Chapter 2 : Three days after
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“It’s not.” I muttered, glancing down at my lasagne for a few seconds before closing my eyes slightly.
“Figured,” Stacey said with an eye roll, “Christ, you look awful. Honestly, Scorp, I don’t think I’ve ever been less attracted to you than I am now.”
“So glad we arranged to meet for dinner.” I muttered, pressing my lips together and taking a sip of water. Sometimes it was difficult to remember that Stacey was largely joking, but then I reminded myself that Stacey was a bitch and I didn’t give a crap.
“Well, I’m glad you’re still able to be sarcastic, Scorp,” Stacey continued, taking an overly large mouthful of spaghetti in her stride and chewing deliberately, “I wasn’t expecting you to be functional.”
“I don’t feel functional,” I said, blinking and feeling like the action took a long time and a lot of effort, “so you know then?”
“That you and Rose broke up? Yeah,” Stacey said, “although even if I hadn’t I’d have guessed either that or an impromptu pregnancy and, given you’re so dependable -“ it was about now when I cursed ever telling Stacey about anything to do with my relationship with Rose… it was likely a strange thing to do given our personal history, “ - you’d just take a pregnancy in your stride or whatever.”
“Thanks, I think.”
“Are you eating?”
“Yeah,” I said, picking up my fork and looking wearily at the lasagne, “I’m not… not going to fall apart just because…”
“Look, Malfoy,” Stacey said, a trail of spaghetti hanging off her fork emphasising her hand gestures further, “I may not be a relationship guru, but you dated Rose for ages and you can break down if you want. In fact, if I was Rose - which isn’t something I like to consider much - and I saw you here, three days after our break up, having dinner with another girl I’d probably die inside. Don’t get scared, Scorp, I know this isn’t a date - I mean look at you.”
“Thanks,” I muttered, chewing on a mouthful of lasagne without really tasting it or wanting anything to do with it, “I miss her.”
“You didn’t say it was a pity party when you invited me here.”
“Stop apologising,” Stacey said impatiently, “Christ, Scorp, we’re friends - mull in your own self-pity for a bit and ignore my sarcasm. It wasn’t a genuine complaint.”
“Sorry,” I said again. Stacey sent me a look. “I just… I haven’t really slept, you know? Just thinking about everything.”
“About how glorious Rose Weasley was?” Stacey suggested. “When you get to the point where hating her will be helpful do let me know, because I have a couple of humdingers lined up and waiting.”
“For a start,” Stacey said, “what is with the way she pronounces forehead?”
“I don’t think that’s going to help Stace,” I said, although I did know what she meant and it was a little annoying it was nothing compared to just thinking about Rose’s lips forming the word. The whole thing made me smile rather than created levels of irritation enough to be glad to be rid of her.
“I’ve got loads,” Stacey said, “I mean, Scorp, I’ve got tons. And not just things like pronunciation issues, I’m talking serious character flaws like an inability to put eyeliner on properly and her incessant desire to be liked.”
“I’ll let you know.” I muttered, feeling my shoulders cave inwards slightly. The main thing that got to me - right to the place in my stomach where Rose’s absence was beginning to hurt - was to be so accepted and then to not be wanted anymore. And the idea that Rose just didn’t want me anymore: she knew me inside and out, every little nook and crevice of my personality, every little insecurity and she’d looked at it all objectively and it turned out that I wasn’t worth it any more. She didn’t want anything to do with me.
Except friendship, of course.
“I’m a little surprised you wrote to me.” Stacey said, taking a sip of her wine and raising her eyebrows at me. I glanced up at her. “I take it you want Rose back? Because starting hanging out with the ex again isn’t going to help.”
“That was ages ago.”
“Like that matters,” Stacey said, waving this away, “time is irrelevant in these sorts of matters. But, I’d honestly thought you’d have gone to Imogen to bleed your heart out too.”
“I’m not bleeding my heart out to you,” I huffed.
“Of course not,” Stacey conceded, “because Scorpius Malfoy is too manly to talk about his emotions. Been there, done that.”
“I wanted to ask your advice.” I admitted.
“About getting over someone?” Stacey asked, her expression mildly incredulous. “Scorp, you’re my longest relationship and that was… what… shorter than three months? And I dumped your sorry ass.”
