Chapter 14 : Bravery (Sort Of)
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“Dessie, love, I know you’re nervous but, I swear to Merlin, if you keep shaking your leg like that, I will use the Cruciatus curse on you until you’re so fucked up that you can’t even take your morning piss by yourself.” Roxy said through gritted teeth as she slammed a hand down on my leg that had been bouncing up and down nearly the entire train ride.
I didn’t bother with an apology. Instead I chose to start biting my nails to take my mind off of things. Granted, it wasn’t the best habit but I was on the verge of pulling out my own hair.
Normally, Christmas break was something that I nearly pissed my pants about, but not this year. Tosh, Mason, and I typically spent the break at one of the Wotter’s house, usually either just the Borrow because Mrs. Weasley (the oldest one) absolutely adored us or the Potters because Ginny made the best Christmas cookies you could ever dream of.
Unfortunately, this year wasn’t going to be spent in the warm comfort of our adopted family and friends. Well, at least not the beginning of it. Instead we were going home, not that my aunt and uncle’s house could even be called a home.
Tosh was the one that insisted that we go, surprisingly. I was generally the one that was forcing him to go back to that wretched place, but he knew this time that we had to go back. As much as he hated them, he needed them.
While Heidi might not have fully grasped the fact that twins meant twice the expenses, Tosh, fortunately, did. He knew he needed money. And soon.
His only option since Heidi and I weren’t letting him quit Hogwarts to get a job was to ask my aunt and uncle for his inheritance from my parents before he turned eighteen.
This task unfortunately required him to inform them about the small little detail that he impregnated a girl. To say they won’t exactly be thrilled is the understatement of the century.
In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they both suffer from some sort of aneurysm when he tells them. Greta will probably shit herself with glee as she loved whenever we did something that makes her look even more perfect.
And Tosh, since he can’t fully do anything semi mature, begged and pleaded for me to come along until I eventually gave in when he promised me that he’d bring me a slice of cheesecake every single night for three months.
That was clearly too good of an opportunity to pass up.
Now though, I was suffering from buttloads of stress about going back to Cheshire to see them. I had managed to avoid that town and that house for a wonderful, beautifully peaceful two years and going back was slowly and surely destroying me.
Tosh was doing no better. He hadn’t said a single word during the entire train ride and there was an incredibly tense feeling in the air as everyone sensed how much the two of us were freaking out.
Heidi silently held one of Tosh’s hands in hers, knowing that it was better for him to know that she was just there for him as opposed to trying to make conversation.
That way was better for the both of us actually which is why it was the most quiet rides we’ve had since forever. No games of Exploding Snap. No death threat filled fights with Weasley.
And while it was nice that everyone was trying to just let us be, it was also kind of depressing so even though I was dreading it, when we finally pulled up to Kings Cross, I was grateful.
It wasn’t until I was weaving in and out of people, lugging my trunk behind me, and nearing the exit of the station that it fully hit me that I was going back.
It wasn’t even my absolute hatred for my extended family that was making me so anxious; it was their reactions when Tosh told them. To put it simply, my uncle was not a person you wanted to be around when he was pissed. My breathing stopped short and I unthinkingly grabbed Weasley’s arm to hold him back.
James, Logan, and Sydney all had already met their parents but Heidi, Roxy, and Weasley were following us out. Weasley and Roxy both halted while Tosh, with Heidi never letting go of his hand, continued out the door, not realizing we had stopped.
Weasley and Roxy both looked confused as to why I stopped them but once they saw the look on my face, they understood. Roxy immediately pulled me into a hug. “Hey, it’ll be okay. Don’t worry,” She said soothingly and rubbed my back. “It’s only a couple of days. We’ll see you on Christmas Eve.”
I caught Weasley’s eyes over her shoulder.
“Dessie,” Weasley said in a low, uncharacteristically gentle voice, taking me by surprise. “It’ll be fine.”
He looked like he wanted to say more but couldn’t find the words. The thing is, it probably wouldn’t be fine. Neither of them knew exactly how my aunt and uncle were.
They couldn’t put themselves in our shoes because they’d grown up with families that would bend over backwards for them and parents that would never dream of laying a hand on them. In their world, family actually meant something.
And with that, he left, leading Roxy away with him so I didn’t have time to tell him any of this.
After Tosh and Heidi gave each other a goodbye kiss... seventeen times, and since my aunt and uncle wouldn’t pick us up even if we were getting brutally murdered, we had to call the Knight Bus.
