Jag was revived a short while later. All we had to do was waft the smell of hot chocolate and cinnamon underneath his nose and he jumped up, randomly yelling and swinging his fist at the first head he saw ―which happened to be mine, unfortunately. He then proceeded to swear at Zelda for a good five minutes, and then finally dashed up to the attic. Moments later, we heard the pounding rush of water.
“It sounds like a flood.” I looked up at the ceiling. The water was so loud, I was almost worried that it would cave in. “How many showers does that boy have turned on?”
“Fifteen,” Al replied promptly. “Well, fifteen showerheads. He only has one shower.”
Zelda, Xander and I turned to stare at him.
“What? What’re you looking at me like that for?”
“Did you go in and count the number of showerheads in his bathroom?” I asked him incredulously. “Shower pervert!”
“Shower pervert? Da fuck is that?”
“Those creepers who sneak around behind the shower curtains when other people are showering.”
“Look, cos, I don’t fancy watching Jag shower naked. It’s Zelda who—”
“Finish that sentence and you fucking die!”
“Then why do you know how many showerheads are in Jag’s bathroom?” Xander poked him hard in the chest. “Speak up or forever hold your silence!”
Al rolled his eyes. “Remember how Jag and I played in the local Quidditch league during the summer? Well, sometimes we used Jag’s backyard to play a game, ‘cos it’s so large, and we end up showering upstairs in his room—since his mum didn't want us dirtying all the other bathrooms.”
“Yeah, right,” Xander sniffed. “You’re still a shower perv —showering with all those smexalicious guys from the Junior Quidditch League."
"Do you know Tom? And Brad? And Johnny?”
“Um, yeah. They’re my mates…”
“I’m soo jealous!” she cried, bouncing around on the spot. “You get to see them naked! I would do anything to be you! Can I pay you to take videos of them next summer? Please? Please? PLEASE?”
“While they’re showering in the shower?”
“No!” Al was flabbergasted. “And you’re calling me a shower perv? I don’t swing for that side, lady!”
“You don’t have to swing for that side,” Xander said, lowering her voice persuasively. “All I’m asking you is to supply me with some nice, hardcore videos of abdomens and pe—”
“Whoa there!” Al yelped. “First of all, we don’t see each other naked! We wear swim trunks!”
“But why?” I asked in bewilderment. “You’re all males. Right?”
“Can’t you guess why?” Al deadpanned at us when we shook our heads. “Well, sometimes when we’re showering, Irene opens the door and walks right into the bathroom. Then she ogles at us and makes some bullshit excuse like ‘Oops! I thought this was the kitchen pantry!’”
“Nice.” Xander nodded appreciatively. “That lady’s totally got the right idea.”
“Good luck shower-perving on your future son’s friends,” I told her, clapping her on the shoulder.
Upstairs, the thunderous roar of water suddenly ceased.
“He’s done, you guys,” Zelda said, looking less-than-happy. “Let’s go up.”
“She’s soo gonna get it from him,” Xander giggled in my ear.
The four of us ascended the ladder to the Man Cave. We sat on the beanbags outside the bathroom door and quietly waited for Jag to finish blow-drying his hair or whatever boys did after showering.
A minute later, the door opened and Jag walked out. He wore gray sweatpants and was topless, with a white towel slung around his neck. His brown hair was wet and stuck up in awkward spikes, pretty much like a porcupine. There was a second of silence as his eyes surveyed us sitting on the beanbags, and then he strode forward and kicked Zelda in the side.
“OW! FUCK YOU! What was that for?”
“You cooked me in a pot of shit! You fucking cooked me in it! You—little— BITCH!” He drew his leg back to kick her again.
“Whoa, dude! That’s not cool!” I quickly reached forward and grabbed his ankle. “No hitting girls!”
“Let go, Rose! I’m not hitting her, I’m kicking her!”
“That’s the same thing!”
Jag shot Zelda an angry look, then turned and threw himself down onto the bean bag next to Al. “I mean, she cooked me in a pot of shit. Like, real shit! Don’t tell me that she doesn’t deserve to be kicked!”
“Look, Jag,” Zelda said, sounding sort of whiny. “Your exact words were ‘Make it shitty-tasting’, so I made it shitty-tasting—”
“I DIDN’T LITERALLY MEAN TO PUT SHIT IN IT!”
“Then how else was I supposed to make it shitty-tasting?”
