My eyes were closed tight, but the brightness of what I was guessing was sunlight was still managing to enter into my sleep and make me stir. I frowned and stretched a bit, groaning at the stiffness in my muscles. Since when had my bed been this uncomfortable and lumpy?
I yawned, and rubbed my eyes with my fists in clear them a little. They cracked open a couple of notches, letting in shards of this sunlight stuff, and it took them a couple of seconds to focus and open completely and when they did…
“What the fuck?” I mumbled, staring at my surroundings. I was most definitely not in my room, or anywhere in my apartment for that matter. I did not recognize a single thing around me.
I glanced down at myself, noting that I was still wearing my sequined dress from last night, but my shoes where off and my hair was out. Last night… what had happened last night? I was currently lying on a couch, an old red leather one, underneath one of those holey hospital blankets that are supposed to be super insulating, and the couch was in a living room. There was something strangely familiar about this room, but I couldn’t place my finger on it…
It wasn’t too big, but it was tidy, if a little too empty and single-man looking for my taste. There was a large window on one side framed by green curtains that were doing nothing to keep out the sunlight, and a rather comfortable looking fluffy carpet on the floor.
What the fuck?
I pushed off my blanket and swung my legs over the edge of the couch, wiggling my toes into the carpet. The only sound was the regular tick tock of the clock in the corner. I frowned.
Then I noticed the small pile of moving boxes piled in one corner. The slightly unpacked look of my surroundings that I hadn’t noticed at first. And I suddenly realized what it was that was so familiar about this room; It was made a little like my own living room. Because it was probably designed by the same person. For the same building. My mind started to place these facts together, slowly, and as the resulting assumption began to form in my mind, I felt my heart sink.
Bullfuck. Only Lucy’s original use of curse words could describe the absolute dread and confusion I was feeling as I sat stock-still in what I was assuming was Malfoy’s flat. Was it Malfoy’s flat? It couldn’t be. But I swear it was! Oh dear.
Ok, what the fuck happened last night?
I tried to trace back what I could actually recollect and placed it in chronological order. I remembered Eddie standing me up, me getting to the party annoyed and flustered and jumping on the alcohol. Then… Malfoy, and the coatroom. That was weird. And after that… My mind drew to a blank. I was seriously starting to freak out. I had been relatively drunk, yes, but not enough to not evoke a single thing past the awkward chit chat I had shared with Malfoy in the cloakroom. What… Oh. I had fallen asleep. I remembered falling asleep on Malfoy’s shoulder. And then waking up here.
Was I really sure this was Malfoy’s place? I swept another glance around the room. My thoughts had been jumping to him so often lately that I could have just come to the wrong conclusion. I mean, I could be at… I could be at Henry’s. Or Dom’s date’s place, maybe I had gone home with them? Or… or with some form of a relative who’s house I had not yet visited?
Seriously, the possibilities were endless.
With nothing else to do, I decided to investigate. I padded my way over to a door standing ajar across from me, still squinting in the bright morning sunlight. Past that door, I found a kitchen, clean and empty and basically a haven for tiles and stainless steel. Empty. But that didn’t mean anything.
Next I wandered into an office type place, consisting of a desk strewn with various pieces of paper, a comfy looking armchair and piles upon piles of books. I ran my finger over their shiny covers as I circled the room. I walked over to the window and flicked open the curtain to get a view of the outside.
My stomach clenched. I was looking at the familiar street outside our building, with the bakery and the gym and the busy, snow covered footpath. I was at Malfoy’s. And I still had no freaking idea how I had gotten here.
Think, Rosie. Try to recall even the smallest detail, anything to calm the wild assumptions your mind is making right now.
I continued to stare out the window as I tried to rack my brain for any kind of memory at all. I was getting vague pictures, blurry sounds and colours. Dom seemed to be in the picture somehow, as was an empty bottle of champagne… some snow. An empty lobby. Dizziness and yawning. I must have been very tired and more than drunk when all of this went down.
“You always have to have your abnormally upturned nosed stuck in something, don’t you?”
I jumped at the sound of Malfoy’s voice behind me. I hadn’t even noticed him enter the room.
