had been so scathing of her sister. They’d fallen out about something and at the time I couldn’t understand why Victoire didn’t offer Dominique help but perhaps this was the reason why. Perhaps Dominique or Teddy had told Victoire about a one night stand and they’d fallen out as a result. Family politics was such hard work.
“What are you going to do?” Scorpius asked after a while.
I sighed, sitting up and using my wand to summon the bottle of firewhiskey. I poured myself a fresh glass and sipped at the fiery liquid, appreciating the kick in my gut as the alcohol entered my system. “I don’t know if I should do anything at all,” I mused. “I’ll only make more of a mess of things.”
Scorpius watched as I knocked back a second glass of firewhiskey. “Maybe sleep on it?” he suggested.
I nodded, gasping at the burning liquid. “I tell you what,” I started. “I am going to go and ask Molly why the hell she didn’t tell me. She’s known the baby's Teddy’s since February and she never told me. She let me go and make a fucking fool of myself in front of him even though she knew I never stood a chance.”
“You’re angry,” Scorpius observed. I poured myself another glass, waving it around as I gesticulated.
“You’re damn right I’m angry,” I said through gritted teeth. “She’s my cousin, my best friend. She’s supposed to look out for me. I never would have gone if I’d known the truth. But she let me go. She let me go.”
I drained another glass and stood up, determined in my mission of finding my cousin so I could ask her what the bloody hell she had been playing at.
“You can’t Apparate like that,” Scorpius told me firmly. He grabbed onto my arm and held me still. “You’re over the limit.”
I tried to shrug him off but his grip was too strong. I eventually stilled and he released me. “I can’t believe it,” I said sadly. “How will I trust her again?”
Scorpius rested a hand on my arm and tried to soothe me. “Maybe she can explain,” he said. “I’m sure there’s a reason she didn’t tell you.”
“It’s just so typical,” I muttered bitterly. “The one time I actually needed her to interfere, she didn’t.”
I returned to the sofa, where Scorpius joined me. I rested my head on his shoulder and groaned piteously. “I’m such an idiot,” I moaned.
Scorpius rested his head on top of mine and wrapped his arm around me. I was too distressed to complain. “You’re not an idiot. How could you have known?”
“I dunno,” I muttered. “All the signs were there, if I’d looked. I was too busy thinking it was me he was after to really think about anyone else.”
“You couldn’t have known,” he enforced.
We didn’t say anything else for a long time, and I eventually drifted off to sleep thanks to the heavy effects of the firewhiskey.
When I opened my eyes again, I could tell it was a few hours later due to the dark splodges scattering the sky out of the window. I sat up, feeling groggy, heavy and exhausted. Remembering why, I grimaced and looked around for Scorpius. I found him in the bathtub, soaking in a layer of scented bubbles. His hair was damp and ungelled, falling gently across his face.
“I’m going to go home,” I told him, trying not to look too closely at the bubbles or what might be concealed beneath them. “Thanks for the drink.”
“No problem,” he told me, smiling through the bubble beard. “I’ll see you soon. I hope you figure things out.”
“So do I,” I said with a sigh. I shut the bathroom door behind me and left his house, using the walk back down to the high street as an opportunity to decide what my next course of action should be.
I had to go home. I had to face Molly. The thought of seeing her made me feel simultaneously sick and angry. I didn’t know how to deal with the whole situation.
Eventually I found the courage to apparate home and let myself into the flat. Molly was waiting, perched on the sofa with Lorcan. Upon seeing my ashen face, he took the hint and disappeared out the door with only a small nod of acknowledgement. I tried to breathe deeply to control the wild assortment of emotions building inside of me.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” I said from the doorway. My voice was shaking, my fingers trembling. She looked away from me.
“I tried to stop you going,” she said defensively.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” I repeated louder.
She looked back at me, glaring. “How would that have helped you, Rose? You weren’t in a good place, you would have done something stupid. You were so fixated on him, I didn’t think it would help. You needed to get over him.”
I gritted my teeth. “And you don’t think the fact that he got his girlfriend’s sister pregnant was enough of a reason to get over him? It wasn’t your choice to make. You should have told me or at least stopped me going to see him.”
“I tried,” she retorted. “But you were determined to go. And you got over him in your own way; it was for the best.”
Blood rushed to my head and I stepped towards her. “You let me humiliate myself,” I growled. “You knew why I was going to see him and all that time you knew what he’d done.”
“It wasn’t my secret to tell,” Molly argued. “Dominique told me in confidence.”
“Right, so you felt it was more important to protect her after what she did to her own sister than to stop me galloping in with my size fives and making a complete fool of myself.” I started to pace the length of the room in a bid to release some of my tension. “You have no problem telling me what to do usually, why did you decide that that was the perfect time to finally shut up?”
“I don’t know why you’re blaming me,” Molly hissed. “These are your issues. You didn’t know, so why are you so embarrassed? It’s not my fault she’s having his baby, so stop blaming me for your insecurities. You’re just pissed he chose to cheat with her over you.”
“Piss off, Molly,” I replied furiously, deciding that this really was the last straw. “You’re trying to pin this one on me because you know you should have told me. Did it make you feel superior to know that I was about to disgrace myself? Did you think you knew what was best for me? Well, now you don’t have to worry about fucking up again where I’m concerned. I’m moving out, you don’t have to have anything to do with me from this point onwards. I’m out of your hair.”
I stormed past her into my bedroom and hauled my suitcase out from under my bed. I threw as much as I could fit into it, magically shrinking things as I went along. In my anger, I accidentally shrank my bed to the size of a thimble and packed it out of spite anyway. My room was soon bare, devoid of anything I had ever owned. I dragged my suitcase as loudly as I could down the hall back to the living room where she could see it.
