Chapter 3 : Discomfort
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The hotel we are in is decent – the kind of hotel that does not contain a shower in the en suite that spurts either jets of scalding water or a trickle of virtual ice. It is the kind of hotel that comes with a pottery mug painted white filled with sachets of tea and coffee granules, a few long tubes of sugar and little plastic pots with peeling lids filled with milk.
The door has two bathrobes hung on the back, which are not to the quality of fluffiness that they would have been had we stuck to my standard of hotels, but it is a nice addition all the same. Each single section of bed has two pillows as opposed to a measly one, and there is in fact a TV, despite it being a small flat-screen nailed to the shelf. It looks like a 2015 model, but who am I to complain?
A cheap white kettle is sitting on the lowest shelf on the multi-purpose wooden... piece of furniture in the centre of the main wall, with the shelf on top housing two large towels and two slightly smaller face towels. They are a little scratchy, almost like a softer version of Wizibix, but they will do.
The en suite is generously sized, with a roomy shower cubicle with a curtain as opposed to the more preferable glass door, opposite a large white sink mounted onto two cupboards with a large countertop made from knockoff black marble. Next to the shower, hidden behind the en suite door when it is open, is a toilet.
It looked unhygienic to me, and so in the one time I had been too desperate not to use it since we got here I had lined the seat with toilet roll before I sat down. Yes, just like your Nan used to when the pair of you went shopping together.
But anyway, back to my original point – the hotel we are staying at is decent. It may not be The Ritz, but it is decent enough that when we had arrived that evening after driving one hour away from that nightmarish home of the hell-ride simulator, we found all the single rooms had been booked a while in advance, and they certainly didn’t have two.
They made us feel audacious just for asking, like we were insulting them by assuming they were free.
So we asked for a double room with two single beds – a twin room I think Albus called it. But they only had one of them, and it was reserved for a pair of friends that should have been arriving around twenty minutes after we got there.
The woman at the desk was getting a little snippy, and in a last bid attempt to get her to leave us alone for a while, she offered to let us sit in reception for twenty minutes, and if the pair of women that booked the room didn’t show up, then they would give it to us. Albus seemed resigned to agree with this plan, but I was not.
I was tired, I had been sat in a car all day still shaken from something I had not wanted to do, waiting for someone I wasn’t really very fond of to come back from blowing what was most likely my father’s money on miniature figures of a man that made a fortune flying around on a wooden stick catching a ball that another person had chucked at them.
Anyway, my bad mood and steadily growing impatience had meant that I was not up for hanging around a waiting area with nothing to do for twenty minutes while I waited for two women who most likely would have shown up. So I’d asked her what rooms they had, regardless of size, shape or bloody colour scheme, and taken the last one left in the building.
This, very unfortunately, turned out to be a double room. Which is not to be mistaken for a twin room – no, the two are the same size but have one very large difference. The bed situation is not two singles, but one large double in the middle of the room.
I had immediately taken two of the pillows from the bed and tossed them onto the sofa, along with a scratchy polyester blanket that I found sitting on a random shelf in the top of the wardrobe. Albus had sat himself down on the edge of the bed and watched me as I made a makeshift sleeping area, fluffing the pillows and spreading the blanket carefully.
“What are you doing?” Albus had eventually asked, after I dragged the sofa left slightly so that he wasn’t going to be in the direct glare of the sun in the morning.
“I’m making you a bed – I don’t want you to get woken up too early tomorrow morning. I know I wouldn’t enjoy it if that was me.” I carried about my bed-making as I spoke, pulling one of the curtains across to check whether the pillow area would be shaded properly. The curtains were thin enough to spit through – they wouldn’t keep out the sun.
“Well you better learn to enjoy it, because I’m not sleeping on a fucking couch when there’s a bed right here.” I turned around and gaped at him, nearly knocking one of the pillows off the couch.
“What do you mean? We can’t share the bed! That is completely inappropriate!” Albus shrugged and lounged back on the bed, kicking off his shoes. “Daddy would not approve of you and I sharing a bed – no. That is not going to happen.” Albus shrugged.
