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Chapter 8 : Commitment-Phobes
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I woke up with a stiff neck from having resolutely turned away from Matthew the entire night. I was still angry, though it took me a couple of seconds to remember why. Bloody Matthew. He should have known that was the least tactful thing to do.
I heard him stir. I must have woken him up when I had shifted to alleviate the pain in my neck. What was I supposed to say to him? I just couldn't understand why he'd thought that buying his way into my good books was okay. Money and relationships definitely shouldn't mix, as far as I was concerned. We could continue our separate financial lives without charity, thank you very much.
"Are you still not talking to me?" he whispered. I felt the bed dip slightly towards me as he shuffled over. I didn't respond and thus answering his question. "Can't we at least talk about it? I didn't do it to upset you, I promise. I thought it was the most rational solution to our problem."
I sighed, conceding that I couldn't just ignore him forever. It would make bed sharing extremely uncomfortable for the foreseeable future and I really didn't fancy that. "It's not your problem, though," I said, still facing the other way. I was sure that the wall opposite my face was really appreciating my early morning conversation.
"It is," he said gently. "Because I care about what happens to you. I'm sorry if it was tactless, but I wanted to help."
I turned over to face him. "You really shouldn't have done it without talking to me first. I need you to be honest with me. We don't have anything if we don't have trust."
"I'm sorry," he said. I felt his arm snake around my waist. I toyed with the idea of just letting him hold me, but I was still annoyed. I shifted again until his grip slackened.
"You shouldn't have thrown out the "L" word, either," I added. "That was what hurt the most."
I brought my knees up to my chest and held them there with my arms, curling up into a tight ball. I was right about this one. He couldn't just hope to end every argument we ever had by just saying "I love you" and that being enough. That hadn't been the way I'd pictured the first time he said it to me. He'd just chucked it at the end angrily and hoped that would make everything okay again. It didn't work like that, and I felt like he had cheated somehow.
"But it's true," he said with a sigh. "It's true whether I say it when we're arguing or when we're not. I didn't do any of this to hurt you, Rosie. I did it to stop you being hurt."
"Well, you failed," I mumbled.
We lapsed into silence. I could tell he was still close to me, his chest almost touching my back, but I didn't let him come any closer. I couldn't just forget it; his flat was still on the market and we still had to sort out our personal differences. I couldn't stop him from selling his flat if that was what he wanted, but did I want to move in with him? It hadn't exactly been the most romantic of questions, I had to admit. Why couldn't we have discussed it like adults?
"Rose," he said after a while. "Please think about it. You don't have to accept the money if you don't want to, I know it was a bad idea. But I'd still love you to move in with me." I sighed again, finally turning over to face him. I was right; he was still very close to me. Our noses almost touched, and I could see the tangles in his hair. I brushed it through subconsciously, a habitual action that I barely even noticed doing most of the time. He brought his hand up to meet mine and held it against his head. "Please."
"You don't have to sell your flat," I told him.
"I know," he said, his eyes on me. "We'll stay at mine for now."
Part of me really wanted to say no. I was about to panic, I could feel it nagging inside me. Did moving in with him mean a longer commitment than I was willing to give? Was the next step marriage and buying our own place together? Should I even live with him when it meant working with him too? It all just seemed like an idea doomed to fail. If we broke up, which was possible, after all, where would I go? Molly and Lorcan were about to start a life together as husband and wife; I could hardly just go back to how things were before.
"It doesn't have to be scary," Matthew prompted gently when I didn't respond. "It could be exciting, you know. Think of it as an adventure."
"I've never really been the adventurous type," I said nervously.
He didn't let me continue; he turned his head to kiss my palm before sliding it down to his chest. I could feel his heartbeat through his clothes, the soft rhythm not nearly as erratic as mine was becoming. He left my hand against his heart before pulling me close to him and kissing my forehead. "Now's a good time to start," he whispered into my ear.
