Chapter 14 : News
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Matt, unsurprisingly, made no mention of what had happened the other night, just like he hadn't mentioned it the morning after. But instead of obsessing and freaking out about it, I felt calm and peaceful. It was like nothing had happened in the first place. Well, the idea of Matt's secret was in the back of my mind and I did wonder if I'd be able to figure it out on my own, but I wasn't obsessing and that was the important thing.
We spent the evening having dinner and a few drinks and chatting with some of my cousins, as well as Dillan. It just felt so...comfortable, like this was where I was meant to be and this was the guy I was supposed to be with.
“You're free on Sunday, right?” Matt asked after Angie and her new husband went home, leaving us alone once again.
“Yeah, why?” I downed the last sip of my beer.
“We've been invited to Victoire and Teddy's,” Matt explained. “Sophie's going back to Hogwarts a week from today. They're having a dinner for her.”
“Oh, right,” I said. I really should know these things, since Sophie is my cousin, but Victoire and Teddy never invited the cousins to Sophie's going away dinners due to Nana Molly hosting a huge get together the night before everyone left for Hogwarts. The dinners were always more for immediate family. And godparents, apparently.
“I can't believe she's going to be a fourth year,” Matt mused.
“Me either,” I said. “I'm getting old.”
“I'm two years older than you,” Matt pointed out. “Anyway, Amy and Dillan will be there. And Lucy, of course.”
“Who else? I've only ever been to the big Weasley gathering at Nana Molly's every year before Hogwarts.”
“Do I get to go to that this year?”
Damn, I thought. I probably should've asked him. “If you want. It'll be insanely crowded, though. The Burrow wasn't built to hold as many people as we cram into it every year. But mostly everyone stays outside, except those doing the cooking.”
“And I can't imagine you participate in that,” he said with a laugh.
“Shut up. But no, I don't.”
“I'd love to go,” Matt said.
“Who else is going to Victoire and Teddy's?” I asked again.
“No one else,” Matt answered. “It's a dinner for Sophie, so Remus and Henri's godparents don't usually go.”
I nodded. “That'll be weird. A very small dinner.”
Matt laughed. “I suppose for you it will be weird. I should probably get going. It's getting late.”
“Do you want to spend the night?” I asked hopefully.
Matt gave me a half-smile. “I would, Lils, but I'm exhausted and I have work tomorrow.”
I sighed. “Okay. What about tomorrow night? Want to meet me here again?”
“I'm working late,” Matt said as he stood up. “I'll owl you.”
“Sounds good,” I said, standing up as well.
We kissed goodbye and went our separate ways once outside the pub. I watched Matt disapparate a few yards away and then turned around to head to my flat. I wished he'd agreed to spend the night, especially since he had to work late the next day. This was the first time I'd seen him since Monday and now I'd have to wait until at least Friday to see him again. Patience was definitely not one of my strong suits.
“You'll just need to leave a deposit,” I said to a large, burly bloke needing information on his father the following day.
He grunted and set a small sack of coins on my desk. I dumped them out, counted them, and put them in the till. “Thanks. I'll have Bradley contact you when he's found something.”
The man grunted again and left. He bumped into someone on the way out and muttered a quick apology before exiting. I put his paperwork in the basket on the left side of my desk and looked up to see who just came in. It was James.
“Hey, Lily,” James said, his hands in his pockets as he walked toward the desk. “Bit of a scary bloke, that one.”
I shrugged. “We've had worse. So, what sort of information do you need?”
“None,” James said. “I told you I'm done with the gambling. I just came by to visit.”
I raised my eyebrows. “James, you've never come in just to visit. What do you need?”
“Nothing, this time. I swear. I've just been talking to Albus-”
“Albus is back?” I asked.
James nodded. “Got back yesterday. But you're never going to believe what he talked to me about.”
“Marriage,” James said, sitting down in one of the chairs.
My jaw fell open. “Shut up! No, really?”
James grinned. “Told you you wouldn't believe me. But I'm being serious. He wants to propose to Becca.”
“But how will that even work with their jobs?”
“I've no idea. He said they'd figure that out if she says yes.”
“He's hoping he won't get called away on another mission until after Becca next returns. She's supposed to come back at the end of next week.”
“And does he have a ring?”
“Not yet,” James said. “But, Lily, this is going to make me look bad. Al is nearly two years younger than me.”
“Well, you'd better find a nice girl, then,” I joked.
James groaned. “Who would've thought, Al married before us? When he took that job I always imagined he'd be a lifelong bachelor. Who would put up with a bloke who disappears for work that often? Sounds like the type of bloke you'd snag and then break up with two months later.”
“Shut up,” I muttered, even though I knew it was true. “I guess I'll go see Al tonight.”
James paled. “You can't tell him I told you. He made me promise. He doesn't want the whole family to know until after Becca says yes. Can you imagine if she said no, having to tell all the aunts and uncles?”
That would be pretty awful, I thought. “I won't tell anyone. I promise. But I'm his sister. He should at least tell me.”
“The only people who know are Matt and I,” James said. “And now you, of course.”