“Fine then – ring your ‘Daddy’ and tell him to bring you home.” I gaped at him and then found myself stomping my foot angrily on the carpet, but as Albus was looking up at the ceiling, he didn’t notice.
“Well – I can’t. But I can’t sleep on the sofa – that’s undignified and... and uncomfortable, and not very chivalrous of you! I mean, I – I –”
“Well if you won’t sleep on the sofa and I sure as goddamn won’t, chivalry be damned, then we’re both going to have to sleep on the bed.”
“But – I just told you that we can’t do that! I am not sharing a bed with you when I barely know you! I’m sure it’s not a big concern for you, as Merlin only knows how many women you’ve shared beds with over time, but I won’t do it.” Albus began to laugh, and he propped himself up on his elbows so he could stare at me.
“Fucking hell, Dainty, I’m not going to put the moves on you in the middle of the night, you know. I’m not a secret rapist hiding behind a teenage tearaway mask.” He was laughing at me, but I was too busy trying to think of an excuse to care.
“That’s what Witch Weekly called me last week. My mum hit the roof.”
“Oh. And what are these ‘moves’ that you were just talking about?” Albus stared at me.
“Are you being serious? Merlin, sometimes I seriously reckon that you were born on another planet and have lived in your own little world ever since. How – do you not go out and just socialise with people who actually know what things are?” I pouted a little and dragged my suitcase from the door to where I had been standing; fumbling with the fingerprint lock that Daddy had secured it with. He said that you never know who might see a suitcase and get greedy.
“Fine then, don’t answer my question. But what are we going to do about the sleeping quarters’ issue? Albus, I’m really not comfortable at the prospect of the pair of us sharing a bed. So what are we going to do?”
There was another twenty or so minutes of backwards and forwards arguments, a conversation that whipped around in several circles but never actually got anywhere, until eventually I just gave in. Sharing a bed seemed to be the only agreement the argumentative wretch would agree to, and so I had very little choice but to comply.
And that was when all the drama had started.
“I’m going to put my pyjamas on,” I informed Albus, and he nodded whilst fiddling with the television remote, trying to find a channel that didn’t make us both want to shoot ourselves in the foot out of boredom.
“Oh, joy unbounded,” Albus muttered under his breath, and I flushed slightly as I dragged the suitcase off to the en suite bathroom. I locked the door behind me and quickly unzipped the outside, flipped it open and went to seize the pair of baggy pyjamas that I knew I had left sitting on the top.
Except there was a problem. It wasn’t just my clothes that were in there.
Granted, maybe I should be counting myself lucky – after all, Andromeda could have completely gotten rid of all my clothes and replaced them with the flimsy pieces of material that she laughably calls garments and left me with nothing else to wear. But instead of that, she had just charmed my clothes to be pressed down a little bit flatter – and scattered some of her own things over the top. In fact, sitting right on the very top of my so-called ‘granny panties’ was a set of matching lingerie that made me cringe.
I honestly cringed just from knowing that something that... scandalous, for lack of a better word, had been touching all my neutral and conservative items of clothing.
Would people know that just from seeing me walk past them in the street? And why, pray tell, would Andromeda possibly think that I would need something like that on this trip? What, did she think I was going to kit myself out for Albus and put on a show before we went to breakfast?
Wondering if my best friend was actually a little touched in the head, I had tossed the fancy underwear with unreadable French tags to the side and rooted around a little further until I found the baggy black shirt and plaid stretch trousers that I had packed to wear at night.
It was a good job I planned to dress so modestly, in hindsight, as sharing a bed with Albus Potter while kitted out in attire that my best friend deemed appropriate was not a good idea.
But regardless, aside from the story of how the entire night came about, that was my basic point – night was a good time to think about things, if it wasn’t for the boy you didn’t know sleeping on the bed next to you. If Andromeda was to hear about this out of context then... I don’t even want to know.