I closed my eyes, trying to make a decision. I found that in my panicky state, I was thinking far too irrationally. "I need to think about it," I told him as he began to kiss me properly. He stalled, his lips just hovering above mine. "That's not a no," I assured him. "I just need to figure it all out in my head."
"Of course," he replied. "Take all the time you need."
I allowed him to continue kissing me, but I couldn't concentrate. What did I really want? I didn't want to tie myself down, did I? I couldn't help but feel like whatever I did, I was bound to make the wrong decision. Honestly, I had always envied people like Victoire and Teddy (before the affair, obviously), because it seemed like that had everything all sorted out. I didn't realise relationships could mess with your mind so much.
I lay on the sofa, feeling very much like I was in a counselling session. Molly sat on the armchair next to me and sipped away at her coffee.
"You're going to have to talk to me sooner or later," she said for about the fifth time. "I don't know what's going on in there," she tapped my forehead, "but you're not going to solve whatever it is if you bottle it up."
"Stop being nosy," I grumbled.
"Ha!" she exclaimed. "So she does live after all."
I rolled my eyes and resumed my examination of the ceiling. "I have a dilemma," I admitted.
"You don't say," she muttered. "Go on, then. Spill the beans."
I turned over to face her, my arm resting against the curve of my body. "Matthew asked me to move in with him."
Molly narrowed her eyes. "I'm assuming the dilemma stems from your paranoia of ending up like me, the suburban housewife with two point four children."
"You don't have any children," I responded.
"That's not the point," she huffed, draining her coffee then reaching over to haul me up into a sitting position. I glared at her. "The point is that you always do this, because you're little scared Rosie who really doesn't want to grow up, but now you have to make a decision that will force you to grow up either way."
"Well, that's rubbish," I said lamely. "I'm not like that at all. I think the fact that I'm properly thinking this over is a great sign of maturity."
Molly rolled her eyes. "It really isn't. You're not thinking it over for the right reasons. You're stalling because you don't want to commit."
"And why is that such a bad thing?" I demanded.
"It's not, in itself," she continued. "I mean, commitment is a big thing and not something you should take lightly." She waggled her fingers at me so her engagement ring flashed. "But you're just avoiding the issue at hand."
"Which is what?"
She leaned forward so that she was only a marginal distance away from me. "You won't admit your feelings for him."
I narrowed my eyes. "What are you talking about?"
"Ha!" she cried gleefully. "See, I knew I was right. You love him."
"How the hell did you work that one out?" I scoffed. "If I loved him, surely I'd have jumped at the chance to move in with him."
Molly shook her head, a large grin plastered on her face. "No, idiot. See, it's exactly what I told you the other day. You're making him wait."
I frowned. "That doesn't prove anything."
"Yes it does, Rosie." She took my hand in hers, a simpering smile on her face. I resisted the temptation to slap it right off her. "See, you trust him enough to know that he'd wait for your answer, and you love him enough to risk the possibility that he wouldn't."
I sighed tiredly. "This is far too much talk about my feelings."
"It's necessary," Molly grumbled, the smile falling from her face when she saw she hadn't convinced me just yet. "This is why you're so scared, because you're worried you might screw it up. If you didn't love him even a tiny bit you wouldn't be worried at all."
I hid my head in my hands. "Look, I don't know how I feel, okay? I'm still mad at him for trying to throw money at me and keeping stuff from me."
Molly shrugged. "Everyone makes mistakes."
I frowned at this insight. "Yeah, I suppose they do."
She nodded happily at this concession and decided to leave me alone for a minute. She went to boil the kettle, bringing back with her a cup of tea for me and a plate of biscuits. "Rosie, it's not an easy decision to make, okay. But perhaps, just this once, take a risk."
I helped myself to a biscuit. "I'm not very good at taking risks."
"Yes you are, when it matters," she contradicted. "What about that time you just hopped on a plane and went to tell That Bastard how you felt? That was a bloody enormous risk."
