Chapter 10 : Malfoy Manor, Again
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Somebody quite impertinent was poking me in the leg. I grumbled into my pillow, trying to ignore this interruption to my Saturday morning lie in. The poking didn't stop, it only got more and more painful. Not particularly wanting a massive bruise on my thigh tomorrow, I groaned and rolled over to face Molly.
"What do you want?" I growled.
My eyes managed to focus on her face successfully and I already disapproved of whatever plan she had for me. She was dressed in her best robes, her hair de-frizzed and smart and she'd even bothered with fancy make-up.
"You're coming with me today," she informed me.
"No," I retorted instantly, rolling over and burying my head in Matthew's chest.
She huffed, grabbing me by the arm and physically hauling me out of bed. "Come on, lazy bones. We've got wedding stuff to do today."
"I don't want to," I whined as she threw open my wardrobe and chucked some clothes she presumably thought acceptable at me.
"Stop your whinging and get dressed," she snapped, standing in front of me with her arms crossed while she waited for me to get changed. I rolled my eyes, realising I wasn't going to win this battle. I sullenly undressed, turning my back to both her and Matthew while I changed. Honestly, had she never heard of something called privacy?
When I'd managed to fix my own robes, Molly circled me like a vulture and started straightening various parts of my clothing and brushing fluff from the material. "Okay, you'll do," she decided. "Let's go."
I rubbed my eyes sleepily as I followed her out of the house. We set off down the street, me shivering for lack of a cloak or coat, which I presumed was my punishment for being so grumpy with her. "Where are we going?" I asked when we'd been walking along the street in silence for five minutes.
"You'll see," she said.
I rolled my eyes. I was pretty sure that this whole secretive thing was just her way of keeping some level of control over me. She was power tripping, most definitely. Oh well, if this was to do with wedding stuff then it was just my job as Maid of Honour to do as she asked. I needed to keep the bridezilla as happy as possible if I was going to protect my own life (and probably Lorcan's too).
We arrived ten minutes later at Jesús's café, which looked most definitely shut, which actually was just as it should be seeing as it was only half past eight on a Saturday morning when rest of the world was rightfully asleep. She stepped towards the glass door and rapped at the glass.
"Oi, amigo!" she called, glaring through the glass as though Jesús had somehow offended her with the locked door.
Jesús opened the door with a very sour expression on his face. "I still do not see why we have to leave so early," he muttered to himself.
I frowned. "He's coming with us?"
"Yes, of course," Molly replied, looking at me as though I had a screw loose. Maybe I did; it would explain a fair number of things.
"Right," I said, dropping the issue in case I set her off. I didn't need to know what was going on, I wasn't that important after all.
Jesús put on his own version of robes, surprisingly incurious about our strange attire. For a Muggle, he was all right really. He locked the café up behind him as we set off again. He led us down a back street behind his café and withdrew some keys from his pocket. I realised with alarm that those were his car keys and we were most definitely heading towards a very misshapen-looking old car. Please don't let that be his car, I thought as Jesús walked resolutely towards it. You could always tell a great amount about the way a person drove by the state of their car. He had clearly driven into a lamppost at one point, and he obviously had no respect for other cars judging by the rainbow pattern of paint stripes down the side of the passenger door. I was going to die today.
He stuck the key in the lock and heaved at the driver's door, not having much success until he kicked the side panel and the door sprung from its frame. He climbed inside and Molly gave me a stern look.
"I'm not getting in that thing with him," I hissed. "It's a motorised death trap."
"Quit your complaining, Rose," she snapped. "You were happy to go on that magic carpet last year and that killed Boris. Don't be a hypocrite."
I huffed, thinking that it was hardly the same situation. I didn't actually know how dangerous flying a magic carpet was at the time and how could I know Boris was going to die on one later? I knew for sure this time we were going to end up in St. Mungo's if we got in that thing.
I was about to tell her exactly where she could shove that car when she glared at me with such menace that I swallowed my retort. "Fine," I conceded. "But if I die today, I'm holding you personally responsible and you won't be allowed to come to my funeral."
