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Over The Edge by Arithmancy_Wiz
Chapter 17 : Chapter Seventeen: The Man in the Suit, Part II
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 5

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Chapter Seventeen: The Man in the Suit, Part II

“I’ve been thinking about titles for the book.”

Rose was seated on the edge of the bed, flipping idly through a magazine while she waited for Viktor to finish up in the bathroom. Rose had never known Krum to linger in front of the mirror, usually preferring to let his appearance match his devil-may-care attitude. But not this morning. Not when there was so much riding on the outcome of his hearing.

“Oh, really?” Krum asked, having to raise his voice to be heard over the sound of water as it flowed from the tap. “And vhat have you come up with?”

“What do you think of Reaching New Heights: The Viktor Krum Story? It’s got a certain ring to it, don’t you think? A bit of a play on words, you know, with heights and flying and all that. Of course, we could always go with something more direct, but I’m kind of partial to it as is. What do you think?” When Krum failed to reply, she called out, “Are you still alive in there?”

“Still alive.”

“Well, what do you think?” Another long silence, and Rose was starting to get the message. “You hate it that much, do you?”

“I didn’t say I hated it.”

“You didn’t say anything. But fine. I can take a hint. I’ll just have to come up with something else, I guess.”

A minute later, Krum emerged from the bathroom. He was clean-shaven, his hair still damp at the temples. He was already dressed in the outfit they’d selected the previous evening – a well-tailored grey suit and matching tie.

“Here,” he said, pulling a set of jet-black robes from out of the wardrobe and handing them over to her. “Help me on with these, will you?” Rose took the garment, slipping it first over one shoulder and then the other. When he was all settled, he stepped back, taking stock of himself in the mirror before turning to face her. “Well, how do I look?”

She examined him for a long moment. “Very respectable. Only, here,” she said, reaching out and fiddling with one of his lapels until it lay smooth against his chest. “Now you’re perfect.”

“Perfect you say?” She was standing just inches from him, and he reached out, encircling her waist and pulling her body flush against him. He was smiling that mischievous smile of his, the one that had been so conspicuously absent over recent weeks.

“I did say that, didn’t I?” she said, looking up at him.

“Yes, you did.”

He kissed her then, long and slow. It was the first real kiss they’d shared since returning from Bulgaria. When their lips finally parted, Rose found she was a little breathless – a not entirely unwelcome sensation, but one that brought with it a whole realm of new uncertainties.

But there was no time to consider them just then. There was a knock at the door.

“That’ll be Brooks,” Rose said, breaking free of Krum’s embrace and heading out into the hall.

It turned out Viktor wasn’t the only one paying an unusual amount of attention to his appearance that morning. Opening the door, Rose was greeted to the sight of Peter dressed in a pair of pale blue robes so near in color to his eyes that Rose wondered if he hadn’t had them specially made to match. She’d never seen him so dressed up before, or looking so nervous.

He’d barely made it through the door before asking, “Where is he?”

“I’m here,” Krum said, stepping out of the bedroom. At the sight of him, Peter seemed to visibly relax, as if relieved just to find Viktor upright and conscious.

“Great,” Peter said. “Then we best get going. We don’t want to be late.”

Krum nodded, turning to face Rose one last time. All traces of the good humor he’d displayed only moments ago were gone. He was all business now, their brief kiss all but forgotten.

“You’ll do great,” she told him, giving him what she hoped was a convincing smile.

“I don’t think I’m really expected to do anything.”

He turned to Peter, who nodded in agreement. “He’s right. All he has to do is stand there and look pretty.”

“Even better,” Rose said. “I guess all that primping this morning won’t go to waste then.” Krum’s expression remained stoic, and Rose dropped her attempt at good humor. “I’ll be here you when you get back. We’ll celebrate this all being over with, yeah?”

Krum nodded again, giving her hand a gentle squeeze. “Until later then?”

“I’ll be waiting.”

The next few hours seemed to crawl by at a snail’s pace until Rose began to think the day might never end. She did her best to keep busy, but it was hard. Despite what she’d said to Krum, Rose was not at all convinced there would be anything worth celebrating when he returned. Writing was out of the question. She was far too distracted to focus on her work. Getting out for a while might help. Perhaps taking a walk – letting the fresh air clear her head a bit. She even considered dropping in on Al, or Hugo, or perhaps one of the other countless friends or family members she’d been avoiding of late. But she quickly scratched that idea. Aside from the fact that most everyone she knew would be off at work this time of the morning – and even if they were at home, that she wouldn’t have a clue what to say to them after all that had happened – Rose knew she couldn’t leave. Good news or bad, she wanted to be there when Krum arrived home, and as she had no idea how long a hearing like this might last, the only thing for it was to sit around and wait.