"That wasn't really much of a risk though, was it? The outcome of that was never going to be anything but rejection, was it?"
"Well, you didn't know that at the time," she reminded me sheepishly, no doubt remembering the fact she was a horrible traitor best friend. "You went and did something very brave and you didn't love him like you love Matthew. If you ask me, it's not really much of a risk at all, this time."
I sighed again and munched on my biscuit. "I hate being scared."
Molly scooted onto the sofa next to me and gave me a quick hug. "I know. We're going to be having a similar conversation just before my wedding, don't you worry. It doesn't get any easier, but I promise you it's worth it if you really do love him."
I wriggled out of her grip. "You're getting cheesy in your old age," I scolded. "But thank you. I think you're right."
She grinned. "I'm always right," she replied smugly.
Unfortunately, most of the time that was true. She knew me much better than I was comfortable with but at times like these it came in very handy. I knew I could trust her on this (mostly because I'd made it very clear that if she screwed up in the advice department again I would cut her hair off).
"Right," I said decisively. "I'm not one to make a decision on impulse, so I'll wait a few hours to tell him my decision. We've got that drinks party at Aunt Angelina's, don't forget."
Molly rolled her eyes. "They do nothing but drink in that house."
I thought this was slightly hypocritical, my eyes finding the recycling box full of empty wine bottles in the corner. "It's polite. We have to go and pretend we're wishing Roxanne a Happy Birthday, anyway."
Molly grimaced. "Well hopefully this party will be better than the one she had last year. That was dreadful."
I cast my mind back to the time we gate-crashed Roxanne's flat. To be honest, it was her fault for inviting all of our cousins and friends but not us. That was just rude.
"Maybe this time try not to steal stuff from her house," I suggested.
"Maybe this time try not to flirt with your cousin's boyfriend," she retorted, causing me to blush.
"Whatever," I said. "I don't fancy Lorcan much myself."
Molly huffed at my deliberate incomprehension. "He wouldn't fancy you even if you did. He doesn't like commitment-phobes."
I rolled my eyes. "Touché."
Molly grabbed her coat and handed mine to me, which I shrugged on before grabbing my scarf. We trudged outside into the cold and Apparated to Uncle George and Aunt Angelina's house. It was a funny looking house, I'd always thought, though I supposed in comparison to the Burrow it was normal. The garden was a very strange size compared to the house (the house being a small town house in the middle of a cul-de-sac, and the garden being an undetectable Quidditch pitch).
We knocked on the door and waited while someone came to answer the door. Roxanne stood there with a "Happy Birthday" badge pinned to her chest and singing away merrily. I was going to make a bet that it would only take us three repeats of the tune before I got my wand out and jinxed the stupid thing. She didn't look too enthusiastic to see us.
"Oh, I'm so glad you came," she lied with a fake smile on her face. "I didn't think you were going to make it," she added under her breath.
"Well, I had to cancel my weekend plans," I said cheerily, refusing to give her any more detail.
"That's lucky for me," she replied, looking distinctly pained. Was being nice so difficult for her?
She let us into the house and we joined the other three family members our age in attendance (James, Victoire and Louis).
"Where are the others?" Molly asked, looking around the room as if they were about to jump out from behind the floral patterned sofa.
"Haven't you heard?" Victoire asked, looking surprised. "Roxanne really pissed them all off."
I was about to ask more, but Roxanne had walked into the room carrying a tray of cupcakes. We fell awkwardly silent and waited until she'd left the room again.
"What happened?" Molly prompted.
"Well, she lost her job," Victoire continued, brushing a flyaway strand of blonde hair from her face. "And she went to Teddy asking if he could get her a job at his work."
I frowned. "How did she lose her job?"
"Turned up three hours late on the first day," Louis said with a smirk. "That didn't go down too well..."
