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Chapter 12: In My Veins
"Sometimes," I said with a mixture of disgust and pride, "I don't think we could be anymore related than we are."
Albus and James gave me weird looks as they ate their food. Albus was first to speak. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"I mean, even if I somehow found out we didn't have a trace of DNA in common, I'd wouldn't believe it. Because you two are so related to me it hurts."
James rolled his brown eyes at me as he continued to scarf down his taco. "I'll take that as a compliment."
"I mean it has to be otherwise she would be insulting herself." Albus interjected with a wry smile, his dark hair falling into his green eyes.
"So Rose, why did you want to see us?" James asked in between sloppy bites. "I was under the impression you were angry with me, for Merlin knows what reason."
My eyes narrowed and I pointed at him accusingly. "You know exactly why I'm cross with you."
He shrugged unconcernedly. "What's up Rose?"
"Can't I just spend time with my cousins?" I asked innocently picking an invisible piece of lint of my shorts.
"Then why didn't you invite Lily?" James countered seeing right through me. "And if this was a true cousin's lunch where is Hugo? You know…your brother."
"I'm seeing him tomorrow. I just feel like I don't get to spend enough time with both of you together."
Albus's had to hide a laugh. James turned to his little brother. "Do you know what she's up to?"
"Not a clue." He said flatly, wiping his hands on his napkin.
"This was very last minute of you. I mean why did you decide to have this just this morning?" Leaning forward, James's large eyes zeroed in on me. "What are you up to?"
I let out a laugh and raised my hands defensively. "You are crazy."
"Well as enjoyable as this was." James snorted, pulling out his wallet. "I have a case in Bristol in twenty minutes…. Unless," He stressed the word specifically, " There is anything you want to share with the class Ms. Weasley."
"Nothing Mr. Potter." I told him as I put my own money on the table.
James shook his head at me. "You're crazy." Then he clapped his brother on the back and left.
"When do you have to go?"
"Not for a minute." He said absentmindedly as he starred around the crowded restaurant. "How are you doing?"
I shrugged, "Fine I guess. Did you hear about Uncle Neville?"
His light eyes darkened, and in that moment he looked exactly like his father. "My mum wrote me about it. You worked the case?"
I nodded eating the rest of my remaining fries. "He was pretty shaken up."
"I can imagine."
For a few minutes we sat in loaded silence. The tables around us chatted in excitement about their plans for the coming summer, but neither of us bothered. The sunlight shined through the large windows on the other side of the room. It landed on Albus's face making his light skin seem even paler and forcing the remaining brown hairs on my head to panic under scrutiny.
"So are you covering the ministry events coming up?" I asked though I already knew the answer.
"Well I think everyone is required to go to this Ministry dinner next week. Aren't you?"
"It's mandatory," I agreed, "I think your sister might be going with Frank."
His face scrunched up in displeasure. "As in Frank Longbottom?"
"The very same…What? Are you going to get all big brother on her?"
A bemused smile appeared on his face. "We'll see. I really can't picture them together. He's so tall and she's so short."
"Most guys like short girls." I shrugged.
"Most guys also like my sister that doesn't mean they should be able to date her." Albus mentioned with a subtle threat hidden in there.
I gave him a disapproving look. "Of all of the boys that girl has gone through I like this choice the best. So why don't you just let it play out?"
"Rose," He began with a sigh, "I may have come far in the past few years, but I'm still me. I still don't think anyone is good enough for you and Lily."
Rolling my eyes. My heart warmed slightly at the sentiment. "As sweet as that is you can't go around scaring any guy that's interested."
He scoffed, with a smirk. "Like I have THAT kind of time. Lily alone would be a full time job."
My watch lit up signaling I had to get back to work. "I have to get back. I'm on an assignment."
He stood up and embraced me in a hug. It was funny what you noticed about a person. James was two years older, taller, broader, with longer hair, darker eyes and much more muscle mass than his younger brother, but that wasn't how I knew the difference between them. It wasn't the fact that Albus was more prone to anger, jealous and general mood swings. It wasn't that I talked to Albus about deeper things or that I talked to James more often. It was that when they hugged it was different. James was a big believer in big sweeping hugs. Often times when I wore flip flops or flats, my shoes fell off as he lifted me off the ground. Albus was different. His arms locked around me protectively and he would tuck my head into his shoulder as he held me securely. James trying to show me every once of affection he could. Albus was trying to reassure me through a simple, but genuine gesture that he would always be and has always been there for me.