By the time I wake up in the morning Albus is gone, and my suitcase has been unceremoniously kicked out of the bathroom where I had left it the previous night and shoved up against the wall, propped on one side. I take it that Albus moved it when he went in the bathroom this morning for a shower. At least, I hope he had a shower – I don’t want to be sharing an enclosed space for Merlin-only-knows how long with a filthy beggar.
Poking out of the top of the suitcase is something I have promised myself I will use every day, or possibly every other day, while I am away. I mean, eating out for every single meal isn’t exactly going to sit well with your waistline, is it?
I roll out of bed, press my hands down on the hasty plaits I had weaved on either side of my head before I fell to sleep the night before, and pull the DVD out the suitcase. The TV on the wooden thing is sitting atop a cheap looking DVD player, and there seems to be enough space if I push the bed to the left a little...
Making a plan, I drag a t-shirt and some stretchy exercise pants out of my case and head off to the bathroom to get changed; just in case Albus decides to come back early from wherever he has gone.
“Pump it, ladies! Feel the burn in your arms – no pain, no gain, remember!” Easy for you to say, my shattered brain wheezes angrily at the screen. “Keep punching – only seven more to go! Six! Five! Four! Three! Two! One!” I drop my arm down to my side and pant out three hard breaths. The lady on the screen doesn’t look even slightly out of puff.
In fact, she looks immaculate. Her hair is smoothed down into an elegant French knot on the back of her head and a thin slick of perspiration looks a little too perfect sitting on her forehead. Her shiny pink exercise suit is un-wrinkled and non-sweat-marked, proclaiming the word ‘JUICY’ in capital letters across the rear end.
Completely inappropriate if you ask me, but I’m a ‘stick in the mud’, apparently.
I stretch my back out as Daphne Von Perfect Figure and Hair gracefully sits down on her pink gym mat and brings her knees up under her chin. I follow suit. Stretching her arms out to either side, she leans to each side and the backwards, ‘relaxing’.
I don’t remember ever reading about contorting yourself into a mixture of a human pretzel and a windmill being involved in the countless de-stress your life books like I bought and read. She presses her fingers together like a steeple with her arms held right above her head and brings them down to her chest slowly, whistling as she does so.
I follow suit again, feeling rather foolish. How is sitting on the floor, whistling, going to burn off the steak sandwich that I ate at the little pub-style restaurant last night? If I wanted to have a good ol’ whistle then I’d have gone down to the local Irish bar.
“Right, ladies, next we’re going to do the toe touches, before we move onto the lunges! I know they’re my favourite!” On second thought, maybe I’ll stick to the sitting on the floor and whistling. “Come on, legs flat on the floor!”
My muscles groan in protest as I try in vain to get the backs of my knees to bend further.
Spreading my legs slightly further apart, I do as ‘Daphne’ asks and stretch my hands out above my head, trying to get my nose to touch the carpet. I manage to get as hunched over as the famous bloke that hangs out in Notre Dame before my back decides that it no long wants to co-operate with the rest of my body.
So I sit there, hunched over, while Daphne shows all us lazy whatsits how you’re supposed to do whatever she’s doing.
“And ladies, count with me! We’re going to do this one for eight!” She’s seriously deluded if she thinks that I’m going to yell along with her. Shouting numbers at a TV screen is not really something I can pull off. Not while panting like a walrus in labour and sweating enough to keep a small country going for a few months.
Seriously, they say parts of the country are going through drought – they should just send this DVD out to them. Soon we’ll have even more sustainable living! No, that might not work, I know – but I’m severely dehydrated.
“And up again, ladies! Well done! But come on, no rest for the wicked – we’re not going to lose anything if we sit around here and do nothing!” Sit around here and do nothing? We’re twenty minutes into the DVD – if we’d been sitting around doing nothing then we’d have been watching a woman prance about in a suit the colour of marker pens with an annoyingly perky grin on her face for no reason.
Leaping around a hotel room with Daphne Doalottle (play on Doolittle? Not sure) whilst trying not to alert the neighbours to a suspected herd of elephants charging through the hotel is not exactly what I had planned to do with my holiday.
