Chapter 12 : Scars
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We fell into a weekend routine as well. Every Friday night was spent at the Rusty Bludger with whichever of my cousins that were there; it varied every time. Dillan was always there and Amy occasionally joined, often with piles of work in front of her. Lucy never made appearances on Friday nights, of course. On Saturdays we lounged around at either his place or mine, sleeping late and having brunch in bed. Sundays we went to the park, occasionally bringing Lucy with us, or going round to Rose's or Hugo's. Going to Hugo's was never something we did lightly, though, as there was always the risk that he and Cassie would take advantage of the free babysitting and leave.
One Sunday we had dinner at my parents', which was wonderfully uneventful. They'd known Matt since he was eleven, so it wasn't that big of a deal to bring him over for Sunday dinner. Both of them had been thrilled we'd gotten together and Mum, especially, seemed relieved I found a bloke they could trust. Neither James or Albus had been there for dinner that night, which was nice because it meant Matt was only my boyfriend, and not Al's best friend, for the night. The only weird thing that happened was Mum pulled me aside after dessert and told me 'not to make any rash decisions.' I wasn't sure whether she meant not to dump him or not to marry him too soon. Part of me hoped it was the former since marriage was the last thing on my mind.
The following Sunday we had dinner with Matt's parents. Mum told me I had met Matt's parents in passing in Diagon Alley and when they dropped Matt off at Grimmauld Place a few times when we were kids. I didn't remember. But I wasn't nervous about meeting them. I even had a cake baked by Nana Molly to bring.
Matt side-along Apparated me and I was shocked to find that we wound up on the outskirts of a small forest. A field of cows grazed to the right, a red farmhouse in the distance. Other than that, the only other house in sight was a rustic house made of logs that seemed to fit the description Matt had given me of his house.
“You told me you lived in the middle of nowhere but I wasn't expecting a farm,” I said.
Matt laughed. “The farm isn't ours. Come on.”
I followed him up a small hill to the log house. A pine wreath decorated the door. Matt opened the door and led me inside and I was immediately hit with the scent of beef stew. We were greeted by Lucy, who toddled over trailing a stuffed bear nearly as big as she was.
“Uncle Matt!” she shouted. “Lily!”
“Lucy!” Matt said as he picked her up.
We walked into the living room and found Matt's parents, Amy, and Dillan. Matt's parents were much older than I expected, almost as if they were closer to Nana Molly's age than my own parents' ages. His dad's face was lined with wrinkles and his hair was more salt than pepper and his hair line was very receding. His mum was blonde, but it must've been dyed because her face was also lined with wrinkles.
“Lily, these are my parents, Walter and Julie,” Matt said.
“Hi,” I said, shaking Walter's hand and hugging Julie. “Nice to meet you.”
“You, too, Lily,” Walter said.
“Yes, we've heard so much about you,” Julie said, reaching out for the cake.
“Oh, right!” I said. “Cinnamon apple cake, courtesy of my nana.”
“Thank you,” she said. “It looks delicious.”
“It is,” Matt said. “She makes them for Albus all the time.”
Julie disappeared into the kitchen with the cake and returned with a platter of cheese, crackers, and grapes. Matt and I sat on the smaller of the two couches and Julie and Walter returned to their armchairs.
“Lily, Matt told us you work for your cousin's private investigating firm?” Walter asked.
I nodded. “It's really interesting. You never know who's going to walk in.”
“Her cousin's the one who found Silas Humphrey years ago,” Amy added. “I didn't think anyone would be able to find him.”
Silas Humphrey, I thought. The name rang a bell. Then it hit me. “The werewolf? That was Bradley's toughest case.”
“Well, he did it,” Amy said, clearly still impressed. “I owe him a lot for that. Without Humphrey, my findings would've taken a lot longer to verify and publish.”
I didn't bother asking why this Silas Humphrey bloke was crucial to Amy's research. Back when she and Rose were working on the potion and discovering the Australian strain of lycanthropy, Rose attempted to explain it all to me and I didn't understand any of it.