“What am I doing here?” I blurted out, my hand still clenched around his curtain. Malfoy was shirtless – shirtless – and dressed in a pair of flannelette pyjama bottoms, his hair messy and sticking up in every direction. I averted my eyes from his bare chest, and went on, “I just woke up here, I can’t remember anything from last night.”
“Nothing?” Malfoy asked me, raising an eyebrow. I shook my head, wincing. I had just noticed the headache currently throbbing at my temples. I just wanted to go home. And my flat was agonizingly close, too.
“All I remember is falling asleep in the old coatroom.” I said. Malfoy smirked.
“Well, we woke up a while later. When I came ‘round it was pretty late, most of the guests had already gone home. I tried to wake you, too, but you just mumbled something about frogs and curled back to sleep,” He paused here, and walked over to his chair, taking a seat. I stayed by the window, resting my hurting head back against the wall and closing my eyes. The nausea had began to rise. It was almost all I could think about, “Does any of this ring a bell?” He asked me. When I shook my head, he sighed and went on. “Though it was tempting, I couldn’t leave you half drunk in a disused cloakroom, so I dragged you out into the lobby and went to look for one of your many relatives. I found Dom. She told me that Lucy had gone home with her date and Al and Ivy were nowhere to be found, and that I should just take you home with me because we lived so close.” I scowled when he came to this part of the story. Dom could have easily taken me home herself, or even just gotten me a bed somewhere at the Potter’s. She still had hopes for Malfoy and I, the deluded girl. “I apparated us back here. You were a complete mess, by the way, you wouldn’t wake up properly, you just kept stumbling and mumbling… Merlin. Anyway, I helped you up to your floor, and your door was locked so I knocked. No one answered, and eventually, I just had to bring you back here. I couldn’t leave you crumbled outside the hallway.” He came to a halt, lifting an unamused eyebrow as he stared me down stonily. He seemed to think this was all my fault.
“You could have asked me for my key,” I pointed out, crossing my arms over my chest. Malfoy glowered at me.
“I did. You fumbled in your pocket for a while before stating that you were a jellyfish.”
“You didn’t need to bring me back to your house.”
“You think I wanted you to sleep on my couch?”
“No, and I didn’t want to either!”
“I should have just left you out in the hallway.” He stood up suddenly, scowling, “I don’t know why I went out of my way to help you. Merlin’s beard, Rose, why can’t you be grateful?”
I stared at him. Rose. He called me Rose. Why would he call me Rose at a time like this? But it didn’t seem to be the main issue right now.
“I am!” I spat, pushing myself off the wall. I uncrossed my arms, “I’m just annoyed that I’ve had to spend such a long amount of time around you; your bad attitude seems to rubbing off on me.”
“My bad at-” Malfoy cut off suddenly, “No, you know what, I don’t even want to argue this with you right now. I think you should go home.”
I nodded, “I think I should.”
Malfoy agreed. “Great.”
“Great,” I repeated, turning to leave.
“Oh, and you can probably take the blanket with you; it’s trash now.” Malfoy added as an afterthought. I twisted back around and raised my eyebrows at him.
“I’ll come get it later. First I need to take a very long shower to wash off the smell of your self-righteousness,” I riposted angrily.
“Don’t expect me to be home; I’ll be out drowning the despair your presence brings me in alcohol.”
“I hope you get hit by a bus while you’re out.”
“Rather that than continue with this conversation. Don’t you have a home to get back to?”
“Yeah…” I hesitated, my hand on the doorknob. This small bicker with Malfoy had been refreshing, but I suddenly found myself all out of steam. I was like a deflated balloon, I had no fight left in me. I stared at the floor. A small question had been nagging at my mind ever since I had woken up, so I decided to ask it. “What happened last night?”
Malfoy glanced at me in surprise. His brow was still furrowed, but his eyes held less anger, “I thought we settled this already, Weasley,” He muttered, still looking slightly annoyed. I sighed and tried to pull a hand through my tangled hair. It got caught somewhere near my hairline.
“No, I mean in the cloakroom. We were… almost friendly. Do you think it was the alcohol?” I bit my lip. This had the potential to turn into an extremely awkward conversation. I had no idea why I had started it.