But no, just another thing that had been inadvertently but still inconveniently pushed onto me by dear old Dad. Who most likely is not watching an ex-supermodel perform extremely contorting looking lunges in front of four well-oiled men while jabbering on about how she lost four stone in a week, or words to that effect.
Yes, well I raised four million Galleons in an evening. Try to be that one.
“Right ladies, we’re now going to go into the Yoga Cool Down portion of the workout – so let’s start off with the Sun Worshipping Downward Facing Dog Sky Salute.” I groan and flop down flat onto my stomach, just as instructed, albeit with a little less grace than the instructor. “Now lift your arms straight up behind your head and lie your feet flat on the floor over your shoulders, now arch your back and praise the sun!”
“Are you kidding?” I pant at the screen as Daphne worms her way into something truly painful looking. She doesn’t even look like she’s made out of normal bone and flesh – more like rubber or something.
“I don’t think she is. But I would very much like to see you try and get yourself into that position.”
I squawk loudly and flop forwards out of the position I had managed to twist myself into and smack my face onto the ground, possibly knocking out several front teeth. Albus snorts throatily but makes his way over to me anyway, poking me gingerly in the back with the toe of his shoe.
“Oi, Flora – you alive?” I moan softly at the ground and lift my head up so I can pat my mouth.
All my teeth seem to still be there, which is good – but at the same time I can practically feel my lips swelling up on me. My tongue is pulsing where my teeth clamped down on it. I glare up at Albus as I push myself into a sitting position and then haul my throbbing limbs up using the side of the bed. I pull the duvet off onto the ground at the same time, but at least I manage to upright myself.
“Yikes, you look like you’ve been socked in the nose,” Albus comments, and I blush a delicate shade of pink and wonder whether he’ll actually be able to tell with the already flushed-ruddy coloured cheeks from all the ‘yoga’.
“Yes, well I did smack my face into the ground,” I comment coolly, gathering ordinary clothes into my arms and trying to inconspicuously prise some clean underwear out of my suitcase without Albus seeing what I’m doing. Albus grimaces at Daphne, who is now doing star-jumps with her hair in a ponytail as opposed to two short plaits, and turns back just at the wrong moment.
“Come on ladies, show them what you’ve got!” That might just be the worst thing that dear old Daph could have chosen to yell out at this moment.
Just as she says it, the lacy bra... item that Andromeda had sneaked into my luggagepings off the ordinary bra that I am trying to retrieve from the depths of my suitcase and shoots across the room like a slingshot, hitting a surprised looking Albus right between the eyes.
I gape at him and quickly clutch the desired underwear to my chest, as though this might make him un-see the thing that he is pinching carefully between his fingers, his lips curling upwards in delight.
“Well, well, well... looks like there’s more – or should I say less? – to Daddy’s Little Girl than anyone ever thought. I’ve got to say, Flora, this is not the kind of thing that I ever pictured you wearing. I figured you’d wear granny panties made out of recycled potato sacks, or something to that effect. But this... oh, this is a whole different kettle of fish.”
“Kettle of fish?” I ask, but am ignored.
“Yes, kettle of fish...” Albus says vaguely, before pulling something oblong and silver out of his back pocket. He presses something twice and then holds the brassiere out with one stretch of his long arm, pulling the silver box up and angling it towards it. Dread pools into the pit of my stomach.
“No!” I screech, forgetting my head – and dignity – completely as I launch forwards and snatch the phone out of his hand. Yes, not the underwear – the phone.
“Can I help you, Flora?” Albus asks sweetly, each word dripping with sugary sarcasm.
He holds a large hand out of for his phone, but I clutch it behind my back like a much coveted prize, wondering how I’m going to retrieve my – well, Andromeda’s – clothing without giving the phone back. The last thing I need is for him to show pictures of it to his little Bar Buddies and have them thinking I wear such inappropriate and scandalous undergarments.
“It’s not mine,” I say quickly, and Albus’ expression becomes even more delighted. He sits himself down on the edge of the bed and stares up at me with a falsely-enraptured looking expression, pretending he is interested in my excuses.
