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Chapter 24: Now What?
Uh…I hope you remember this story. And me.
It's been a VERY LONG time after all. But I am back. And so is my beta Jackie! She truly refined this chapter!
Had updated the news on my Author's page, so those who've read it would know about the delay!
This one's dedicated to all those who have been reading this rather over-dramatic, depressing, dry and unrealistic story with bizarre characters despite the long delays in updating!
Disclaimer: Everything recognizable belongs to JK Rowling. Copyright infringement is unintended!
24. Now What?
For the second consecutive morning Rose woke up with a splitting headache. Massaging her forehead with her fingers, she raised herself off what seemed to be the couch. She opened her eyes, shielding them for a second as the bright morning sunshine filtering in from the French windows touched her face.
She turned to look at the clock on the mantle and saw that it was well past seven. It took microseconds for the events of last night to return to her, the harsh reality crashing down on her head.
Her shoulders sagged and her eyes burned as Scorpius' harsh words echoed in her mind.
"I'll get up by ten. I want you gone by then."
"My Rose wouldn't have cheated on me. But then you aren't my Rose now, are you? You've never been so."
She never imagined they'd reach a point in their marriage when things would be so strained and so awful that she would be commanded to leave the house.
She pressed her palm to her forehead and closed her eyes, breathing deeply as she pondered over what to do next.
She knew Scorpius was in a terrible mood. He thought she cheated on him. But she didn't really know if he'd really meant it when he said he wanted her to leave.
She didn't understand why Scorpius wouldn't or didn't believe a word that came out of her mouth. They had been best friends for so long that she safely assumed that he would be able to tell when she lied and when she didn't.
However, every bit of proof that he had went completely against her. The only people who could convince him that she was innocent were the two people she did not want to see again.
If Lily wasn't at home, more likely than not she wouldn't be at her boutique either.
Rose knew that Lily loved Amelia very dearly. She really couldn't fathom why Lily behaved the way she did. Was it to get back at her in some way? Or was it because of her sense of justice as Ryan had claimed?
But then she was helping Ryan of all people! Ryan Smith had shattered her heart like no one had. When and how did she find the heart and courage to forgive him? Or was it because she never got over him? She never denied that they had slept together.
Her head pounded as a myriad of thoughts regarding Lily flooded her mind, and she shook her head trying to clear her mind of her thoughts.
She got up from the couch and moved towards the kitchen, pulling a bottle of water out. She shivered as ice-cold water ran down her throat. But her objective had been achieved. Her head was finally clear.
Hey eyes fell on a fridge magnet, which framed a small photo of her and Scorpius at their wedding; her memories of that day crowded out all other thoughts, and she found herself nostalgically reminiscing.
It had been a simple wedding, perhaps the simplest she'd ever heard of. They had gotten married in a small ceremony at the Burrow, which consisted of their parents' immediate family and closest friends. Rose remembered the sweaty palms and the butterflies that had been fluttering around like crazy in her stomach as she had been waiting for her cue to walk down the aisle. Her mind was buzzing with thoughts and doubts making her wonder if marrying Scorpius was the best thing to do. She had felt her insides twisting inside brutally as she had felt her father take her arm, his eyes wide and shining. And then while walking down the aisle she had seen Scorpius standing at the end of it, looking unbelievably smashing in his black wedding robes. His eyes had gone a little wide at the sight of her, and a huge smile had broken on his face.
And suddenly, the world had righted itself. She could finally breathe easily. Her head finally felt light and clear. She had realized that her decision to get married was not the wrong one. He was her best friend. She couldn't have been happier with anybody else! Perhaps she and Scorpius were always meant to be together.
She remembered the moment when her father gave her hand to Scorpius. And how Scorpius had held her hand as they stood in front of the vicar, exchanging their vows. She remembered looking right into Scorpius' pale blue eyes as she recited her vows, his eyes silently promising her that he would do anything to make her happy and that he would always be there for her.
She bit her lip as tears threatened to spill over, wondering if this was the end of her and Scorpius. You're being silly! It is a temporary thing! Scorpius will come into his senses in a few days! That is what always happens with him. Do not think too much! a voice in her head chided.