“Must have been.” Malfoy muttered with a small shrug.
“It was weird,” I stated.
“So weird,” He agreed.
“I’m glad we hate eachother again,” I nearly meant it, too.
He nodded, grinning slightly. “Me too, Weasley.”
One thing I had not thought of when padding down the hallway on the way to my flat, high heels in hand, was the three flatmates I shared my place with. Flatmates with eyes and questions and suspicions that would be set on alert by the sight of me creeping through the front door with messy hair and last night’s clothes. But I did not think of it. So when I fished in my coat for my key and found both pockets empty, I rung the bell.
“Rosie?” Ivy opened the door for me, her blue eyes wide. She was dressed for school, her hair in a long plait. “What are you doing here?”
I grinned at her, “Well, I think I live here,” I said, “And I was hoping to come in.”
“Sure,” Ivy nodded dubiously and stepped aside to let me pass. “But I wasn’t referring to your presence outside this door. I was more curious about the clothes and the hair and the early hour, all of which suggest you didn’t come home last night. I thought your date bailed? What happened?”
I threw my coat on the hook and dropped my shoes by the door, sighing, “It’s not what you think, blondie,” I told her, dragging my feet towards the kitchen. “I did not make sweet love to a dark stranger I met at the open bar. I’ll explain it all to you once I’ve ingested an appropriate amount of coffee. I’m in the clutches of the worst hangover ever here.”
When I entered the kitchen, I was met with the sight of my male cousin, sending me the same astonished look I had just received from his girlfriend.
“Not what you think,” Ivy told him, before he could ask and I could answer. Al closed his gaping jaw, but still proceeded to stare at me questioningly.
“I just got a bit too drunk last night,” I told them both, reaching for the coffee pot and pouring myself a mug. “And no one could find you guys or Lucy, so Dom sent me home with Malfoy. I didn’t have my keys, he let me crash on his couch.” I took a long, scalding sip of coffee so I didn’t have to say anything else. To my surprise, my friends didn’t look too shocked. In fact, I think their surprise deflated somewhat.
“Sorry about that,” Ivy said, taking a seat at the kitchen table, “If we had of known you were that drunk, we wouldn’t have left you at the Potter’s.”
I shrugged, “It’s fine, I’m back now.” I finished my coffee in a long gulp, grimacing at the bitterness, “And now I’m going to go take a very long, very hot shower, and ready myself for work. I may also ingest one or two headache killing potions.” I smiled at my two friends, and placed a hand on my throbbing head, “Actually, make that three.”
Today I had a six hour shift at the Leaky Cauldron, a two hour break, and then I was off to babysit Sophie and Remus for the night. I was not fit for either of those jobs right now, but I couldn’t afford to get fired. No matter how much Lucy assured me we were financially stable.
Maybe I should just join the circus.
“If you don’t develop diabetes by the age of thirty, I’m going to have to assume there’s some divine power at work here,” I was saying, staring wide eyed at the platter of cake, biscuits, scones and hot chocolate sitting in front of my cousin. I myself had settled with a coffee and a slice of carrot cake, and even that had earned me a judgmental glance from the stick thin waitress.
“I’ll be surprised if a lot of things don’t happen to me by the age of thirty, but I’m not going to let that make me believe in a God.” Lucy answered, happily spreading jam and cream over a steaming scone. I just shrugged and took a sip of my coffee.
Lucy and I had decided to go grab a quick drink this afternoon, making the most of the two hours we had before I had to leave for babysitting and she had to go to her first dress rehearsal. We hadn’t gone to La Praline, our usual haunt, and had instead decided to try out a cute patisserie place Cedric had brought Lucy to not long ago. It was nice, and even though their coffee did not trump La Praline’s, I thought I might come back here again some time.
“Cedric has good taste in coffee shops,” I said, glancing at our surroundings. Lucy stared at me, her mouth full of scone.
“Don’t you send me that look,” She said accusingly, swallowing loudly, “I don’t like it.”
“I am sending you no look, Luc,” I answered calmly, “Your guilt is just making you see things. You know you shouldn’t have gone home with Henry.”