“Oh, I don’t know!” Jag said sarcastically. “Hmmm, ever heard of salt and fucking vinegar?”
“But I had chicken and human feces available, so why not—”
“MY FUCKING FACE, THAT’S WHY NOT!”
“Well, Jag, feces aren’t technically bad for your face,” Xander said matter-of-factly. “When it’s pureed, dragon dung’s pretty good for your complexion.”
“No thanks,” Jag grumbled. “I never want to hear the words feces, shit, poop, or dung ever again.”
“SHIT!” Al shouted.
“POOP!” I screamed.
“SHITPOOPDUUUUUNG!” we sang together.
“Go to fucking hell,” he snapped at us.
“Awwww, chillax, mate!” Al said, slinging an arm around his friend’s shoulder. He leaned forward and stuck his nose in Jag’s hair. “You don’t even smell that bad. Actually, you smell”—Al sniffed again, then again—“sorta nice. Like pomegranates and—”
“Eurgh! Get your nose out of my hair!”
“Are you sure you don’t swing for that side, Al?” Xander asked, watching them with wide-eyes.
“No! He just smells good!”
“My cousin has his gay moments, if you haven’t noticed,” I said dryly.
“I am not gay, thank you very much!” Al huffed, folding his arms. “I’m a very honest person. If a bloke’s hair smells nice, then I’m going to tell him it smells nice!”
“Then do us all a favor and tell Kai that his hair smells nice,” Zelda told him.
“Um, why? I’ve never smelled his hair before.”
“Well, he’s a better candidate than Jag over there,” I put in, shooting a wink at Zelda.
Al looked completely befuddled. “Uh, why?”
“Because he’ll appreciate it more,” Zelda said, and then we broke into peals of laughter.
Jag frowned at us for a moment, and then his eyes widened when he got the joke. “You guys! Oh, Merlin, c’mon you guys!”
“I don’t get it,” Xander said blankly.
“What?” I protested, giggling at Jag. “Wouldn’t he appreciate getting his haired sniffed by Al? If I were him, I would! After all, my darling cousin is a pretty hot commodity—”
Zelda broke into hysterical laughter again, and Jag made a face like he was about to throw all over the carpet.
“What the hell are you guys talking about?” Al asked us. He was starting to sound rather irritated. “If you guys are talking about me behind my back—”
“Jesus, trust me, you don’t want to know want to know what they were talking about.” Jag leaned forward and gagged over my cousin’s shoulder. “I think I want to Obliviate myself after hearing that, mon Dieu. Blah! Gross! Give me all the Stuff you have, A-Man! I need to immerse myself in a drug-induced stupor to cleanse my mind of it!”
“Um, okay, then.” Al reached into his pocket and tossed him a very suspicious brown baggy. “Here ya go. Have fun.”
I pointed at it. “Do I want to know what that is?”
Jag quickly stuffed it into his pocket. “It's nothing.”
“It has to be something,” Zelda argued. Then a knowing look appeared in her eyes. “You dumbasses! Don’t tell me— hybrid Floo leaves?”
Al got a really shifty-looking expression on his face. “No… of course not.”
“Yep, they’re eating Floo leaves,” I told the girls grimly. I felt grossed out just thinking about it.
“You don’t eat them! You smoke them!” Al protested.
“And smoking them is so much better,” I said sarcastically.
“You should try it, Rose,” Jag advised me. “One whiff and you go straight to heaven.”
“Are you an idiot?” Xander snapped at him. Zelda and I shared a surprised look, because Xander standing up for any cause against the boys was unheard of. “Do you know how dangerous those leaves are for the health? My older brother did it. He sprouted tentacles and started to call himself Nemo.”
“You mean he got a split personality?” Zelda asked curiously.
“No, I mean he literally thought that he was a guy named Nemo. Like, we were at the dinner table one night and he goes, ‘Dad, Nemo wants more lasagna’ and my dad goes ‘who the fuck’s Nemo?’ and my brother points at himself and goes, ‘Your son, old man!’ and then my dad grabbed him by the ponytail and dunked his face in the soup bowl.”
“Your brother has a ponytail? That’s gross.”
“I know, but that’s not the point.”
“Yeah, Al,” I told my cousin. “Do you want to grow a ponytail and be brainwashed into a mindless drone called Nemo? No, you don’t. So stop smoking those leaves!”
“But, Rose, don’t you know?” Al leaned forward eagerly. “Native Americans knocked themselves out by smoking Floo powder and if they came out of it alive, they were made into warriors.”
