Chapter 8 : A Gentleman
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Rose, because she is a successful psychiatrist, does not live in a questionable flat in London, like me. Instead, she lives in a quaint cottage in the countryside, complete with a little wooden fence surrounding the garden. She bought it five years ago, after becoming fed up with having neighbors living above her. I think it was also the around the same time that her flatmate got married and moved out. For the amount of time she actually spends at home, I had no idea why she bought such a nice place. St. Mungo's might as well be her home.
But it was certainly a nice place to visit.
Rose was cheery when she opened the door a few seconds after I knocked. Already dressed, she'd probably been up for hours. Rose was one of the few morning people in my family.
“Lily!” she exclaimed. “My God, it's early for you! What's happened? Water off again?”
“Can't a girl just visit her cousin without wanting something?” I asked, stepping inside. It dawned on me that I sounded a lot like James.
Rose sighed and shut the door. “You could, but you never do. You and James are scarily similar in that manner.”
“No, we're not,” I insisted, knowing full well that Rose was right.
“Well, never mind that. Come in. Do you want tea?”
“Sure,” I said. Never turn down tea, that was my motto.
I followed Rose into the living room, which was homey, with a pale blue leather sofa, rocking chairs, and neutral throw pillows. From the outside, you'd expect the house to be filled with flowery sofas and creepy dolls, but Rose hired a designer for her house, just like she had for her office. I sat down on the sofa and waited for Rose to return with the tea.
“So why are you up so early?” Rose called from the kitchen.
“It's not that early.”
“It's one,” Rose said. “Normally you'd be just waking up now.”
“Well, I didn't go to bed as late as I usually do since I didn't go to the pub last night,” I explained.
“Oh?” Rose asked, sticking her head out the doorway. She looked intrigued.
“Remember?” I prompted. “My date with Matt was last night.”
“Oh my God. I forgot,” Rose said. Her head disappeared. I heard clanging and she returned moments later with two mugs of tea. She handed one to me and sat down. “I'm sorry.”
I shrugged. “That's okay. I was home by nine-thirty, so I just went to bed early.”
Rose raised her eyebrows. “You went to bed. Early. After a date. You mean-”
“No, I did not have sex with him,” I interrupted. “It is possible for Lily Potter not to give it up on the first date.”
Rose laughed. “I didn't mean it like that. Okay, maybe I did. But don't take it the wrong way.”
“I know, I know,” I said, sighing. “I can't argue with history, can I?”
“How was the date, though?” Rose asked.
I smiled, thinking back. “Amazing. He was a gentleman. An actual gentleman. He pulled out my chair for me and put his napkin in his lap and I swear if we'd had more than one fork he'd have known what to do with all of them. And he knew wine.”
“You're a goner,” Rose said. “But I could've told you he was a gentleman.”
“It was a nice surprise. The other blokes I've dated have definitely not been.”
“That's wonderful, Lil,” Rose said, smiling.
“The whole evening was wonderful,” I continued. “We skipped over the awkward part of a date where you talk about what you do for a living and how many siblings you have and whatnot, because we already knew that. We did talk about cousins for a fair bit because he doesn't have any and that just blew my mind.”
“It blew my mind when he told me that in first year.”
“Weird, isn't it? Anyway, it was just so...I don't know...comfortable I guess is the word I'm looking for, to talk to him. I even told him how I landed the job with Bradley.”
Rose's eyes grew large. “Really? You don't tell anyone that.”
“I know. I never told Sean and we were together five months. Do you think it's because I knew, subconsciously, that Sean wasn't telling me the whole truth?”
“Or any of the truth,” Rose muttered. “But yes, that's quite possible.”
“I guess I just like knowing that I won't one day discover Matt has a secret past selling dodgy cauldrons on the black market or something.”
Rose took a sip of tea and didn't respond.
“He doesn't sell dodgy cauldrons, does he?”
Rose set down her mug. “No, no, of course not,” she said quickly. “Back to your date.”
“Well, after I told him my story of getting my job, he told me how he got his.”
Rose's jaw dropped. “You're kidding.”
“The only people outside his family who know all the details of that are Al, John, Kaden, Amanda, and myself.”
Matt's friends from Hogwarts, I thought. “And I suppose me, too.”
“I suppose so,” Rose said, looking at me strangely. “What did he tell you, exactly?”
“Is it really that odd?”
“Yes, it is. But what did he tell you?” she pressed.
“Just that his parents paid his rent for a year and that he couldn't find a job. And then his dad got him a job at the Ministry,” I explained. “Weird that he couldn't find a job, though. He didn't seem to know why.”
Rose seemed to relax. “It was strange. But it all worked out in the end.”