"It would be rubbish anyway," she responded, glaring at me some more before forcefully shoving me inside the car, following shortly afterwards with a lot more grace and elegance.
I spent most of the journey with my nails digging into the seats and my eyes closed. If I had a choice between flying a magic carpet and riding in one of these things every day, I would most definitely choose the magic carpet, despite the death potential and illegality. Jesús didn't seem to have any grasp of how to drive the car. When I opened my eyes once, he had been driving on the wrong side of the road. I nearly wet myself.
I managed to survive the journey without either passing out or throwing up, which was an excellent personal achievement. Jesús slowed down as we approached a wrought iron gate, gold detail showing me exactly how much money the owners had. As we continued up a tree-lined drive towards a fancy looking country house, I knew what I was in for today; we were going wedding venue shopping.
"You could have told me this earlier," I muttered as Molly smoothed down her robes and adjusted her hair.
Shrugging, she waved aside my irritation. "I thought it would be more fun for you if it was a surprise."
I shook my head bemusedly. "Why did you need to bring Jesús to this?"
She frowned, that same quizzical look on her face that I was so unfortunately used to. "Because he's providing the band, dummy. He needs to check that the venue is suitable for his performance."
I looked at her, my mouth agape. "What?"
"Close your mouth, you'll catch flies," she scolded.
I did as she instructed, not quite believing she was that idiotic. First of all, it was Jesús. I didn't even know he had a professional band, other than the group of middle-aged louts who hung around the café on Fridays with their battered old ukuleles. Second, he was a Muggle. Did she really think inviting a Muggle band to a wedding full of wizards was a good idea?
I decided, however, that making a big deal out of this was not the way to go. As she kept on reminding me, this was her wedding and no one else's and she would do it her way. I just wished I didn't have to clean up the mess after what would surely be the worst wedding in the history of time.
"So, what do you think?"
I was about to respond, but I had clearly mistaken that she was asking after my opinion. Instead, she was looking up at Jesús with anticipation whilst I sulked. Honestly, who cared what he thought?
"It's beautiful," he said with a firm nod.
It was going to be a very long day at this rate. Jesús and Molly went ahead of me to go inside, while I scuffed my boots into the dry mud and started muttering stuff under my breath.
"Come on, Slow Sarah!" Molly called down from the top of the stone steps. She had her hand resting on an elaborate doorknob, ready to knock. I sighed, trotting up the steps to join her. "Just remember, look happy for me," she hissed menacingly.
She knocked at the door, the brass doorknob clanging loudly and echoing throughout the extensive gardens of the manor. We waited only seconds before a man answered the door, dressed in a sharp suit. He eyed our attire with a frown. "Do you have the right address, madam?" he asked sharply.
Molly looked affronted. "Clearly not," she snapped, turning on her heel and flouncing down the steps again, leaving the snooty butler on the threshold.
"Well that was a waste of time," I commented as we all piled back into the death-box and Jesús sent us on our way again.
"No, it wasn't," Molly retorted. "I was just confirming that this place was unsuitable for my needs. I was right, so that's good."
Yes, of course she was right; as she told me regularly, Molly was always right. She kept a postcard I sent her once where I had sort of accidentally, in a moment of hysteria, said that she was "right about everything", and she laminated it and framed it to hang proudly on the doorknob above the letterbox. I was never allowed to forget that particular admission.
I rolled my eyes, settling back into my seat as Jesús headed for the motorway and continued our journey south. I started to doze off after another half an hour in the car, the motorway pleasantly free of winding rounds and emergency stops thanks to our reckless driver.
"Rose, now is not the time to catch up on your beauty sleep, as desperately needed as it might be," Molly said, poking me in the eye and dragging me from the car.
I rubbed my eye where she'd hurt me, wishing she would find another way of motivating me that didn't resort to petty violence. I rearranged my robes, which had somehow managed to find their way up under my bra and twisted all the way around. "I'm coming, I'm coming," I grumbled, following Molly up to the next set of elaborate gates.
