“Eddie? Ed, are you home?” A loud, young, female voice rang through the house, making me jump. Eddie and I were lying in his bed, wrapped up in warm blankets, his finger tracing patterns on my leg. I stared up at him with wide, questioning eyes.
“Shit,” He muttered, his brow furrowing, “That’s Allie, my sister. She’s been staying with me these past couple of days, we’ve been looking after eachother...” He bit his lip, “I forgot she was coming home this afternoon.”
“Ed?” The voice was getting closer. Eddie pushed himself up to a seated position, forcing my head off his shoulder. I sat up as well, clutching the sheets to my chest.
“You’re old enough to have girls in your room, aren’t you?” I joked, quirking an eyebrow. He bumped me gently with his shoulder.
“Of course,” He answered, “But you’ve got to admit this is not the ideal way to meet someone.”
I nodded. “It’s fine,” I said, “We’ll just get dressed and go out and say hi. Could you pass me my shirt?”
“Ed, for crying out loud!” Allie yelled, “If you jump out at me I swear to Merlin…”
“I’m home, Al!” Eddie answered, leaning over to grab hold of my discarded shirt and tossing it at me. I thanked him with a smile and was just about to pull it on when his bedroom door swung open. In burst a short, pretty woman in her early twenties, her hair as abnormally coloured as her brother’s. I realized then that I was forced to accept it as natural.
“Hey man, I stopped by the supermarket on the way home and – ” She came to a stop as she caught sight of her brother and I sitting in bed. Her eyes widened, “Oh. Sorry!” She covered her eyes, grinning, “You could have warned me, Ed!”
“Well we hadn’t really developed a sock on the doorknob system yet, had we? I just figured you would knock before coming in,” Her brother retaliated, pulling at his covers, his cheeks aflame. I was sitting there in silence, the blankets clutched to my chest. I didn’t know whether to be embarrassed or amused.
Allie Green was a short, curvy girl with long locks as questionably coloured as Ed’s and a wide, confident smile. Where Ed’s eyes were blue hers were a dark brown, but other than that and her pixie-like stature, she could have been a female version of her brother. She was still standing by the doorway, her eyes now uncovered and her hands on her hips.
“Nice to meet you,” She said, turning to me, her voice bright and cheery, “I’m Alice, Ed’s older sister. Sorry for walking in like this, I wouldn’t have bothered you if I had of known you would be naked,” She seemed like the forward, confident type. I just smiled as naturally as I could and told her it wasn’t her fault. “Ed,” Allie continued, turning to face her little brother, her expression serious, “I want you guys dressed and in the kitchen in five minutes. I’m making tea and I bought some shortbread,” She gave him a hard look. “Kitchen. Five minutes,” And with that, she flounced out of the room, her long hair streaming behind her.
“Wow,” I said, turning to face Eddie. He grinned.
“I know,” He said tiredly, “She was bossing people around before she could walk. Best not to go against her orders. Come on, let’s get dressed,” He leant over to kiss me lightly on the cheek. “Thanks for coming, Rose.”
I just nodded. What we had spent the past twenty minutes doing had done nothing to dissipate the sadness in his eyes, and even though I hadn’t expected it to, I wish I could help him in some way. But I couldn’t think of anything, so I got dressed in silence.
“Allie may come across a little strong,” Eddie was whispering as we walked down the hallway on the way to the kitchen, “But try not to take it too personally; it’s her way of dealing with Grandma’s death. She likes to pretend nothing is wrong,”
“Have you tried talking to her?” I asked him. He nodded grimly, and pushed the door to the kitchen open, grabbing hold of my hand and pulling me in behind him.
“How many sugars do you take?” Allie asked me over her shoulder as we entered. The kitchen was in a bit of a mess; the table was covered with newspapers, opened letters and three jars of flowers, and more flowers littered the bench. Many teapots and cups were stacked beside the sink.
“Just one, thanks,” I told her, looking at my surroundings. Eddie caught me staring and smiled wryly.
“We have been receiving more bouquets of sorry flowers than you can imagine,” He sighed, taking a seat. I pulled out a chair and sat down next to him.
“And we have gone through more tea than is physically healthy,” Added his sister, gesturing at the pile of teacups by the sink. “Between that and the takeout, I’m surprised I haven’t gained ten pounds.”