I flashed him a smile and was about to leave when he pulled a green apple out of his bag and threw it to me. "My mum worries you aren't eating enough at work." He explained simply.
Snorting I pocked the apple and went back to work.
Scorpius was waiting for me at my desk when I came in. He didn't look at me, but very clearly figured out that I had arrived, because the minute I stopped at me desk he grabbed his cloak and went for the elevators. Sensing that I should follow, I scowled, dropped off my stuff off and trailed after him.
We hadn't looked at each other since the day before when we emotionally vomited all over each other. After everything we'd said to each other it was impossible to even fake a normal conversation. We both knew too much now. Before we could act like we were completely justified in our standpoint and refuse to discuss it, but now that illusion was shattered. I know knew that not only did he never stop loving me, but that he was trying to protect me. And now he knew that it wasn't that I was immune to him, but that I was still furious that he moved on so quickly.
It was at the point where we were both too tired to fight with one another anymore. What was the point? We couldn't change the past. And it didn't seem like we could even be able to forgive each other for it.
We finally let everything out and now we both understood perfectly. This was just all too much. Before there was an anxiety that one of us might set the other off and then there would be this huge explosion, but post-war that anxiety was gone. All that was left was our own throbbing broken hearts.
"What's the assignment?" I sighed, as I leaned against the cool elevator door.
"We are on a cover-opp." He said. "We have to go change."
And I just said, "okay."
My eyes closed for a second as I felt completely and totally hollowed out. As I stood there I tried to think of what it was about us that always felt unfinished. He was 24 years old, attractive, smart, and everything a girl could want, but that wasn't it. There were a million guys that fit that description. I've been rejected and have rejected dozens of guys and loved some too, but I've never felt this. This unnatural pull dragging me towards him was constant and never ending. But why? What was it about him?
Despite myself I looked over at him, and tried to see what it was. But I couldn't put my finger on what it was.
Was I just kidding myself?
Had we ever been happy or did I just imagine it? And did I even still love him or was I just simply to stubborn to let go of the past? What was it that I was even holding onto? How were we even sure if we loved each other? We've changed so much. How are we even sure we know each other anymore?
I wanted to ask him. There was no pride to hide behind anymore, but we did have to work. And it was too much effort to go back there when we were about to pretend to be other people. But I did let myself look at him, even if he knew I was looking I still did it. My gaze shifted as soon as the elevator doors opened and we moved out from the main floor.
I cleared my throat and walked along with him. "Well?"
"I'll just side along apparate you." He told me calmly.
A day ago I would have fought him, and told him that I could apparate myself. But today I stopped myself and just let him have it.
When we reached the apparation point he held out his arm, and I wrapped my arm around his. Our skin didn't touch, but under my cloak I felt a rush shoot up my arm. His face shifted for a moment, and I knew he felt it too. But instead of talking about it, we just apparated away.
"Did they catch whoever killed Mrs. Edelson?" Kelly asked quietly from dinning room table hours later.
I frowned. "No, they didn't."
"Question," Lily asked me lowering Kelly's wedding color scheme and hiking herself up on the kitchen counter next to me. "How is it that you were furious at Albus years ago for messing with your relationship with Scorpius to the point of almost disowning him but James does the same thing and you're just a little pissed?"
I sent her a look. "I'm more than a little pissed at James and they aren't the same thing at all."
"Albus went behind my back and erased not only my memory, but Scorpius's memory to keep us from each other. It was completely unnecessary and over-dramatized. He took away my ability to make my own decisions and then had the nerve to not feel bad about it."
Lily waited for me to continue.
"James," I breathed, reaching over and handing Kelly the amended seating arrangement for her wedding. "Told me exactly what he was doing, and perhaps in spite of the fact that I don't want to be near Scorpius, James seems to honestly think that we should be together."
"Interesting, but wasn't Albus's whole thing how he genuinely believed he was doing the right thing?"
I scowled, pushing the old memory away. "Nothing involving a memory charm is doing the right thing."
"I still think they are similar."