Technically, we could’ve just apparated and saved ourselves from the vomit-inducing ride, but I didn’t think my aunt and uncle would exactly be thrilled if we just popped up in the middle of their kitchen.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the Knight Bus, even when it’s only eight at night, should just be called the Drunk Bus because literally everyone, including the driver, was wasted out of their mind. They took the ‘Don’t drink and fly’ rule extremely seriously in the wizarding world so the Knight Bus was everyones DD.
We boarded and within ten minutes, Tosh had already been hit on by four very tipsy witches that all greatly resembled hags. Meanwhile, I nearly got felt up by a bloke that claimed to be Harry Potter in disguise which made me deeply uncomfortable on so many levels.
After another twenty minutes, we finally reached my aunt and uncle’s house. It was around dinner time, so we were probably going to be screamed as soon as we stepped foot inside for interrupting their meal. Tosh sent a glance in my direction and I sucked in a deep breath before leading the way to the front door.
“Do we knock or--?” I asked him nervously, not really knowing what to do. It had been so long since we had been here that I didn’t even know how to go about entering. He didn’t respond and instead just reached out and pressed the doorbell. I felt each beat that my heart made against my chest, waiting for someone to answer.
After about thirty seconds, my aunt Elizabeth popped open the door and her face only faltered for a split second before she let out a very uncharacteristically shrill squeal of delight. I exchanged an extremely confused look with Tosh who looked completely dumbfounded. “You’re home!” She exclaimed happily and pulled us both into a hug at the same time. It was a bit too tight to be comforting and when she got right next to our ears she hissed between her teeth “Behave yourselves or else.”
She let go and a forced smile overtook her face. “Well, come on in then! I want you to meet our guests.” She said in an excited tone, but I could tell it was totally off. She was anxious. Anxious that we’d fuck something up.
We followed her in silence into the sitting room where my cousin, Greta, was chatting animatedly with with some random middle aged man in a formal suit. My uncle Christopher was pouring high quality scotch into glasses and serving them to the stranger and himself.
Greta looked as beautiful as ever, but she had a different air about her that I sensed as soon as I stepped foot in the room. She looked up from her conversation and saw Tosh and me standing in the doorway of the room with our trunks looking like socially awkward aliens. “Dessie! Tosh!” She exclaimed in surprise, looking caught off guard, but not altogether unhappy that we were there. It seemed as if my aunt and uncle didn’t tell her that we’d be home for the holidays.
“Dr. Waldorff, these are my cousins,” She told him, standing up to introduce us, sounding suddenly nervous, and very unlike the Greta that I knew. “They go to boarding school in Scotland and stay with us sometimes during Christmas.” She then turned to us and gestured to the prematurely balding gentleman. “This is Dr. Waldorff, a professor at Oxford University where I hope to be attending next fall.”
Ah, so that’s why there was the sudden need for the happy family picture. They were trying to impress Greta’s ticket into one of the best schools in the country. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Dr. Waldorff.” I said in an attempt to be charming and threw on my best smile.
“You as well, er, Dessie, was it?” He replied with a nod. Tosh had remained silent, looking as if he’d rather be anywhere else but here. I knew that we’d need to act like angels to get his money so I elbowed him discreetly in the ribs causing him to muffle a grunt.
“And I’m Tosh.” He began, holding out his hand for the professor to shake which he did. “It’s very nice to meet you as well, sir.”
My uncle didn’t bother greeting us in anyway and instead sat down in his favorite armchair and sipped quietly on his scotch. My aunt patted the open seats next to her on the chaise opposite the couch, indicating for us to sit down and join them.
“Dessie and Tosh’s parents died when they were young in a car accident so we took them in,” My aunt told him, laying it on pretty thick. She acted as if she didn’t spend every day when we were little behaving as if we were the biggest burden to ever be brought in her life.
“How tragic,” Dr. Waldorff gasped, looking sympathetic, which is exactly what my aunt wanted. “That must’ve been terribly difficult for you to adjust. It was very generous of your family to take you in, wasn’t it?”
I glanced at Greta who appeared highly uncomfortable. Her blonde hair was pulled back by a Burberry headband and her light brown eyes look frightened at my upcoming response.
I so badly wanted to tell him how shitty they treated us all of our lives. How I would cry nearly every night after my parents died and wake up with nightmares of the car accident that my aunt told me to simply ‘get over’. How Greta would pull apart every single little thing about me until I entered Hogwarts with the self esteem of a half developed potato. How my uncle would become furious at us for everything we did and yell and punish us in his own sick way until we’d practically cower under our beds just wishing that we could go back to the safety of Hogwarts.