“Do you think it's odd that he didn't invite me back to his place?” I asked, suddenly worried that it hadn't gone as well as I'd thought.
Rose laughed, but it was kind of a sad laugh. “Of course not, Lily. You really have dated assholes, haven't you? Not all blokes want sex after one date. Furthermore, if you'd told me you had sex with Matt after one date I'd say you accidentally had dinner with the wrong guy-”
I groaned. “Please don't remind me of the Aidan/Gabriel incident.”
Rose burst out laughing, nearly spilling her tea in the process. “Oh, God, Lil, I'd forgotten about that.”
Aidan and Gabriel were twins. I had a date set up with Gabriel but he blew up a cauldron at work and landed himself in St. Mungo's. So he sent Aidan on the date, thinking he could hold me over while Gabriel got better.
“They weren't even identical, were they?”
I blushed. “No, but they looked quite alike and it was an easy mistake since the restaurant was so dark-”
“As was your bedroom-”
I nearly threw my mug at her. “Shut up. I'd like to forget them, thanks.”
“So, essentially, you've dated two guys pretending to be their brothers.”
Why had I thought visiting Rose would be a good idea? “Technically I didn't date Aidan. I went out on one date with him and then broke it off because he was an ass. And again, this is why I'm glad Matt doesn't have brothers.”
“Could you imagine if Al and James tried to pull something like that off?” Rose mused.
“First, ew. Second, that would never work. Even if one of them dyed their hair, they're way too different to pull it off. Third, why are we even discussing this?”
“Polyjuice potion, that'd be the way to do it,” Rose said. “Screw having a brother. You'd just need a good batch of Polyjuice.”
I felt all the color drain from my face. “No brothers, and no potion brewers, then.”
“You don't have to worry about Matt, then. He can't brew to save his life. His sister on the other hand...”
“Oh, God,” I muttered. “He could get her to brew him some.”
Rose burst out laughing. “Lily, get ahold of yourself. You're paranoid. This is Matt, the guy who took you on the wonderful date last night. There's no way he'd ever do something like that. I promise. He's been one of my best friends since I was eleven.”
I took a few deep breaths. “You're right. Sorry. I got a bit carried away.”
Rose grinned. “You seem really happy, Lil.”
“I am. I know it's early, but I've never felt this way about anyone before. I never thought I could feel this way. I always thought what I felt with Sean, and Cody before him, was love, but I know now that it wasn't.”
Rose gasped. “Lily, you're not saying-”
“No, I'm not saying it yet,” I agreed. “But if it keeps going this way, then yes.”
“Maybe you will be the next one to get married,” Rose said, smirking.
“Don't even say that,” I said.
Rose stood up. “Come on, then, I promised Hugo I'd babysit today and since you willingly walked into my house, I'm obligated to drag you along.”
I groaned. Yes, going to see Rose was decidedly a bad idea.
Monday morning I arrived at work before Bradley, which has never happened before. Ever. Bradley did give me a key in case such an occasion ever cropped up, but in five years, this was the first time. I wasn't that early. Only about fifteen minutes, which could be attributed to the fact that I'd gone to bed early, yet again, Sunday night. Babysitting Hugo's brood had exhausted me, especially since he and Cassie stayed out a whole three hours later than they'd told Rose and I, resulting in the two of us having to attempt getting the monsters -I mean children- into bed.
The office seemed oddly dead without Bradley there, despite the fact that I'd been there without him many times before. Just not that early. I set about my morning tasks, which included retrieving the drawer for the till from the safe, making a pot of tea in the self-warming pot, and flipping the closed sign to open.
I was just pouring myself my second cup of tea of the day (the first had been at home), when the door sprung open and Bradley ran inside, a huge grin on his face.
“You look like you've won the lottery,” I said as I returned to my desk. Even though I'd arrived early and gotten a decent night's sleep, that didn't mean I enjoyed mornings, or morning people for that matter. Bradley was, like Rose, one of the few morning people in the Weasley clan.
“I wish,” Bradley said, shutting the door behind him. “Sorry I'm late. I got to my usual Apparition spot near my flat and a hungover Muggle walked into the alley. I had to wait until he left.” Bradley suddenly did a double-take. “Did you get here early?”
“Just noticed that?” I asked, smirking.
“I've been preoccupied.”
“Yeah, why are you so cheery?”
“I made some real progress on the Shawna Gordon case,” Bradley said, taking one of the chairs in the waiting area and dragging it over to my desk.
“Oh?” I prompted. The last I heard was that it was at a standstill.
