Chapter 12 : The Kids Aren't Alright
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I sucked in a deep breath as grandmother's seamstress, Madam Mathers, zipped up my long evening dress. It fit perfectly as long as I didn't eat, drink, or breathe all night.
"Is there anyway to expand it a bit?" I gasped, knowing that if I breathed something would pop.
"Sorry, Miss Fawley," she replied, unzipping the dress again. I took a breath of relief. "Your grandmother made it clear I was not to expand the dress, saying it would compromise the fabric."
I sighed, stepping out of the dark blue silk. Grandmother was never satisfied with anyone's appearance. She always bought me clothes in sizes too small, claiming it gave me a goal.
"She suggested skipping out on dessert for the next few days," Madam Mathers added as though she was helping.
"Thank you," I said stiffly. "I think we're done then."
Madam Mathers nodded and collected her tape measures, fabric, and sewing tools. After she left, I hung the long, blue silk ballgown in my closet. It was meant for the New Year's Eve party in two days, and grandmother kept stressing how important it was that I looked absolutely perfect.
"Miss Fawley, dinner is ready," Nina said outside my door.
"I'll be down in a moment," I promised.
Ever since I had seen my father in bed with another woman, I had been avoiding my parents, only coming down for dinner. I couldn't look either of them in the eye. Eventually, I knew I would have to tell my mother. Her reaction would be devastating, as she loved her idea of a perfect family, but it would eat me alive if I didn't tell her soon.
"There you are, Carina," mother greeted when I walked into the dining room ten minutes later. "I was about to have Nina come get you."
"Sorry, mother," I mumbled, avoiding her eye and sitting in my chair.
"Studying, I assume?" father asked with a booming laugh. I nodded meekly. "Norma, how did we raise such an intelligent young lady."
I stabbed a piece of broccoli angrily. I desperately wanted to shout that my intelligence had nothing to do with him, as he was a complete moron. I wanted to tell my mother what he was doing and then shout some more about how horrible what he was doing was.
But I didn't. Instead, I just smiled and nodded as usual.
Later that night, I couldn't sleep, for I was anxiously going over every scenerio that could happen with my family. One scenerio saw me keeping the secret, our family remaining intact, and me dying three months later of an anyerism. That was the best case scenerio.
I threw my sheets off of me and decided to walk to the kitchen. Nina always kept a few sleeping draughts in the medicine cabinent, and I figured I needed at least four to get a good night's sleep.
The light was already on in the kitchen when I walked in. Sitting at the bar was two empty bottles, going on three as mother poured the last bit of one into her glass. Her blonde hair was wild and the bags under her eyes were dark as night. I had never seen her have so much as a loose strand of hair, so this was a change.
"Mother?" I asked cautiously.
She jumped. "Oh, Carina, it's you. Why are you up so late?"
I could have asked her the same question. "Just getting some water."
"Oh, I was just...," she looked nervouly at the three empty bottles, "getting a nightcap."
I poured myself a glass of water, and I was going to return to my room. I really was. This was not the time to tell my mother about her husband's affair. Obviously, she was already having problems, but there would never be a right time to tell her.
"Mother," I said, turning around. "I need to tell you something."
"What is it, darling?"
"Well, this is hard for me to say, but I can't hide it any longer-"
"You're pregnant!" she gasped.
"No, mother, I-"
"Scorpius is the father-"
"Mother, if you would just-"
"No, darling, it really is okay. This happens all the time."
"I wanted to move the wedding up anyway. This summer?"
"I must write Astoria-"
She started fumbling around for a quill and parchment, talking a million words a minute. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore.
"Father's cheating on you!" I shouted over her mutterings.
She dropped her glass on the floor, shards scattering on the floor. "What?"
"I'm sorry, mother, but father's cheating on you," I repeated slowly.
Mother's face returned to its natural stone cold form. She cleaned up the glass, saying, "And what makes you say that, darling?"
"I... I saw them- him with another women. They were... together," I stuttered. It was like mother to hide her emotions, but this was unusual for her.
"Where?" she demanded, her voice raising an octave.
"In the guest bedroom in the East wing," I explained.
Oddly, her face seemed to... relax. She sighed, "I told him he was meant to confine himself to the West wing when he was with her."