"Maybe, but James isn't forcing me into anything. If I really wanted to I could get reassigned, and he knows that. So that is why he's testing his limits, but not forcing them."
Twirling her red hair between her fingers, she looked at me. "Why won't you get reassigned?"
Hesitation filled me, but I shook it off. Why didn't I ever ask to be reassigned? My Uncle would have had no trouble granting that request. Sure I would have gotten flack from the idiots in my department, but what was knew about that? They always were trying to get at me anyway by saying that I only was licensed because of my family. It seemed completely unnerving to me that the thought had never even occurred to me.
Focusing on Kelly's wedding details, I moved out of the kitchen and sat in the chair next to Kelly. Though she was still happy that she was getting married, Kelly was still shaken up about what happened. It was clear by how pale her ordinarily tan skin was. I frowned, but knew nothing I could say would make a difference.
"Why did you want to become an Auror Rose?" Lily interrogated leaping off the counter top and wandering over to our table. "I mean I get the adrenaline rush aspect, but it seems like a lot of unnecessary work and ridiculous hours. Didn't you pull two all nighters this week?"
I shrugged as I double-checked the names on the invitations. "I like it."
"I think there's two very different, but important reasons you became an Auror." Lily stated evenly her dark eyes centering on me. "One being what happened to you and your father. That rage had to be put somewhere were you felt you were doing something for the greater good. Also you thought you might be able to hunt down the men that did it to you, which you did."
I eyed her curiously. "And the second?"
"The first reason is obvious and is a reason you would give to anyone that knew what happened to you. The second reason on the other hand is more subconscious. I think another reason you became an Auror was because you knew someday you would run into Scorpius again."
I opened my mouth to refute it but she held up a hand to stop me.
"Think about it. Why an Auror? You could have literally gone out there without a badge to find those people. And that way no one would have be able to stop you with rules and regulations. So why did you have to make your pursuit legitimate? You could have even joined a similar department that would have gained you the same file access, but you didn't. Because you knew eventually you'd cross paths with him."
"Most of family is in the department," I disagreed, but she cut me off again.
"Which is actually another reason for you to avoid it because wasn't it always your big thing to make it on your own in a field away from your family?"
Finally I had no counterpoint. She was right, but I no longer had the energy to fight her. Who cared why I joined and why I didn't ask to be with someone else? It didn't change a single thing. At the end of the day we were still broken, and stuck in it.
Exhausted, I ran a hand through my hair and groaned. "Lily… can we not do this please? I have to help Kelly figure this out."
"I'm merely suggesting that you stop swimming around in the past, and you start thinking about what you want now."
I gave her a dirty look.
Pouting Lily sighed. "Fine. I will let you drown in denial, but when it occurs to you that you both are being incredibly and ridiculously stupid," She put her large sunglasses on her face and swung her oversized purse over her tiny bird arm. "You know my address."
Snorting, I gave her a smile. "Bye Lily!"
Kelly made a noise under her breath but I shook my head at her. "Don't. I'm exhausted. The last thing I need is a discussion about my ex boyfriend. Believe me I've been asking myself all of these questions for years and I don't know! Everything is complicated. Everything is blurred. I don't know anything about any of it. All I know is we have to figure this shit out tonight."
She rubbed my back reassuringly. "We don't have to-"
"No we do." I told her firmly, "I might be…busy soon and I just want this taken care of while we have the time." I breathed as I wiped the sleep out of my eyes.
I could see the hesitance in Kelly's black coffee colored eyes. She was so maternal, it was in her natural instinct to protect everyone around her, but I couldn't let her keep me on that list. The attempt on her life was the beginning. The more time that went by, the more fragile all of our lives became.
For the rest of the night we finished her wedding plans and then passed out on opposite sides of my couch. When I woke from the sound of my alarm in the other room, I forced myself up and over to my room. I changed out of my sweats into my black dress pants and white blouse. Kelly was still sound asleep, her black hair was flat against her little face as she tucked her feet into the creases of the couch. She looked so peaceful that I couldn't bring myself to wake her. I knew she had the day off anyway, so I went to the cabinet and set out some cereal for her and left for work.
You can plan a million things in a thousand different ways. You can think you have everything figured out, mapped out, and perfectly controlled. But what scares the shit out of you, what scares the shit out of all of us, is the element of surprise.