“I finally found a nurse who worked the night Shawna was born,” Bradley explained. “You know, most of the nurses there are really young. It's weird. Like there was a huge turnover two years ago or something. Anyway, this nurse was head of the nursing staff in the maternity ward seventeen years ago. And she remembers Shawna.”
I raised my eyebrows. “After seventeen years? That's impossible.”
“That's what I thought,” Bradley said. “I thought she was faking it, although I've no idea why she would, until she explained. Get this, the nurse's name is also Shawna.”
Now that was a freaky coincidence. “Seriously?”
Bradley nodded. “Shawna the nurse told me that Shawna's mother came into St. Mungo's, in labor, by herself. She was sixteen. She was also emotionally disturbed and hysterical. More than normal for a woman in labor, I guess. So Shawna the nurse got her situated in a room and attempted to calm her, while trying to figure out who to contact. Shawna the nurse said she didn't leave the mother's bedside until the baby was born because as soon as she tried to, the mother would freak out.
“Eventually the mother told her her name, Emily Lyons, and the name of her older sister, Candace Lyons. Shawna the nurse got another nurse to attempt to locate the sister, which they did an hour later. The sister showed up within five minutes, sobbing hysterically and thanking Shawna the nurse profusely for finding her sister.
“I guess Emily came home from Hogwarts six months pregnant after her fifth year. She hadn't told anyone and had been hiding it. Her parents freaked out and told her she had to stay inside until the baby was born and keep hiding it, then put the baby up for adoption. But Emily was sick of hiding it and ran away to her boyfriend's house, where she told him about the baby.
“Emily's parents and Candace didn't hear from her after that and were all worried. They filed missing persons reports and the boyfriend's house was searched, but they found nothing. Emily never told anyone where she was during those two months. Shawna was born a month early.”
“That's awful,” I said quietly. “And the nurse told you all this? What about confidentiality?”
“She's retired,” Bradley said. “I went round her place for tea yesterday and I wasn't expecting her to give me the whole story. But I guess she's a bit of a gossip and loves to talk about old patients.”
I nodded. “So what happened?”
“Candace adopted the baby. She was engaged to Oliver Gordon at the time. They never told anyone who Shawna's real parents were, but instead said that they'd gotten themselves on the adoption list as soon as they got engaged because the wait was often so long. But then they got lucky.”
“That's the story Shawna told you.”
“Yes. She has no idea her aunt is her birth mother.”
“So what happened to Emily? I thought she didn't want the baby put up for adoption.”
“She didn't, but she also realized that she couldn't take proper care of a baby. So she agreed to let Candace and Oliver Gordon take Shawna because then she'd get to be in her life.”
“But Shawna doesn't even know. How awful is that? How can Emily pretend that she's just Shawna's aunt?”
“I don't know. That was all Shawna the nurse knew, but I think there's something more. I'm going to owl Shawna and set up an appointment. She finished Hogwarts a little while ago, so she can come in.”
“Was she named after the nurse?”
“Yeah. Emily insisted that her name be Shawna. I think Shawna the nurse was the only one who showed her any real support during her pregnancy.”
“That's terrible,” I said.
“The adoption cases rarely have happy endings,” Bradley said quietly. “If there's a reason for a kid to seek me out, it usually means the parents are hiding something. And oftentimes, the kid can't forgive their parents for the secrets.”
“This one's not over yet,” I told him.
“Don't get your hopes up, Lil,” Bradley said as he got up and walked to his study.
The door opened and in walked Tobias Hastings, smelling like he hadn't been home since before going to the pub last night. I wrinkled my nose and pulled out his file. “Who can we find for you today, Hastings?”
You'd be surprised how crowded the Rusty Bludger can get on a Wednesday. Sure, it's busier on Friday and Saturday nights, but Wednesday nights boasted a fairly large, dedicated group of weekday drinkers. James was there with a few of his mates, since being a new co-owner of Weasley's Wizard Wheezes didn't require him to keep to a normal schedule. They were crowded around a table having a hot debate on Puddlemere's chances at the Cup. Honestly, didn't constant Quidditch discussion get boring?
A rather rowdy group of Hogwarts kids had taken over the back room, clearly celebrating someone's 17th birthday. Watching them made me feel old. Various other cousins of mine were dispersed throughout the main room, enjoying mature, after work drinks. I was seated at the bar, a half-empty glass of wine in front of me. Matt's sister sat three seats down from me, another solitary drinker in between us, and I was trying to make it not too obvious that I was staring at her.
I didn't think I'd actually ever met Amy before. I could be wrong on that since I have an awful memory, but I was fairly certain we'd never been introduced. She was much older than I was, so we never attended Hogwarts together. She was pretty, in that working mom sort of way. Her hair was very disheveled, but still long and blonde. She wore Healer's robes, which flattered no one, but her head was pretty. Is that weird? Probably. It was probably weird that I was at the pub spying on Matt's sister.