“It’s not yours? Then I think we ought to take this out to reception and have them put a message over the tannoy to see whose suitcase has somehow managed to get replaced with yours... I’m surprised you didn’t notice last night that the possessions weren’t yours, to be truthful.” I stare down at my toes.
“No, that is my suitcase...” I murmur sullenly.
“So it’s your suitcase... but it isn’t filled with your belongings? Then we really ought to go back to your house and show this,” he waves the bra around in a circle, “to your father. You know, to figure out who broke into your home and replaced all your things with someone else’s.”
“Don’t you dare!” I squeak, no threat in my words. Albus seems greatly amused by my sudden horror and leans forwards, propping his elbows on his knees and leaning his chin down onto his fists. The bra dangles from his little finger tauntingly.
“What – daddy wouldn’t approve? And that would just be the end of the world, am I correct?”
“You know nothing about me,” I say coldly, launching forwards and snatching it out of his hands, stuffing it into my pocket and tossing his phone down onto the couch – which was still posing as a makeshift bed. “You’re just... a meany.”
For the grand finale I turn on the heel of my bare foot, possibly causing myself severe carpet burn, and stomp off to the bathroom to get changed, promising to act so much of a lady for the rest of the trip that Albus Potter won’t even know what’s hit him, and will surely forget all about the unfortunate underwear incident.
It was only then that I remembered that I never actually told Albus where it actually came from.
Rollaway Shopping Centre in Godric’s Hollow has long been one of the places that I have wanted to visit. It’s a department store that is fourteen stories high that sells everything from cars to pots and pans, and little fluffy teddy bears to swing off your keys. It is also the home of the largest apothecary in England, and the thirteenth floor is taken up by a large studio filled with pieces of artwork by famous dead wizards.
It’s been closed for the last two months while they tried to reverse the charm that was causing it to rain relentlessly on every floor and had washed four five year olds down the corridors and out into the nearest drainpipe. There was a huge political news scandal on it, after the father of one of the little kids that washed away kicked up a massive fuss.
I mean, none of them died; honestly, you’d have thought that we were picking pieces of them out of our water for days with the way they carried on.
“A Gentleman’s Club? Is that just a posh name for a strip joint?” Of course, the charming and intellectual conversation that I had always envisioned having in such a historical place was a little lacking. In fact, I don’t think lacking was a strong enough term.
“Yes, it is,” I agree blandly, glancing around at the various cloaked people who are bustling around with their arms filled with paper bags stuffed with overpriced purchases. “That’s where men that are too perverted and arrogant to find a wife, or have a wife that will not sleep with them because they’re too perverted and arrogant, go to watch young girls walk around wearing next to nothing because they’re trying to pay their way through college.”
Albus didn’t react to anything I said, he just stares at the entrance to the door with a slightly puzzled look on his face. As he stares, a man in his mid-forties steps out of the painted front doors and brushes down the front of his blazer, before heading off out of the doors. Albus cocks an eyebrow.
“If I ever end up like that, Flora Dainty, then please kill me. I am begging you. I do not want to end up as a sad old rich man that has to pay a fortune to watch girls shake their arses in short skirts. I’d rather be a happy old rich man with a girlfriend that will shake her arse for me.” I purse my lips and roll my eyes but let his comment slide.
“I can assure you, Albus Potter, that if you were to end up like that I would not be killing you, as I am not going to Azkaban for the rest of my life because you were unable to find a girl stupid enough to marry you.” Albus cocks an eyebrow at me as we step onto the first stair of the escalator. The bottom floor is just the stripper place and the food court, and neither of them appeal to me in the slightest.
If I wanted to eat sweaty meat with sketchy origins stuck on a rough wooden stick served with limp chips that taste like cardboard, then I would just get Albus to cook for me.
“You’re a real team player, do you know that?” Albus mutters, staring around as the escalators smoothly ascend up to the next floor. This floor is clearly the animal floor, as the two shops directly next to the escalator on either side of the aisle are fronted by stacks of animal cages and boxes filled with small kittens and salamanders that have been charmed to not breathe fire. I’d actually quite like a salamander. I’ll write to Daddy and tell him to buy me one for when I get back.