Today was just a normal day to everyone else, but not to me. I could feel the tremor of anxiety in the air, warning me that everything was not going to be all right.
Scorpius was sitting in his desk, prompt as usual. He looked up and even nodded when he saw me arrive. I guess today he was willing to push out enough energy to be civil.
"Anything for today?" I asked him with a sigh.
He shook his head. "We are on cold cases again."
I scoffed. "Ugh."
In between my hand cramping out and my neck stiffening, I yawned and checked the clock.
"Want to send for food?" I groaned to him as I covered my face with my hands.
"Yeah." He answered quietly. "What do you want?"
"Anything will work."
I removed my hands from my face when I heard him softly laughing. My face broke out into an exhausted smile as we both laughed at how empty and tedious this was. There were rarely any break in cold cases, and even if there were we wouldn't be able to do anything about it until tomorrow. This was just busy work.
Scorpius and I laughed for a few minutes before he paused. I looked to my Uncle Harry standing in front of our desks. Any lightheartedness faded as I saw the darkness in his eyes. Without thinking about it, I stood and braced myself.
"Rose," My Uncle started and I knew exactly what he was going to tell me from his tone.
Putting down my cloak I eyed him. "Who's dead?"
My jaw dropped in shock as my head shook involuntarily. "No."
"The killer left this." He handed me a note and I knew immediately by the handwriting.
'Roses are red
Violets are blue
I'm going to burn down this town
Starting with you.'
And beneath the note was a necklace that was ripped off my neck years ago. It was slightly rusted from lack of up keep, but I recognized my own initials and the shape of the steel. It was the necklace Scorpius had given me for Valentines day my seventh year. I used to never take it off.
My back became thick with anxious sweat, and I felt Scorpius hesitantly move out of his desk and next to me. My Uncle took back the note.
"I'll speak with you later." He told me before walking away.
My throat ached and my shoulders began to shake as I held the necklace in my hand. They must have tested it for any kind of hexes already, but that didn't matter. It wasn't sent to do physical damage. It was meant to do emotional damage.
I moved as fast as I could to the filing room. The bathroom was too far away. You can tell yourself something a billion times. You can try to engrave it into your soul to the point of it becoming a second nature fact. But it won't work. Because there are something's you can't just learn to accept. And the fact that there is a team of people out there with the soul purpose to destroy me and everyone I love is one of those facts.
Shutting the door, I began to shake, and cry. My plan, all my preparations were still in place, but I wasn't. What if everything went to hell? What if I trusted the wrong people? What if at the end of the day none of this matters because we are all going to die anyway? The fear that had building up inside of me all month was spilling out of me. The door behind me opened, but I turn around. I was obviously freaking out, they'd see that and leave. They wouldn't feel compelled to help because they couldn't see my face.
The door shut and I let out a breath of relief. I turned and was shocked to see Scorpius standing there. My face was puffy and so shamefully covered with tears. I didn't have the chance to shy away or even wipe my face. His face for once wasn't impassive, his eyebrows were shifted inward and his eyes were wide with tears. All the muscles from his jaw to his collarbone were constricted with noticeable discomfort.
"What?" I croaked in a small voice.
"Is that…?" He breathed gesturing to the necklace still locked in my hands.
I nodded, my eyes locked on his, completely unable to look anywhere but at him. "They took it from me…when they…" I let the sentence drift off and die as my voice shook.
Then, he took a step forward, and another, until he was standing right front of me. In the past few minutes everything had changed, I could see it in his deep steel eyes and he seemed to let go to any remain resentment and anger. His hands reached forward and without any hesitation he pulled me into his chest. Instantly his arms wrapped around me as if couldn't bear to not hold me any longer, his grip tightened. I buried my face into his neck before I control myself. All sense of what was right and wrong was lost in me. All I knew was I couldn't pull myself away from him the thought alone was unbearable.
"This should have never happened in the first place." His eyes hardened in unmistakable guilt as he whispered. "I should have gone after you."
"Scorpius," I groaned, wishing with every breath left in my body that we didn't have to have this conversation. "You couldn't have known. I just left you. You shouldn't feel bad at all."