She was laughing at something Dillan said. They really were an adorable couple. I wondered vaguely where their daughter was, because I did know they had a daughter. I remember Victoire mentioned it once, but I couldn't remember the daughter's name or how old she was.
“Are you here hoping to find Matt?”
I jumped, nearly falling off my stool and spilling my drink. The bloke in between Amy and I looked at me strangely before taking a sip of his gin and tonic. I turned and saw Rose climb onto the stool on my other side, also dressed in the tacky green Healer robes.
“Well?” Rose prompted.
“No,” I said. “He's not even here.” No, I was just spying on his sister, which seemed worse.
Rose clearly didn't believe me, but also didn't seem to want to argue. “Just drinking alone, then?”
“I was bored,” I explained. “And I figured there would be someone here to talk to, but James is busy arguing about Quidditch. And you're one to talk. You just came to a pub alone on a Wednesday, too.”
“To get dinner before going back to work,” Rose said flatly.
Dillan walked over and handed Rose a Butterbeer before she even ordered it. “Anything else, Rose?”
“A burger would be great,” Rose said, taking the drink.
“Sure,” Dillan said as he disappeared into the kitchen. A spotty-faced kid took his place at the bar.
“So what's keeping you at work so late?” I asked.
“I'm editing an article that's getting published,” Rose explained.
“Oh,” I said. Rose had published so many articles that it really wasn't news. She was quickly becoming the top psychiatrist in wizarding Britain.
“And don't think I didn't notice what you were doing when I came in,” Rose whispered.
I blushed. “I wasn't doing anything out of the ordinary.”
“Oh, don't even pretend,” Rose said, stifling a giggle.
“Fine,” I muttered. “I'm just curious, is all.”
“About what?” Rose asked. “You realize I work with her.”
“I just can't remember what potion she invented.”
Rose burst out laughing. “Lily, that was huge news a few years ago and I was involved with it. You honestly don't remember?”
“No,” I said, blushing even harder.
“It's a variation on the Wolfsbane Potion,” Rose said, sighing. “The two of us also discovered the newest strain of lycanthropy.”
“Yes, it is,” Rose said. “And you really should've remembered.”
“Never mind that now. I'll introduce you,” Rose said, getting up.
“What? No!” I said, suddenly very self-conscious of the fact that I just nursed an entire glass of wine while watching Amy. “That's not how it works. Matt's supposed to introduce us if this goes anywhere-”
“Lily, he already knows your entire family. This just evens the playing field. Not that you guys are competing or anything, but the point is, the regular rules are out the window.”
“Rose!” Amy shouted, suddenly getting off her own stool and walking around the bloke with the gin and tonic to join us. She apparently didn't inherit the short genes in her family, as she was about two inches taller than me, and thus, also taller than her brother. “I didn't realize you were coming here.”
“Just a quick dinner before heading back,” Rose explained.
“Me, too,” Amy said. “I was hoping to get home before Lucy goes to bed, but I don't think that's going to happen.”
“Your parents watching her?” Rose asked.
Amy nodded. “Thank God. Mum especially loves watching her since retirement doesn't leave her much to do.”
“Well, before you go back I want to introduce my cousin, Lily. She's Albus's little sister.”
Realization dawned on Amy's face and she grinned. I realized that Matt must've told her about our date. “You're the girl Matt went out with a few days ago.”
I blushed again. “Yes. That's me.”
“Great to meet you,” Amy said. “I've got to get back to Mungo's, though. Wolfsbane doesn't brew itself.”
“I'll pop in before I leave for the night,” Rose said as Amy turned to leave.
Amy nodded and waved goodbye as she left. Rose got back on her stool just as Dillan brought out her burger.
“Did I miss Amy leaving?” he asked.
Rose nodded. “Thanks for the burger.”
“No problem,” Dillan said. “I guess I'll catch her later.”
“She already knew we'd gone out,” I said after Dillan left. “Is that weird? I haven't told James or Al anything about the date.”
“Matt and Amy are very close,” Rose said. “It doesn't surprise me.”
“Still, I can't imagine telling James everything about my love life and I definitely don't want to know all about his.”
“That really wasn't the image I needed while eating,” Rose said, groaning.
“Sorry,” I said, laughing. “I should get going anyway. Good luck with your editing.”
“Thanks,” Rose said.
Confession: I really had been at the pub hoping to find Matt. It was probably for the best that he wasn't there, but Friday really couldn't come soon enough. I was like a lovesick teenage girl.
A/N: Thanks for all the lovely reviews!
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