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lessons in scarring your parents

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I must be honest, I’m a little bit drunk. My father always lets me have a drink at family functions, and new year is no exception. 


We’re having a quiet one, this year — just my father, Daphne, my siblings and I — even my aunt Fiona, remarkably, decided to bless us with her presence. (Usually, she’ll be out having a celebratory piss-up; most years she won’t even call me to wish me a happy new year until at least the third.)


I’m on my fourth, or maybe fifth, glass of champagne by the time it’s midnight. The children are marched off to bed not much long after, and the rest of us are free to sit back and chat mindlessly. It’s all surprisingly pleasant — Fiona hasn’t antagonised anyone yet, and even my father is in an unnervingly good mood. He’s busy recalling a story from his Watford days, about some trouble he and his friends got into for getting drunk in the woods in their eighth year (I can’t even imagine my father being fun , but I’m nearly convinced). 


My phone buzzes from my lap. Snow’s been texting me all evening — he’s attending a remarkably boring new year’s party with the Wellbeloves, or so he told me when I snuck off to call him just after midnight.


It’s probably rude to keep responding to him in the middle of my father's story, but I’m completely whipped and not ashamed to admit it. Ever since Simon and I got together back in October, when I returned to Watford six weeks late, I’ve been wrapped around his little finger. I’d shave my head if he asked me to.


I’m crafting a sarcastic reply to a rant about Agatha’s relatives — who apparently won’t stop pinching his cheeks and talking about how handsome he is — when Fiona decides she hasn’t been enough of an annoying arse so far this evening. 


She’s leaning forward in her chair, glass tipping precariously. “What you smirking at, boyo?”


Bitch. She knows exactly what I’m smirking at. She’s the only person I’ve told about Simon — she can read me like a book, and I snapped in under an hour. Alone in the car with her when she picked me up from Watford at the end of term, I didn’t stand a chance. 


“Nothing.” I hiss. “Mind your own business.”


“No need to be so defensive, kid. I’m just curious about how my favourite nephew has been doing lately.” Fiona says, slyly. There’s a glint in her eyes that I’m probably going to strangle out of her later. 


Unfortunately, Daphne hasn’t caught on to the murderous glare I’m sending my aunt’s way. “She’s right, love. Why don’t you tell us about how your term has been?”


“It was fine.” I say, sharply. 


“Come on, Basil. It’s been a good year. Why don’t you show us some pictures?” Daphne insists.


Good year my arse. I spent a sixth of it in a coffin under a bridge, but I suppose we’re ignoring that now just like everything else.


And now she wants me to show them pictures. I guess it’s a thing that we have — when I was thirteen I got a camera for Christmas, and I spent the following year taking hundreds of magickal 3D photos everywhere I went. The next new year, I made a slideshow of all the highlights, and ever since then Daphne has asked me to share my photo highlights on new year’s eve. 


I’d kind of assumed I’d grown out of it, by now, but there’s a maternal softness in Daphne that I don’t think I’ll ever outgrow, no matter how many inches of height I have over her. 


Fiona’s still smirking at me like she’s having the time of her life, and my father has adopted a silently curious attention — I don’t think I’m getting out of this.


I’ll just share some pictures from my phone, and then they’ll get off my back. I can go back to silently texting my boyfriend and getting drunk on overpriced champagne.


“Fine, alright.” I mutter, and Daphne and Fiona practically trip over one another to crowd around my chair. My father stands, as distinguished as ever, and follows them over not a minute later. 


There’s not much in my camera roll. I keep all my pictures of Simon in a magickally locked folder in case anyone were to somehow hack my iCloud. (Can never be too careful.) It’s mostly sunset pictures over the Watford ground, pictures from footy, and other random scenery from weekend breaks we’ve taken as a family.


When I open the app, though, a new folder appears — 2015 highlights. From the preview, it’s just picked out all of the most pretentious landscape photos I’ve taken and combined them into a video.


I click on it, and some randomly generated music starts playing from my phone speaker. On the screen, a picture of rolling hills from the new year’s hike I took with Dev.


It’s boring as fuck, watching this back, but Daphne seems plenty invested. A picture Simon took of me playing football, a video of the rain hitting the window of our room in Mummers’, Dev and I sitting in a picturesque little outdoor bar in France at the beginning of last summer.


I’m so zoned out, half-way through, that I register Daphne’s gasp and Fiona’s raucous laughter before I even realise what it is they’ve seen. When I do, I slam my phone down screen-first onto my lap so fast that I almost throw it across the living room. 


A video. Me, laid on my back in bed, completely fucking naked. 


I’d almost call it a blessing, that my dick was not visible in the footage, if it weren’t for the fact that the reason it’s not visible is because it’s buried in the back of Simon Snow’s throat. 


Amongst the horror of it all, I recognise the video. Only a couple of weeks old; the blowjob was Snow’s way of telling me he’d miss me over Christmas break. (Well, that and the sloppy, slightly disgusting kiss he gave me after the fact.)


In the revelry of my post-orgasm bliss, I’d forgotten I’d even recorded the video.


Aleister fucking Crowley.


I don’t have enough strength in me to turn around to see my family’s reactions. Based on the choking laughter I’m registering in the back of my head, I’d say Fiona is currently keeled over on the floor behind me. I felt the motion of Daphne slap her hand over her mouth a moment ago, and she hasn’t made another noise since.


Not a single sound from my father. I’m a little worried that he might have died of shock.


I sit there in silence so long I think I might be willing myself to disappear. Daphne moves first, says, “Well. Thank you for showing us your pictures, darling.” So sweetly, like she’s very much planning on pretending this never happened. (For my sake, I think. I don’t appreciate her enough.)


“You’re welcome.” I say, rigidly, and I stand up ram-rod straight from my chair and turn to march off to my room. “I’m feeling rather tired. Goodnight.” 


Fiona is so red-faced from laughter she might burst a blood vessel. My father, on the other hand, is still half leaning against the back of my chair, staring emptily into the middle of the room. I think I might have broken him. 


I text Simon, in horror, once I’m in the safety of my bedroom. His only response is a most reassuring: hahahahah well at least they know now.


Very fucking easy for him to say. I bury my head in my pillow and groan loudly. Fiona is never going to let me forget this.