I didn’t say any of that though. I couldn’t if I wanted Tosh to be able to help support his children. “Yes, they’ve been nothing but kind to my brothers and me all of these years.” I lied and saw the obvious relief on Greta’s face meanwhile Tosh snorted into his tea. I aimed a sideways kick at him and he managed to disguise it as a cough.
For the next hour, it was was small talk, which Tosh and I were thankfully not involved in too much. We went up to our rooms to drop off our trunks after Dr. Waldorff left, seemingly impressed with Greta and her apparently normal family, without a word to our relatives. The charade was over and he didn’t want to stick around for them to start acting like their normal selves.
It was a five bedroom house despite the fact that they only had one kid living with them at their time of purchase. Uncle Christopher and aunt Elizabeth had the master bedroom, I had my own room, Tosh and Mason had a shared room with two twin sized beds, and then Greta had two bedrooms because, well, doesn’t every typical teenage girl have two full sized bedrooms?
I surprisingly actually liked my room though. It was the only place I had to sort of escape the craziness when I was younger. Everything was pure white with the exception of the mahogany furniture. The walls, the carpet, the tulle canopy, the bedspread, everything. I usually would find all of the white suffocating and boring but instead it was relaxing somehow.
I didn’t bother unpacking, knowing that I’d be leaving in less than two days for the Potters on Christmas Eve. Tosh came bursting in the door after I had flopped down on my bed. “What the hell was that all about down there?” He demanded, settling himself on the dresser across from me.
“We have to play nice, Tosh.” I explained delicately, not bothering to sit up to look at him. “They wouldn’t be too keen help you if we ruined Greta’s chances of getting into Oxford.”
“It was torture.” He whined, shutting his turquoise eyes and hitting his head back against the wall. “You don’t know how bad I wanted to vomit when you said that they were ‘nothing but kind’ to us.”
“Trust me, the words tasted like poison, but it had to be done.” I sighed, gazing up at the ceiling.
“Dessie,” He started in a remarkably serious tone and I turned my head to look at him. “Thanks for coming with me and always being there.”
I couldn’t help the small smile that appeared on my lips. “Are you kidding? I wouldn’t miss the upcoming shitshow for anything in the world.”
“Dessie, love, how did you enjoy the zoo?” My mum asked apprehensively, twisting around to face me from her position in the passenger seat.
My dad was driving and I saw him peek up at the rear view mirror to see my expression which was irritated. “I told you both that I don’t like zoos. The animals are so bored that it’s just sad to look at them.” I responded and I saw the disappointment etched on my mum’s face. “Why couldn’t I have just gone with Mason and Tosh to the football game?”
“The Hendersons only invited your brothers because they know that they like Manchester United more than you.” My dad explained and I pouted.
“I like them too! It’s just because I’m a girl that they think that I don’t like sports.” I argued and crossed my arms over my chest in an annoyed manner.
“That’s not it, love.” My mum said tenderly. “We just thought you’d prefer a day at the zoo with us than at a football game.”
“Why would I want to do that?” I huffed.
“You used to love having days when it was just the three of us.” My mum sighed, clearly upset about my attitude.
“Not anymore.” I insisted. “I’m not a little kid anymore.”
“There’s going to be a day where you’re going to miss spending time with us, Des.” My dad promised, looking at me with our identical brown eyes from the rearview mirror.
“Yeah, right.” I countered sarcastically, not believing him.
That’s the last thing I remembered before a car from the opposite lane swerved straight into us and smashed the entire front part of our car, including my parents, into pieces.
I jerked awake, breathing heavily with sweat pouring down my face and my heart feeling like it was beating out of my chest. I sat up and nearly shrieked when I saw a figure standing at the foot of my bed. Upon realizing that it was just Greta, I breathed a sigh of relief and flicked on the lights.
“What are you doing in here?” I questioned, squinting slightly, trying to get my eyes to adjust to the light.
Like earlier, she looked uncomfortable. Her blonde waves were pulled up in a messy bun and she had on a massive Oxford hoodie and a pair of gray sweatpants. It was by far the most unkempt that I had ever seen her. She sat down at the end of my bed and tucked a spare lock of hair behind her ear. “I, um, wanted to thank you for earlier,” She began, and I thought that I was suddenly hard of hearing. “Oxford is my dream and it really meant a lot that you didn’t try to ruin it for me even though I deserved it.”
I gaped like a half stupid fish at her. I was convinced that this wasn’t actually happening. Greta being nice and thankful for something was about as preposterous as the thought of Voldemort hugging puppies.
“I know I’ve been an absolute cow to you over the years and I just wanted to apologize. I know it’s lame to say that I didn’t really know any better, but I truly didn’t.” She looked up at me and my eyes met hers. It was silent for a couple of seconds and I realized she was waiting for me to respond.