I stared blankly at her, trying to understand what she had just said. "You... you knew?"
"Of course I knew, darling. Your father and I haven't shared a bed in years," she explained, not noticing the look of horror on my face. "We stay together for appearances. Oh, and for you of course." She rubbed my shoulder lightly. "You were never meant to find out. I'll be sure to talk to your father about keeping his infedelity to one room in the house."
As she walked out of the room, I finally gained control of my speech.
"So you're okay with this?"
She turned around to lock her emotionless eyes with mine. "Of course. It's perfectly normal, dear. You'll understand soon enough." Mother gave a weak smile before gliding out of the room.
I had never felt more suffocated in my own home.
Every year, the Carrows threw a giant New Year's Eve party. It wasn't just for The Sacred Twenty-Eight Club, it was for every pureblood family in Europe. This, of course, meant I had to look absolutely perfect because I wasn'tjust representing the Fawley name, I was also representing all of England. At least that was what grandmother always said.
I twirled around in my floorlength mirror, looking for any small detail that grandmother might find, which she always did. Not a single golden lock of my hair was out of place, my make up was flawless, and my dress fit perfectly. Though I was sure grandmother would find something.
I took a deep breath, telling myself it was only one night. After this, I only had a few days left in this house, and I would be free.
With that in mind, I put on my best fake smile and made my way downstairs. Mother, father, grandmother, and grandfather were dressed in there gowns and dress robes. They turned to watch me descend the stairs. I reluctantly took father's offered arm, and he escorted me to the others.
"Carina, you look absolutely lovely," mother gushed, embracing me.
I hadn't spoken t her since the other night, but I politely replied, "Thank you."
Grandmother pursed her lips and circled me, similar to a Chimaera before it attacks its prey. "I suppose you will do," she decided finally.
I wasn't sure if I should thank her, though truthfully that was the closest I had ever gotten to recieving a compliment from her, so I noddded politely.
"Norma, is the portkey ready?" grandmother asked.
Mother pulled out and old pocketwatch that was turing blue. "Yes, it's about to leave."
Everyone gathered around to touch the prtkey. Briefly I considered accidentally forgetting to touch it, but chickened out at the last minute. I was able to touch my index finger to it just as it started to disappear.
I felt the familiar tug in my naval as the portkey transported us the Carrow's manor. We landed by the dark iron gates of their estate. Lights were coming from all windows. It shuld have been a joyous occasion, but it made me sick. How was I ever supposed to have a good time knowing who these people really were? Meanwhile, my parents were pretnding they were as happy as the day they married.
Grandmother insisted I fix my hair before we knocked on the door. If I wasn't already comitted to Scorpius, I would have sworn she was trying to set me up with an eligble bachelor tonight.
Father knocked on the door, and we were immediately greeted by the fake pleasant smile of Thantos Carrow.
"Sullivan," he boomed, giving father a firm handshake. "And Norma, you look absolutely lovely."
"Oh stop, Thantos," she laughed, as he kissed her cheek.
"Please, come in."
The whole Carrow family was lined in the entrance ready to greet guests, a tradition for any pureblood gathering. We all went down the line, kissing and shaking hands, with me trailing at the end. Dexter Carrow seemed agitated that he was here instead of the party, but Midnight was absolutely glowing.
A mental case or not, Midnight Carrow was absolutely gorgeous. Tonight, she had her thick, dark hair pin straight and hanging to her waist. Her long, elegant frame was dressed in a beuatiful black silk dress, with white elbow length gloves to pair with it.
"Carina," she greeted me poshly, ebracing me with a kiss on both cheeks. "You look absolutely stunning."
"Thank you, Midnight. You look wonderful," I said with as much enthusiasm as I could. Frankly, I was just trying to not sound as dead as I felt inside.
"Enjoy your night," she said with a gleaming smile.
We were then escorted into the ballroom, where the Carrows had really gone all out. The room was lit by a giant chandilier, which gave the room a golden glow. Hundreds of purebloods were talking and dancing, while waitstaff walked around, serving glasses of champagne.
I locked eye with the bar on the otherside of the room, planning to make my way over there as soon as possible.
"-and that Midnight is such a lovely girl. Carina, you could definitely learn something."