“He's got a knack for spying on people,” I said. “I think all of us Weasleys do, in a way.”
Walter chuckled. “Amy could've gone into private investigating. She used to eavesdrop on us all the time.”
“So did I,” I said. “I was always much better at it than James or Albus. They were too loud.”
“You two better watch out,” Julie said to Amy and Dillan as she gestured to Lucy, who was playing with her bear on the floor. “Lucy will be the next eavesdropper.”
Amy laughed. “Not yet. She's only two.”
“She's so talkative for a two-year-old,” I commented.
“She gets that from Amy,” Dillan said. “I didn't talk much until I was three.”
We spent the rest of the time before dinner talking about Lucy and playing with her. When there's a toddler around, everything else takes a backseat, including interrogating your son's new girlfriend. I certainly wasn't complaining, even though I never minded meeting my boyfriends' parents.
Dinner was beef stew, fresh bread, and salad. Julie served everyone while Amy got Lucy settled in her high chair with a fork in each hand. She ate macaroni and cheese since beef stew was a bit too difficult for her to manage.
“Anything new at work, Walter?” Dillan asked as we began eating.
“Not really,” Walter said. “The goblins are trying to renegotiate their contract with Gringott's, but that isn't exactly news.”
“You're the Head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, right?” I said in between bites of stew.
Walter nodded. “For the past seventeen years.”
“And you'll never retire,” Julie said, shaking her head.
“Mum wants to travel,” Matt explained.
“And we will, eventually,” Walter said. “There's no one in the department who's ready to take my place.”
“That's exactly why MacVicar took forever to retire,” Julie added. “He was Head before Walter.”
“I can't see my dad retiring, either,” I said.
Julie laughed. “Well, Harry's much younger than us.”
“Well, Amy's never going to retire, either,” Dillan put in, grinning at his wife.
“If no one can make Wolfsbane when I get that old, then, well, probably not,” Amy said.
“Kaden can make it,” Matt pointed out.
I laughed. “I still find it hard to believe Kaden went into potion brewing. He was so...energetic...as a kid.”
“You're not the only one,” Matt said.
The conversation lulled while we all ate our meals. I complimented Julie on the stew and she told me it was one of Dillan's recipes. Apparently Julie was more of a cook than her own mother had been, but still didn't have a huge repertoire of meals to choose from.
“Now, Lily,” Julie began, “you and Albus have another brother, right? What does he do?”
I nodded as I swallowed my last bite of stew. “Yeah, James is older than Al. He actually just bought his way into my uncle George's business, Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes. We were all very surprised.”
“He sounds very successful.”
“He actually has been,” I agreed. And he'd been enjoying the business, too. He didn't seem anymore likely to settle down, but a steady job was a start.
“Your parents must be very proud of all three of you,” Walter said.
I smiled and took a sip of wine to avoid having to respond. I never knew what to say when people said things like that, and it happened more often than you'd think. It made sense, since we were Harry Potter's kids, but it was still kind of awkward.
“Done!” Lucy exclaimed. She set her forks down on her tray and grinned at Amy. It was adorable.
“She eats so neatly,” I commented. “All my cousins' kids are messy.”
“No one was more surprised about that than me,” Julie said. “Amy was a very messy child.”
“She must take after my sister, Gen,” Dillan said as he took Lucy out of her high chair. “She's very jealous about it, too. Her son, Gavin, is 17, going into his last year of Hogwarts, and is still the messiest kid around.”
“Does she have any other kids?” I asked.
“Nope,” Dillan answered as he sat back down with Lucy on his lap. “She and her husband decided not to risk having another kid so unlike them.”
“I'll go get that cake you brought, Lily,” Julie said as she got up and disappeared into the kitchen.
“I'll help you,” Walter said, joining her.
Matt leaned close to me. “They like you.”
I smiled and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek.