I tried not to laugh at the thought of her just waltzing in hours late and expecting everyone to just be okay with it. She really did think the sun shone out of her arse.
"And, well..." Victoire stalled awkwardly. "Nobody's too keen on Teddy these days. They've all sort of taken it as a bit of a betrayal."
If there was one way that would surely piss off the family, it was to talk to Teddy. He really wasn't very popular at the moment. "But you've all come," I said, gesturing to my cousins.
"I came for the cake," James said with a shrug.
"I'm not going to get involved with anything relating to that stuff," Victoire explained. "Louis said he'd come with me for moral support."
Bless Victoire. She was too good at heart, sometimes. I didn't know how I ever could have disliked her. We lapsed into silence, waiting for Roxanne to come back into the living room. She was followed in by her parents and a cardboard cut-out of Fred, who presumably hadn't bothered to come back from Australia for the occasion. I didn't blame him; it was no doubt gloriously sunny in his part of the world, whereas we were heading into a very gloomy looking February.
Roxanne dragged a chair into the centre of the room and stood up.
"Thank you all for coming," she said with another fake grin on her face. "Had I known all my favourite people were coming, I would have prepared a speech." I looked out of the corner of my eye at Molly, who had her eyebrows raised sceptically at the clearly well-rehearsed speech. "I am another year older and wiser and I can't think of a better way to celebrate this special occasion than with all my aunts, uncles, cousins and best friends." I looked around at the five of us and wondered which category we fit into. "Without further ado, help yourself to champagne and cakes."
Then, she hopped down off her chair and left the room. I looked bewilderedly at Molly. "You know, I'm starting to think the party last year was better. Has she literally fallen out with everyone?"
"Probably," Molly replied with a nod. "I don't think she gets out much anymore."
We were interrupted by a knock on the front door followed by Roxanne wrenching the door open and demanding, "who are you?"
"I was told Rose would be here," I heard Matthew say. I gave Molly a startled look and considered hiding. I wasn't ready to talk to him just yet. I needed at least three more hours to confirm that my decision was stable. He was definitely rushing. "I'm her boyfriend."
"She has a boyfriend?" Roxanne responded doubtfully. "Who are you really?"
I decided at this point that it wasn't really fair to make Matthew deal with my cousin whilst I hid behind the curtains. I went through to the hall and elbowed Roxanne out of the way. "It's fine, Roxanne. He really is my boyfriend."
Rolling her eyes, Roxanne walked off, muttering under her breath something about "amortentia". I ignored her.
"What's up?" I asked, stepping aside to let Matthew in out of the cold.
He smiled apologetically. "I really couldn't stand arguing with you," he admitted, looking away, his hands deep in his pockets. "We don't have to talk about it, but let's talk about something at least."
I returned his smile, looping my arms through his and giving him a quick peck on the lips. "No, it's okay. We can talk about it."
"Really?" He looked up at me and drew me closer into him. "Are you sure?"
"I'm sure. I want to move in with you," I told him. He grinned and kissed me briefly.
"That's great, Rosie," he said happily. He continued to kiss me until he paused, stepping back slightly to look at me. "What made you change your mind?"
I blushed and stood on my tiptoes until my lips were level with his ear. "I love you," I whispered, before blushing even more than before, my face turning a horrific beetroot colour. I couldn't look at him, I was almost embarrassed to have admitted something so personal.
Although I tried to avoid his gaze, he stepped right in my line of sight. "Well that's good," he replied. "Because as it so happens, I love you too."
That was as perfect as a moment ever gets for me, I thought. I smiled happily and let him continue to kiss me, until I heard a shriek from behind me.
"Rose, did you get sunburnt on your face? That looks so painful, let me get you some after sun."
Bloody Molly. She'd never let me enjoy my moment, would she?
AN: I'm back again - shocking, I know! Hope you enjoyed this chapter, another one will be on its way soon. As always, thank you for reading and reviewing! Marina
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by Miranda Lupin