A peacock honked in the background. Honestly, these places just kept getting more and more posh. Who kept peacocks in this day and age? The only people I had ever met who had peacocks were Scorpius's family, and I would be greatly surprised if we'd found ourselves anywhere posher than that.
As we walked up the garden path, which was nestled between two striking hedges, I got the feeling I had been here before. As I actually started to pay attention to where I was, I realised that we had indeed found ourselves at Malfoy Manor.
"Did you get lost?" I asked Jesús hopefully.
"No, this is the address Molly gave me," he told me, fishing a piece of paper out of his pocket with the address on it.
"Molly," I called ahead, though she ignored me and continued up the path until she reached the house. She had already rung the doorbell before I could ask her what she was doing.
"Mr Malfoy," Molly cooed as the door opened. "It's a pleasure to see you again after all these years. Thank you so much for seeing me."
I frowned, watching as Mr Malfoy tried to make sense of the sickly sweet woman standing before him. "You must be Miss Weasley," he managed, running a hand through his thinning blonde hair. He looked completely out of his depth. "Let me just fetch my wife."
He opened the door wide, allowing the three of us to step inside into the marble-paved hall while he went to find Mrs Malfoy.
"What the hell are you planning?" I whispered to her once I thought Mr Malfoy was out of earshot. "Does Scorpius know you're here?"
"My dear Rose," she simpered. "It was Scorpius's idea."
"What was?" I narrowed my eyes at her.
"Having the wedding reception here," she said slowly, using that same tone which always seemed to suggest that I'd dropped my marbles, probably deliberately. "I must admit, it is beautiful."
"You've got to be kidding me," I retorted, shaking my head disbelievingly. "You want to host a Weasley wedding at Malfoy Manor? You've actually finally gone insane."
We heard heels clicking against the cold marble and our conversation abruptly ended there.
"Miss Weasley." Mrs Malfoy offered her hand out for Molly to shake. "Congratulations on your engagement."
"Thank you," Molly said, making sure to surreptitiously brush her hair with her ring finger blatantly on show.
Mrs Malfoy then turned her attention to me, surprise registering on her face as her perfectly pruned eyebrows shot up under her coiffure. "Rose?"
I blushed, remembering the last time I'd seen either of Scorpius's parents. They had been labouring under rather massive delusions that Scorpius and I were happily in love and potentially about to get engaged. The reality, of course, was in fact the opposite.
I had really been hoping that I would never have to see them again, especially not after that embarrassing lunch.
"Hello Mrs Malfoy," I said with an overly cheery wave. "It's lovely to see you."
No doubt she wished that instead of Molly being the one who was getting married, it was me and Scorpius. I really was just such a disappointment to everyone.
Mrs Malfoy did her best to ignore me, probably still deeply angry at me for ruining her only son's chance of a happy marriage. I presumed they hadn't really warmed to Clara. Ah well, it wasn't my problem. It wasn't as though I'd abandoned Scorpius for good; we were still friends, after all.
"Come this way," Mrs Malfoy said, beckoning Molly forwards. I got the distinct impression that I wasn't welcome on this tour of the manor; it was probably the death glare coming from Scorpius's mum or the narrowed eyes of my dear cousin. Either way, I ducked away from the group and headed towards the kitchen to see if I could make myself some tea.
"Sorry about Astoria."
I jumped, not realising there was someone else in the room. Mr Malfoy had crept into the room whilst I had my back turned.
"That's okay," I managed after I'd calmed my heartbeat. "I understand. I didn't mean to upset anyone, you know, with all that business."
Mr Malfoy shrugged, fishing his wand from his pocket and flicking it at the kettle on the stove behind me. I flinched, almost thinking for a moment that he had been directing a spell or worse at me.
He laughed, his voice low and sharp. "Come off it, you can't have that low an opinion of me."