I accepted the cup of tea she passed me with warm thanks, and held it in both hands as I silently observed the two siblings.
They seemed to be putting on a strong front, and I could almost think they were doing fine. But then I thought of how my family would be if Nana Molly died so suddenly, and I wondered how they weren’t doing worse. I wanted so much to do something for them – but as a near stranger to Allie and a recent acquaintance to Ed, there wasn’t much I could do, other than drink their tea and laugh at their jokes and pretend, like them, that they were ok.
“So, Rose, what on earth convinced you to go to bed with my brother?”
At Allie’s sudden question, I chocked on my mouthful of tea, coughing as Ed patted me firmly on the back. He was chuckling slightly, while sending his sister an exasperated look. I had though Ivy was blunt. She was a sweet baby rabbit made of cotton candy and rainbows compared to Allie.
“Oh, well I guess...” I croaked hesitantly, my eyes watering slightly, “I can’t say that I… I love that painting! Where did you get it?”
I was never very skilled at changing topics with subtlety. But I think I pulled that one off relatively smoothly, to be honest.
“I was just curious,” Allie chuckled. It seemed that she was good at changing topics back. “I’m happy to finally meet you, Rose. Eddie told me about you, he said you were charming. But he finds monkeys in tuxedos charming, so I wanted to see for myself before I believed it.”
“Well, I’m flattered,” I answered, unsure as to whether or not it was flatterment (look it up!) that I was feeling. You would think that considering the family I grew up in I would be a pro at dealing with forward comments, but something about Allie left me at loss for what to say. She herself seemed to have a never-ending supply of words, though, so my silence didn’t go noticed.
“Do you want a shortbread?” She asked me, holding out the open packet. I took one politely and nibbled on it as she bustled over to the sink to start on some dishes. I turned to Ed, looking amused. “Monkeys in tuxedos, huh?” I asked him, smirking. He shrugged.
“It was funny,” He explained sheepishly, “But I like you better, don’t worry.” He placed a hand on my knee and gave it a squeeze. I smiled at him.
“So Rose, where do you work?” Allie asked me, dumping the stack of teapots and cups into the now bubble filled sink.
“I’m a cook at the Leaky Cauldron,” I told her simply. I had started to get tired of shooting out my many different professions every time someone asked, so I had begun to settle with a separate one each time. “What about you?”
“I work for Witch Weekly,” Allie told me, gesturing with her hands and sending suds flying, “In the photography department. I’m still an intern, but it’s fantastic anyway.”
“I have a cousin who works for Witch Weekly!” I exclaimed, “Molly Weasley, do you know her?”
“Oh, Molly! Yeah, I’ve seen her around. She’s lovely.”
The conversation drifted on for a bit, and by the time my tea was downed and I had inhaled four whole shortbreads, we had covered almost every area of small talk we possibly could.
“What about your other sister?” I asked Eddie, turning to him. Alice had gone off somewhere to do some stuff for work, so we were alone in the kitchen, “Is she staying with you as well?”
“Daisy? No, she’s still in school. It’s her last year before she’s let loose on the world. I’d count my blessings.”
“She’ll be in the same year as my brother, then,” I said, biting my lip, “They can wreak havoc together.”
“Daisy isn’t so bad, really,” Eddie sighed. “Just a little scatterbrained.”
“Well Hugs is a Quidditch obsessed grouch with a bad temper. All he can do is make people feel guilty.”
“With a nickname like Hugs? Surely not!”
“You’d be surprised,” I laughed. Ed smiled back, but his eyes weren’t in it. It was strange, to see his normally animated eyes so detached from the rest of him.
“Well I should get going…” I murmured, feeling slightly guilty for leaving him, but at least now I knew he wasn’t on his own. I stood up, and Ed followed, his face falling a little. “Thanks for the tea and the shortbread, I had a nice time.”
“No worries. Hopefully next time you meet Allie she’s a little saner,” He said, following me out into the hallway. I laughed, and assured him that sane didn’t exist in my family, so I was in no place to judge.
“It was good to see you,” Eddie added, when we reached the front door. I smiled up at him.
“You too,” I told him sincerely, reaching to give him a warm hug. “If you need anything, just owl me.”
