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Cheating the Bet by Ryebread
Chapter 15 : White Christmas
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 4

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Thanks to RosieQueen @ TDA for the lovely image :)

For the next long week, I cooped myself up in Rose’s house, only keeping contact with my mum, dad, and the immediate family that lived here. I split my time between sitting in silence with Rose in her room and playing hopeless games of chess with Hugo. And by hopeless, I mean that I would never ever win. Ever. The only person that could beat Hugo was his dad, Ron, and he would only win half the time. At fifteen, he had equal skill as his father.

That was where I sat right now; hopelessly losing. I would learn something new only to suffer defeat because Hugo was better, but I didn’t mind. It helped pass the time and ease my nerves while I waited to go to the Burrow with the whole Wotter family and company, which included Al.

I hadn’t seen or spoken to him since I sent that letter. I also hadn’t cried since then. I haven’t felt anything in a whole week. I basically just tried to keep my mind off of him until I could get over him and move on. I played the part; acting the way I should, even though I didn’t feel anything. Until I moved on and got over this, I would bolt into the bathroom every time someone knocked at the door, fearing that it might be Al and I couldn’t face him just yet.

After losing five more games, each lasting about five minutes (my record was seven minutes and seventeen seconds), Hermione came down the stairs with a grumpy Rose in a tow.

“Come on, Hugo, Allie. We’re going to the Burrow,” she said with Mum and Dad right behind her. I walked over and stood by them. My parents were the only people who could see through my mask of normality. Rose could if she paid any attention to her surroundings.

She turned to her husband. “Oh, Ronald, stop writing your letters. You work too hard. It’s Christmas; the auror department can wait.”

“It’s not the auror department. Just go, ‘Mione. I’ll catch up.” He continued to scribble on the parchment with his quill, not bothering to look up at his wife. Hermione sighed and looked exasperated.

He had been working excessively hard since his daughter stopped talking to him, though recently he had taken to writing letters. You could tell that they both missed each other. Though Rose hadn’t said more than two words to him since the holidays started, she would smile when he said something funny or stupid and I could tell she was trying to stifle a laugh. When she thought no one was looking, she would look sadly at her dad. Ron tried to talk to her; to “reason with her about that git”, but to no avail. She would just get angry and say something rude and colorful to him.

Hermione was extremely stressed. She had stopped trying to help them out a few days ago when it became obvious that they had to work this out on their own. Now, she was just a mediator. She would listen to both of them, but never took sides. It was a huge strain on her; having a moody teenage daughter and an overworked husband.

“Ronald, your mum is going to want to see you and she’ll box your ears if you don’t show up. Come now, we’re going to be late.” Ron just shook his head.

“I’ll be there in a minute. Tell her that I have some last minute Christmas plans. Just go, ‘Mione.”

Hermione gave him one last tired look, but then relented.

“Fine, Ron. I’ll see you there.” She walked over and kissed him goodbye before we apparated to the Burrow.

The rickety shack that was the Burrow was fully decorated with Christmas lights that flashed a rainbow of colors. The smell of Molly Sr.’s cooking filled my nose, making my mouth water. My heart was pounding at full speed in my chest and I was starting to sweat… in the middle of winter. I was beyond nervous. I wasn’t sure how Al was going to react. Would he be totally fine? Would he be awkward? Mad? I secretly wished that he would be torn up; that he would be upset over the break up. I didn’t necessarily want him to hurt, but I wanted to be wanted again.

I swallowed when we reached the door and walked into the warm, homey dwelling. I breathed and then put on my happy mask. It was time to put on my show.

The living room and kitchen were stuffed with people. Hundreds of cousins and friends filled the humble house. Along with the Wotters were their friends; Luna and Rolf with their twins, Dean Thomas with his wife, Emily, Seamus Finnegan and his better half, Sarah Finnegan, and Viktor Krum with his Bulgarian wife, Ana, and their fourteen year old son, Nikolai. Oliver Wood and his wife, who both played quidditch couldn’t make it, but Sophie and Eric were here.