"Oh yes, absolutley lovely," I said absentmindedly. I was looking for Scorpius, who was usually a saving grace at these things, but he was nowhere to be found.
"Oh, there you are, Delphius!" grandmother exclaimed, embracing a handsome blonde man. Grandfather shook his hand, while mother gave him a tight smile, barely allowing him to kiss her cheek.
Uncle Delpius was mother's brother and the golden child of the Rowle family. He was handsome and charming, which was no doubt where Jesse got it from. Growing up he was the top of his class, Head Boy, and he married a Selwyn. Grandmother culd not have asked for a more perfect child.
"Is this Carina?" he gasped, taking a step back as if to get a better look at me. "My goodness, you have turned into such a lovely young lady." He kissed my hand and clasped it. "You'll make a lucky lad happy someday."
It took all of my willpower not to roll my eyes at that.
"Speaking of which, Carina darling, there are some people I would lie to inroduce you to," grandmother said taking my arm.
She put on her time-to-impress smile and led me to a family from Bulgaria, the Dragovs. They were all the rave in Bulgaria, supposedly. Something about a great-great-great-great-great grandfather making a potion, and now the whole family had galleons coming out of their... pockets.
"Calista!" an elderly man with a short beard boomed when he saw us. He was clearly intoxicated, as he planted a sloppy kiss on her cheek.
"Ivan, always a delight," grandmother replied, slightly nudging me forward.
"And who is this lovely lady?" he asked, turning to me.
Grandmother pushed me forward, as though putting me on display. "This is Carina, my grandaughter who I told you about."
"You did not mentio just how beautiful she is though," he talked to me now, "Miss Carina, it is a pleasure." He kissed my hand.
"Pleasure to meet you as well," I lied. Something about this situation made me uncomfortable, like grandmother was plotting something. I just didn't know what.
"Don't you have a grandson her age?" grandmother asked innocently. "Perhaps they could dance together."
Well, that explained it. Grandmother was trying to bid me off to some rich pureblood family. Why did I not see that coming?
"Of course. I'm sure he would love to dance with the prettiest lady in the room. Aleksander!" He waved over a burly dark-haired boy. "Aleksander, this is Carina."
"Pleasure to meet you," he said smoothly, bending to kiss my hand while keeping eye contact. "Would you like to dance?"
"She would love to," grandmother said, practically pushing me into him.
We went into the middle of the dancefloor, and he put his hands safely on the middle of my waist. I awkwardly left my hands on his shoulder, hopinhg I would only have to dance for one song.
After a bit of silence, I decided to make small talk. "So... you speak English very well," I said, mentally punching myself for not coming up with literally anything else. "I hardly notice your accent."
"Thank you," he replied politely. "My whole family started our English training young."
"Ah." I chewed my lip nervously, for awkward silences made me extremely unconfortable. "So-"
"Let me stop you there," he cut in. "We both know that our grandparents set this up, and I know you don't want to be here anymore than I do."
"That's not true," I lied.
He rolled his eyes. "Please, your grandmother has been talking you up to every family with an eliglble bachelor. Mine has too. However, you're not my type."
"What is that supposed t mean?" I demanded. For some reason, I found myself offended, even though I had no interest in him.
"You seem like you're high maintenence, for one. I need a wife who asks how high when I tell her to jump. You'd probably demand that I say please, or refuse out of spite. I don't want that aggrivation," he told me. His hands glided lower in my waist. "Not that you don't look the part. Maybe when I do business in England, we could..."
And in that moment, a miracle happened. The song changed, and I quickly pushed his hands off of me before I had to punch him in the face.
"I'll keep that in mind," I spat. "Pleasure meeting you."
I stormed off towards the bar. My grandmother was absolutely mental. Was there anything that would please her? She knew I was supposed to be with Scorpius, but she was auctioning me off to the highest bidder.
Well, I refused to be apart of anymore sick, twisted pureblood games.
"Scorpius!" I cried, catching a glimpse of his platinum hair.
"Carina." He embraced me. His pointed face was paler, and he had dark circles under his eyes.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I just haven't gotten much sleep." He scratched the back of his head.
He looked both ways before leaning in to whisper, "Rose and I broke up."
"What why?" I hissed. "I thought you loved her."