“But you’re not a fucking Native American warrior.”
“If Floo leaves are so lethal,” Zelda said slowly to Jag, “why can’t we just make your grandmum eat a whole bushel of them? Forget about becoming a mindless Native American warrior-drone, she’s so old she’ll die overnight!”
“But she can’t die,” Jag responded. Then he frowned. “Well, not yet, at least. My mum doesn’t want her to die until she writes me back into her will.”
“I thought Irene didn’t care about the hag’s money,” Al said, sounding perplexed.
“HEY!” Jag whirled around and jabbed a finger in Al’s face. “Don’t call my mum by her first name!”
“But they do!” Al protested, waving his hand toward me, Zelda, and Xander.
“They don’t have the potential to end up as my mother’s next husband!”
Al deadpanned. “Me, your mum’s next husband? Don’t joke.”
“I’m not!” Jag said earnestly. “If you start calling her by her first name, she’s gonna take it as an invitation to jump you!”
Al didn’t reply for a moment.
“AND DON’T YOU DARE JUMP HER BACK!”
“Whoaa, dude! I won’t! Really!”
“I know you think she’s cute,” Jag added, sulkily folding his arms.
“Dude, this is your MOTHER we’re talking about. She’s like twenty-five years older!”
“No, she’s not. She’s only sixteen years older.”
“I’m not dating a woman who’s sixteen years older!”
“You’re totally her type!”
“I don’t get it! Do you want me to date her?”
“No! Just don’t use her first name, okay?!”
“Okay! Fine! Bloody Jesus!” Al shook his head. “Let me ask that question again. Why does your mum care about the hag’s money?”
“She doesn’t.” Jag scuffed his heels against the carpet, looking extremely disgruntled. “All of my other cousins are getting a couple thousand Galleons of inheritance, but I’m getting nothing. My mum doesn’t think that’s fair. It’s not about the money, it’s about the fact that the hag doesn’t see me as one of her grandkids.”
Well, this was a complication that none of us had foreseen. I shared a testy look with Zelda. How were we going to get her to write him into her will? That was next to impossible! And the fact that Jag hadn’t told us about this earlier also bugged me. “Couldn’t you have mentioned this to us before?” I asked him irritably. “What if she’d eaten the monster soup and died? Then what? You wouldn’t have gotten any inheritance!”
Jag shrugged in defeat. “Yeah, I know I should’ve told you guys. I wasn’t banking on getting the money, but if we can secure it and kill her at the same time, it’d be really nice.”
“The only way to do this is the Imperius Curse, and that ain’t gonna work on a lady like her,” Al said dispassionately. “She’ll fight against so hard she’ll drop dead of heart failure.”
“Well, in that case,” I said to Jag, “You need to sit down and talk with her. Be like ‘Hey, Grammy, I know you’re a bitch an’ all, but can you please, pretty please give me some inheritance before you die? I’m going to be a homeless vagabond one of these days, so I’m going to need it!’”
“Thanks for the input, Rose,” Jag snorted. “That’s not going to work because number one: talking with my grandmother just doesn’t work, and number two: I’ve heard her tell my mum that she wants me to end up being a homeless vagabond.”
“We need to guilt her into it,” Xander said. “We need to make her feel remorse for something she’s done, so that she gives you the inheritance.”
“Remorse? That’s a fair idea, but…” Jag meditatively tapped his chin with a finger. “I don’t think it’s possible. Her emotional range doesn’t stretch that far.”
“Isn’t there anyone in the whole world who can make her feel sorry?” Zelda asked him in a pressing tone. “Anyone?”
Jag frowned. “Well… there was someone. He’s not in this world anymore.”
Zelda squealed in delight. “You mean Bo!”
“Not the damn chicken! I mean, my real, living, human grandfather who died of dragonpox— according to the hag, at any rate.”
“I thought she did away with him.”
“She did,” he said grimly. “We just need to prove it.”
“Is he the only person who can make her feel remorse?” I asked. There was a plan formulating in my mind. And you know when I have a Plan Formulating In My Mind… It was never good…
“Rose,” Jag said, cautiously watching my expression. “I’m pretty sure I’ve clarified this before, but my grandfather is dead. Please tell me you’re not planning necromancy.”
Necromancy? I giggled. God, I absolutely loved Jag. “How do you know I’m planning something?”