“Okay, everyone, attention!” announced Molly Weasley from the kitchen where she was basting a turkey and preparing dinner with the help of Percy and Audrey. “Everyone gather into the living room for presents!” There were numerous whoops and hollers and shuffling of feet before everyone packed into the magically expanded living room.

Teddy and a very pregnant Victoire sat side by side on the couch whilst Harry and Ginny stood beside them and chatted, most likely about the baby. Hermione was glancing anxiously at the door until Ron came in with no time to spare. Hermione obviously scolded him, but he must have said something sweet because she smiled and looked placated then turned to talk to Angelina and Mum while Ron went to Viktor Krum and shook his hand. It’s funny how he likes Viktor now, but wasn’t a fan in their school years. Go figure.

Fleur had to physically hold back her husband as he glowered at Dom and Lysander flirting beside the Christmas tree that stood in front of the window, or at least Dom was flirting; Lysander looked oblivious. Dad made it his duty to give some fatherly advice to Bill about daughters and their boyfriends. James and Fred were putting something in the punch with a guffawing Charlie watching them, but doing nothing about it. I rolled my eyes. How predictable could you get? Though, it looked like Claire had seen them, because she marched over to James and said something to make him have a guilty look on his face. He replied back to her, probably and apology and she smiled, and then kissed him. I knew they’d get together.

Lucy and her sister Molly were eyeing the tree hungrily, wanting their gifts. Lily, George, and Hugo were nowhere to be seen, but I was sure that we would all hear from them before the night was over. Lorcan sat next to Rose and they seemed to be discussing something in a book while Nikolai tried to add in comments, but it was hard to understand his thick accent. I was happy about this; it was the most interaction Rose had shown during our holiday vacation. Last, but certainly not least, I found Al with Eric, Soph, Aileen, Roxy, and Cole.

I glanced over at them quickly, but not quick enough. Al’s eyes met mine and I turned away, avoiding looking at that vicinity. I wanted to go talk to all of them, but I knew how awkward it would be, so I took a seat by Molly and Lucy and watched them shake their wrapped presents.

“Dinner will be ready in about an hour, everybody,” yelled Molly. “So, now, grab your presents.”

It was a mad dash to the tree. Everybody raided the tree, passing the presents to their appropriate owners. I was pushed out of the way and decided to settle on the couch by a tired looking Victoire, who appeared highly amused at the childlike display from her family and friends.

As I waited for my gifts to be passed to me, I made small talk with her.

“Is it a boy or a girl?” I asked her. She smiled conspiratorially.

“I’m not telling anyone. Teddy and I want it to be a surprise.” I pouted.

“Aw, come on, Vic. I won’t tell. I pinky promise.” I held up my dainty pinky. She laughed and shook her head.

“You’ll find out with everyone else, Alice. Don’t worry. I only have a month to go now. It’s not long to wait.” I wrinkled my nose and put my lip out.

“I hate waiting.” She shook her head again. “Fine,” I said. “What names have you picked out?”

“Well,” she said thoughtfully. “If it’s a boy, Ted and I was Remus John after his father. It means so much to him to have his son named after him. Unfortunately, his mum was named Nymphadora and neither Ted nor I nor even his mum liked that name, so we were thinking Adrienne Dora. It’s kind of a mix of my French heritage and his mum’s name.”

I nodded enthusiastically.

“Those names are great. I almost hope you have twins.” Victoire laughed prettily.

“They would definitely be a handful, especially if they’re like Ted, so I hope not. Unless you wanted to babysit…,”she suggested. I shook my head and put my hands up.

“No, I’m good. I had to babysit mum’s muggle relatives and they were a nightmare. Can you imagine a magical kid?” I shuddered and Vic threw her head back and laughed, her golden blonde hair flew back and she clutched her bulbous belly.