“Rose, the guy’s a god! Don’t tell me you wouldn’t have done the same.”
“I thought you were just friends.”
“Yes we are.” Lucy agreed, “But he’s really attractive.”
“You’re seeing Cedric!”
“It’s not official!”
“I’m pretty sure he’d mind.”
“We never said we were exclusive.”
“You’re face – ”
Lucy held up a hand before I could unleash my comeback of ice cold wit. “It happened, and I don’t regret it, and you are in no place to judge.” She said, taking a solemn sip of her hot chocolate. I stared at her in astonishment.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked her.
“It means that you’re currently seeing a guy with the sole intention of using him to forget someone else.”
I gasped, “That was your idea!” I said, looking astonished.
“But you did not have to listen to me,” Lucy pointed out, trying to look wise. She took a large bite out of a jam drop in a collected manner.
“Well karma has dealt her hand, anyway,” I sighed, pulling fingers through my recently untangled hair, “Eddie stood me up, remember?”
Lucy frowned, “But you can’t be angry at him for that!” She protested, edging her spoon towards my carrot cake. I hissed at her, “He had good reason.”
“He did?” I was confused. What did Lucy know that I didn’t?
My cousin’s eyes widened. “Didn’t I tell you?” She asked me, looking surprised. I shook my head silently. “Oh, shit. Sorry, Rosie, I completely forgot… I could have sworn – ”
“Get to the point, dear,” I cut in, getting curious.
“Right. Well last night Henry told me why Eddie didn’t make it. Apparently, his grandmother passed away yesterday morning, from a stroke, and Henry said he’s been pretty crushed. A fancy dinner date at the Potter’s would have been the last thing he needed. Hen said he meant to contact you to tell you he couldn’t make it, but I guess he forgot… Sorry I forgot to mention it, Rosie,” Lucy bit her lip, staring at me with gentle eyes. I stared back, slightly stunned.
“His grandmother passed away?” I repeated, feeling my chest contract slightly. Lucy nodded solemnly. “Shit. And I’ve been moping around and blaming him since yesterday. Oh Luc, I feel like such a self-centred idiot!”
“You are, dear,” Lucy murmured, patting my hand gently, “You are.”
“Sod off,” I mumbled, trying not to smile. Lucy just held out her arms, letting me lean into them and place my head on her shoulder. I sighed and slackened in her grip.
“What are you going to do?” She asked me, placing her cheek on the top of my head. “Do you think you should go see him, give him your condolences? Or just wait until he feels better?”
“I dunno,” I mumbled into her jumper, shrugging, “I’m still in shock. This was the last reason I would have expected! I think I’ll go and see him, though. Or at least send him an owl.”
“Good idea, honey. Are you going to finish your cake?” Lucy asked me, still in the same reassuring voice. I wriggled out of her grasp and scowled at her.
“Don’t you have enough sweets already? I asked her, staring pointedly at her numerous plates of desserts. She just grinned and shrugged, but I shook my head. “This goodness is all mine, lovely. Now cheer up and enjoy that cheesecake.”
I was standing outside Eddie’s house, fidgeting, slightly nervous. It had been four days since Lucy had told me about his grandmother, and I had made the sudden decision this morning to see how he was going. I was starting to regret this decision. But it was too late now.
It’s fine, Rosie, I told myself, taking a deep breath, I’msure plenty of his friends have been visiting just like you are. Just ring the bell.
Before I could chicken out by hightailing it down the street, I pressed firmly on his doorbell, wincing at the harsh noise, and waited. It wasn’t long before I heard a scuffle and a quiet curse, and the front door swung open, revealing a grimacing Ed behind it. He was clutching his knee and looked relatively distracted. He took in my presence in with marked surprise.
“Rose?” He said, “What are you doing here?”
I stared up at him, chewing on my lip. “Lucy told me about your grandmother,” I said softly, fingering the end of my scarf, “I just wanted to see if you were okay,” I finished my explanation lamely, trying to smile in a gentle yet encouraging manner.
“Oh,” Ed answered, still looking slightly dazed. He had let go of his knee now, “Come in.”