“Thanks,” He broke out of the embrace, tucking a strand of hair behind my ear. I smiled and placed my hand on the doorknob, ready to go. “Do you want to get dinner with me some time?” He asked me suddenly, pulling a rough hand through his already messy hair. “If I recall correctly, we never did have that third date…”
I laughed. “Sure,” I agreed, smiling, “I’d love to,” I leant up to place a kiss on his cheek.
“Bye, Rose,” Ed said, “See you soon.”
When I left Eddie’s house I felt inexplicably sad. It was like I had carried some of the grief out of the home on my shoulders, and I began to wonder what it would be like for me if a member of my family died. It was unpicturable. The thought made me even sadder, so I pulled my coat tight around my body, quickened up my pace, and told myself to grow up.
As I was walking down the semi-crowded street, I passed in front of the glowing window of a bookstore. It was starting to get near sundown, and the golden inside of the shop looked so warm and welcoming compared to the cold chill of the outside, that I wandered in.
I had a thing with bookshops. Whenever they came across my path I had to look into them, even if I had no intention of buying. They reassured me, in a way. I always found them comforting to be in.
This time I did buy a book. Not a big book, just a little fiction novel I would probably eradicate in two days. The lady at the counter slipped the shiny new paperback into a brown paper bag with a warm smile.
“Enjoy your read,” She said, handing me the bag and the change. I thanked her and walked back out into the growing twilight, shivering slightly.
Though I was still feeling melancholic, I didn’t feel like going home just yet. I wanted to roam the streets of London on my own for a while, to be left to my thoughts without distractions or people asking questions. I had barely had a calm moment to myself in weeks.
As the sun began to set, the temperature dropped even lower. My cheeks were pink with cold and my fingertips numb, and there was a cafe up ahead, so I decided to get a drink, and maybe start my book in the warm confines of the coffee shop. It wasn’t too crowded inside, so I picked a seat in the corner by the window and ordered a hot chocolate, before pulling out my new book and opening it to the first page. The street lights had been lit outside, and some of the trees lining the footpath still had their Christmas fairy lights strung into their branches. I got comfortable in my seat, propped my book up against the table, and began to read.
When I finally got home, night had fallen for at least an hour. There was no one in the kitchen or the lounge room, so after slipping off my coat and throwing down my keys, I went into my room to have a hot shower and change into something comfortable.
Once clean and clad in a pair of warm tracksuits and my baggy red shirt, I plodded into the kitchen in pursuit of comforting foods. My search led me to a half-eaten packet of chocolate biscuits and a cup of milk, which I carefully carried out of the kitchen, and over to Lucy’s bedroom door.
“Luc?” I asked, giving the door a quiet nock. Lucy’s voice answered and told me to come in.
“Heya.” I greeted, stepping into the room, holding my glass of milk steady. Lucy was sitting cross-legged in the middle of her bed in a florescent yellow T-shirt that had I’M ABOUT TO DO SOMETHING AWESOME written on it in big bold letters. I decided not to comment. On the shirt, and also on the bright pink scrunchie holding her hair back.
Actually, no for that last one.
“Aunt Muriel called, she wants her hair garment back,” I said, walking over to the bed. Lucy scowled at me. She was flicking through a pile of glossy magazines, her brow furrowed. “What’s up with the pile of fashion propaganda?” I asked her, sitting down beside her. I threw the open packet of biscuits onto the bed and placed the glass of milk on top of a closed magazine cover. “I brought milk and cookies.”
“You’re awesome,” Lucy told me with a wide grin. She reached for a biscuit.
“Just like you’re about to be, apparently,” I muttered with a smirk and a pointed look at her shirt. She nodded happily, her mouth full of chocolate.
“I have a big opening night party thing at school in a couple of weeks,” She told me, pulling at a strand of hair that wasn’t held back by her horrific scrunchie, “Hence the magazines. I’m trying to find something to wear,”
“And you think you can afford this stuff?”
“Good god no. But, you know, it gives me an idea for what I can try and look for in Gladrags.”
I laughed. “I went to see Eddie today,” I told her, twisting open my biscuit. Lucy glanced up at me.
“Yeah? How was he?” She asked. I shrugged.