“No,” I said, “not about that. About… well, we were friends after we broke up.”
“You think you can be friends with Rose?” Stacey asked. “Never going to happen.”
“It’s not up for discussion.”
“First,” Stacey said, placing down her fork to fully get into the rant, “why would you want to be friends with her? She’s a chameleon girl whose idea of romance was to call you dependable which, by the way, really isn’t very sexy. She’s a Weasley, she can’t say the word forehead and she dumped you.”
“You dumped me.”
“Yeah,” Stacey said, imploringly, “but you didn’t care about that! You didn’t like me all that much, let alone being in love with me. Second, it’s never going to work. You’re either going to turn into one of those bipolar on off relationships which result in some sort of addiction, or you’ll end up as worst enemies, or you’ll get back together and - oh, seriously Scorpius? Are you that predictable? You think you can be friends and then get back together afterwards? She’s going to put so much effort into friendzoning you relationship reconciliation is just about zero.”
“It’s possible.” I muttered.
“No,” Stacey said, “it isn’t. If you want to waste your time pining after Rose whilst being her friend then you feel free – and please do keep me updated on how badly it all goes wrong, will you? I could do with more amusement in my life.”
“Stacey,” I sighed, glancing down at my less than half eaten lasagne and setting down my fork, “I don’t know what else to do.”
“Chase after her, if you will,” Stacey shrugged, “you’ll either get back together or you’ll be that ex who wouldn’t take no for an answer.”
“How’s Stan?” I asked.
“My idiot brother is as idiotic as ever. I hate to say it, but I think he misses being your room mate. Lord knows why, given no one can accuse you of being sociable and you near enough ignored anyone who wasn’t Rose all last year.”
“A little bit.”
“Well, you were a bit of a special case Stace, and I didn’t talk to the others much anyway. I’m still in contact with Seb.”
“Everyone is in contact with Seb. He likes to sit their being charismatic and have you marinade in his aurora of success.”
“Still not woken up and realised you’re the perfect Mrs Sebastian Wilkes, then?”
“No, not exactly,” Stacey said, rolling her eyes and looking as cheerful as ever, “look, Scorp, I know you like being your little self-sufficient being, and that’s nice and very Slytherin - I approve - but I figure you’re going to need some friends now you’ve taken a pair of nice jagged scissors and cut around all your social relationships and I’m glad that we’re doing this.”
“Really?” I asked, glancing up at Stacey. Given our relationship had always been a matter of me being around when she wanted me and then her not being around when she didn’t want me (until, suddenly, I wasn’t around at all and Stacey had found that after taste of that a little sour) this seemed to coming from nowhere to me. And I did like Stacey and it was a bit difficult to stay friends with her whilst dating Rose, as girlfriends generally don’t take well to you being friends with your most recent ex (which took me awhile to figure out).
“I’ve missed laughing at you,” Stacey admitted, “your criminal seriousness and inability to enjoy yourself has always been hysterical.”
“I have friends.”
“Your parents don’t count.”
“Wouldn’t have counted them anyway,” I said, “but… Imogen.”
“How is Imogen?” I hesitated a few seconds too long. “Oh, that’s right - you don’t know.”
“And work colleagues.”
“You socialise with them outside Ministry hours, do you?”
“I could do,” I said, half smiling as she gave a triumphant hand gesture which, as it turned out, was a little too erratic as it sent a bit of spaghetti sauce flying across the restaurant.
“You could do a lot of things,” Stacey said, “like throw yourself at the door of Rose’s apartment over and over again, spending hours nearly knocking yourself out to show your pure desperation and the depth of your love for one, Rose Weasely, until you eventually pass out in a pool of angst. But everyone knows what you’re going to do is nothing. Rose knows that. I know that. Everyone knows that.”
“You’re not making me feel better.”
“Okay,” Stacey said, “well, Scorp. You’ll get over it at some point. I mean, it might take a few years of your silent pining and comparing every woman you ever meet with Rose and dreaming about the way she says forehead just because it reminds you of her. And you might start crying every time you see a Weasley in the street. You’ll probably lose a bunch of weight and forget about the importance of washing for a bit. Cry for a long time. Believe no one can ever love you. Have a couple of pointless one night stands with one of your few selection of exes,” Stacey gestured to herself with an eye roll, “a few dead end relationships with gingers…but you will, one day, get over it.”