A large cut out of an owl with its wings outstretched is planted in the middle of the floor, topped by a giant sign reading ‘DO YOU WANT AN ADORABLE AND DAMAGED PET IN NEED OF A GOOD HOME TO SHOW OFF TO YOUR FRIENDS? IF SO, WHY NOT ADOPT ONE OF OUR BEAUTIFUL ORPHANED OWLS? EACH COMES WITH GENDER IDENTITY ISSUES, AND NEEDS A LOVING HOME’.
“I don’t want to live on this planet anymore,” Albus says, gesturing to the sign. “I mean, seriously.” For the first time in a while, I feel the urge to laugh at his joke, but I keep my lips pressed shut together and shake my head.
“Do you want to head over there? The picture of that gecko in the window is really cute – I kind of want to look at one. I always wanted a lizard, but Daddy said no. I mean, I have three puppies, four kittens, a dog, two miniature turtles, my own aquarium full of tropical fish and twelve horses, but I never got my own lizard. Oh, and we had a snake. He was called Edmund Van Munchvick.” Albus cocks an eyebrow at me. I blink a few times.
“Yeah, poor little rich girl. Daddy wouldn’t let her have a horse. Those starving children in Africa don’t know how lucky they have it – I mean; you weren’t allowed to have a lizard. Yikes. Honestly, why you didn’t hop on the blower to ChildLine is beyond me.” I frown ahead of me and pull my cardigan further onto my shoulders, heading over to Lizard Lagoon.
“Oh, I’m a poor little rich girl? Says the boy who’s attempting to ruin his own life by drinking and partying himself away just to rebel against Daddy because he did something so amazing. You’re a spoiled brat too, Albus.” He smirks at me, which is not the reaction that I had been aiming for. I’ve never been wonderful at trying to insult people by outsmarting them – I’m just no good at arguing.
“Low blow, Dainty. We don’t even know each other. Shouldn’t you at least buy me dinner before you talk to me like that?” I push open the door to Lizard Lagoon and step into the shop as a quiet bell tinkles gently in the back of the shop.
It smells inside. Like must and animal droppings and cages that have never been washed. It smells like what I can only imagine that Albus’ feet smell like after one of his big Quidditch games.
One wall is entirely made up of glass, and filled with twigs and dried up leaves and bowls of dried food that has been crushed up into pieces. Camouflaged into the large rocks and dried foliage are more than twenty lizards, a mixture of several different varieties. One the opposite wall to the giant glass box there is several smaller glass cages, and the largest one of them is filled with one giant gecko. As in, a giant mutated gecko that shouldn’t be that big because geckos are not that big. Ever.
And straight away, I want it.
“Albus, find out how much that gecko is. It’s mine. I want it.” Albus cocks an eyebrow at me and stares in horror at the giant lizard, which turns to face the glass and stares straight at him with small, beady eyes. Albus looks like he might have urinated in his trousers.
“That thing is not coming on the road trip with us. I will not sit in the car if that thing is sitting on your knee. No way. It’s some kind of freakish animal that’s swallowed some crazy pills and that means it’s grown to a stupid size and no one wants to buy it. It’s horrible. No. That thing is not coming with us.” Albus grimaces at the cage and the gecko blinks at him. I can immediately tell that the gecko doesn’t like him, and straight away I want the gecko even more.
“Excuse me, ma’am, how much is this giant lizard?” I call to the woman that has slid out of the back room and is slowly making her way across the room, smoothing down her dark green polo shirt.
The woman peers into the cage and smiles at the gecko, who I am trying to come up with a name for, and Albus sighs, sitting down on the edge of a table that was stacked high with bags of foods and protein powders for healthy lizards. And leads to help you walk your lizard. I want one of those.