I shrugged awkwardly, hoping he couldn't see the embarrassment on my face. "Sorry," I apologised hastily. "It's probably genetic..." I said in an attempt at a joke.
Mr Malfoy smiled at this effort. "Yes, well, never mind that now." I moved out of the way so he could pour hot water into two mugs. I couldn't work out what was so strange about this action, but then I remembered the picture of the Malfoys that Dad had always painted. He'd described them as a snooty, cold and snobby family who had their lives sorted and run by house elves. I was pretty sure that almost all house elves had found paid employment these days, so such an archaic tradition seemed out of place now, even if the house clearly began its days in another era altogether.
"Do you take sugar?" Mr Malfoy asked, rousing me from my contemplations.
"No, thank you," I said, accepting the mug of tea from him.
"How is Scorpius?" Mr Malfoy asked, resuming his former place leaning against the kitchen cupboards. "He hasn't written home in a good week or two now."
I frowned. "Hasn't he?" I asked, somewhat surprised. Scorpius had written regular letters home for as long as I could remember. I had fond memories of throwing porridge at him while he wrote letters home at breakfast every day at Hogwarts. "I saw him the other day. He broke up with Clara." I tactfully left out the fact that actually Clara had run off with another man. Some things parents didn't need to know.
Mr Malfoy frowned. "The knitting girl?" He sipped at his tea, wrinkling his nose when he found it too hot to drink. "I always thought she was a bit odd. Muggle-born, wasn't she?" he mused more to himself than to me. I narrowed my eyes at this last comment but decided that starting an argument with him was definitely out of the question.
"Yeah, that's her," I confirmed. "Scorpius is quite cut up over it."
Mr Malfoy looked very uncomfortable at this acknowledgement of his son's emotions. "Will you make sure he's okay?" he asked me awkwardly. "He and I... well, I think he would appreciate it more if it came from you."
I nodded. "So," I said, looking for a change of subject. "Molly wants to have her wedding here."
"Yes," Mr Malfoy mumbled. "So I understand."
"Do you have lots of weddings here?" I asked conversationally.
"No, not really," he responded, deliberately being vague. "Scorpius requested it as a favour. I wasn't too keen on the idea but Astoria got excited and here we are."
"Here we are," I agreed. I tried to decide if I dared ask him a few of the questions I had. He seemed pretty harmless to me, but I didn't want to insult or offend him, especially if it meant he felt out with Molly over it and declared the wedding over or something. "I suppose it will be nice to have everyone together again after all this time," I mused, hoping he'd pick up my hint.
"Yes, well, the Weasleys have always been a large family," he said with a wry smile. "It must be a rare occasion when you all get together."
I shrugged. "Not as rare as you'd think. I feel like I spend half my life attending family functions."
Mr Malfoy regarded me with interest. "I never had a large family," he said thoughtfully. "I was quite lonely as a child. It must be nice for you to have lots of company. You and your cousin seem close."
Did I detect almost a sad note to his voice? Oh dear, I'd accidentally reminded him of a troubled childhood; that had not been my intention at all. "Too close, I think," I said with a smile. "She gets on my nerves an awful lot sometimes."
"I'm sure," Mr Malfoy agreed. "But all the same, I think you're quite lucky. I appreciate you welcoming Scorpius into your family. He had his fair share of lonely days as a child, too."
I smiled, enjoying having this bonding moment with Scorpius's Dad. I don't know what my Dad had found so objectionable about Mr Malfoy; he seemed like a really decent bloke. He was probably just a bit misguided as a teenager.
I heard footsteps echo down the hall as Molly and Jesús finished their tour. "Come on, useless," Molly called through into the kitchen as she headed towards the front door. "We're going."
I smiled at Scorpius's Dad before bidding him goodbye. "It was nice to see you today, Mr Malfoy," I offered, backing out of the kitchen and trotting up to Molly who was already outside and heading towards the car.
"Did you like it, then?" I asked as we clambered back into the metal box.
"It's a bit small," Molly said with her nose in the air. "But it definitely has potential."