After fretting away much of the afternoon, splitting her time between staring out the window and pacing around the living room, Rose was almost relieved when she heard a knock at the door. At this point, Rose didn’t care who it was. She was just happy for the distraction.

The face that greeted her was a familiar one, only she couldn’t immediately place it. The man standing before her was tall, well-dressed, and sporting a thick pair of glasses that were just a shade too large for his long, pointed face. It was the suit that finally clued her in on his identity. It was the same one he’d been wearing last time she’d seen him – that morning after she and Viktor had spent their first night together. She’d walked in on them during what she’d assumed at the time was not an altogether pleasant conversation. She remembered how eager Krum had been for the man to take his leave.

“Ms. Weasley, isn’t it?” the man asked. Not bothering to wait for an answer, he said, “How nice it is to see you again.” His tone was amiable enough. Maybe a bit too good-natured for Rose’s liking. There was something about it that didn’t ring true, though she couldn’t quite put her finger on what it was. “I don’t know if you remember me, but—”

“I remember you just fine, thanks,” Rose said, beating him to the punch. There was nothing amiable about her tone. She didn’t know who this man was, but she’d taken an instant disliking to him. Maybe it was the way he’d looked at her that first morning, as if she should have been embarrassed at being caught with Krum. As if it was any of his business. “Viktor’s not here."

“Is that so?”

“Yes. And I don’t know when he’ll be back, though I don’t expect it will be anytime soon.” She regretted saying it almost at once. For some reason, she didn’t like the idea of this man knowing she’d be alone in the flat for any extended period of time.

“Well, that is an unwelcome surprise,” the man said, though Rose didn’t think he sounded all that disappointed. Or surprised, for that matter. “It seems I’ve made the trip for nothing. What a shame. I do so hate wasting my time.”

There was a long pause, and Rose knew there was more he wanted to say, only he was waiting for something, as if hoping she might beg him to tell her what he was up to. But Rose wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. She just glared at him in stony silence until he was finally forced to continue on without any prompting from her.

“It’s nothing, really,” he said. “Only, as I’m already here...” The man reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a small, white envelope. He looked at it for a long moment, as if torn over what to do. After giving it some thought, he finally held it out to her, saying, “I really shouldn’t be showing you this. But like I said, I hate to have come all the way out here for nothing.”

Rose glanced briefly down at the letter but made no move to take it. The man was making a good show of looking nervous, as if he really was offering her something he ought not to have been sharing. But Rose wasn’t buying it. There was a hint of something akin to glee in his eyes, as if this was all some sort of game for which he would soon be declared the winner. Rose didn’t know what was going on here, but she knew whatever it was, it wasn’t good.

Rose pushed the envelope back in his direction. “If you shouldn’t be showing it to me, then perhaps you had best keep it to yourself. That way we can be sure that neither of us will get into any trouble.”

The man’s expression faltered, a brief flash of annoyance coloring his face. But he quickly recovered himself. “Well, perhaps you’re right,” he said, tucking the envelope back in his pocket. “It’s not like I won’t be stopping by again soon, anyway. I have been known to make quite a pest of myself when there’s something I want. Of course, Viktor will already know all about that.”

“Well, I guess we have something to look forward to then,” Rose said.

“I suppose we do.” And with that, he turned to go. Rose was just about to close the door on him when she heard him call out, “Oh, and one more thing, Ms. Weasley. Do make sure to tell Krum about our little chat, won’t you?”

“And just who exactly should I tell him I’ve been chatting with?”

But it was too late. The man in the suit was already gone.

Who the man was and what he’d really been up to, Rose couldn’t say. On any other day, she might have been inclined to dwell on it further – to try and pinpoint just what exactly it was about the man that conjured up such feelings of dislike and mistrust. But for the moment, Rose had more immediate worries to concern herself with.

It was half-past three and there was still no word from Viktor. Rose couldn’t decide if this was a good sign or not. If the two had returned early, it might have meant the council had rejected Peter’s arguments straight off, effectively crushing Viktor’s last, best hope for avoiding Azkaban. The fact that they’d been gone this long might suggest that the council had at least consented to hear Brooks out – to let him present his case in its entirety. Or maybe they had rejected his argument, and they were at that very moment arranging for Krum to be taken into custody. Was that even possible? Rose didn’t think so, but she couldn’t be sure. Peter had been very clear when he'd said that was Krum’s last shot at freedom. But had he meant that literally? Was it possible that Krum might not return at all?