“Thanks.” I muttered.
“Anytime. Are you not eating that lasagne?”
“Go ahead,” I said miserably, pushing it towards her.
“Thanks,” Stacey said, brightening up, “and you just let me know about that booty call, yeah?”
When I was eleven my parents nearly split up.
It was a combination of them not really liking each other all that much anyway (and as far as my eleven year old self was concerned, they were completely indifferent to each other and simply happened to live in the same house) and their single common interest being displaced to a snowy, unknown corner of Scotland.
With my sparse letters home from Hogwarts acting as the only talking point in conversation, I was entirely sure that every comment I made about sitting next to Albus Potter in Potions (assigned seats) and every grammatical mistake was broken down, talked over and discussed it a similar level as a piece of fine literature. When I cottoned on to the fact that these letters were the last thread of hope my parents had, I lengthened them and invented stupid problems with awkward solutions that they had to sit down and work out – I thought my roommate might be wearing my robes but I wasn’t sure how to ask him, a Hufflepuff had borrowed a Quill and then disappeared leading to me being without a writing implement and therefore not making notes and getting detention with one of my Professors, one of my friends had snuck a pet gerbil into school and I was unsure whether or not to tell on him.
By the end of the year, I’d invented so many problems and stories that I was scared to come home less Mum asked me about Simone Pinkleton’s allergic reaction and I forgot what the details of that misadventure actually were, but it turns out that the second I got home the questions about Hogwarts stopped completely and they thrived on once again meddling my life, nagging about my social life, posture, grades and whether I was doing enough studying.
Come the next September I had to admit that they were both beginning to look apprehensive – as though the prospect of me once again disappearing from their lives had made even them feel as though they were on the edge of the end – they were closer to each other than they had been for years previously. There were moments which suggested genuinely affection: kisses on the cheek and cups of tea that were made for each other, quiet conversations at the bottom of the stairs and signs that they’d been talking about me whilst I wasn’t there, dissecting another part of my life that they could interfere with.
We settled into a pattern in which my parents would depend solely on summers and my letters to keep their marriage from sinking into a more depressing state that normal and, maybe it wasn’t exactly healthy, but the glimpses of arguments was enough to convince me that it was worth dragging it out for as long as physically possible. Whilst my mother would take a separation perfectly well (a few tears, a makeover, moving back in with her sister, probably some form of facelift charm) my father would not cope with losing the singular person in his life who actually chose him. I didn’t count, because I had just happened, and his parents didn’t count because they had no choice but to love him, and his mate Goyle didn’t really count because Dad had chosen him. Mum, however, had looked at Draco Malfoy and not seen a man who, as a teenager, had plotted to kill his Headmaster, seen more death than anyone can stand seeing, and stood by and let people he’d known since he was eleven years old be tortured in his library. She’d seen someone worth having and maybe it was because my Dad had once been a semi-attractive man, or she’d been won over by his tortured soul, or just loved him despite the fact that he was near-unlovable.
And if my Mum finally did what she’d been threatening to do for most of my life, and probably sometime before that, I was entirely sure that my Dad would not last a year without falling into some awful vice that I’d eventually have to pull him out of. Or I’d be putting him in his grave.
So, when we graduated Hogwarts most people had several choices. Live with their parents, live with their friends, live with their significant other… but I hadn’t felt like I had much of a choice at all, when moving out completely was sure to result in a major-crisis, family wise, and I didn’t want to be responsible for my father’s ultimate demise into alcoholism or some form of other potentially fatal addiction. Rose had been utterly gobsmacked by the assertion that I was going to live with my parents as she considered this the perfect opportunity to get away from her parent’s bickering and cut herself away from being a teenager, but if I cut myself away from my parents there’d be nothing much of them left.
Maybe I wasn’t anything all that special, but I was the sum total legacy of Astoria Malfoy, nee Greengrass, and Draco Malfoy. It felt more than heartless to let them down.