“Poor guy.” Lucy sighed. “Did you give him some cheering up?” She waggled her eyebrows childishly. I groaned.
“You’re like a little girl,” I smiled, “But yeah. Basically.”
“Taking advantage of a vulnerable man, Rose Weasley, how could you?” Lucy scoffed, dipping her biscuit in the cup of milk with an amused look on her face. I shook my head sadly.
“It’s eating me up inside. How? How could I give the poor guy sex?”
“Studies show that sex is the best antidepressant there is.” I stated smartly, as if that closed the matter entirely. “So… there.”
“So there? Well holy shizznizzle, I’m speechless!”
“Fuck off, Luc, you know what I mean.”
Lucy’s expression sobered somewhat. “I know Rosie,” She said, “You did well.”
We were silent for a while, munching on our chocolate cookies. Lucy flicked past a couple if model filled pages in her magazine.
“Studies show?” She repeated, suddenly. I glanced up at her. “What, you researched it?”
I laughed, “I dunno where I got that from. Maybe Ivy mentioned it one time. Go back to your dress hunt, girl. I’m going to bed.” I stood up, stretching my arms up and yawning widely. Lucy snatched another biscuit out of the packet before I picked it up.
“Hey!” She said, looking curious. “Does this mean you’re over Scorpius?”
I paused on my way to the door.
“I don’t think so,” I sighed wearily, “But I’m starting to like Eddie. Don’t worry, I’ll be over Malfoy soon. Real soon. The guy’s a wanker.”
“Whatever helps you sleep at night say.”
My cousin sounded half dubious, half amused. I stuffed a chocolate cookie in my mouth to refrain from an answer.
The next morning, in a sudden bout of uncommon motivation, I decided to go to the gym.
The gym. Me, exercising. Why? What possessed me to think that was a good, safe idea? I don’t know. I was motivated, and said motivation was not to be questioned.
A grumpy “What the fuck is that?” was Ivy’s way of greeting me as she walked bleary eyed into the kitchen. She was referring to the green sludge currently being plopped from the blender into my tall glass, and in my jovial, enthusiastic state, I happily ignored her grouchy tone.
“This is a healthy breakfast!” I told her, staring proudly at my cup of sludge. I had no idea what was in that. I had grabbed a number of things from the fridge (some carrots, apples, yoghurt, spinach…) and dumped it in our blender, and was now considering sending it into my body. I wonder sometimes, I really do.
“I wasn’t talking about the rabbit food,” Iv sighed, rubbing her eyes, “I was referring to your choice of clothing.”
A long time ago, during another of my current moods, I had bought myself a bright yellow sports bra (pointless, really, as I had little to show for in the breast department) which had only been worn once since then. This morning was the second time I had put it on in my short exercising history.
I had my hair up in a high ponytail, and a pair of old, be-holed tracksuit pants on along with said sports bra, and I had been feeling pretty good about it until Ivy’s comment.
“Does it not look pleasant?”
“Rose,” Ivy sighed, surveying me out of serious eyes as she took a seat at the table. She herself was dressed for a long day of doing nothing at home, “No. It does not.”
“But…” I glanced down at my attire, feeling disappointed, “Why?”
“Because – wait, are you going to the gym?” Ivy glanced at me suddenly, frowning. I nodded, pointing cheerfully at my glass of green goo. Ivy let her shoulders slump, “In that case you’re fine! I thought you were going out,” She let out a short laugh, “I could just picture you strolling through Diagon Alley, in minus five degree temperatures… ah, I’m going back to bed.” She shook her head, blonde silk swishing, and pushed herself up to standing. “See you at a humanly hour, Rosie,” She murmured, before walking out of the kitchen. I watched her go, pulling at my ponytail.
As you have probably gathered by now, I’m not much of an exercise person. I liked to go for a run on the occasional sunny day, but other than that, I mostly stuck to eating lots and sleeping lots and working lots. And sometimes, on days like today, I visited the gym across the road from our flat. Mostly because it was across the road from our flat.
With my morning blend of healthy goodness consumed (it didn’t taste that bad) I grabbed my duffle bag filled with all my sporting necessities, put a woollen cardigan on over my meagre attire, and let myself out of the flat, closing the door quietly behind me.