“We’re your friends, Rose. We can tell.” Jag narrowed his eyes at me. “Does it involve bringing my grandfather back from the dead?”
“Well…” I paused for a second, not knowing what to say.
“WHY ARE YOU HESITATING?”
“We’re not technically bringing him back from the dead, but we sort of are at the same time.” I looked at him. “Does that make sense?”
I sighed. “What did your grandfather sound like?”
“What do you mean ‘what did he sound like’”?
“What was his voice like? Was it high-pitched, nasally, deep—”
“Deep,” Jag said immediately. “And sort of… gorilla-ish. He sounded like a gorilla that could talk. But why?”
I ignored him. “Al, say something.”
“Why?” my cousin asked cluelessly. The timbre of his voice was a perfect, deep bass.
I turned to the girls. “Does he sound gorilla-ish to you?”
“Perfect,” I said in satisfaction. “Al, you’re the man for the job.”
“Wait, what am I doing?” Al looked frantic. “Oh Merlin, Rose, am I the one who has to carry the prank out? No! No! No! I did it last time!”
“But you’re the only guy here except for Jag!”
“Use Zelda! She’s manly enough!”
“No way,” Jag said in a hushed voice. His pixie-blue eyes were on me. “No way, Rose. You can’t be thinking of doing that!”
Oh, so Jag figured it out, did he?
“Wait! What’s going on?” Al frantically looked from me to his best mate. “What? You guuuuys!”
“You’ll survive, Al,” I said, grinning at my cousin devilishly, and then I gestured for us to come into a tight huddle. “Listen closely, mates. This is what we have to do…”
11:15 at night, after the powwow, in my room…
“You’re a nutcase. You know that, right?”
I was sprawled on the bed, staring at the ceiling. Xander was sitting on top of the dressing table and giving me a pointed look. I decided to ignore her. She had no confidence whatsoever in my brilliant plan. I mean, only a genius such as myself could think up something like that!
“Al’s never going to pull it off. His French sucks!”
“He said he was fluent.” I got up on one elbow and glared at her. “Jag and Zelda are helping him right now, and we have three more hours to kill. I’m sure they’ll figure it out.”
“I sure hope so,” she sighed. “So… Rose. Do you have anything to tell me?”
I raised my eyebrows. “I don’t. Why?”
Xander smirked and slid off the edge of the dresser. She dragged a chair from in front of the desk, pulled it up in front of the bed to where I was lying, and sat in it— psychiatrist-to-patient style.
“Rose, I’ll ask again. Is there anything you want to talk about?”
I thought about the episode in the shower with Malfoy and I inwardly groaned. There was a part of me that wanted to tell Xander, because girls just need to tell each other these sort of things, and plus, she was really good at figuring out what was going through boys’ heads. I really wanted to know what Malfoy had been thinking.
“It’s okay, Rose, you can tell me.” The smile on her face broadened. “What happened in the shower?”
“Noth—” I started to say, then I stopped and stared at her.
How did she know?
“How?” I cried, staring at her. I sat straight up on the bed. “HOW do you know about that?!”
“I’m right, aren’t I? I knew it!” Xander said excitedly, bouncing up and down on her seat. “It was a simple deduction. Both of you got splashed by the shit soup, so you had to wash yourselves off, right? And both of you ran out of the dinner in the same direction, so you were definitely heading toward the same bathroom—the one that’s next to the parlor. I’m right, aren’t I?”
“How do you know I didn’t go to the bathroom upstairs?” I asked her stiffly. I was already mentally summarizing the details of the shower scene, since I knew that was going to be her next question.
“Because you won’t ever give anything up to Malfoy, lease of all a shower! And plus, we could hear only one shower going.” She winked at me. “Soo… you going to tell me what happened? Did it get steamy?”
“I wouldn’t call it steamy,” I said, feeling rather uncomfortable. There was a heat crawling up the side of my neck, and I knew that I was blushing. Oh great. Quickly, I told her everything—and I tried not to linger too much on the fact that Malfoy had an absolutely-gobsmacking-fucking-awesome body or on the fact that he pinned me against the shower wall and threatened to kiss me.
“Oh, my Merlin,” Xander said breathlessly. Her eyes had been shining like stars throughout my whole story. “He tried to kiss you. Oh god! Oh god! HE LIKES YOU!”
“NO!” I said loudly, slapping my hands down her shoulders. “Listen to me, Xander! He didn’t try to kiss me, he threatened to kiss me.”
