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Chapter 6 : Roses are Red
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I prised apart my Jammie Dodger with disinterest, not even feeling slightly peckish. Munching on the biscuit (to save the jam for later), I checked the clock by the door. There was only twenty minutes left until my lunch break, twenty long minutes most likely filled with boredom and a niggling feeling of guilt.
My lunch break would no doubt stretch on as long as the morning had done, seeing as today was Wednesday, which meant that Molly would be having lunch with her beau, leaving me alone with the ugly Boris. I didn’t even have the occasional Scorpius visit to look forward to; I hadn’t seen him since The Kiss of Doom on Sunday and I was beginning to wonder whether he’d finally given up hope. To be honest, a very small part of me (my common sense) was missing his constant presence, his head poking through an open window, his leering from the other side of the room. I had nothing at all to amuse me.
Boris strolled into the shop from the back room with a cheery smile on his face (which actually made him look a bit like an old pervert, but I wasn’t about to tell him that). He had two cups of tea in his hands, one of which he set down on the counter in front of me.
“Thanks,” I offered after a pause; I was genuinely surprised by this nice gesture.
Boris grinned. “I thought you could do with some cheering up now that your fella’s dumped you.”
I sighed. “No one has dumped me, Boris. How many times do I have to tell you: I’m not going out with Scorpius.”
“Well, you’re certainly not anymore,” he chuckled through a slurp of tea. I squashed the desire to throw my hot mug at him.
“Shut up,” I scowled, resisting the temptation to accidentally-on-purpose throw my biscuit at him. “You know it’s not like that.”
“Whatever,” he quipped, dunking a ginger biscuit tauntingly in front of me. I rolled my eyes and stalked off to the bookshelves to start my favourite job: alphabetising. It was perhaps the most embarrassing hobby of mine, but at work I could do it all day long without anyone raising an eyebrow. I got paid to do it, too.
I’d only got to Bagshot when the shop door was flung open by what appeared to be a panting lion.
“Molly?” I cried incredulously as I turned to peer at the mess that had burst into the shop. Her hair was about fifty inches wide and her nose was shining; she had really let herself go since she’d set off for Gringotts this morning.
She stopped in the middle of the shop, her wild eyes scanning the room until she found me. Pointing a finger at my dropped jaw, she hissed. “Don’t you judge me, Rose Weasley. We can’t all make zero effort to look nice and get away with it. I’ve had a traumatic day.”
I dropped the pile of books in my arms and rushed to her side. “What’s going on? You’re in a right state.”
She offered me a sad smile before sagging onto a neat pile of books which had been the product of my busy morning. “I just tried to dump Jake.”
I gasped and dropped to my knees beside her. “How did it go?”
“Terribly,” she groaned, burying her hands in her hair. “We fought right in the middle of that really posh restaurant next to Quality Quidditch Supplies and everyone was staring. I didn’t even get to finish my main course.”
“You must be really hungry,” I sympathised, rubbing her back in what I hoped was a soothing manner. “Come on. Go fix your hair and I’ll take you out for lunch.”
“Okay,” Molly sniffled, leaning on me so that she could stand up. She disappeared into the back room for a few moments before returning, fresh and sleek. “I’m ready,” she announced, the tearstains miraculously wiped from her face. I tried not to wonder if they’d just been for dramatic effect or to nudge me into buying her lunch.
“I’m off for lunch!” I called to Boris and hastily dashed out the door before he could remind me that my lunch break hadn’t even started yet.
I looped my arm through Molly’s and Disapparated. As we meandered up the street towards Jesús’ café, I noted that she had a very strange look on her face. She didn’t seem at all as determined or in control as usual and I was itching to find out just what had gone on between her and Jake to demolish her spirit so much. I was practically dragging her.
She drooped into a chair by the window, looking forlornly out of the window like a sad puppy (but with more hair). I grimaced, sliding into the chair beside her and sending a significant look towards the counter where Jesús was fixing his maracas. He brushed his long hair from his face and set the maracas down, giving me an exaggerated nod and disappearing into the kitchen.
“Molly,” I said with a sigh, handing her my napkin in case she started crying. “Don’t look so sad. We could have seen this coming.”
Molly waved away my napkin and took out her own neatly folded handkerchief, waving it around a bit before blowing her nose loudly. “I know, but I feel so awful about it. I think he was shocked, that was the worst bit about it. It was like I was the evil one, when he’s the one who snores and has an obsession with salamanders.”
I nodded understandingly, patting her hand awkwardly. I had no idea what to say to her; I had never broken up with anyone (I didn’t have the backbone for it). After all, I’d failed to get rid of a fairly nice stalker for five years. She shouldn’t take any advice from me.
“I know,” I soothed lamely.
Luckily for me, Jesús arrived with ice-cream sundaes, followed by a generous shot of vodka for Molly. My expression of thanks turned quickly to stern disapproval as he whipped out his ukulele from behind his back and opened his mouth to sing. With a glare, he retreated to behind the counter, where he stuck pins into England on his map of Europe.