I followed him meekly inside the house, still nervous. I didn’t know how to deal with someone who had experienced a loss. All I knew was that the thought of bright, optimistic Eddie feeling alone and sad had made me want to come and see him. And now I was here. And all I wanted to do was snog him. I felt like a heartless monster.
Ed led me into the living room, where I sat awkwardly on the edge of the couch trying not to think of the last time I had been in here. Last time, it had been a blur of moans and kisses and clothes fluttering to the ground like leaves. This time it was an unhappy silence heavy with grief.
“Do you want something to drink?” Ed asked me, his brow furrowed, his eyes sad. His voice sounded strained and unrealistic. I shook my head.
“I’m good. I just wanted to see how you were holding up. Just to tell you that…” I trailed off, uncertain of how to finish my phrase. “I’m so sorry, Ed,” I said instead. He just shrugged.
“It’s not your fault,” He said simply. “It’s no one’s fucking fault. Why do people keep saying they’re sorry?”
“Because they want you to know they care, I guess,” I answered. I was standing up now, facing him. He looked so lost, I just wanted to hold him in my arms. But I stayed put, “What else is there to say? It’s hard.”
“They don’t need to say anything,” Ed riposted, pulling a hand through his hair. It was a dark auburn today, “Just being around is enough. Seeing you standing at my doorstep, Rose, made me feel a whole lot better than your ‘I’m sorry’.” I nodded mutely, “I’m glad you’re here. Thanks for coming. Your smile is contagious.”
“I feel the same about yours,” I answered, with a small grin. “And we don’t have to talk, if you don’t want to. We can do whatever you want. Hell, we can go skinny dipping in the Thames if that will make you feel better.”
Ed’s eyebrow rose, “Well, seeing you naked would do wonders,” He joked. It was half hearted, but I smiled anyway.
“What was she like?” I asked him, walking over to him and wrapping my arms around his neck. He stared down at me, his pained eyes elsewhere.
“She was a wonderful old lady,” He began, smiling quietly, “Healthiest woman on the earth, I swear. She was only seventy three. We thought she was going to outlive us all. She was so rock solid, so constant, the glue that kept our family together. It’s so strange to have her gone, Rose,” He murmured, “So strange.”
“She sounds brilliant,” I whispered, resting my head on his chest. He placed a hand on my lower back and the other in my hair, “She sounds a bit like my Nana. Boy. No one can disobey Nana Molly, not even her nineteen year old grandsons.”
“Same with Poppy,” Ed chuckled, “She could terrify the pants off me.”
“Man…” I sighed, lifting my head off his chest and staring up at him. His hand was burning a hole through my shirt, and I was blatantly aware of the way our bodies were pushed up against eachother. It seemed he was too, because his eyes sparked suddenly. I bit my lip.
“I’m glad you came,” He repeated, reaching out to tuck a strand of hair behind my ear. I tightened my grip around his neck. “And I won’t make you go skinny dipping in the Thames.” He leaned in closer to me. My breath came to a halt.
“Load off my mind,” I murmured, twisting my fingers into his hair. His hand travelled lower down my back, and I lifted my face up to his, bringing our lips hesitantly together. The kiss was sweet, at first. A gentle, soft, I’m sorry kiss. If he didn’t want me to say it with words, I had to say it somehow. I pulled away after a moment.
“I wasn’t kidding about the naked thing,” Ed murmured, placing a soft kiss in the crook of my neck. I didn’t respond straightaway. I wasn’t sure if sex was what the man needed right now. I thought talking seemed like a healthier option. I stared up at him, his hands cupping either side of my face. His eyes were filled with grief and unfinished thoughts, and his mouth was set in a hard, twisted line. He scared me and made my heart melt all at the same time.
“Are you sure?” I asked him, searching his eyes for any kind of a signal warning me to say no. But he just nodded numbly, and brought his lips back to mine.
A/N: So, less Malfoy in this chapter, but it is coming, I swear! And don't worry about Eddie, he won't take over. He's just... there, for now. Sooo... did you enjoy this? Favorite part? I know it's not really and action-packed chapter, but I hope you liked it anyway :) A review would be much apreciated!