"Rose, I know you have this perspective that what happens in your life doesn't affect me." He snapped shortly, as I pulled away. He brushed my tears away with the side of his hand gently, his arms still around me. "But it does and you need to learn to get over that."
I rested my hands on his strong shoulders and let out a slow breath. "I know, but I'm okay. And you shouldn't worry about me."
"I can't control it." His hand cupped my face. "I will always care about you."
My whole body melted as I sunk into his embrace. I swooned like a fifteen-year-old girl as I looked up into his eyes. After all this time, after everything we put each other through, we're still here. How could we still feel this? I didn't have it in my to fight anything anymore. I wanted to be in his arms, I wanted to be with him, but it wasn't safe. Did he know how serious this was? Did he know how close we all were to disaster?
Stepping away from him, I sighed and tried to pull myself together, but instead all I felt was the ache of leaving his arms. "I think I'm going to leave early."
"Fine, I'll take you home."
My chest tightened and my whole body filled with panic. "I can manage."
"I'm on orders." He told me firmly. "You can't go anywhere alone now."
He couldn't come with me. This couldn't happen. I considered shaking him, but I knew there was no way in hell he would let me out of his sight. So I would have to trick him. I didn't want to deceive him in anyway, but what was my choice? I couldn't let him get hurt by this, by me. Even if I'd lose him forever at least he would be alive to hate me. But until then I'd have to play along. I'd have to make it seem like I was just shaken up and that it was nothing more. I'd have to lie to his face. The thought hurt me more than it should have, but I pushed it away. This was the way it had to be. There were no other options left.
We apparated a mile away from my flat, my nerves were shot, I jumped at even the slightest noises around me. Tears surged down my face as the street became alive with color. Everything was more vivid from the random civilians to the man standing right next to me. Scorpius put a protective arm around my shoulder. It was so…natural, my body shifted into his instantly and my mind felt more at ease. But it didn't last because I knew what was to come.
Once we reached the door, I halted. My eyes caught onto something that was sitting next to the doorway, a green apple.
I like to consider myself a strong person. I like to think I'm selfless and courageous. We all do don't we? We like to wake up every morning and think that every decision we make that day will make a difference, and maybe it will, but most days it doesn't. Most days your decisions aren't important at all. But for me, in this moment my decision was.
I could stay. I could be with Scorpius, really be with him and enjoy it while it lasts, but he would always be in danger. And if I really loved him, if he meant more to me than I meant to myself I would put his life over my momentary happiness. And for a moment I considered it, but the moment passed and I knew it wasn't right. I couldn't take his life away from him. I couldn't do it. No longer could I be selfish with him. And knowing that he would probably never want to see me or speak to me again killed me. But I had no choice. This was the only thing I could do.
I had to knock him unconscious or find a way to get him away from me as quickly as possible. I had to act before he realized what I was doing. I didn't know specifically what was going to happen, but I did know I had to put as much distance between Scorpius and myself as possible.
Thinking fast, everything happened in a blinding flash. Violently I stuck out my foot and tripped him. Surprised, he released his hold on me and fell forward. I had only seconds before he would get back on his feet and try and stop me. Propelling myself forward, I ran into the building as he his body dropped to the ground, out of the range of whatever triggering mechanism was on the building.
At first I thought I'd gotten the signal wrong, but as soon as I locked the door, there was a small signaling noise. It was a soft little beep, something that could have easily an alarm clock, but I could feel with every fiber of my soul it wasn't.
My heart stopped and my body locked in place, making me enabling me from rethinking this decision and running away.
This was it. There was no turning back.
I clenched my eyes close as my body convulsed in hysterical sobs. The blast scorched a blast through the building, shattering the windows, shaking the floors. Beneath my closed eyelids, I pictured the roaring crimson tide heading toward me, but I didn't move. The building came alive with fire trapping me inside before consuming me.
Scorpius was screaming and hollering to get in, but it didn't matter because I was already gone.
So it's the strangest thing, but I uploaded this a few days ago and then I went to check on it today and it was gone...So i'm re-adding it. Weird though huh? Song in the summary is In My Veins By: Andrew Belle. THANK YOU FOR READING! You have no idea how much it means to me that you all bother reading this. PLEASE REVIEW! And thank you to those who have been! You are the best!