But she could not ignore one thing: Scorpius had asked her to leave. Temporary or not, she should leave the house now. If Scorpius didn't mean what he had said last night, he would indeed call her back.
But if he didn't…
Not wanting to dwell on the ominous thought, she thought of the various places she could stay. Her parents' house was completely out of question for she knew that her father would bring the skies down or overreact to the entire situation. Or both.
Albus' place was equally off-limits for obvious reasons too.
As she ticked off more and more places, she became frustrated. The only option that made sense was moving into a motel of sorts.
There is always the Leaky Cauldron.
She knew that moving into The Leaky Cauldron was a big risk in its own way since Hannah Longbottom, the owner, was friends with her parents, and was Elora's mother and Albus' mother-in-law.
But then, Leaky Cauldron was one of the safest Wizarding hotels. And Hannah could always baby-sit Amelia when Rose went to work. And she was sure that Hannah could keep her stay a secret if she asked.
Her eyes flickered to the clock, feeling miserable, drained, lost and confused. It was nearly quarter to eight.
She slowly moved towards the stairs, figuring that if she had to leave, it should be before Amelia wakes up.
Rose sniffed softly as she unpacked her clothes and placed them in the cupboard of the room they were staying in, dabbing at her eyes impatiently.
She felt downright sick and disgusted. The idea of not having Scorpius in her life anymore was extremely disturbing. She didn't know how she'd survive if Scorpius actually decided to end things with her. She couldn't live without him. She just couldn't.
"Mamma?" She turned to see her daughter looking around the room in utter confusion.
"Hello bear," murmured Rose, moving to the king size bed to pick her daughter up. "Have a good sleep?"
Amelia merely looked at her, before she fidgeted in her arms, "Daddy!" she squealed.
"Daddy's at work, darling!" said Rose, her voice cracking as her heart contracted very painfully at thought of Scorpius and Amelia not seeing each other anymore. "You'll see him later. Now come on, let's get you something to eat! Aren't you hungry?"
"Hungree!" squeaked Amelia happily.
Rose smiled painfully at her daughter before setting up Amelia's high chair. A loud knock on the door of the room startled her.
"It's me!" Hannah Longbottom's voice floated through the door.
"Come in!" Rose replied, before fixing the bib around Amelia's neck.
`The door opened to reveal Hannah with a tray of breakfast. The older woman smiled kindly at Rose and Amelia. Rose tried to return the gesture but her heart and mind were so anguished it came out more like a grimace.
"Good morning, Amelia!" said Hannah brightly, placing the breakfast tray on a table. "Guess who made your breakfast today!" The little girl stared curiously at her, trying to figure out if the woman in front of her was her Aunt Elora.
Hannah handed the bowl of cereal to Rose, who took it and started feeding Amelia. "I've informed Elora that you are here. She said she'll be here in a while," Hannah said slowly. "Rose, are you sure you don't want to talk—?"
"I'm positive," said Rose firmly, keeping her eyes fixed on her daughter. She felt Hannah's eyes on her face, questioning, kind and sympathetic. Then turning to face her, Rose said, "Listen, I am really sorry. Not many people know about this situation between me and Scorpius, and I would really like to keep it that way."
Hannah nodded. "That's alright, dear."
"And thank you for not telling Mum and Dad, either. I really appreciate it."
Hannah smiled. "It's my duty to safeguard the privacy of my customers. And anyway, I know whatever this is, it's temporary."
"You think?" asked Rose hopefully, willing to listen to anyone and everyone who could convince her it wasn't over between her and Scorpius.
"I have seen you and Scorpius together. I have heard about you and Scorpius since you were at school. I have rarely seen two people who deserved to be together more than you both. So don't worry much. Everything will fall in place soon enough." Rose smiled weakly at her. Hannah smiled back. "If there's anything else you need, let me know, alright? I need to go now. Being the landlady of this place keeps you on your toes!"
Rose nodded at her and watched her leave through the door before sighing heavily; she was still scared of the outcome, but now couldn't help but feel a little hopeful about the situation.
Rose had just finished feeding Amelia and was wiping her mouth with a napkin when someone knocked again on the door.
"Rose, open up! It's me!" came Elora's concerned voice from outside her room. Feeling relief break out all over her as she finally had someone she could talk to, she walked towards the door.