I reached into my pocket and took out my keys, chucking them at her. Then I flounced out of the house, slamming the door behind me.
There weren’t many places I could go. Anywhere I went I’d have to explain why Molly and I had fallen out and none of my family could know that Teddy was the father of Dom’s baby or that I’d harboured a massive crush on him for years. I was supposed to be over him, he wasn’t supposed to be affecting my life anymore but now I was stuck with this stupid situation that had changed everything for ever.
With a heavy sigh, I returned to Scorpius’s house. He took my suitcase off me wordlessly and let me inside. I found my usual spot on the sofa and finally started sobbing. I cried for what felt like hours, letting out all my frustration and hurt and shame.
I hadn’t expected her to defend her actions. I thought she would admit she’d made a mistake and apologise. How had I lived with her for so long without realising just how pig-headed she was? My Dad was right. It was an impossible situation; if she didn’t back down and concede than we’d never talk to each other again. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I needed to go to work tomorrow, but I didn’t know if I could face it. There was no way I’d be able to put up with a whole day of answering Boris’s inane questions about my welfare, and Matthew’s polite silence would drive me up the wall. All I wanted to do was shout at Molly and Dominique and Teddy for the rest of my life for the stupid decisions they’d made.
“Think about something else,” Scorpius suggested as I wiped away more angry tears. “Why don’t we play Scrabble?”
I sniffed. “Are you serious?” I asked incredulously. “You want to play Scrabble now?”
He shrugged. “Why not? It’ll take your mind off things.”
I seriously doubted that playing a board game was going to take my mind off everyone’s betrayal, but I supposed it was worth a go. I couldn’t see what else we were going to do.
“Fine,” I conceded.
Scorpius fetched the board and started setting up the pieces on the coffee table. I grabbed a blanket and curled up on the sofa, not feeling particularly competitive.
“It’s your go,” Scorpius prompted, rousing me from a daydream in which I decapitated Teddy and forced Molly to look after Dom’s baby as punishment.
I nodded, mutely placing the word ‘liar’ onto the Scrabble board, earning me four points.
Scorpius frowned at my choice of word and countered it by making the word ‘rainbow’. I sighed.
“Can we not do something else?” I asked after I placed my next word, ‘scum’. “I’m about to fall asleep here.”
“Shall I get the wine?” he offered.
I shook my head. “I have work tomorrow, I can’t.” I yawned and uncurled my legs from the sofa. “I think I might go to bed.”
Scorpius nodded, standing up too so he could show me the way. He showed me into the room that had once been my shrine; now, instead of holding all my pictures and memorabilia it held only a single bed and a desk. He disappeared whilst I found my pyjamas in the mass of my bag and changed into them.
I tucked myself into bed and sat upright, staring into the darkness, trying to organise my thoughts. I was exhausted from an extremely long day. I could barely believe it had been that morning when I’d gone to visit my Dad at home. Now I was staying the night at Scorpius’s after moving out of the flat I shared with Molly. I didn’t even dare think about Teddy on top of all that.
I felt so empty and drained, using all my energy to keep myself upright rather than think about it all. I didn’t dare sleep for fear of the dreadful day that awaited me tomorrow. Sitting in the dark was so much more preferable to facing the consequences of today.
There was a light knock on my door as Scorpius let himself in. Light from the hall flooded into the room and I could see he was carrying to mugs.
“I brought you some hot chocolate,” he said, placing one mug on the desk beside the bed. “I thought it might help you sleep.”
I was genuinely touched by this gesture. He must have known that I’d be unable to face sleeping. He had probably slipped a sleeping pill into the drink, but really it was the thought that counted. He sank down on the end of my bed, narrowly missing my feet as he did so. I cradled the warm mug in my hands and sighed deeply.
“Thank you,” I managed after remembering my manners. “I’m not sure sleep is on the agenda tonight.”
Scorpius sipped at his drink. “You should try at least. Nobody ever makes a good decision after a sleepless night.”
“I know,” I agreed with a sigh. “I just don’t want to think about it. I wish I’d never found out.”
“Or that you’d found out sooner,” Scorpius said with alarming insight.
“Yeah,” I muttered. I took a first sip of my drink and welcomed the sweet tasting liquid. The warmth slipped down into my stomach and warmed me from within. “They took me for a real fool. That’s not going to happen again.”
It was a real promise; I was determined to be more observant and perceptive in future. There was no way I was going to fall into a trap like this again; I deserved better.
“Do you regret going to France?” Scorpius asked after a while.
I thought about it; I didn’t really. I perhaps might not have gone if I’d known, but I didn’t at the time so I wouldn’t change it. “No,” I told him. “I needed to tell Teddy how I felt. I wouldn’t have been able to if I’d known what he’d done. At least I got the chance to let go on my own terms instead of having it done for me.” I sighed again. I was doing a lot of that at the moment. “I just feel like I’ve lost him all over again. He’s not the man I thought he was.”
Scorpius slurped at his drink. “I think that’s the problem with having a crush,” he mused. “They’re never as perfect in reality as you’d dreamed they’d be.”
I wondered if Scorpius was thinking of me. Perfection wasn’t that easy to attain, so if he was disappointed that I wasn’t perfect I wasn’t really bothered. He was right, though; I’d always thought of Teddy as something more than he was, or at least different. All my imaginings had fabricated a false Teddy that never existed. Perhaps that was why it was such a shock to find out he’d cheated; the man in my head who I called Teddy would never have done that. But unlike the man in my head, the real Teddy was human and he was able to make mistakes. And, unlike Scorpius’s imagined Rose, I made mistakes too. Perhaps he accepted that about me; in order to have the real me, he needed to welcome my flaws as well as my strengths.
Sadly, it appeared that Molly wasn’t able to find any of my better points. Well, as far as I was concerned, it was her loss. I was better off without her.