Rose was so consumed with this one terrible possibility that she almost missed the sound of the front door swinging open. Before she even had the chance to ask what happened, Viktor crossed over to her, scooping her up in his arms, burying his face in her hair.

“We did it, Ginger,” he whispered in her ear. “We actually fucking did it.”

The change in him was immediate. It was as if a weight had been lifted off him. He looked ten years younger and about a thousand times lighter than she ever remembered seeing him. It wasn’t until now, when it was all over, that Rose really understood how much the hearing had been weighing on Viktor. Not that she should have expected anything less. It was just that he so rarely shared his feelings with her, it was easy to forget sometimes that he had any feelings at all.

“Now remember,” Brooks had been quick to remind him. “We aren’t totally out of the woods yet. There’s still the matter of probation to contend with. One toe out of line and they’ll haul your butt back into court so fast, you’ll be lucky not to get whiplash.”

But even that wasn’t enough to dampen Viktor’s spirits. “Peter, the eternal optimist,” Krum had said after Brooks had departed for the evening. “Or maybe that’s just a lawyer’s way of saying job well done.”

But Rose knew what Peter had been trying to get at. The hearing had been a step in the right direction – and an important one at that. But it wasn’t the end of their problems. Not by a long shot.

Not to say that Rose wasn’t feeling relieved herself. How could she not be? Whatever else happened, this was still very, very good news. She was so relieved, in fact, that it wasn’t long before the unsettling encounter with the man in the suit completely slipped her mind.

“We should take a trip,” Viktor declared as they were lying in bed later that evening.

“A trip?” Rose had been browsing through an old copy of Quidditch Teams of Britain and Ireland she’d uncovered in the bottom drawer of Krum’s nightstand, but she set it aside, looking over at him. “You’re not serious, are you?”

“Of course I am. And vhat’s to stop us? With the Ministry business behind us, I’m free to go where I like.”

“But, Viktor—”

“Come on, Rose. Don’t tell me you’re not as sick of this place as I am. We’ve been locked up in here for weeks. A change of pace vould do us both some good. Besides,” he said, leaning over and brushing his lips against her ear. “It could be romantic.”

Rose was about to point out that just because the hearing had gone his way didn’t mean he was free to up and take off whenever he fancied. The terms of his probation had yet to be decided, but somehow Rose doubted that ‘romantic getaways’ were the type of thing the Ministry had in mind. But she didn’t get the chance. Krum had already turned his attention from her neck to her mouth, quickly swallowing any objections she might have been about to raise.

It took him a long moment to realize that she wasn’t kissing him back.

“What’s the matter?” he asked.

“It’s nothing,” Rose said, not quite meeting his eye.

“You’re lying,” he said, but Rose just shrugged. “But aren’t you happy? I thought now that this was all over—”

“Of course I’m happy. I’m very happy. It’s wonderful that things have worked out for you.”

“For us,” he corrected.

“Right. For us.”

“Then what’s the problem?”

“It’s nothing,” she said again. “I guess I’m just a little distracted, is all. It’s been a long day.”

“That it has,” he agreed. “But I think I know just the thing to take you mind off of it.” He leaned in to kiss her again, and this time she turned away, his lips met with nothing but empty air. He let out a long sigh. “All right, Rose. Out with it. Vhat’s going on here?”

“I don’t know.”

“I thought we were okay, you and I. This morning when we kissed, it seemed like you—”

“I know,” Rose said, cutting him off. “I mean, I did. I felt it, and it was nice. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

“I think perhaps I do.” Rose gave him a quizzically look. “It’s because you’re no longer attracted to me.”

“No!” she insisted. “That isn’t it at all.”

“Because I could understand... After seeing me like that, how I might disgust you.” His words were soft, defeated.

“Viktor, how could you even think that? I’ve been here by your side everyday, around the clock. You don’t do that for some who disgusts you.”

“Then what it is?”

“I...” she began again. But she honestly didn’t know. Something felt wrong between them, and as much as she wanted to, she couldn’t make the feeling go away. “I guess I just need more time, is all. To process everything.”

“Time,” he repeated, sounding skeptical. “How much time?”

“I don’t know. I guess as much time as it takes.”