She had just opened it to let in Elora when a figure at the end of the corridor made her freeze where she stood. Her blood ran cold as her mouth fell open in horror. Elora turned and her eyes widened as she too looked at the person who seemed to have followed her.
"What the hell is going on here, Rose?" Albus Potter demanded as he approached them slowly, his green eyes worried.
Scorpius' eye twitched as the watch on the bed-side table beeped. He turned to look at it and felt his insides twist uncomfortably as the watch now blinked ten. He got up slowly, a sense of foreboding gnawing at him. He had been up for hours. As a matter of fact, he had a very restless night; he fell in and out of sleep the entire time.
He had been straining his ear for a long time now, trying to hear some commotion outside that would let him know that Rose had left the place, but Amelia not turning up around nine to wake him up confirmed it. All he now needed to do was walk outside and see if his wife and daughter were really there indeed.
He slowly pushed off his bedcovers, feeling nauseous as he walked towards the door of his bedroom. He slowly opened it and walked towards Amelia's room.
His heart nearly stopped at the sight of Amelia's empty bed. All her toys were gone. And the room was as immaculately clean. In fact it looked like it hadn't been used at all.
He leaned against the wall, and slid down to the floor, desperately trying to ignore the tears pricking his eyes. What are you feeling upset about? You were the one who told them to leave! came a snide voice in his head. He had desperately wanted to believe what Rose had said about her being in love with him and not Ryan; about her not cheating on him with Ryan. But he couldn't.
Smith was everything he wasn't. That git still loved Rose. And he could provide her with more than Scorpius could. Rose had claimed that she was in love with him while she was dating him. Even in the first few months of their marriage, Scorpius had thought that she wasn't completely over Ryan. Ryan was Amelia's biological father. And from what he could fathom the previous night, she did meet Smith behind his back and perhaps had gotten more than acquainted with him.
If that had happened, who was he, Scorpius Malfoy, to try and stop anything from happening further?
If he had his way, he would have killed Ryan months ago so that he could have Rose and Amelia to himself for the rest of his life. But then he was a person in love. And the thing that ranked the highest on his list of priorities was Rose's happiness.
Maybe Rose was feeling conflicted and embarrassed right now. There had been times in the past when she had done things that went against her morals and had been completely mortified and ashamed of herself. He knew he couldn't make the decisions for her, but he could push her towards what he thought was the right one.
He exhaled loudly, a very unpleasant sensation running down his spine as he realized what he will have to do. The crushing sensation had returned in full force and for the first time since he came back from his mission, he wished he was dead instead. At least he wouldn't have had to suffer the pain that he'd suffer when his wife and daughter weren't a part of his life anymore.
"Did you follow me here?" screeched Elora shrilly.
"I overheard you talking to Hannah at the fire grate," sputtered Albus, his eyes still wide in surprise. "Didn't believe it. So I followed you here. Rose—What—seriously, what are you doing here?"
Rose just stared at Albus, feeling extremely numb. Had the moment to tell him the truth finally arrived?
"We better get inside before somebody sees us," said Elora hurriedly, before she pushed Albus inside the room and closed the door behind her.
"Amy's here as well?" exclaimed Albus in a louder voice as he saw Amelia seated in the high chair. The little girl grinned at him, flexing her arms towards her godfather, requesting him to pick her up.
"Oh shut it, you!" retorted Elora irritably. "You'll wake up the dead if you continue squealing like that!"
Rose started feeling extremely hot around the neck, the nausea all of a sudden returning once again. Albus visibly calmed himself.
"Rose, love: Why are you here?" asked Albus softly, as he walked towards her, placing his hands in her shoulders.
Rose hesitated. "Scorpius threw me out of the house." Albus's eyes widened even further—if that was even possible—looking at her questioningly, clearly asking why. Rose took a deep breath and looked right into his green eyes. This was it. She didn't know what will happen after she told him the truth, but she couldn't stand hiding things from him any longer. "He believes I cheated on him with Ryan Smith."
Albus gaped at her, his mouth opening and closing soundlessly. "Is this supposed to be some kind of a sick joke?" Rose looked at him in surprise as Elora rolled her eyes. "I mean," Albus added, "You can obviously cheat on somebody who is better than that guy? Anyone is better than that guy! But you haven't cheated on him!" A pause. "Have you?"
