Chapter 4 : You Didn't Look 'Round
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And let my feelings show
You didn’t look ‘round
So you wouldn’t know
“You don’t have to go, do you?” I coo from the bed, my feet poking playfully out from under the skewed sheets.
Ernie laughs affectionately as he searches for a clean pair of socks. “Of course I have to go, Han, it’s Monday.”
“Monday morning,” I specify as adorably as I can manage. “So really, it’s practically still the weekend.”
He leans over to kiss my forehead as he jams his left foot into its shoe. “You are obscenely cute. But remember that employment thing? Kind of goes hand in hand with the paying the bills thing?”
“Ah yes, mighty breadwinner!” I laugh as I fall back into the deep cushioning of feathered pillows behind me. “Go boldly unto the lands of Panels and Authorities! Regulate those floo networks! Bring back much bounty!”
Ernie shakes his head as he passes into the washroom with a smile. As he disappears my laughter swiftly subsides. I occupy my hands by playing with the folds of the sheet over my naked body, but my face remains intently focused.
“You know,” I call through the open door in what I hope passes for a casual tone, “Susan was telling me about, uh, polyamory.”
“That’s not a real thing,” he responds promptly.
“Oh, you haven’t heard of it?” I ask, mentally reviewing the conversations I have had with Susan and searching for the best way to explain it to Ernie.
“No,” he calls back. “It’s just made up gibberish. I thought you were smarter than to listen to that kind of talk.”
“Oh.” My heart sinks at his words. I take a moment to consider how to respond, and then the moment passes and I remain silent.
I stay complacently in my position in bed and kiss my boyfriend goodbye as he leaves for work, but I am relieved when he is gone. Well, what did I expect? Susan is a unique flower – it’s no surprise that the rest of the world doesn’t think like she does. Maybe I’m the fool to think that I could. Yes, that’s all.
I put a smile on my face and climb out of bed, my mood decently improved. And now I have the flat to myself until the evening. I wander lightly into the next room, wondering how I will pass my time today.
“Of course.” I laugh as I step into the kitchen and see that Ernie has left his packed lunch behind. Well, it won’t do me any harm to get out of the house. I pull on a set of traveling robes and grab the lunch bag. I pause for a moment and then grab a can of peaches from the shelf and add it to the bag.
I apparate to Whitehall and take the visitor’s entrance down to the Ministry Headquarters. I’ve made this trip many times before, to meet or surprise Ernie. As the telephone booth descends into the ground I realize that it must have been almost two months since I’ve stopped by his work. Well, it’s a good thing I brought the peaches.
As I check in my wand at the security desk and take the lift to Level Six, I wonder what act I should put on for my boyfriend today. I could be the wide eyed delivery girl, the hardened executive, the saucy temptress… Then again, perhaps it is a bit early in the day for that. If nothing else I can always leave the bag with his assistant Norma.
Before I have a chance to decide, Ernie emerges from his office and drops a stack of papers on Norma’s desk. My walk turns into a skip and my smile transforms to a grin as I grow closer to him and then, all at once, it stops. I halt mid-stride, dumbstruck, as I see Ernie kiss Norma right before my eyes.
I stand frozen and transfixed, waiting. Waiting to be proven wrong, waiting for the apologies and the explanations, waiting for it to end.
But he doesn’t even see me.
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