“I think it’s about time I went home,” Rose announced over breakfast the next morning. The two had said little to each other since they’d awoken, last night’s conversation still hanging thick in the air.

“Right now?” Krum asked, eyeing her from across the table.

“Well, no. Not right this second. I meant later tonight. After work.”

“So you’re planning to go into the office then?”

“Well, it is Monday. That is was normal people do on Monday morning.”

“Since when are you a normal person?”

He’d meant it as a joke, but Rose wasn’t laughing. “Since always,” she said. “We aren’t all retired Quidditch players with rich ex-wives, you know. The rest of us have to go out and earn a living.”

“Fine,” Krum said. The smile he gave her was tight, but to his credit, he didn’t take the bait, though it was obvious even to her that Rose was itching for a fight. “I’ll help you get your things packed this evening—”

“I won’t be needing any help, thanks,” she said as she pushed her plate aside and got to her feet. “I’m sure I’ll manage just fine on my own.”

Where her sudden ill-temper came from, Rose couldn’t say, but it followed her around for the remainder of the day, like a black cloud hanging low over her head. Even Heart’s elation at hearing how much progress she’d made on the book wasn’t enough to snap her out of it.

“This is great,” he said after she’d handed over a stack of papers that included a final draft of chapters one and two. “Really excellent work here, Rose.”

“And I should have another chapter done by Friday,” she said.

“Fantastic,” Heart said, flashing her a rare smile. “And here you thought you’d never get it done in time. But what did I tell you, huh? I knew you’d find a way. Must be all that business with Krum’s hearing that’s got you working overtime.” Rose gave him a non-committal shrug, which he didn’t seem to notice. “Only it’s a bit of a shame, isn’t it, that it all got resolved so soon? Mind you, it’s not like I wanted to see the bastard wind up in Azkaban, but we’ve still got a ways until the book’s released. You wouldn’t be willing to flash the camera again, would you? I mean, I wouldn’t say no to another shot of the two of you in your underwear. Less if you can manage it.”

Rose shot him a look.

“Only kidding,” he assured her.

But Rose wasn’t so sure.

By late that evening, Rose was back in her own flat, having made quick work of unpacking the few belongings she’d had with her at Krum’s. Sadly, the familiar surroundings did little to lift her spirits, and as the week dragged on, Rose felt her mood continue to darken.

There was no word at all from Viktor; his sudden absence from her life after all the time they’d spent together was unnerving. More than once she made to reach out, to write him a letter or maybe just to drop by unannounced. But each time something stopped her. Was it that she really wanted to see him, or was she just feeling guilty, anxious over what he might be getting up to now that he was on his own again?

Viktor might have been giving her the silent treatment, but the same couldn’t be said of her family.

Hugo was the first to stop by. He’d wasted no time asking her about Krum, but the question felt perfunctory. It was clear he was a lot more interested in how she was doing.

“I’m fine,” she’d told him, but he hadn’t been convinced.

“You can talk to me about it, you know. Whatever you say, it stays between us.”

“Healer-patient confidentiality?”

Hugo smiled. “Something like that.”

But she’d waved away his concern, telling him not to worry. She was getting on just fine. “Besides,” she said. “I’m the big sister here, remember? I’m the one who’s supposed to be checking up on you.”

“You’ll have plenty of chances for that,” he said. “I’ve no doubt.”

He turned to leave then, but she stopped him. “Hugo?”


“He’s not a bad man, Viktor.”

“I’m sure he’s not.”

“He’s just—”

“I know,” Hugo said. “Besides, you remember what I told you, don’t you?” She shook her head. “You can’t please them all, Rose. You’re the only one of us who’s got to live with the consequences.”

Next up after Hugo came the letter from her mother. Rose knew her brother would never tell their parents about what Krum had done, but it was clear from the tone of her note that her mother was worried. Even Mrs. Larson, her batty downstairs neighbor, seemed to sense that Rose was having a bad go of it. Instead of throwing her usual conniption at the sight of a few stray owls perched outside her window, the woman had taken it upon herself to start collecting Rose’s post and leaving it in neat piles outside her front door. Not exactly an invitation to tea, but Rose appreciated the gesture.

Another week passed and still no word from Krum. Rose was actually starting to wonder if she’d ever see him again when there was a knock at the door. Her heart leapt in her chest, though whether from excitement or dread, she wasn’t sure.

But in the end, it didn’t matter.

“Al!” she cried, pulling open the door.