“What’s the difference?”
“There’s a huge difference!” I felt indignant. “First of all, he was doing it to make me feel scared— you know, how a lion pounces on its prey and then slobbers down on it? Like that.”
“But,” Xander said pointedly, “if he wanted to make you feel scared, he could’ve threatened to break your arm—”
“That doesn’t scare me,” I said gruffly. “I’ll break his arm right back!”
“What I mean is that if he threatened to kiss you, then he obviously doesn’t mind kissing you. He must find you attractive!”
I thought back to how I had been shirtless in the shower. “Nope. He definitely doesn’t find me attractive.”
“How do you know?”
I gestured at my own chest. “Helllooo! I was shirtless in the shower and he didn’t look downwards at my boobs at all! Why? Because I don’t HAVE any boobage! AT ALL!”
Xander rolled her eyes. “You’re beautiful, Rose! And not all boys care just about the boobs—”
“For a second I thought you were going to say that boys don’t care about boobs, which is so not true. Have you heard Jag going on and on and on—”
“I walk out of the room when they start talking about that,” Xander said, sounding disgruntled. “But not all boys are obsessed with boobs! Look at Kai, for example! He doesn’t like talking about boobs!”
That’s because he’s gay, honey.
“What?” Xander protested, looking at my face. “Why are you giggling?”
Oh, was I giggling? Oops.
“Honey,” I said in a very, very, very patient voice. “Alexandrina, honey. Listen.”
“There’s a reason why Kai doesn’t like boobs, and it’s the same reason why he doesn’t want to date you.” I blinked at her hopefully. Would she get the hint.
“Wait,” Xander muttered. She frowned. “Are you saying that he doesn’t like my boobs? What’s wrong with my boobs?”
I face-palmed. “ Just forget it.”
Two hours later… 1:30 AM…
By the time Zelda came to fetch us out of the room, it was pitch-black. She held a candleholder in one hand, the flames from the candle giving her face a flickering, reddish glow. “C’mon, you guys, it’s time,” she whispered, then put a finger to her lips as we ventured down the hallway. It would be bad if other people woke up.
“Guess what, Zelda?” Xander whispered to her excitedly, and I winced because I knew what she was going to say. “Scorpius tried to kiss Rose while they were naked in the shower!”
“WHAT THE FU— MMM!” I slapped a hand over Zelda’s mouth before she could scream. She ripped my hand off and hissed, “YOU! You were naked in the shower with him? HOLYMOTHER—”
“I was not naked!” I hissed, and looked around in the dark corridor in mortification. Did someone hear that? There were bedrooms all around! Hell, Astoria’s bedroom was just a couple broom-lengths away! “Look, Zelda, I was just half-naked—”
“YOU WERE HALF-NAKED?”
“NO!” I mentally slapped myself and lowered my voice. “I mean, yes, I was, but no—I mean I had my bra on, but—”
“YOU SHOWERED WITH MALFOY WITH ONLY YOUR BRA ON?”
I slapped Zelda across the face, effectively shutting her up. “Lower your fucking voice! I had my jeans on, too!”
“But why?” Zelda hissed in a thankfully quieter, but no less frantic voice. “Was he half-naked, too?”
“He didn’t have a shirt on,” I muttered, and I miserably lowered my face so that she couldn’t see the flush on my cheeks. Then I snapped my head up and glared at Xander, who giggling hysterically. “Thanks a-fucking-lot for telling her, Xander!”
“What, why didn’t you want me to know, Rose?” Zelda asked in a whiney tone. “Why’d you only tell Xander?”
“You’re gonna, like, make up some weird conclusion that Malfoy likes me or something!” I threw up my hands. “I don’t know!”
“Weeelll, he did try to kiss you after all,” Xander said, before I could punch her in the mouth.
“He tried to kiss you? HOLY FU—”
“Shhhh!” I shot her a death-glare. “It wasn’t like that, goddammit! He doesn’t like me, he was just trying to make me feel bad and —”
“But he tried to kiss you,” Zelda repeated, waving around the candleholder frantically. The candle wobbled precariously and I suddenly wondered what would happen if we burned the house down. “Rose, listen to me! Malfoy wouldn’t try to kiss you if he didn’t feel attracted to you!”
“That’s exactly what I told her!” Xander said in agreement.