Matt, I thought. Going over to see Al late tonight would be the perfect excuse to be there when Matt returned home from work. I could even pick up dinner and have it ready for when he got back.
“Mum and Dad?” I asked.
James laughed. “No. He won't tell them until she's said yes. Do you think she'll say yes?”
“Probably. But I somehow doubt either of them will let up on work.”
“I don't think so, either. Anyway, I just stopped by to tell you. I have to get back to the shop.”
I nodded. “See you later, James.”
“See ya, Lily.”
James left, slamming the door behind him. The bell jangled loudly and footsteps in the back told me Bradley was on his way to see who had came in or left.
“Who was that?” he asked, walking over to the tea kettle.
“James,” I said, not making eye contact.
“Oh, what did he want?
“Nothing,” I said, a bit too quickly.
“Nothing, eh? Come on, Lily, you're terrible at keeping secrets.”
I sighed. “Okay, it's not nothing, but I can't tell you. If anything comes of it, I guarantee you'll find out soon enough.”
“I won't keep bugging you,” Bradley said as he walked back to his office, “but only because I'm busy.”
Good, I thought. Now I just had to hope he'd forget about it, at least until Al had a chance to propose without the entire extended family knowing what he was up to.
Luckily for me Bradley left to find information for a few clients for the rest of the day, leaving me to hold down the fort at the office. But once five o'clock hit, I left, determined to find something for dinner to bring to Matt and Al's.
I assumed Al spent the day at the Ministry filing paperwork, so I didn't bother going over to their flat until seven. Al rarely spent more than a few hours at a time doing paperwork, so I figured it was a safe assumption that he'd be home by then. Armed with a bag full of Chinese food, I disapparated from Diagon Alley and reappeared a few blocks away from their flat.
Once inside I hurried up the stairs and nearly ran into someone who was coming down. I stepped back and noticed it was Amy. She gave me a quizzical look.
“What are you doing here?” she asked.
“Visiting Al and Matt, assuming he's home from work. He told me he's working late.”
“Uh-huh,” Amy said. She seemed slightly nervous, which was weird. “Well, he's there, but he's ill.”
“Again?” I asked.
Amy nodded. “Don't stay long. He needs to rest.”
“I suppose I should've brought soup instead of Chinese,” I said with a laugh. “I'll see you on Sunday, Amy.”
“Yes, yes,” she said absentmindedly. “See you then.”
Was it weird that Amy seemed so protective of Matt while he was ill? I wondered. James and Albus certainly weren't that protective of me when I was ill. But then again, they were blokes. Still, I didn't think Rose ever got protective over Hugo when he was ill.
I pushed the thought from my mind and continued up the stairs. Regardless of Matt's health, I still needed to interrogate Albus on his upcoming proposal. That wasn't something I could put off.
I knocked on the door a minute later and Albus answered. He looked surprised to see me and glanced back into his flat before stepping aside to let me in.
“Matt's asleep,” Albus said, shutting the door.
“Yeah, I ran into Amy. She said he's ill again. You really were right about him getting ill all the time.”
Albus nodded. “What's in the bag?”
“Dinner,” I replied. “I came by to see both of you, so I brought food. Welcome back, by the way.”
“Thanks,” Albus said as he took the bag and carried it into the living room. I followed him. Once there, we took seats and dug into the food, eating in silence for a few minutes.
“Had a visit from James today,” I said, hoping he'd take the hint and tell me about wanting to propose.”
“Yeah?” Albus asked, in between bites. “He need Bradley to find another gambling buddy?”
“No,” I said. “He's done with that. He just wanted to talk. Had some interesting things to say, too.”
“Really,” Albus said. “Like what?”
I groaned. “Really, Albus? Are you really not going to tell your only sister that you want to propose to your girlfriend?”
“Well clearly you already know,” he replied, not looking up from his lo mein.
“But you should've told me,” I said exasperatingly. “I'm your sister.”
“You're also the worst at keeping secrets in the entire Weasley-Potter family.”
“Kaden's worse,” I pointed out.
“Kaden is neither a Weasley or a Potter.”
“He might as well be. And I kept this one. I didn't even tell Bradley when he asked what James had wanted.”
“Good,” Albus muttered. “I don't want anyone else to know.”
“Have you told Rose?”
“But she's the best at keeping secrets,” I said.
“And she'll demand to know what I'm planning on doing about my job and about Becca's job and did I consider all the options and the effect a proposal would have on a relationship where the two people involved only see each other a few days out of every month.”
I laughed. “Sounds like you already talked to her.”
“I didn't. I just know her well enough to know what she'd say. So, no, I don't plan on telling her. I've told James, Matt, and John. And now you know. That's it.”
“As you mentioned, he's a worse secret keeper than you are.”
“Do you have it all planned out, then?” I asked.
“Sort of. Assuming I don't get called on another mission before next weekend, I'm going to take her to dinner and then that park with the Peter Pan statue. You know, the one that James-”
“The one that James broke. Yes, I know. That'll be romantic.”
Albus smiled. “I thought so. All the blokes agreed. I'll propose there, and hopefully she'll say yes.”