“Ah, you’ve noticed Big Boy. We’ve never wanted to name him because he was going to be someone else’s, but he’s been here so long that BB has just kind of stuck with him. He’s lovely, isn’t he?” The woman smiles at me and I smile down at the cage as the lizard sticks out his tongue in Albus’ direction. I love him. I’m going to call him Fuzzy Nickel.
“He’s beautiful,” I smile, and I can hear Albus pretending to gag behind my head. We both ignore him. Just looking at his expression you can tell that he is not to be trusted with an opinion. “How much is he going to be? I don’t care how much he is, I’m just wondering.”
“Well, he’s a very rare breed of gecko; they reckon that there are only about one hundred of these in the entire world, and forty of them are in a special zoo that breeds them.”
“Erm, there is a reason that there is only a few of them,” Albus points out, leaning between our heads and pointing at the cage. The lizard sticks his tongue out again and twists one of its little paws – hands? – at him. I like to think that is the gecko version of holding up one finger.
“Anyway,” the woman slowly eases back into conversation, “he’s quite a pricey little gecko. But I think that he’s worth it. He’s actually one hundred and forty galleons, but that comes with two months worth of food, a feeding bowl, a travel cage, a sleeping bed and a lead. You’d be good for everything for about two months before you’d have to provide for BB. So, is that... erm, alright?” I nod slowly, and Albus coughs incredulously.
“Are you out of your fucking mind? You’re actually going to pay nearly one hundred and fifty motherfucking galleons for that revolting dragon that’s been shrunk down so it can fit in a purse? I’m not going to let you. There is no way that thing is coming with us. No. Flora, I am not allowing to buy you that. We’re leaving. No arguing.”
“I cannot believe you bought that thing,” Albus wheezes under the weight of the six shopping bags that he is carrying, having been coerced by me into carrying all of To Be Named’s new possessions. He didn’t approve of the rhinestone studded lead that I had paid extra for, or the hand embroidered blanket for the colder nights, or shower gels that I bought for when I give him a bath.
“Why? He’s perfect!” I beam, stroking along his back. He’s about the size of a large rabbit, and so I’m holding him in my arms like you would a baby. He’s lime green with pale blue spots, and all smooth and slimy but in a dry way, you know? He’s got these tiny black little eyes and green eyelids that you can only see when he blinks, and long white claws that can easily be cut with the nail grooming kit that I bought for him.
“He’s revolting. That thing is not sleeping on the floor next our bed. It will kill me in the night. It will sneak up onto the bed and sit on my face until I suffocate. No. It’s sleeping on the floor in another room.” I frown at him and gently kiss the back of the lizard’s head. He sticks his tongue out and licks the back of my hand.
“Then you can sleep on the floor and the lizard can sleep in the bed with me,” I say primly, and Albus rolls his eyes at me. Normally this would annoy me, but I’m too busy trying not to notice the amount of funny looks that people are tossing me.
Well, me and Albus, since his being used as a human trolley and walking next to someone carrying a giant lizard.
“You would honestly make me sleep on the floor so that revolting little lizard can sleep in my place in the bed? I have only just realised how strange that sounds to people not in the know – like we share a bed because we’re a couple, or something.” Albus shudders. “Anyway, have you got any idea what you’re going to call the thing? You know, so I can write it on a gravestone after I toss it out of the window?” I gape at him and clutch the lizard to my chest.
“Albus Severus Potter, if you come anywhere near my lizard then I will be back home and calling my daddy on you before you have the chance to blink. I’m serious. I will destroy you. Well, I will have Daddy to pay someone else to destroy you. But I will still be the reason for you being destroyed.”
Albus gapes at me and takes a large step to the side, putting a good metre and half between us.
“Oh. My. God.” I glance up in time to see the human version of a Barbie doll in front of me, clutching a fluffy white cotton puff in her arms the way I am clutching my new lizard. Which, I would like to point out, is bigger than the little piece of fluff that she is holding. “What the hell is that thing?” She laughs to the clone standing next to her and gestures to the lizard, and they both burst into a choking round of laughter. Albus looks uncomfortable and stares at the floor.