"Please," he scoffed, "I realized that this was just my way of rebelling, but I've finally grown up, you know? You're who I was meant to be with, and I just want to apologize for getting sidetracked, especially when you've been so faithful."
My heart was breaking over and over. Scorpius had finally fully given into the Sacred Twenty-Eight Club. He'd thrown away his happiness with no regard. Did he not realize what this life meant? Everyone throws away common morals because their last name means something.
I wanted to scream at him to stop and get Rose back before it was too late, but when I saw how empty his gray eyes were, I knew it already was. And after all that had happened with James, a part of me wanted to give in like Scorpius. It would be so much easier, so I let him do what he thought was right.
"It's okay, Scorpius," I said, hugging him.
"Yeah," he said slowly. "I've got to find mother." He kissed my cheek and disappeared into the crowd.
I finally made it to the bar and ordered a firewhiskey. Then, I ordered another. Three seats down from me, a girl in a red ballgown looked to be half passed out on the table. After a couple of seconds, I recognized it to be Ophelia. Against my judgement, I moved down next to her.
"Hey, Ophelia," I greeted her slowly.
"Oh," she gasped, quickly fixing her hair. "Carina, darling!" she hugged me. "I've missed you."
"I've missed you too," I said, though if I was being honest I had almost forgotten about her. "What are yuo doing over here?"
"Oh, well, I was with Damien, but you know how he likes his hiding games," she said, waving her hand.
"Right." Nothing made Damien happier than hiding, from Opheila that is.
"You don't have to pretend," she said, her voice drained of its normal cheeriness.
"Come on," she scoffed. "I may not be in Ravenclaw, but I'm not an idiot. I know he doesn't love me." She whispered the last bit, looking at her hands. "He's only with me because his parents make him."
"I'm sure that's not true..."
"Please." She rolled her eyes and took another sip of her drink. "The sad thing is that I know he doesn't love me, but I still love him. And I know he doesn't want to marry me, but I can't help feeling that eventually he'll fall in love with me." She shook her head and gave a short laugh. "Gosh, does that sound crazy?"
"No. No, it doesn't," I whispered, looking at the table.
For the first time I was seeing Ophelia in a different light. She was just a sad girl, who wanted love. I had always thought I was the only one not happy with life in The Sacred Twenty-Eight Club, but maybe people were just better at kidding themselves.
"He's not always like this," she continued. "Sometimes we'll be alone, and he'll play with my hair, or kiss me, or just talk. Just having him around is enough for now. He'll love me eventually. I just know it..."
She slumped against her hand almost passed out, and I knew she wouldn't remember this conversation in the morning.
"There you are, Carina," father called as I found my family again. "You remember Crux and Melanie Lestrange, yes?" He gestured t the elderly man and his young, beautiful wife.
"I don't think we've met, I'm Melanie," she said, extending her hand.
I had, however, met her. I would recognize her mahogany hair anywhere. My father was introducing me to his mistress. Mother was standing right next to him as though this wasn't absolutely crazy.
"Carina, pleasure to meet you," I said, my voice raising an octave.
And just when I was on the verge of losing it, grandmother showed up with a handsome Frech boy. "Carina, there is someone I want to meet-"
"I have to use the loo," I interupted.
Grandmother blinked before scolding me. "Carina-"
But I was already halfway across the room. By the time I was in the lawn, I was sprinting. When I was far enough away, I stopped to breathe, which led to me sobbing.
When did everything get so screwed up? Why did it take me this long to discover how screwed up everything was?
I had no answers, but I knew I couldn't go back to my house. I doubted I could ever go back there, but I didn't know where I could go. Suddenly, there was only one person that I wanted to talk to.
Without a second thought, I apparated to their house, quickly knocking on their door and hoping they were here. It was well passed midnight by now.
The door opened finally.
A/N: Apologies as usual for taking forever! This chapter has been half written on my laptop for forever!
Anyways, what did you think? This chapter was actually one of the first that I thought about when I came up with this story, so I was so excited to finally write it!
I know James wasn't really in these past two chapter, but I promise he's coming back in the next one!
And lastly, who do you think is at the door? Let me know what you thought!
P.S. The chapter title is based off of the Fall Out Boy song of the same name.
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