“He was so nice,” she said sadly.
“I know,” I said again, poking my spoon into my ice-cream. “There will be other guys. Plenty more fish in the sea and all that.”
“Yeah,” she agreed cautiously. “Maybe.” We ate in silence, food having taken our full concentration once again. Molly munched on her wafer thoughtfully. “I could really do with one of your embarrassing but funny stories right now.”
“What, so making fun of me makes you feel better?” I scowled.
“Something like that,” Molly agreed with a small smile. I sighed.
“Fine,” I huffed. “I needed to have a rant with you anyway.” I paused to try and wave away my ice-cream headache. “Basically, Aunt Fleur thinks I’m a nun.”
Molly nearly choked on her ice-cream. “A nun? Rosie, I know you’re a little bit conservative but even I can see that’s a bit harsh!”
“Yeah, well, she didn’t see it that way,” I grumbled. “She wrote to Mum yesterday, saying she was concerned about me because I haven’t had a proper boyfriend in a few years. And I have, so she can get stuffed. Just because Teddy and Victoire are living happily ever after doesn’t mean I have to.”
“Right,” Molly agreed. “Happily ever after is off the cards for you.”
“Exactly,” I concurred. “Wait, no,” I backtracked hastily. “Happily ever after isn’t necessarily off the cards, it’s just there’s no rush. We’re still young and I’m not an old hag like stupid Victoire.”
“I bet Victoire’s behind it. She loves winding me up; she’s probably been telling everyone that I like being asked why I’m still single and unloved.”
Molly shook her head. “You are not unloved; I love you.”
“Thanks,” I said with a dramatic sigh.
“And I should think Scorpius loves you,” she added with a dramatic wink.
In attempting to cheer her up I had successfully made myself depressed. “Yeah, I don’t think he does anymore. I haven’t seen him since Sunday.”
“Since Sunday? But that’s… four days!” If her eyebrows were raised any higher they would get lost in her hair (quite an easy feat, when I thought about it; Molly often lost pencils and biscuits in there).
“Yeah, I know. Who would have thought it? All I had to do to get rid of him was let him kiss me.” I stabbed my ice-cream a little harder than I had intended. “So basically, even my stalker has gone off me. I’m such a loser.”
Molly rolled her eyes; she seemed to have perked up considerably. She was almost back to her old self. “You’re not a loser. You’re just a bit… different.”
“Thanks,” I said indignantly. “You’re such a supportive cousin.”
I finished off the rest of my ice-cream (Molly had polished hers off whilst I had been moaning) and stood up. “We should head back to work.” I pulled Molly up and left a tenner on the table for Jesús, telling him to keep the change as we left.
“Don’t wait for me after work today,” Molly said, turning slowly on her heel as she prepared to Disapparate. “There’re a couple of things I need to sort out first. I’ll see you later.”
Then she Disapparated, leaving me standing all alone even after I’d gone to the trouble of buying her an ice-cream lunch. Grumpily, I returned to work to enjoy an afternoon filled with ignoring my boss’ warbling to the wireless and trying to sneakily read up more about the town Teddy was moving to. All I discovered was that it was famous for its wine, so I was already mentally beginning to make plans to visit. I didn’t really need an excuse, but I was beginning to hope that Teddy leaving would do me good. With Scorpius now out of the picture and Teddy shortly departing, I could clear my head of thoughts of men and get on with being a hermit in peace. With that happy thought in mind, I continued to stare wistfully out of the shop as the rain beat against the windowpanes.
When five o’clock finally arrived, I headed home without Molly. I secretly liked having the flat to myself because it meant she couldn’t nag me for leaving biscuit crumbs on the floor, sofa or my jumper. I knew she only liked the flat to be tidy in case she had guests (I never did) but sometimes I wondered if she was just concerned I was wasting valuable morsels of biscuits. Quite frankly, I enjoyed not hanging around a psycho, as much as I loved her.
Whilst looking for some comfy socks in the bottom of my wardrobe, I managed to dislodge a stack of shoe boxes and ended up sat on my bedroom floor surrounded by debris. Amongst the mess I found a worn old shoebox with the word “shrine” scrawled across it.
I smiled ruefully as I threw the lid aside and examined the contents of a box filled with things collected by my fourteen-year-old self. In all honesty, I thought (hoped) that I’d thrown it out years ago, but seeing as I didn’t know I still had it I doubted that anyone else would have found it either. Scorpius wasn’t the only one a little bit in obsessive love – I would admit that as a teenager I had been a little overly keen on Teddy, and in this box I had placed a few items that I’d managed to sort of kind of maybe steal from him. Don’t get me wrong, they weren’t valuable objects; I removed a name label sewn into his old school robes that Hugo had inherited, kept the birthday cards he had sent me over the years and pinched the school leaving ceremony photo duplicate his grandmother had sent my aunt and uncle. Admittedly this was Scorpius-worthy stuff, but the main point I should stress was that this was all nearly ten years ago. I had grown out of being a stalker and I was quite certain Scorpius would too at some point.