"No I did not! I told him as much."
"And he doesn't believe you?" Rose shook her head, her lips pressed in a thin line. Fury flooded her veins as she was yet again reminded that Scorpius didn't trust her. "But why- Wait! How did he come to conclusion that there was something going on between you and Smith of all people?"
Rose opened her mouth and then closed it, not knowing what exactly to say. She turned to look at Amelia, who was looking at them with her nose scrunched up. It was a good thing that her daughter was too young to understand any of what was going on now. "Amelia isn't Scorpius' daughter," said Rose, turning to look back at Albus.
"Say what now?" Albus croaked, looking at her in horror.
"Scorpius is not Amelia's biological father," Rose repeated tiredly.
"Then who is her father?" he nearly shouted, looking as if he wasn't buying her story.
"Ryan Smith," said Rose calmly as she looked right into his eyes.
It was really odd, this moment. For over two years, she had been petrified of telling Albus the entire truth because she knew just how much he hated Ryan. And now she was feeling oddly at peace despite the fact that her husband had already thrown her out of the house and had told Albus the truth.
Albus stared back at her, his face devoid of any emotion. Elora came forward, looking extremely concerned. "Albus, are you all right?" she asked softly, placing her hand on his shoulder.
"I need to sit down," he muttered after a few seconds, allowing himself to be dragged to the bed where he sat down and gazed at the floor.
"Ryan and I dated for almost a year," continued Rose, taking advantage of his silence, "I dated him despite his history with our family which is why our relationship was kept a secret. Whatever I had with him, it was perfect. I thought that he was the one. I loved him. I really did. But then he had to choose between me and Quidditch. He chose Quidditch. About a week after we broke up, I discovered that I was pregnant. I was scared, lost and confused. I knew I wanted to keep the child. I could not have given the baby up. I wanted to talk to you and let you know. Believe me, I really did. But then I was so scared that you might hate me because I was carrying Ryan's child. I had already lost Ryan. I could not have lost you too, you're my cousin and best friend! Scorpius heard me out. He was mad at first when I told him about Ryan, but he decided that he will be there for me to help me out. He offered to marry me and raise the child with him. I could not have said no. And that's how the entire world came to know Amelia as Scorpius's daughter." Rose paused to look at Albus. He was still facing the floor, only that his eyes were closed. His head was shaking his head, as if not wanting to believe what she had been saying. "Scorpius and I were happy with our marriage. But then Ryan came back into our lives. He said that he still loved me and wanted to marry me. He eventually figured out that Amelia was his and he wanted to visit her but Scorpius and I—"
"Elora, can you take Amy with you outside?" interrupted Albus' eerily calm voice.
"I don't think—"
"Now." There was such finality in that tone that Elora looked conflicted as she looked at Rose. Rose nodded silently, not wanting her daughter to be a witness if things turned very ugly. Elora picked up Amelia from her high chair, the child waving happily at them as she left the room.
Suffocating silence engulfed the room as soon as the door closed.
Rose could hear her own heart thumping loudly in her ribcage as she waited for Albus to say something. She could handle all the shouting, abuse, and insults from him. But she couldn't stand his silence.
"So my best friends decided to keep me in the dark," came Albus's cold voice that made her heart nearly stop beating. "I am your freaking cousin Rose!" he hissed angrily as he stood up, looking livid. "Why wasn't I told about this?"
"Albus—" pleaded Rose. Sure Albus was reacting, but perhaps about the thing she wasn't expecting.
"And Smith? Seriously! What were you thinking when you were fooling around with him! You know what he did to my sister—!"
"And your precious sister is the reason why Scorpius and I are not under the same roof anymore!" screamed Rose, her eyes filling with tears.
"What are you talking about?" demanded Albus, narrowing his eyes.
"Your sweet little sister discovered the secret," spat Rose bitterly, glaring at him through her tears. "And she decided that Ryan had a right to meet his daughter. So she took Amelia to him behind my back for weeks!"
"She—she wouldn't do that!" exclaimed Albus disbelievingly, shaking his head. "That guy broke—why would she do it?"