“But—but—” I looked around in the darkness, totally at loss at how to make my friends understand the situation. “He threatened to do it. Like, he threatened it. He was trying to make me feel vulnerable and defenseless, because I know that he knew that I would hate to kiss him—”
“But did you really not want to kiss him?” Zelda asked me seriously. “And don’t lie!”
I imagined Malfoy—him with all of his shirtless, slicked-back-blond-hair, dripping-in-water-with- sexy-shining-rock-hard-abs glory, and I have to admit, it was really, really, really tempting. Because, frankly, you don’t get a guy as hot as him pinning you up in a shower every day, but…
I hate him. I just fucking hate him so much.
“No, I didn’t want to kiss him. And I never will.” I said simply, and I made my voice calm, honest and not flustered, so my friends couldn’t say anything against it. They turned away, grumbling.
“But, Rose, he’s sooo attractive…”
“Be careful,” Zelda told me carefully. “I wouldn’t put it past Malfoy to jump your bones or something…”
I almost laughed at that. “Ha. Like that’s ever gonna happen.” I motioned to them to follow me up the stairs. “C’mon you guys, the boys are waiting for us.”
Okay, so for the next thirty minutes, we—meaning Jag, Xander, Zelda and I—helped Al get ready for what I called Operation Get Jag’s Inheritance From Bitch. Basically the plan was this:
Al was going to put on his Invisibility Cloak and he was going into Jag’s grandmum’s room pretending to be the ghost of her dead husband. (Thank Merlin he knew how to speak French or it wouldn’t have worked.) He was going to sweet-talk her, blackmail her, threaten her, yada yada yada, until she agreed to write Jag back into her will.
See? Aren’t I so clever at coming up with these plans?
“But, um, Rose, you know… I really can’t speak French that well.”
“WHAT?” We were outside the hag’s bedroom door and I nearly hit the wall. I jabbed my finger into my cousin’s chest. “But you said you could!”
“Well, I can, but—”
“He sucks ass at it,” Jag said with a grimace. “Sorry, mate.”
I exhaled heavily. “And you’re telling me now?”
“I’ve been prepping him, but—”
“The French isn’t what I’m worried about, Jag! I don’t know a single thing about your grandpa’s life history!” Al said to Jag furiously. “What happens if she asks me if I remember what they did during their twenty-fifth marriage anniversary?”
“Just make it up.”
“What the fuck? I can’t just make it up—”
“This is going to be fucking hilarious,” Zelda said wryly to me and Xander.
So, in the end, with a lot of swearing, Al threw the Invisibility Cloak over his head, and gently easing open the door of the bedroom, he slipped in—or we presumed that he slipped in, because we couldn’t exactly see him. I got out my Extendable Ears (the ones that translated any language spoken automatically back to English) and passed them to the girls. We put the fleshy strings in our ears and I stuffed the large Ear into the door crack. We huddled by the door, clutching our knees, waiting for someone to say something.
“Umm…er…. Hey, Giselle… Wake up!”
“That fucktard,” Jag said to us, swearing suddenly. “He’s using the formal! You’re not supposed to be using the formal with your own wife!”
“Giselle, c’mon, wake up!”
There was a silence, and then a shifting of bed covers….
“W-Who is there?” This was Jag’s grandma talking now. Her translated voice sounded sleepy annoyed.
There was a deep cough. “It is I, Giselle.”
“Who are you? And why can I not see you?” There was a short silence, then Jag’s grandma gasped. “I cannot believe it… your voice… Is it you, my husband?”
“Yes, my wife,” Al replied. “I have come back from the dead to—to ask a favor of you.”
“A favor?” Jag’s grandma sounded confused. “Why would you ask a favor of me? Do you still not hate me?”
“Um, yes, I do hate you.” Al paused. “Actually, no, I do not hate you any longer. Why did I hate you in the first place?”
“How do you not remember?” she cried in astonishment. “Are you truly Beaumont?”
“Yes, yes, of course I am!” Al sounded panicked. “I just—um, well, once I got to Heaven, the angels sort of brainwashed me and—”
“You went to Heaven?” Giselle began to laugh in a high-pitched voice. “You, went to Heaven? How was it there?”
“Pretty spiffy. Lots of clouds, and um, cherubs. They made me forgive you for whatever reason I hated you in the first place.”
“I see.” Jag’s grandmother paused for a moment. “Well, I suppose that you do not fancy that livestock farmer any longer?"
“What the fu—” Al stopped himself in time, then I could hear him making choked sounds, trying to regain his composure. “What… what are you talking about?”