“Scorpius,” Mum said, her expression that carefully designed pretty smile that usually accompanied some bad news, “you might have noticed that your father and I have been having some difficulties recently.”
Noticed? It was a bit bloody difficult not to notice when I was living with them and hadn’t seen them speak for at least a week (longer, if you didn’t count ‘could you pass me the butter, Draco’ which I tended to not as Dad had ignored the request for an awkwardly long five seconds before I’d reached over and passed the butter) and, before then, I’d overheard half of an argument which they’d cut off immediately when they heard the kettle boil. Bizarrely, my parents seemed convinced that I’d never noticed their marital problems and that they’d sheltered me from their issues my whole life.
I think I’d probably known my parents weren’t madly in love before I could speak.
“Really, Mum?” I asked, trying hard not to be too sarcastic, because Mum was quite sensitive to that sort of thing.
Her lips tightened slightly, “Yes.”
And this was it. The moment I’d been trying to put off for most of the life. Considering everything, Dad didn’t look too bad – he was still stood with her shoulders tense and his expression fixed on me as if wondering how, exactly, I was related to him, but he didn’t look like he was considering drowning his sorrows in a bottle of something strong or smoking.
I could practically hear the D word floating around the room and clinging to the corners of our kitchen. At least I was too old for them to argue about custardy arrangements, because there’s no way Dad would win and there’s no way he’d stand losing (not because of any real affection, just because the pure fact of losing didn’t sit well with my father).
“We’ve got an appointment tomorrow,” Mum continued, her eyes welling up slightly, “to see a couple’s councillor.”
“We’re going to get counselling, Scorpius. Your break up with Rose inspired the both of us -”
“- I’m glad my life was so helpful.”
“Now, Scorpius, don’t be facetious. You know that’s not what I meant. Your bad decision in letting Rose slip through your fingers when, quite clearly, you didn’t want to break up made the both of us realise that you can’t let love slip through your fingers because you don’t fancy putting in the effort.”
I was struck immediately about the letters that my eleven year old self used to write, which I was sure my parents must have known were entirely fake, of made up problems with difficult solutions that they’d map out together. When the replies came I always heard their response in a mix of their voices, Dad interjecting points and Mum taking the lead role and I’d always know that they’d worked on it together, that it had brought them together, tying them up with shared achievement.
Now this, a real problem with no viable solution, had led to my parents seeking actual help.
“Right,” I said, feeling a little angry but knowing better than to flip out at Mum – she took anyone raising their voice in the house as a personal insult – so yelling any sort of insult at her would be a mortal wound on her pride, “well, that’s great.”
“And it’s not too late,” She said primly, “Rose has probably not replaced you yet.”
“Rose isn’t going to replace me, Mum.”
“Yes,” Mum said, “she is.”
“She won’t be single forever.” Dad added.
“Well, yeah,” I said, because I had known that – Rose was going to date and, well, hopefully I wouldn’t remain alone forever – but that didn’t mean I was being replaced it wasn’t like that, “but it won’t be the same.”
“Why?” Mum asked, sharply. “Is she a lesbian? Is that the problem?”
“No! I meant that… well he isn’t going to be my replacement, it… that’s just not a very nice concept.”
“The truth is rarely nice,” Dad added flippantly, “but he will be your replacement. And as her friend, you’ll have to like him.”
“I don’t think you’ve thought this post-relationship friendship concept through.”
“It’s going to be fine,” I said, hunching my shoulders against the onslaught of my parent’s very loud opinion, “I know it’s not going to be easy, but it was a nice break up. We’re going to be friends. Rose said so.”
“Yes,” Mum said, “and have you heard from her since?”
“Has she arranged a friendly gathering?” Dad asked. “Written you any letters about her internship?”
“Well, no, but -“
“That doesn’t sound like friendship.” Mum said primly.
And if my Mum wasn’t so oversensitive, I think I’d probably have retorted with ‘no, it sounds like your marriage’ but I compensated by thinking the words really loudly whilst looking at Dad, and given the slight twist of his lips he probably got the message.