"Beats me," Rose growled. "Lily got herself clicked with Ryan and the photo was published in a magazine along with a long article, speculating on whom the girl might be. The photographer had managed to get a back shot. But Amelia's pram was there in it. It didn't take Scorpius much time to believe that I was the one in the picture. He didn't trust me much when it came to Ryan before. Such things only confirmed the worst."
She looked back at Albus, who looked shocked and said, "As for why I didn't tell you, you had gotten engaged to Elora only a week before. You were so happy. I couldn't have ruined it for you. I was scared to tell you. I love you too much, Al. The thought of losing you because of my mistake was too painful for me. I thought you would hate me forever. I couldn't have you hating me, Al. I just couldn't!" Rose sat on the bed, feeling the tears travelling the length of her cheeks. She had really screwed everything up!
"You can leave me now," she sniffed, looking at the floor. Her gaze didn't leave the floor when she heard Albus moving and the next second later, he was kneeling down in front of her.
"I may hate Ryan. But I love you more," he said softly, placing his hand on her cheek and wiping her cheeks. She stared at him in disbelief.
"You're not mad at me?" she spluttered, not daring to believe her luck.
"I am, Rose. I'm very, very mad at you. For both dating Ryan, and not telling me about Amelia's real parentage. But you ought to know that some things matter more in life for me. You could have told me about your pregnancy. Okay so maybe I would have been very upset—"
"But you had just gotten engaged to Elora. I couldn't have—"
"Shut it, you. Elora is the love of my life, yes. She is my wife, yes. But you also are a part of my life. One of the very few people I can't live without. You have been there when I needed a friend. Why wouldn't I be there for you?"
Rose felt herself tearing up again. She really didn't deserve such a wonderful best friend. She let out a choked sob as she threw herself in his arms, making him lose his balance. "You're brilliant, you know that?" she chuckled, looking up at him.
"I do," said Albus cracking a smile. "But hearing it once in a while from someone else doesn't hurt!" Rose let out an unattractive snort as she hugged him tightly, thanking him silently for being so wonderful, for being him. Knowing that Albus was with her gave her some mental peace.
They stayed hugging each other in comfortable silence before Albus spoke. "So what's the deal with Scorpius? You do love him, right?"
Rose pulled back from the hug, feeling upset again. "How can I not love him? I have loved him since I was twelve," she said, feeling her heart grow heavy. "I told him repeatedly that I didn't cheat on him and that I don't have feelings for Ryan anymore. And he doesn't believe me. What am I supposed to do?"
"Look, I know Scorpius would throw himself in front of you if there was a Killing Curse aimed at you. He loves you and Amy very much. I haven't seen him as happy he is now, before. He will see that you were indeed telling the truth. I'll go and talk to him right now and try and convince him that you haven't done anything wrong!"
"Scorpius is being too stubborn right now! He won't listen to you. I nearly lost my voice yesterday—"
"I know he's having a hard time right now with the whole accident thing and then this. I'll talk to him and convince him to give you a chance to speak. You know that guy. He is a fair person. He'll give you a shot before he makes his final decision."
Rose nodded, allowing Albus to draw her to her feet.
"Now have your breakfast. And pack your things again. You and Amy are going to stay with us," Albus said firmly. "And I am not going to hear any excuse about being a burden or what not," he added, as Rose opened her mouth to protest. "Leaky Cauldron is a place where the chances of running into a Weasley are pretty high. So unless you want others to find out about it, please stay with us."
She looked at him before agreeing. "Okay."
"Good. So I'll talk to Scorpius now. Take care." He kissed her swiftly on the forehead and left the room.
A small smile broke onto Rose's face. If there was one person who could get Scorpius to think straight it was Albus Potter.
And again she thanked her stars for being born into the Weasley family.
Scorpius had barely turned off the shower when he heard his name being called.
He sighed as he wrapped a towel around his waist, and moved out into the bedroom. He quickly changed into his clothes and moved downstairs to see Albus moving about rapidly in the living room, looking extremely tense.
"Morning, Potter," grunted Scorpius, moving to the kitchen to make himself some breakfast. "Why so early? Decided to have breakfast at my place today?"
Albus' head whipped around hearing Scorpius's voice. He moved swiftly towards the blonde.