I rolled my eyes; I should have known better than to think that she would be happy with something. Nothing was ever perfect enough for her. I closed my eyes to hopefully sleep through the rest of the traumatic drive home.
When we finally pulled into the same parking spot that Jesús had left earlier, I woke up, feeling nauseous. Still, I had made it back alive, which couldn't be said for a lot of forms of transport (namely, the magic carpet when Boris was driving). I climbed out of the back seat and walked off the travel sickness.
"You look pale, Rose," Molly commented as I focused on pacing, staring resolutely at my shoes.
"It's just Jesús's driving," I mumbled.
Molly followed Jesús into the café, no doubt to discuss their thoughts on Malfoy Manor as a wedding venue. I was already sick of this wedWeding stuff, and we'd barely even made it to the middle of February. I decided to skip whatever Molly had planned for the rest of the day and to go and check on Scorpius as I had promised Mr Malfoy. It was nice to Apparate again instead of being trapped in that bloody awful machine Jesús called transport.
Stomping up the Hogsmeade high street, I ignored the unpleasant Scottish weather. I really didn't know how anyone could cope with such grey weather most of the year. At least it wasn't raining, I supposed. I reached the gate that lead up to the Shrieking Shack and started up the muddy path. Knocking on the door first, I then let myself in without bothering to wait for Scorpius to come to the door. He was too slow for my cold fingers to stand the waiting.
"Hello?" I called, poking my head around the door to the living room. The fire was burning away in the grate, so I assumed he couldn't be far away.
I popped into the kitchen but found no signs of life there. Frowning, I climbed the stairs and went to knock on his bedroom door.
I heard a sniff. Without asking again, I pushed my way into his room and located him, a lump hidden underneath three duvets and a pile of tissues.
"What's the matter with you?"
I groaned, turning over and throwing the duvets and tissues off of him.
"What happened to you?" I asked as he scrambled about for his clothes. I averted my gaze until he was properly decent (I didn't want to risk scarring myself for life), when he finally turned to face me with puffy red eyes.
"I'm just a bit lonely," he muttered to himself. "Clara's gone."
I really wasn't the right person to be talking to about this sort of thing; I had very little sympathy or patience for other people's relationships and break-ups. What did he want me to do, slag her off every time I saw him?
"Listen, you come home with me," I commanded, grabbing a bag from behind his door and chucking it at him. "Pack your pyjamas."
He frowned, running a hand through his hair, which was sticking up all over place from the gel setting while he was sleeping on it. "Really?" he asked hopefully.
"Yes, really," I confirmed. "You clearly need looking after. Molly will be better at that than I will." He looked slightly crestfallen when I mentioned Molly, but I just ignored him. He needed help and I was not the right person for that particular job. Molly would set him straight faster than Clara could knit.
When he had packed his back up of things he thought were useful (I didn't really consider an out of date advent calendar useful, but what could I say? The guy was delirious), we left, locking the house up behind him. I took him home, laid him on my sofa and instructed him to wait.
"What's all this noise?" Matthew complained, walking through into the kitchen, a wad of paperwork clutched in his hand. "Oh," he said, seeing Scorpius lying flat on the sofa in the adjoining living room. "Hi Scorpius," he called.
He gave me a quizzical look, setting the papers down on the kitchen table before rounding on me. "What is wrong with him now?" he asked, sounding tired.
I grimaced. "Bad break-up," I explained. "I found him buried beneath a blanket of tissues."
I finished making up a hot water bottle and quickly deposited it on Scorpius's chest. He didn't move at all, lying straight like a plank.
"He's clearly got issues," Matthew added when he went to fish out a fresh mug from the cupboard above my head.
"I know," I muttered, stepping out of his way so he could make himself some coffee. "I didn't know what else to do."
Matthew frowned. "How long is he staying here for?"
I shrugged. "I dunno. As long as he needs, probably." I was more than a little miffed when Matthew didn't look too happy about the idea. "What?" I demanded.