“It sounds lovely,” I said. And it did.
“God, I hope she says yes,” Albus said quietly.
“How long have you been going out now?” I asked.
“Five years,” Albus answered.
“And what, exactly, do you plan on doing about your job?”
Albus shrugged. “No idea yet.”
“Yeah, it's a good thing you didn't tell Rose,” I said with a laugh.
The door to Matt's bedroom opened and Al and I both turned toward it. Matt emerged, looking paler than usual, his already messy hair even more messy. His eyes grew large upon seeing me.
“Lily,” he said hoarsely. “What are you doing here?”
“Well,” I said, patting the spot on the couch next to me, “I was going to surprise you with dinner after you had to stay late at work since I needed to come interrogate Albus about his plans to propose to Becca. But then you had to go and get sick, so you kind of ruined my plans.”
Matt sat down next to me and I kissed his cheek. “Oh. I don't want you to get ill,” he muttered.
“I'll be fine. I never get sick. Do you want any Chinese?”
“Not really,” he said. “Listen, Lily, you shouldn't-”
I sighed. “Matt, if you plan on getting ill this often, you're going to have to get over not wanting me to catch whatever it is you have. You've gotten ill every month we've been together now. I'm fine. If I get ill, I get ill. Whatever. Plus, Albus is here. You don't kick him out when you get sick.”
“Because he lives here, too,” Matt pointed out. “Fine, you can stay today, but really, don't come over tomorrow. I'll just be asleep. There won't be any point to it.”
“Okay,” I said. “So, what do you think about Albus marrying Becca?”
“I haven't even asked her-”
“She'll say yes,” I said.
“I think it's brilliant,” Matt said.
“If she says yes, she's going to ask you to be in the wedding, Lily,” Albus began. “Just want you to be prepared.”
I groaned. I'd been a bridesmaid too many times to count and I was beginning to tire of it. “But I don't know her that well.”
“She hasn't got any sisters and she only has two close female friends,” Albus said. “She's going to ask you.”
“Fine,” I muttered. “I'm so sick of weddings. I swear, when I get married I'm going to elope.”
“No, you won't,” Albus said. “You're Dad's only shot at walking someone down the aisle.”
“Can we talk about something else?” I asked. “Anything else?”
Albus laughed. “Don't worry, Lily, I'm sure you'll get married before James.”
I felt my cheeks flush. There was something so awkward about discussing possible marriage in front of Matt, when we'd only been going out for two months. I didn't want to scare him off. That would certainly be a first. Usually I was the one doing the breaking up.
“How about a game of Exploding Snap?” Albus offered.
“Yes,” I said, breathing a sigh of relief. Exploding Snap was safe. Well, as safe as a game where the cards exploded could be, but certainly safer than talk of marriage.
Matt only participated in two rounds before falling asleep on the couch, but Albus and I stayed up until nearly eleven playing. After Matt fell asleep part of me wanted to ask Albus about Matt's scars and nightmares, but I'd already exhausted the topic with Rose and I doubted Al would give me any hints I hadn't already found. I knew it had something to do with his childhood, but beyond that, I was lost. If Rose had been able to figure it out at age eleven, shouldn't I be able to figure it out at age twenty-nine? The thing was, I didn't even know what I was looking for.
Suddenly, just as Albus and I were starting what we'd agreed to be our last round, it hit me. I knew how I could find out what Matt was keeping from me. Bradley. Bradley investigated people for a living and he'd even discovered unsavory traits of more than a few of my past boyfriends.
The first had been Caleb, the bloke who had been married while I dated him. That's how I found out he was married, because he certainly never told me. After much pressuring from Rose, of all people, who didn't trust Caleb, I asked Bradley to look into it and he discovered the marriage. Both Caleb's marriage and his relationship with me ended soon after that. The second time had been Alec, the bloke who had another woman on the side in France. She apparently didn't care that Alec was also dating me and as far as I knew, they were still together. The third and final time I had Bradley investigate a boyfriend was Connor, who had been wanted by the Ministry. Not for anything too awful, such as murder, but on petty burglary and breaking and entering charges.
But did I want him to investigate Matt? No. I didn't. The truth was, I'd known as soon as I told Bradley to investigate the other three that even if the investigations turned up nothing, the relationships would be over. There had been enough mistrust to warrant the investigations and that in itself was enough to end the relationships. Okay, I hadn't come up with that insight on my own. It came from talking to Rose, but it still counted, right?
The point was, I didn't distrust Matt. I wanted him to confide in me and I wanted to know his secret, but I didn't get the awful feeling in the pit of my stomach like I had with the other blokes. I trusted Matt and the secret didn't worry me. It did before I talked to Rose, but not anymore. There were only two ways I'd find out this secret, and those were waiting for Matt to tell me or finding it out myself.
A/N: I hope everyone enjoyed the April Fool's Day prank we pulled on the site! The other staff members and I had a lot of fun with it. If you happened to read anything on April 1st, the funny word replacements were part of the prank, and don't actually exist in my stories. Thanks for all the lovely reviews!
Peter Pan belongs to J.M. Barrie.
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