"What the bleeding fuck is going on, Scorpius? Why is Rose putting up at Leaky Cauldron?" Albus demanded sternly.
Scorpius didn't answer. He merely broke some eggs over the pan.
"Scorpius! I am asking you a question! What is Rose doing at Leaky Cauldron?"
"First, I don't want to talk about it," Scorpius replied waspishly, as he poured himself some juice and transferred the eggs on to a plate. "Second, since I didn't inform you, and the only person who knew about this recent development was Rose herself, I'm assuming that she told you that she has been thrown out. So why don't you ask her instead?"
"Rose told me everything, Scorpius. Everything. She hasn't done anything wrong!"
"Yeah right!" Scorpius snorted vindictively.
"Scorpius," said Albus sounding exasperated, "Why are you behaving like this? I know that deep down somewhere, you know that she hasn't cheated on you!"
"I don't have a reason to believe that she hasn't!" Scorpius snapped coldly, swallowing his scrambled eggs quickly. "Every piece of evidence points at her infidelity. She admitted that she had seen Ryan behind my back! And she refused to swear on Amelia! What am I supposed to gather from that?"
Albus's eyes widened for a second before reverting back to its normal size.
"Scorpius, Rose isn't doing so well."
"She eventually will."
"And what about Amy?" Scorpius felt his heart stop as he heard his daughter's name. He missed his little girl so much. Being away from her is truly going to kill him. "Don't you give a damn about what she will have to go through once she realizes that you won't be a part of her life any more?"
"She's too young," he replied, feeling his heart being punctured with every word that came out of his mouth. "She'll eventually forget that I was her father in the initial few months of her life. She'll get accustomed to having Smith as her father."
"Scorpius, again: what on earth are you talking about? Rose loves you. She is not getting back together with Smith."
Scorpius merely grunted as he waved his wand over the utensils, cleaning them immediately.
"I had never seen you as happy before as you were after you had Amy. You seriously can't just throw it all away!"
"Well I didn't. And anyway, it wasn't like I hadn't expected it!"
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"I am a Malfoy, Potter," snarled Scorpius, looking at Albus angrily. "Malfoys are bound to have something screw up their lives. Malfoys have had this going on for generations! Grandfather was always a nut who believed in blood purity. He worshipped Voldemort and since then no Malfoy has never been seen in a good light! My dad was fine till he got involved with Voldemort. Everything just became worse for a Malfoy. Look at me. Everything was fine till now and then—BOOM! Everything's going down the drain! It is fate! And I can't do anything about it!"
"Yes you can!" Albus yelled angrily. "Your fate doesn't make choices for you! Your choices make your fate!" Then dropping his angry stance, he spoke softly. "Scorpius, I know what Rose and Amy mean to you. Don't be too hasty in making your decision."
"Don't tell me what I need to do, Albus! I'm an adult!"
"Well then behave like one! Don't judge Rose so quickly. Give her a chance to speak. Or else you may end up making a decision you'll regret for the rest of your life."
"It's typical isn't it?" Scorpius spat. "You're defending your cousin over me despite knowing that she did wrong. You finally showed that blood runs thicker."
"Oh cut the crap, Malfoy!" Albus thundered. "You're blinded by your fucking insecurities and your pride! Wake up, you're wrong! You never hesitated when taking responsibilities for your follies. So grow up, Scorpius!"
Something snapped inside Scorpius, and he didn't even realize it when he grabbed Albus by his collar and pushed him violently against the wall, his hand curled into a fist.
The shocked expression on his friend's face worked as more than a wake up call. Had he just pushed Albus against the wall with the intention of hurting him? What am I doing? What is happening to me?
Scorpius let go of Albus, his body quivering. "I'll see you later," he mumbled, before walking out of his house to apparate to somewhere where no one could find him and therefore could think clearly.
He had a lot of decisions to make.
First of all, I'm VERY VERY VERY sorry for not updating for MONTHS. I sincerely hope you guys haven't lost interest in the story.
That little criticism of the story in the beginning is real. Had received it only a while ago. Made me wonder if I'm really that bad!
Anyway, I'm glad to have found my writing rhythm again…Will try best to maintain it.
Now please review! You know how reviews encourage an author to update sooner! ;)