We talked for a few more minutes before someone handed me my presents. I looked up to see Al, with all of my gifts in his arms. He looked wary and tired, but his face gave away no other emotions. He was a mask of emotionlessness. He laid them down at my feet and then reached into his pocket and pulled out a small black velvet box and put it on top of my pile.

“Happy Christmas,” he told me, but he didn’t sound happy. I didn’t respond. My tongue was tied and all rational thought left my head. When I didn’t say anything, he left looking disappointed.

“Happy Christmas,” I whispered after he left when I found my voice.

I pushed all thoughts of Al out of my mind and ignored Victoire’s puzzled looks and my friends questioning glances from across the room.

Setting aside the soft, jet black box, I ripped open the wrapping paper to my first present.

I spent about an hour slowly unwrapping and savoring all of my presents and in the middle of gift unwrapping, George, Hugo and Lily decided to make an appearance with suspicious innocent looks on their faces.

I had gotten a sneakoscope from Lily and various sickly candies from Hugo. Rose had bought me a journal that would only open to me. Roxy gifted me pair of super cute faux fur boots. My parents had bought me a new cage for Tilly and some new clothes. Aileen and Soph had pooled their money together to buy me a winter accessories set. It was a compilation of ear muffs, a hat, a scarf, gloves, and some fuzzy socks. The rest of everybody else had gotten me the odd Weasley Wizard Wheeze’s product or just money so I could shop myself. Even Claire had gotten me a miniature basket of candy with a card, thanking me.

The whole room was in a buzz about their presents when the doorbell rang. Silence filled the room, which was extremely rare for this family.

“I wonder who that could be,” said Ron. He sounded like he was lying. He dashed to the door and opened it dramatically and slowly.

A very nervous looking Scorpius arrived in the doorway. Ron turned to face Rose.

“Happy Christmas, Rosy,” he said, smiling timidly. Rose’s face lit up and she ran to hug Scorpius. I could see tears falling down her face as she kissed him chastely (after all we were in the presence of family). Then she turned to Ron.

“Thank you, Daddy.” They embraced and I swore I saw a tear in Ron’s eyes, but he turned his head away from the crowd.

“I was being prejudiced and proud. I’m sorry, Rose. Even if his father hasn’t changed, which he could very well have, Scorpius is his own person. I wrote him yesterday to come over for dinner. If he makes you happy, he’s welcome in our house.”

Rose wiped the glistening tears from her eyes and went back to Scorpius and led him into the living room. While all this happened, I snuck out of the Burrow and into the cold with the little velvet box.

I grabbed my coat on the way out and put it on, then wrapped my new purple scarf around my neck. I used the new fluffy purple gloves and hat, as well. Feeling very warm and comfortable, I trudged out into the freezing cold.   

I walked a little ways, before finding a field of foot tall grass. I plopped down on my arse and sat alone in my bitterness.

I wanted to be happy for Rose and a part of me was, but it was a small part. I was bitter and alone and numb. I couldn’t cry; I couldn’t feel anything right now.

It had started to snow. The sky was crying for me. I almost smiled at the thought. I could act fine around everybody, but being alone, I couldn’t fool myself.

I fiddled with the box for a few minutes, hesitating to open it. I didn’t want to know what was in the box, but at the same time curiosity was burning inside me. My curiosity won out.

Flipping up the lid, I found a silver bracelet inside. It was a charm bracelet with an owl that flew around and hooted. I guessed that it must be Tilly. The next charm was mug. It filled up with fizzy liquid and then drained and repeated. I followed Al’s thought process and knew it must be Mum. Third was a vine like plant that had leaves that grew and shrank. That one was Dad. Lastly was a broomstick that flew, its twigs rustled as it zoomed around. It was Al.

I immediately felt. I could feel sadness, happiness, relief, nervousness, confusion, anger.

I felt a drop in my finger. A wet trail ran down my cheek, but it wasn’t because I was hurt; I was relieved that I could feel something, even if it wasn’t pleasant, I had emotions. I wasn’t hollow.

I could cry. I could feel and I could get over him.

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