“You’re right, what the hell is that thing? I mean, your rat looks like you’ve put a white jumper through the blender and then stuck two beads on it for eyes. If you’re gonna get a dog, at least get a real one.” With one last snort, Albus pushes past the Barbie doll clones and up the next escalator. With a small smile I follow him, slowly drumming my fingers down the lizard’s back.
“FLORA FUCKING DAINTY GET IN HERE NOW! I DON’T CARE IF YOU’RE NAKED!”
I glance up from the mirror, where I am plucking my eyebrows at about an inch away from the glass. I don’t want to pay any attention to Albus, but the scream lacing his voice is terrifying and the first thought that leaps through my head is that he’s at wand point in the next room. But then I realise he has probably been scared by Cupcake again and is screaming like a little girl because he doesn’t have the guts that Gryffindor are renowned for.
“What’s the matter?” I ask, poking my head around the bathroom door and glancing out into the bedroom. Albus is supposed to be packing his bag for us leaving this hotel, but instead he is standing on the bed with my slippers held above his head.
“That horrible – thing is going to kill me! It just shot off its bed and launched itself at my feet. It was going to kill me, I know it! If you can’t control the thing then it’s going to have to go!” I roll my eyes. Cupcake is sitting innocently on the floor, its head resting on the carpet and its belly grazing the top of the ground. He blinks his little eyes at me innocently.
“Albus, he’s not going to touch you,” I sigh. “I’ve told you that before. Would I have called him ‘Cupcake’ if he was an aggressive animal? No. Now please be nice to him, or I’m going to have to ask you to leave.” Albus gapes at me as I stick my head back inside the bathroom and carry on sorting out my eyebrows, which somehow managed to grow about four feet overnight.
There was a moment of sweet silence and then, “OH MY GOD HE’S TRYING TO KILL ME! NO, IT BURNS! HE’S POISONOUS! DEATH BY GECKO, NOT THE WAY TO GO! FLORA, HELP MEEEEE! OH MY GOD I HATE THAT HORRIBLE ANIMAL IT’S CHEWING MY LEG OFF. NO! I NEED THAT LEG FOR WALKING AND LOOKING NORMAL AND PROVIDING A SEAT FOR GIRLS WITH NICE ARSES AND OH MY GOD IT’S BITING MY FACE.”
Sighing, I step back into the bedroom to see Albus lying flat on the ground the next to the bed, with Cupcake sitting on his chest, gently licking the underside of his chin with his pointy little tongue. Albus, however, is frozen stiff and as white as a sheet, watching the gecko as though afraid that he is going to suddenly burst into flames and burn his favourite shirt. Though why the rag he is wearing would be his favourite shirt is beyond me.
“Albus, it really doesn’t look like you’re in any kind of danger from where I’m standing,” I say quietly, and Cupcake shuffles around slightly on his chest so he can look at me. He blinks affectionately at me and I smile. He clearly already knows who his mother is. He better not think that Albus is his father.
“I swear, three seconds ago it was trying to rip my voicebox out. I promise you.” I roll my eyes and head back into the bathroom. Four seconds later the screaming and yelling start again, but I just pull the deadbolt across the back of the door and ignore him. A gecko turning to look at you does not qualify yelling out who you want your property to go to after your death.
And leaving everything to Leigh’s hot friend with the nice rack is not really a valid choice. I think leaving your things to your mother is a little more socially acceptable. And he didn’t even mention giving anything to charity, which is just awful.
“Flora, please! Cupcake is snarling at me! No! Take this slipper you bastard! And take the other one! Yeah, how do you like me now, bitch?!”
“ALBUS POTTER, DO NOT THROW MY SLIPPERS AT MY GIANT GECKO!”
disclaimer: nothing in this chapter belongs to me.
hello. so i've had this chapter written for like a week, but it's taken me until now to put it up, so sorry about that. what do you think about flora's new gecko? my friend elly had just bought a gecko when i was writing this chapter and... well, it's a long story. it's friday and my mocks start on monday, so yeah - wish me luck! i love all of you, and i'd love a review for this chapter even though it was so late.
ellie :) xx
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