“Can you just drop it Mum, please?” I asked, sighing as her lips thinned further. With my Mum, the more regal she looked the more you ought to brace yourself for having your masculinity stripped away and your arse will and truly kicked. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“That’s probably the problem,” Mum said, “you never talk about your problems, Scorpius, you let them fester. Maybe we should have family counselling in addition to couple counselling? Goodness knows having to resort to this has already destroyed any sense of pride that I ever -”
“- what do you want me to do?”
“Write to her.” Mum said tersely.
"What, Mum? You think I should send her a letter saying 'dear Rose, so it sucks that we broke up, although you probably had a point, and I was just wondering when the whole 'let's be friends' part of your speech kicked into action? Lots of friendly love, Scorpius' because, frankly, that doesn't seem like the sort of conversation that translates well to parchment."
“I will not have you talk to me like that,” Mum hissed, seemingly getting taller as she stared at me, “I will not, Scorpius Malfoy. You will not live under my roof and harbour such a sarcastic tongue. Now, you’re going to go to Rose’s apartment right now and talk to her.”
There was no bloody way that was ever going to happen.
Dom was the one who answered the door.
At this point in time I’d decided to blame Dominique Weasley completely for the entire demise of my romantic relationship with her cousin... and she never liked me in the first place due to my lack of dynamism, so I don’t think either of us were particularly pleased to see the other on the end of the doorway.
There was a beat or two of silence.
“This is the bit,” Dom said, forming the words deliberately with her stupid aggressively red lips, “where you explain why the hell you’re here.”
“Or you could just let me in.”
“Or you could explain why the hell you’re here?” Dom said, stretching out her fingers and blocking off the doorway.
“I don’t know why that’s your business.”
“Well,” Dom said, pouting as if deep in thought, “maybe because this is my flat.”
“Your shared flat.”
“So,” Dom said, “from that I’m going to deduce you’re not here to see me.”
“Not likely,” I said, resisting the urge to shove my hands into my pockets or fold my arms, because I was reliably informed by my mother that it made me look like a moody teenager and ruined my posture.
“Be nice to the woman on the door, Malfoy.”
“Quit with the power trip, Cerberus.”
Why it was that Dominique Weasley brought out the most argumentative side of myself – which was a very minimal side, anyway, Rose was often saying I could do with a bit more fight in me (at least until I started fighting with her cousin) – I wasn’t entirely sure, but there was something about her that really irked me.
“One head, genius.” Dom said, pointing one of her fake nails at her head and sending me a smug look.
“Still a bitch.” I muttered, returning the look.
“Am I to presume,” Dom said, “that you’re here to beg Rose for forgiveness?”
“Assume what you like,” I shrugged, because after everything that had happened - and with Dom’s name practically written all over my ceremonious dumping - the last thing I wanted was to let Dom have any more control in my relationships, “just let me in.”
That seemed to take Dom back slightly and she was silent for a few seconds whilst she took the information in, her red pouty lips parting slightly in surprise before she slammed her jaw shut and resumed her steely expression which always, inexplicably, reminded me of a bulldog that tried to attack my Dad when I was thirteen. “Why are you here?”
“- Rose isn’t in,” Dom interrupted, “I’ll pass on the message.”
“She didn’t answer my letter.”
“Did you miss the memo, Malfoy? You split up.” Dom said, flicking her hair over her shoulder with one arm still on the doorway.
“She said she wanted to be friends.”
“What?” Dom asked, “Are you serious? No one means that.”
“I meant it when I agreed.” I returned because, really, if Rose had offered out any other suggestion but an amiable break up and her still in my life as an important figure then I’d probably have fought harder against the notion of splitting up and I didn’t want to be that guy who just refused to be dumped.
“Scorpius,” Dom said, letting her am drop and in doing so began to look at least quasi-human, “that never ends well for anyone. Without space, neither of you can get over it. And you never end up searching for someone else, because you still have that person you just don’t have sex anymore and who needs sex anyway, right? But if you’re going to give her a chance of getting over you, then really Malfoy, you should just sod off and lick your own wounds.”
“Will you tell her I called?”
“No,” Dom said, shrugging guiltlessly, “I won’t.
Welcoming you to Stacey, who was never supposed to exist, an originally irrelevant sub plot about the Malfoy's marriage and other NaNo madness. Again, this is all written purely for my friend Hanzi and I'd love to know what you think thus far :)
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