The look on her face must have told him she’d been expecting someone else because the first words out of his mouth were, “Yep, just me, I’m afraid. Sorry to disappoint. Mind if I come in anyway?” He was dressed in jeans and trainers, tiny droplets of water clinging to the fabric of his coat. Rose hadn’t even realized it was raining.

It took her a second to gather her bearings; for a moment there, she’d been so sure it would be Krum on the other side of the door. But eventually she stepped aside, ushering him in. He peeled of his wet coat and tossed it over a nearby chair.

“This isn’t a bad time, is it?” he asked.

“No, not at all.”

“Because if you’re expecting someone...”

But Rose just shook her head. “Nope. I’m not expecting a soul.” Once they had settled into their usual spot beneath the window, Rose asked, “So, is this a social call, or have you been sent by the family to make sure I’m not contemplating a dive off of any tall bridges?”

“Neither,” he said. “Though if they knew I was here, they’d probably have me checking the place for sharp objects.”

"Or a rope."

"Hmmm...I hadn't thought of that one. I'll make sure to remember that for next time."

“Okay, so if this isn’t a welfare check, then why are you here? If it’s to talk about a certain person I may or may not have been seeing, I’ll tell you now, I’m not in the mood.”

Al laughed. “When is it, exactly, that you became so self-absorbed, Rose?”

“Excuse me?” she said, hands on hips. “And what’s that supposed to mean?”

“I hate to break it to you, but you love life isn’t really my top concern at the moment. In case it you’ve forgotten, I’m getting married tomorrow.”

Rose blinked. “What?”

“So you did forget.” Al just shook his head. “I’ve got to say, Rose. I’m kind of offended here.”

Rose couldn’t believe it. Her cousin – perhaps even her best friend in the world – was getting married tomorrow and it had completely slipped her mind. She’d hardly given his upcoming nuptials or the fact that he was only months away from becoming a father more than a passing thought for weeks. Al was right. When had she become so self-involved?

“Oh my God, Al. You’re right. I’m so sorry. I didn’t even—”

“It’s okay,” he said. “I was only teasing. I mean, not about getting married. That part I’m dead serious about. But I know you’ve had other things on your mind.”

“That’s no excuse. Al, I really am sorry. Truly, I am.”

Al just shrugged. “It’s fine, honest. No permanent damage done.”

And she knew he wasn’t just saying that. He really seemed to mean it. He was smiling at her. More than smiling, he was grinning – that same goofy grin she’d see on Hugo’s face whenever she caught him thinking about Billy. Billy? When was the last time she’d thought to ask Hugo how his own love life was going? What was wrong with her? How had she let her life become so singularly focused on one man? On Krum?

“Earth to Rose,” Al said, waving a hand in front of her face, bringing her back into the present.

“Sorry,” she said. “What were you saying?”

“I asked you if you're planning on showing up tomorrow, or if I’m going to have to give your seat away to that charming woman downstairs. You know, the one with all the cats. I saw her on the way up, and I’ve got to say, that housecoat she’s wearing could really class up this wedding.”

Rose laughed in spite of herself. “Of course I’ll be there. I wouldn’t miss it for anything.”

“Good,” he said, getting to his feet. “Now that that’s settled, I better get going.”

“Already?” she asked. It had been so long since she’d seen her cousin; she realized then how much she’d missed him. Not just over the past few months, but maybe the past few years, as they’d begun to slowly drift apart, life pulling them in opposite directions. And now he was getting married, and Rose suddenly felt like she was about to lose him forever.

“I’m getting married tomorrow, Rose. No offense, but hanging with you isn’t exactly how I pictured spending my last night as a bachelor.”

Rose smiled. “Right, I forgot.”

“See, there you go again. Forgetting my wedding. Be careful or I might just start taking it personally. Oh, and one other thing,” he said as he pulled on his coat, which was still flecked with raindrops. “Do you still have that invitation I gave you?” Rose nodded. “Yeah, well, the offer still stands.”

“What offer?”

“You and a guest. That’s what it said. So, you know, if there was anyone you wanted to bring...”

“I’ll be sure to keep that in mind.”

“You do that,” he said, and he was gone.

It was several hours later, as Rose was lying in bed with nothing but the darkness for company, that an answer came to her.

Seeing Albus had reminded her of something, of the last time he’d dropped by her flat unannounced. She’d had so little patience with him that day, for his ongoing dramas with Amelia. At the time, she’d thought it was simply because she’d heard it all before: the fighting, the threats, the inevitable reconciliation. And surely that was part of it. But maybe there’d been another reason.