“Oh, yes!” the grandmother screeched happily. “You’ve forgotten about him! Fantastic!”
“Forget about who? Tell me, Giselle, tell me!”
“Andre, the chicken boy!” Then she gasped. “Oh, I should not have said his name. Your memories might be jolted!”
“My memories are not jolted, dear Giselle,” Al said in a straight voice. “Will you please tell me more about him?”
“You saw him when we were traveling by coach down the side of Dijon, by the Saone River during our twenty-fifth marriage anniversary. Do you remember? I wore my very best, red-lace robes for you. I thought that if, maybe, I could make you fall for me that night—we could be blessed with a third child!”
Al made faint gagging noise. “Um, yes, I remember. Then what? Did the romantic night not happen?”
“Of course not! We had our third child ten years later, you bastard!” Giselle’s breathing became erratic, almost as if she was going to have a heart attack. “You went and tried to court that goddamn chicken boy!”
“What the fuck?” Al squawked in alarm, and the girls and I simultaneously fell to the floor in silent laughter. Jag turned to us, his mouth open and eyes wide in pure horror.
“I am glad you see how sinful it was,” Giselle said haughtily. “You were so very angry at me, because I would not let you meet him… I mean, for goodness sake’s, Beaumont, you were a thirty-five year old man with a wife and two children!”
“A… chicken boy?” Al said weakly. “I fell in love with a chicken boy?”
“I suppose that is why my daughter claims that your soul resides in the chicken in the coop outside,” Giselle sniffed.
Al was silent for a long moment. Then: “W-Was this boy— uh, I mean the chicken one— was he, er, h-handsome at least?”
Jag choked on his own spit. Zelda pounded him on the back, and he turned to us and weakly mouthed, Why the fuck is he asking her that?
“I was much prettier, I can assure you,” Giselle replied coldly.
“Oh, um, okay,” Al said weakly. “I, uh… Wow, I’m just a little… shocked right now.” He cleared his throat. “I can assure you, Giselle, there was no other prettier woman—or man— out there than you. I loved you.”
There was a silence, then Giselle said: “If you loved me, Beaumont, why did I catch you in the chicken coop with—”
“THAT WAS AN ACCIDENT!” Al screamed. “I was, um, taken in by that chicken boy’s charms and I— Urgh! Goddammit! Listen to me, Giselle, I loved you! I still love you!”
“I’m glad to hear that,” the grandmother said softly. “Will you forgive me for one last thing?”
“Yeah, sure. Anything.”
“The poison… I didn’t mean to put it in your glass…”
The four of us sitting outside the door perked up. Jag’s eyes widened and he pressed a finger to his lips, forbidding us to make a noise.
“Well, whose glass did you mean to put it in?”
Giselle gave a sigh. “The man who had been sitting next to you at the party, Daemon Nyx—”
“That’s my grandfather!” Zelda cried out loud, and Xander immediately slapped a hand over her mouth.
“Shhhh!” Jag widened his eyes ar her, pressing a finger to his lips.
There was a silence in the Extendable Ears. Then: “Was there a noise out there just now, Beaumont?”
“I did not hear anything,” Al said in his deep voice. “Please, continue. Why did you want to assassinate Daemon Nyx?”
“Because I was afraid that he was going to tell everyone at the party about our affair!” Giselle sobbed. “I am so sorry, Beaumont! I had never meant things between us to turn out that way!”
“Yeah, your life sucked,” Al said dispassionately. “You had an affair with another man behind my back, you tried to kill the other man because you thought he was going to tell me about your affair, but you ended up killing me instead. Wow. You know what, Giselle? I think that you owe me one helluva favor.”
“Yes," Giselle responded in a shuddering voice. "Anything you ask, Beaumont.”
“I would like three things,” Al commanded in his deep bass voice. The girls and I shot each other questioning looks. Three things? “Number one: I would like you to write my grandson, Irene’s son, back into your will. And you will triple the amount of his inheritance.”
“Yes, most definitely,” Giselle said quietly. Next to us, Jag leapt up into the air and started to dance around like a crazed chimp.
“Number two: I want you to treat Irene with respect. You will listen to all of her wishes and you will not intrude in her house when she does not want you. In other words, just leave her alone.”
“Very well," the grandmother scoffed. "I always knew she was your favorite daughter."