“I don’t really know what to say,” I muttered truthfully and a sort of sad smile overtook her pretty face.
“You don’t have to say anything. I don’t deserve anything.” She all but whispered. “There’s something I really need to talk to you about though.”
When I didn’t say anything, she took that as a cue to go on. “I overheard you and Tosh talking in here earlier and I know you need help with something. Whatever it is, be careful. Please, be careful when you ask him.” She begged, looking sincere and somber and I noticed her hands were shaking. She looked petrified and I could do nothing but stare at her.
“He’s been worse lately.” She croaked. “He goes through almost an entire bottle of whiskey or scotch a night. Mum doesn’t do anything about it and insists that it’s just his way of relaxing. He never used to lay a hand on me.”
Her entire voice was quivering and she pulled back the sleeves of her sweatshirts to reveal the bruises that lined her wrists. Some were yellowing but others looked fresh like they had been made just yesterday. She pulled up the hem of her sweatshirt to show a long scar on her side that must’ve involved at least a couple dozen stitches. “This is from when I told him that I got a B+ in calculus. He smashed a beer bottle into me.” She explained and I saw a few tears fall from her eyes that she hastily wiped away. “It doesn’t take much to set him off.”
I was in shock. Complete and total shock and I felt physically sick to my stomach. When we were younger, Greta was my uncle’s princess. He’d spoil her rotten and give her anything she wanted. He treated her like royalty. Clearly, things had changed.
Tosh, Mason, and I were the ones who had taken the beatings when we were little but it was nothing to this extent and it was only when he was piss drunk which only occurred a couple times a month if that. It seemed like Greta was getting the snot beat out of her nearly every day.
“Greta, you have to do something.” I practically whispered, not taking my eyes off of her injuries.
“There’s nothing I can do.” She insisted, sounding borderline hysterical. “My mum pretends like nothing is wrong and if I tell someone then my dad will get in trouble and I’ll have no way of paying for Oxford. It’s just a few more months and then I’ll be far enough away that he can’t get me.”
“I’m worried for you.” I told her, taking her hand.
She squeezed it back. “Well don’t be. I’ll be okay, but whatever it is that you and Tosh need, you have to be cautious when you approach it. Promise?”
I nodded and she let go of my hand. “Night, Dessie.”
“Good night, Greta.” I muttered back with over a million thoughts pouring through my head as she left the room.
I decided not to tell Tosh about my talk with Greta. I knew it wouldn’t scare him out of asking for his inheritance from my uncle, but I just didn’t want to give him anything else to worry about.
We waited until the night before Christmas Eve to ask them at dinner so that way we’d able to leave the next day.
“You ready?” I questioned, popping my head into his room to see him straightening his tie in the mirror. One of the many things I didn’t miss about this house was always having to dress up for dinner. Greta had let me borrow an appropriate dress for the night and even helped me turn my waves into curls.
“As ready as I’ll ever be.” He sighed, giving up on perfecting the tie and just leaving it crooked. He followed me downstairs to the dining room where we took our usual places across from uncle Christopher. Greta and aunt Elizabeth sat at the heads of the table which I thought was ironic considering they had absolutely no authority in the family whatsoever.
Dinner was always a silent affair in the Fisher household. The only noises were the sounds of knives and forks scraping against the china as well as uncle Christopher continually getting up to pour himself another glass of whiskey. I kept sneaking glances at Tosh, trying to figure out when exactly he was going to drop the bomb.
It wasn’t until everybody had swallowed their last bite of dry chicken that Tosh cleared his throat. “I have a favor to ask and please keep in mind that I wouldn’t be asking if I wasn’t desperate.” He assured. His voice was strong but I when glanced at Greta, her eyes were glued to her lap and she looked like she was taking deep breaths, which I didn’t take as a good sign.
“Oh? And what would that be?” Uncle Christopher inquired taking a long sip of his whiskey, not breaking eye contact with Tosh.
“I’d like to be able to have access to my inheritance from my parents early.” He replied causing my uncle to laugh. Not in a friendly laugh either; it was cruel as if he was saying no way in hell.
“Why would I ever do that? So you can buy pornography, drugs, and booze? Don’t think I don’t read the letters I receive from that blasted school about your behavior.” He sneered with an ugly, hateful expression taking over his face. “Do you think I’m going to help you fund your habits?”
“You don’t understand,” Tosh pressed urgently, sensing already that he was fighting a losing battle. “It’s important.”
“And what, do tell, is so important that you need that much money at the age of sixteen?” He pried, raising an eyebrow, and threw back the rest of his whiskey into his mouth.