Matt's parents returned with the sliced cake and we passed it around the table. Everyone loved it, which was no surprise. I have yet to meet anyone who dislikes Nana Molly's apple cinnamon cake. Dillan even asked for the recipe. I told him he'd have to owl Nana Molly, since I wasn't a baker and didn't have it.
After dinner Amy helped her parents with the dishes while the rest of us retreated back to the living room. Lucy slept on Dillan's lap and the three of us talked quietly about the Quidditch season.
“We should probably get going,” Amy said as she and her parents returned after finishing the dishes. “I have to be at Mungo's early and it's past Lucy's bedtime.”
Dillan nodded and stood up carefully so as not to wake his daughter. “Thanks for dinner, Walt, Julie.”
“Anytime,” Julie said, giving Dillan a hug.
“Any chance we can convince you two to come to the pub some night this week?” I asked as we said goodbye. “I mean, Dillan, you'll be there of course.”
Dillan laughed. “That I will be.”
“It's my crazy week,” Amy said. “Wolfsbane requires near constant attention the week before the full moon. I won't be able to take any evenings off.”
I nodded. “Next week, then.”
“We should go, too,” Matt said. “I have to be at work a little earlier tomorrow.”
Amy, Dillan, and Lucy left as Matt and I said our goodbyes to Walter and Julie. They insisted I come back soon and I assured them I would. Compared to my previous boyfriends' parents, I liked Walter and Julie the best. I never had any serious issues with any of them, but Walter and Julie didn't seem like they were going above and beyond to make me feel comfortable, which always did the opposite.
Matt and I walked the short distance to the forest to Disapparate. We reappeared in Diagon Alley and walked leisurely, hand in hand, back to my flat.
“Your parents are really nice,” I said.
“I'm glad you all got along.”
“Were you worried?”
“Not really,” Matt said. “But they didn't like my last girlfriend.”
“Why? What was she like? You've never mentioned her.”
Matt sighed deeply. “She wasn't right for me, by a long shot, but at the time I didn't really care. All I cared about was that she liked me. She took advantage of me and I didn't see it. My parents did and so did Amy and Dillan. Then, when she found someone else, she dumped me. I was devastated. It took me months to realize she was wrong for me.”
“Wow,” I said as we reached my building. So that's what Rose had meant when she told me Matt had been hurt in the past. “How long ago was that?”
“Three years,” Matt said.
“And there hasn't been anyone since?” I asked as we climbed the stairs.
“Nope. But that's okay, because whatever path that put me on led me to you.”
We paused on the landing and kissed. I took Matt's hand and we walked the rest of the way to my flat.
Sir Thumbs greeted us with a howl and an hours-old hairball in the middle of the living room floor. Nothing like cat puke to kill the mood. I cleaned it up while Matt refilled Sir Thumbs's dish and we met in the bedroom when we were done.
We cuddled and talked for hours, until I fell asleep with Matt's arms around me. We didn't make love, but it didn't bother me like it once would have. The longer I stayed with Matt, the more I was realizing that love didn't equal sex and there was so much more to a relationship than the physical aspect. Sometimes, cuddling and talking can be so much more intimate than sex. I was happy and content, in ways I never had been before.
Someone was mumbling in my dream. They were muttering something indistinguishable, but they sounded upset. It didn't make sense because I'd been dreaming about an argument with Hugo over how many of his kids I'd agreed to babysit. No one else was in the dream except Hugo and I. Confused, I ran away from Hugo in search of the noise, but never found it.
I awoke while it was still dark out, unsure of why, my dream of Hugo and the confusion over whoever was crying out still there. The screams had been a dream, but they seemed so real. I blinked a few times to adjust to the darkness and noticed Matt's side of the bed was empty. Confused, I reached over and noticed the sheets were cold, as if he'd been up for a while.
I fumbled for my wand, muttered 'lumos,' and pointed it at the clock. Four in the morning. It was so bloody early. Groaning, I sat up, got out of bed, and cursed my inability to sleep through anything, despite not knowing what exactly woke me up. But I was up now and determined to figure out why Matt was up at such an ungodly hour. Never before had he seemed like a morning person.