I was watching the eighteen-year-old Teddy grin at me through the photo frame when the doorbell rang, causing me to both jump and drop the photograph at the same time. I hastily shoved everything back into the box and stuffed it into the wardrobe.
“Just coming!” I called as I dashed to the mirror to check I didn’t look my usual self or ugly. The coast was clear, so I flung the front door open and shoved a smile on my face when I saw who it was. “Hi Victoire.”
“Hello Rose,” she responded warmly, removing her sunglasses as she stepped into the hall. I nodded, appearing calm whilst inside I was shouting “who wears sunglasses in January? It’s RAINING!”.
“What can I do for you?” I said edgily as I moved towards the kitchen and thus the kettle. In the back of my mind I was wondering if I’d actually put that lock of Teddy’s hair back in the box. As long as Victoire didn’t ask to see my room I’d be okay.
Her sparkling, bright blue eyes that reminded me of polluted water (a bit, if I concentrated really hard) scanned the room as she tossed her fair hair over her shoulders. “I’m actually after Molly,” she said slowly, as if talking like a moron would allow time for Molly to turn up. “Is she in?”
“No, she had something to see to after work,” I replied, trying to keep the smugness out of my voice. Now she’d actually have to bother with me, except that I didn’t particularly want to talk to her either and now I’d be locked in a stalemate of small talk. “I’ll pass on a message for you if you’d like.”
“Oh, it doesn’t matter,” Victoire trilled. “It’s just Molly has great taste in clothes and I was hoping she’d help me pick out a dress for my leaving party. I’ll swing by tomorrow to see her.”
What a bitch. Why couldn’t she ask my opinion on clothes? She could have at least tried to hide that insult directed at me; she was so bloody rude sometimes. I didn’t see why Teddy was so fond of her, which was a pretty harsh thing to say about my own cousin. Well, you know what they say about family: you love them but you don’t have to like them.
“Oh, okay then,” I said, turning the kettle on for want of something to do. “Tea?”
“Yes please,” she called as she plopped herself down on the sofa in what Molly and I liked to call the living room, except it wasn’t much more than an extension on the kitchen. She smoothed her skirt out to remove the creases and started powdering her nose.
“How do you like your tea?” I checked the clock behind me whilst she wasn’t looking to see how long I would definitely have to put up with her; I reasoned that Molly would be gone another hour or so.
“It doesn’t matter, however it comes,” she answered distractedly; she was engrossing herself in the brand new copy of Witch Weekly I had picked up on the way home.
I was sorely tempted for about three seconds to put in about six teaspoons of sugar because I hated it when people let me choose how they took their tea. It didn’t take much to say “milk, one sugar”. Maybe Victoire needed lots of sugar in her tea to keep her sickly sweet. Luckily I banished that thought; I doubted she would find it funny as she didn’t seem to have any sort of sense of humour whatsoever.
When I joined her on the sofa with the tea, she neatly replaced the magazine on the coffee table and turned to me.
“So, did Molly finally dump Jake?” She looked hungry for gossip, I noted warily.
I raised an eyebrow. “How do you know about that? She only dumped him a few hours ago. That’s why she’s gone out.”
“I just put two and two together,” she said amiably. “Molly told me about her dilemma the other day and I suggested she should dump him.”
“Oh,” I mumbled.
So Victoire and Molly were bosom buddies now? Since when did Molly need to ask Victoire for relationship advice? What was wrong with me? Bloody Victoire, she just arrived and stomped on me like a beetle under her foot, all in the space of twenty minutes. She wasn’t even qualified to give advice, anyway; she probably had never dumped anyone in her life because they’d all got in there and dumped her first (and rightly so).
“So tell me about you and Scorpius.” I did not like the way she leaned towards me, eyes widened and eyebrows raised. She looked like a hyena.
“There is no me and Scorpius,” I grumbled. “Where did you hear that?”
“I didn’t hear it anywhere,” she said happily. “There’s a bouquet of roses sticking out of your wheelie bin. I happened to glimpse the name on the card as I passed. Are things not going well?”
“Roses?” I repeated dumbly.
“Well yes, I did think it was a poor choice too; terribly cliché, if you don’t mind me saying.”
“No,” I said slowly, standing and approaching the door. “I didn’t see any roses when I got home earlier. Are you sure they were for me?”
“Yes!” She clearly thought I was being an idiot, so she flounced past me, throwing the door open and fetching the roses from the bin. She placed the flowers in the sink and handed me the small card. “See? They’re for you.”
I read the familiar handwriting with a heavy feeling of guilt nestling in my stomach. Why had Scorpius thrown these away before even giving them to me? I had I offended him that much? I was so bloody confused and bewildered. Victoire returned to her cup of tea with a satisfied smile on her face (she probably thought she was cupid or something else equally laughable). All I could do was stare at Scorpius’ note with a quivering brow and a heavy heart, rereading it even though there was nothing more to see.
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