“I, um, well--” He was faltering for the first time, having no clue how approach the subject.
“Don’t tell me that you got some slut pregnant,” My uncle hissed, with a look of sheer disgust, predicting the issue at hand.
“She’s not a slut.” Tosh growled with a dark expression and I saw his fists clench. I looked over at Greta who was still staring at her lap and then to my aunt who was pretending as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening.
“She spread her legs for you and then managed to get knocked up, didn’t she?” He retorted, his fury evident on his face.
“Don’t say another word against her,” Tosh barked, standing up abruptly, and I heard a window shatter in the next room over causing Greta to jump slightly. Knowing it was a result of Tosh letting his anger get the better of him, I put a pacifying hand on his arm to try and calm him down but he just shook me off.
He wasn’t allowed to use magic outside of school yet and the last thing he needed was to get kicked out of Hogwarts.
“You’re just as stupid as I always thought you were if you think that I’m going to fund the birth of a bastard child that’ll probably turn up with all sorts of defects if it’s carrying your genes.” He shot back with a terrible grin on his face, knowing that the words cracked through Tosh like a whip.
“Fuck you.” He snarled and his entire body was shaking in rage as another window shattered.
“Excuse me?” My uncle roared with a vein practically popping out of his forehead. Greta looked like she’d rather be anywhere else but here and my aunt continued to remain as if everything was just dandy.
“Fuck. You.” Tosh snapped leaning forward, being sure to enunciate each word carefully. That’s when my uncle’s whiskey glass hurled within an inch of his head and slammed straight in the wall, shattering into a thousand pieces.
That’s when I lost it. My uncle was making his way around the table to us and instead of finding myself terrified, I felt brave. I pulled my wand out and stepped in front of my brother, shielding him.
“Don’t you dare touch him.” I threatened and he stopped short at the sight of my wand, visibly seething. He was standing barely a foot away and I could smell the alcohol on his breath and see the crazed look in his eyes. My uncle had always been a horrible person, but even this wasn’t him.
“If you won’t give him the money he’s entitled to, then I’ll give him mine. I turn eighteen in a few months and then you’ll have no say about what I choose to do with it.” I asserted, almost grinning at the look of pure fury on his face. “You’re just a pathetic drunk and you don’t scare me anymore.” I told him, feeling so satisfied at those words finally coming out of my mouth.
“What did you say to me?” My uncle demanded, his eyes blazing angrily, and I felt the corner of my lips pull up getting ready to repeat myself.
“You don’t scare me anym--”
I couldn’t get the full sentence out before my uncle’s fist collided with the side of my face, throwing me backwards into Tosh, making us both slam to the ground, and sending my wand flying out of my hand. Greta started screaming and my aunt ushered her from the room, not bothering to help as her husband kicked me in the ribs with so much force that I had trouble breathing.
Tosh jumped to his feet, diving for my uncle as I spit up blood onto their perfectly polished hardwood floors. I felt my face begin to swell and I could sense that one of my ribs was broken. More windows were shattering and through the black spots that were appearing in my vision, I spotted my wand lying just a few feet away next to a pile of broken glass.
I could hear Tosh and uncle Christopher fight behind me as I crawled toward my wand. There was something else that I hadn’t expected to hear though...Police sirens. I grasped my wand between my fingers and rolled over so I could shoot a stunning spell at my uncle.
He immediately crumpled to the floor. His face was fairly bloody as a result of Tosh, but Tosh looked like he had just been in a boxing tournament without the face pads and lost. Badly. Seeing my baby brother like that set something off in me, but I had no time to seek revenge considering the sirens were getting louder.
I reached out my hand from the ground, unable to get up, and he took it. Within the next second, we were hurtled from the house and onto the Potter’s front door step, finally safe.
I’M ALIVE! Crazy, right? To be honest, I didn’t think I’d ever write this story again, but I actually think I’m going to get back into it. I’m getting back into writing in general actually as I have a new story out.. I know you probably hate me for that but it’s my new baby and it would appreciate some love. It’s called Get In Line and it’s a James/OC. I’m pretty much totally in love with writing it so I’d really love if it had some more readers.
Anywho, what did you lot think of this chapter? TONS of drama. Was it too much drama or just enough? What do you think about Greta changing? What do you think about Dessie standing up to her uncle or Fred’s sort of goodbye to her? What do you think will happen in the next chapter when everyone sees them?
I’m absolutely DYING to hear from you guys. I missed you all so much and I’m really happy to be getting back into writing. I LOVE YOU ALL. Xx