The hallway outside was not as deserted as I had hoped it would be. Making his way towards me in very proper looking purple robes, a leather briefcase in hand, was Malfoy. I groaned. I had given up questioning why my life always managed to form around uncomfortable, awkward situations. Now I just resented it in silence.
When he saw me standing half undressed outside my door, Malfoy slowed down, his jaw clenching slightly. He sent me a curt, frosty nod, to which I decided to reply with a cheery wave and a wide smile.
Rose, I thought to myself, just move to Tibet and become a monk. This will make life much easier for everyone.
I hadn’t seen Malfoy since I had woken up on his couch a little over a week ago, and since then I had managed to think about him a lot and sleep with another man. As his stony grey eyes stared me down, I felt like he could read all the inappropriate thoughts in my head, and I blushed. Tibet, Rosie. Just do it.
“Good morning,” I mumbled, staring down at my feet. I wrapped my cardigan around my exposed stomach. A sports bra. I was standing in front of Scorpius Malfoy in a sports bra. I may as well be dressed in the old red T-shirt I took for sleeping attire again. I bit my lip, hoping I wouldn’t spontaneously sprout out the name of a Middle Eastern food this time.
“Morning Weasley,” Malfoy answered, coming to a halt, “I must say, this hour of the day does not become you.”
“Funny, I was just thinking the same thing about you.”
“I’m off to work.”
“You don’t say?” I quirked an eyebrow, smirking, “I thought your current getup was something you wore on, say, a first date?”
“I prefer not to wear any clothes at all on those occasions,” Malfoy riposted, with a self-satisfied grin. I gulped. Don’t picture him naked, Rose, don’t do it. Don’t wonder what he’d be wearing if he were on date with you. For the love of Merlin, don’t hope it would be nothing.
“It’s not a date if you’re paying them, Malfoy,” I sighed, putting on a tired voice and shaking my head. Before he could counteract, I motioned towards the staircase, “I’m heading out too. You can insult me on the way.”
“You’re one to comment on interesting clothing,” He grumbled, falling into step beside me. I glanced down at my pants, which sported a large hole over my left knee. “Is this how you greet customers at the Leaky Cauldron these days?”
“I’m going to the gym,” I answered curtly, folding my arms.
“You don’t say? I thought that was what you wore-”
I sent him a sharp jab in ribs with my elbow, “Please stop talking Malfoy, I’m beginning to form a headache.”
“And I’m having trouble keeping my breakfast down. We make a right pair.”
I huffed at his comment, but had nothing to say in return, so we descended the staircase in stony silence. As we walked, I tried to wrap my head around this feeling in my chest. I wanted to talk to him, somehow. I wanted to know what he liked and what he didn’t, I wanted to kiss his cheek and I wanted to see him smile. I also wanted to throw at him every useful insult growing up in a large rowdy family had taught me. I didn’t understand how I could feel both these extremes at once. It made no sense to me, and though I pondered on it often, I still could not understand. I found him attractive, yes. I found him irritating and arrogant also. I often had the urge to punch him in the face, and I wondered what his hair would feel like underneath my fingers.
I was insane, this was insane. What one of these two feelings was the true on?
“Have a good workout Weasley,”
We had reached the front doors of our building, where we were headed in opposite directions. Malfoy stared at me, his hand shielding his eyes from the weak winter sun, an odd, expectant look on his face. I frowned.
“Thanks,” I said, adjusting the bag hanging on my shoulder, “And you have a good day at work.”
Malfoy grimaced at my comment, and while I was trying to figure out if it was in reaction to my face or the mention of work, he waved, and headed off down the empty street. I stood outside our building, watching him go.
The tight squeeze in my chest and the lack of desire to throw a snowball at his retreating backside answered my former question for me:
It seemed that - for today at least - my cheek kissing, smile inducing, hair stroking feeling had the upside. And for the first time in ever, this did not anger, frustrate, or confuse me. It simply made me a little sad.
A/N: Chapter 12, woohoo!! I've never been this far into a fanfic before ;) And I have plenty more written! I want to tell you everything that happens right now, but I can't, I won't! Buut, still tell me what you think of this. I know, it's the most fillerful of all fillers, but events will happen a little more in the next one. Or the one after that.
Anyway! I would love to get some more lovely reviews from you lovely readers xx