“And number three: I presume that you know of Zelda Nyx? She is some relative of Daemon Nyx, I believe?” Al asked. Beside me, Zelda stiffened in alarm.
“Yes, the dark-haired girl. She is his granddaughter.” Giselle was silent for a moment. “She has his eyes.”
“Yes. I would like you to fix her marriage with Irene’s son.”
“HO—” Zelda started to shout, but Xander and I pounced on her, sitting on her and nearly squishing her against the floor. I eagerly gripped my Extendable Ear, straining to listen to Giselle’s response.
“Are…” her voice was croaky. “My grandson and her, are they in love?”
“Yes,” Al replied promptly. I could almost hear the grin in his voice. “Will you swear to get them married?”
“Yes, I will,” Giselle said with a sigh.
Even though Xander and I were sitting on her back and holding her arms down, Zelda somehow managed to pound her fists on the floors. Her eyes were wide and horrified.
“That’s all I wanted to say,” Al said. “Goodbye, Giselle.” And we heard the floor creak a little as he walked out of the room.
Ten minutes later… in Jag’s Man Cave…
“HOLY FUCK, I’M GONNA KILL YOU!” Zelda screamed, charging at Al for the fifth time.
For the fifth time, I quickly cried a spell and ropes appeared out of the end of my wand, zooming forward to entangle my friend around the middle, so she fell on the floor with her hands pinned to her side like a giant cocoon.
“But—that—was—so—awesome!” Al laughed, bent double on the sofa. He was wiping tears away from his eyes. “Aren’t I awesome, Rose? Look at what I accomplished!”
I was going to chime in something along the lines of Yes, you're the bestest cousin in the entire world!, but Zelda cut me off before I could say anything:
“I’M NOT MARRYING THAT PRICK!”
“YOU SHUT THE FUCK UP!” Jag shouted at her, sitting up straight on his bed. He had spent the last ten minutes lying on it like a brain-dead zombie.
“WHAT, YOU WANT TO GET FUCKING MARRIED?” Zelda screamed back at him from the floor, where she was wriggling around like a worm.
“NO, I DON’T! I’M IN FUCKING SHOCK HERE!” Jag fell back onto his pillow with a groan. “My grandfather had an affair with a chicken boy—a fucking chicken boy!”
I snorted with laughter. “That’s pretty hilarious, you know.”
“No, it’s not!” Jag screamed in anguish. “How would you like it if you knew that your grandpa had fucked a chicken boy when he was thirty-five?”
I thought of my grandpa, Arthur Weasley. “I don’t know… I don’t think my grandpa was into, um, chicken boys…”
“EXACTLY!” Jag yelled. He sat up again and jammed a thumb into his own chest. “ONLY MY FAMILY’S THAT FUCKED-UP!”
“And even more with the addition of Zelda,” Xander added with a giggle-snort.
“SHUT UP, I’M NOT MARRYING HIM!”
“When my grandma wants something to happen, it happens,” Jag said darkly. He fell back onto his bed and glared at the ceiling. “I can’t believe my grandmother had an affair with your grandfather.”
“I can’t believe your grandmother tried to kill my grandfather,” Zelda muttered.
“I can’t believe my grandmother ended up killing my grandfather by trying to kill your grandfather,” Jag said. “I can’t believe that my grandmother is going to get us married. I can’t believe that my grandfather was in love with a chicken boy. I can’t believe that he was—urgh, that he was—and Merlin, I need to apologize to Kai for being such a prick! My life is screwed up!”
“Wait,” Xander said in a puzzled voice. “Why do you want to apologize to Kai?”
“No reason,” Jag grumbled, turning on his side. “Zelda, come here. We need to talk about whether or not I’m really your long-lost half-cousin once removed—”
“What the fuck?”
“Our grandparents had had an affair!” Jag protested, waving his arms around in the air. “It’s possible!”
“No, it’s fucking not!” For some reason, Zelda looked extremely alarmed. “Trust me, you’re not. Your mom looks exactly like your grandma, so don’t even worry about it.”
“Are you sure?”
“Oh, phooey,” Jag grumbled. “I could have used it as an excuse not to get married.”
“No, you couldn't have,” Zelda retorted. “It’s legal for half-cousins to get married.”
“Oh my god,” Xander snapped in exasperation. “You guys need to stop being so fucking pureblood!”
Yes, everyone, this is what I do during my free time. I make my characters' grandfathers have affairs with chicken boys. (And Jag and Zelda are getting marriiied!)
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