The living room was mostly dark, the only light coming from the nearly full moon, and quiet, but when I waved my lit wand around I saw Matt sitting on the couch, staring out the window. I tiptoed over and sat down next to him. He didn't say anything, nor did he turn away from the window.
“Are you okay?” I asked after a minute of silence. He was really weirding me out now. It was one thing to get up at four in the morning and stare out the window at the moon, but it was another to completely not notice when another person came into the room.
Matt didn't say anything for a few minutes. I was opening my mouth to repeat myself when he finally responded. “Yeah,” he said in barely more than a whisper, still not turning to look at me.
I tentatively put my hand on his bare back, touching the biggest of all the scars, the scars I still hadn't worked up enough courage to ask about. He flinched and I quickly withdrew my hand, unsure what to do next.
“Are you sure?” I asked. “Should I make some tea?” Nana Molly always makes tea when something's wrong and even though I had no idea what was going on, I knew something was wrong.
“Yeah, I'm fine, Lily. You should go back to bed.”
The tired part of me wanted to listen, but I didn't. Whatever was going on, Matt needed me to be there for him, even if all I did was sit there and not say a word.
“You can talk to me, you know,” I said quietly as I tried once more to trace the scars on his back. He didn't flinch away this time.
His body shook ever so slightly, but he didn't make a sound. I continued to trace the scars, every one causing my curiosity to grow, but I didn't ask. They held the answer to a question I couldn't quite put my finger on, to a question that had been creeping its way up inside of me that I've been trying hard to ignore.
This many scars can't be explained away by a cat with a particularly mean streak. Nor can they be hidden by clothing from the person you love. His body is covered with them, yet I hadn't asked, despite the fact that I'd known about them for over a month.
Part of me was afraid to ask. Despite all my assurances to myself that this relationship would be different, that this relationship would be successful because Matt is Albus's best friend, I'm doubting myself. I'm afraid to ask because I'm afraid of the answer, that the answer will be awful and it will be the reason we break up. I don't want to break up with Matt. I love him more than I've loved anyone else and it's scary.
I'm also afraid he won't tell me. I'm not sure which would be worse, him not telling me or him telling me, because if he refuses, I'm not sure I'll be able to forget about it. How could I be in a relationship when I know he's hiding something from me and he won't tell me what it is?
I traced more and more scars, until I reached his shoulders, where the scars continued onto his arms. Then I stopped. I sat perfectly still, my heart beating fast. I wished more than anything that he'd just look at me and give me some sort of clue as to what happened.
As I'd woken up and become more coherent, I realized that the mumbling I'd heard in my dream hadn't actually been in my dream. It had been Matt, having a dream of his own, or rather a nightmare. What about it had drawn him out here, away from me?
I stretched my arms around him, hugging him tightly to me, and whispered in his ear, “whatever it is, you can tell me.”
Matt shifted and I let go. He turned away from the window and looked at me, his golden eyes meeting my blue ones. His face was damp, whether from tears or sweat I had no idea.
“I can't,” he whispered. “I'm sorry, Lily.”
“It's okay,” I said, putting my arm around him once more, although I'm not sure it was okay. “Let's go back to bed.”
We stood up together and I led the way back to the bedroom. I crawled back into bed alongside Matt feeling very unsettled about what just happened. I knew now there was something he wasn't telling me and I had a feeling it had to do with the scars. Yet what bothered me more than the fact I didn't know what it was, was the fact that he didn't feel he could tell me at all.
I tossed and turned for the next three hours while Matt slept soundly beside me. Whatever had happened in his nightmare, it didn't keep him up the rest of the night.
When morning finally arrived Matt got up and acted like nothing had happened. He made no mention of his nightmare or sitting on the couch with me for a half hour or not telling me what was bothering him. Nothing. We went about getting ready for work and eating breakfast as if nothing had happened at all. That only made me feel even more unsettled. One thing was for sure; I needed to have another heart-to-heart with Rose.
A/N: Thanks for all the lovely reviews!
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