She’d done much the same thing to Hugo only a few days later, when he’d tried to open up to her about his relationship with Billy. No more than five minutes into that conversation and Rose had been ready to move on, unable or unwilling to take his declarations of love seriously, knowing how fickle he could be in his affections. But was that really an excuse for being so disinterested?

And what about her parents? How often had she written their relationship off as odd, or else wondered to herself why two so very different people would want to bother working at something that, at times, seemed to make them both so miserable? All the bickering, the disagreements, their inability to see eye-to-eye on almost anything. Surely that wasn’t how love was supposed to look. At least that’s what she’d told herself. Now she wasn’t so sure.

It was easy to believe she’d distanced herself from Viktor because of all they’d been through. That maybe he was right – seeing him lying there on the ground, so helpless, surrounded by his own sick, had changed her feelings towards him. Or else that his relapse had broken some sort of unspoken trust, opening her eyes to what it meant to be involved with a man like Krum. But if that was the case, why hadn’t she bolted weeks ago? Sure, they had the book to finish, but that hardly necessitated her moving in with the man. Brooks had said he needed watching, but he could have hired someone to do that, or else done it himself. But they’d both understood it had to be her – because she was the only one who cared enough to make sure the job was done right.

So what did it all mean? Why had she suddenly felt so compelled to run out on him now that the worst of it was over? He’d run off in some misguided attempt to do what he thought was best for her, but she wasn’t that noble. The thought that he might be better off without her hadn’t even crossed her mind. The real truth was that she’d left because she was scared. The second the hearing was over, the second life had began to look as if it might return to normal, Krum had started talking about their future – about taking romantic trips together. And what had she done? She’d run out of there so fast, she didn’t even have time to consider what it was she was running from.

So there was her sad little truth. Viktor might be the addict, the one who couldn’t get his act together. The one with a string of failed relationships and more demons than he seemed able to handle. But she was the pathetic one. The one who was scared of commitment, of jumping in with both feet. Of ending up with a stupid grin on her face. Scared of falling in love.

Rose flung aside the covers and leapt out of bed. Not bothering with clothes, she grabbed her coat and threw it on over her pajamas. The night air was cold, the rain still falling in heavy sheets, but Rose hardly noticed. Moments later, she was sounding outside Viktor’s flat, pounding her fist against the door so loud she’d be lucky not to wake everyone in the building. And she continued knocking until at last the door swung open.

It was obvious she’d woken him, his hair a mess, his eyes heavy with sleep. But Rose didn’t care. She’d come there to say what it was she had to say, and she wasn’t leaving until it was done.

“It’s late,” she said before he had the chance to ask her what she was doing there at such an hour. “And I’m sorry for that, but this can’t wait until morning.”

“All right,” he said. “What’s going on?”

“There’s something you need to know. Something I need to get off my chest.”

“I’m listening.”

“There are...” she began, but then stopped. Taking a deep breath, she tried again, and this time the words came fast and furious. “There are about a million reasons why you and I shouldn’t be together, do you know that? You’ve done things in your life I don’t approve of – that I’ll never approve of. You can’t seem to stay out of trouble. You make me forget about the other important people in my life. The very thought of you and I together makes my father want to kill himself – or kill you. You have two ex-wives. Two! One whom I’m pretty sure is still in love with you, and another one who I’m pretty sure wants to see you dead.

“No one thinks this is a good idea. Well, maybe Peter, but he’s a lawyer, so his opinion doesn’t count. You and I can’t even go out in public together without causing some sort of stir. That has to say something about us, right?

“And I’ll tell you something else,” she added, pointing a finger at him. “I’m mad at you. I’m mad that you went and did something stupid. Twice, in fact. That fight in the pub – what was the point of that? And then nearly dying, and leaving me to be the one to find you? It was selfish. You’re selfish, and I deserve better than that.

"Oh," she added. "And one more thing. You're too damn old for me."

She paused then to catch her breath. Krum was staring at her, clearly waiting for her to go on. When she didn’t, he asked, “And is that everything?”

“Well, no,” Rose said. “There was more, only I can’t remember what it was. But I think I’ve made my point.”

“I’d say you’ve made it loud and clear. So now what?”

Rose thought on it for a moment. She clearly hadn’t planned this out as well as she’d thought. Still, she’d come this far. No reason to hold back now.

“Now you can answer me one question,” she said.

“And what question is that?”

“Tell me, how do you feel about weddings?”

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