"Don't look at me like that, Rose," Matthew said defensively when I started to narrow my eyes at him. "I just think that you need to be careful."
"Careful of what?" I hissed, remembering almost too late that we were supposed to be providing a calm environment for Scorpius. "He's my friend and he looked after me when I was going through a tough time last year. I'm just returning the favour."
Matthew shook his head. "You do it out of the kindness of your heart, Rose, but he still has feelings for you. Don't forget that."
I rolled my eyes. "No he doesn't," I denied. "We're just friends. And I'm being a good friend and helping him in a time of need."
Matthew held up his hands in surrender. "Fine, have it your way. Just be careful who you hurt through this."
He picked up his coffee and his papers and retreated back to my room. I frowned deeply, wondering what the hell was wrong with him today. If this was his way of saying he was jealous, he really needed to work on his delivery. There was nothing to be jealous of, to start with. Technically Scorpius was my ex-boyfriend but he barely even counted as that. I'd never had any feelings of that nature for him at all, and Matthew knew that very well.
I couldn't help but feel a bit offended by his accusation, as if I needed to worry about Scorpius having feelings for me, which he didn't anyway. Even if he did, it wasn't like I was in any danger of feeling the same way. So I didn't know whose feelings I was supposed to be hurting, because this wasn't going to affect Matthew either way.
Molly burst through the front door not soon after I lapsed into a long tirade in my mind about how unfair and stupid Matthew was being.
"Well, that's a face that could curdle milk," she commented as she entered the kitchen. I ignored her. "What's that scamp doing on our sofa looking like death warmed up?" she asked next, peering round at Scorpius.
"He needs some comforting after his recent break-up," I explained dully. "I offered him a place to stay. Matthew doesn't think it's such a great idea," I added, lowering my voice.
"Ah," Molly replied, setting her handbag down on the kitchen table and drawing up a chair next to me. "Did you have a fight?"
I pondered the concept of a "fight". We weren't exactly drawing pistols at dawn or anything, but his words had confused me if anything. "It was more of a difference in opinion," I said. "I can't see the harm in it. We're just friends."
Molly shrugged. "Maybe he's worried Scorpius will get the wrong idea about your motives."
I frowned. "He knows I don't like him like that."
"Yeah, but you've clearly shown you care about him. That has to count for something."
I groaned. "He's my friend, Mol. What else was I supposed to do? If it was you, he wouldn't bat an eyelid."
"That's because I'm your cousin. I'm not exactly a threat, am I?"
Not being funny, but Molly could be bloody threatening when she wanted to be. I didn't admit this, but instead pretended to agree with her. "I suppose," I said. "I'm just tired of always doing things wrong. I was only trying to be nice."
Molly patted me on the shoulder and I got up to go and talk to Matthew. I stuck my head around my bedroom door, seeing Matthew lying across my bed with paperwork surrounding him.
"Listen, I'm sorry," I said, catching his attention. He looked him, his eyes focusing on me. "If you're that worried, I'll take Scorpius home."
"No, don't do that," Matthew replied softly. He sat upright, shoving his papers aside to make room for me. I sank down on the mattress beside him and sighed. "I just didn't want you to accidentally hurt Scorpius's feelings. He's sensitive, that's all. But you're doing the right thing. I'm sorry."
I shrugged. "He's so complicated, you could very well be right. I saw his Dad today and made a stupid promise to look out for him and I just got carried away."
Matthew smiled. "You're a real softie, aren't you?"
"Don't make fun of me," I retorted, dodging his attempt to pull me closer to him. "I do stupid things sometimes. Just you wait and see."
"Oh, trust me, I already know that."
I glared at him. "Don't be cheeky."
He finally caught me, slipping his arm around my waist and forcing me to give in and press myself to him. If he wasn't so charming he'd be bloody infuriating.
AN: Thanks so much to everyone for their continued support! I'm enjoying reading all your reviews again. It's very nice to come back to have my readers still around :) I hope you're still enjoying! Marina
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