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The Wrinkles of the Road by Beeezie
Chapter 9: Rose. --- The Letter.
When Rose got home from Albus’s, Lucy stuck her head out of her room. “Hey, Rosie. How was lunch?”
Rose shrugged. “It was.”
Her cousin didn't press her. Instead, she jerked her head toward the side table next to their couch. “That came for you an hour or two ago.”
“Oh. Thanks, Luce.”
“Sure.” Lucy smiled and disappeared back into her room as Rose picked up the letter. Ms. Rose Weasley was written on the front, in elegant script that she did not recognise, and she slit it open as she slipped into her room, feeling more than a little curious. As soon as she'd opened it, she glanced down at the bottom to identify the sender.
Her stomach dropped when she saw the signature. Narcissa Malfoy was written in the same elegant script.
“Oh, hell.” She sank onto her bed before going back to the top.
Rose read through the letter, but when she reached Narcissa Malfoy's signature, she found that she had neither retained nor properly processed any of it.
She groaned and fell backward onto her bed. “I hate my life,” she muttered, tossing the letter aside. “I hate my life.”
She hadn't often had occasion to wish she hadn't made the decision in her fifth year to start going out with a pureblood from a family of questionable origins, but she was beginning to regret it now. Her happy little bubble had been popped by the introduction of Narcissa Malfoy and her cool stares and her composure, and she did not appreciate it.
She picked up the letter again.
Rose immediately threw it aside again, feeling the tension she’d mostly shed at Scorpius’s building up again. This would be it. Narcissa Malfoy would insult her, or tell her to stay away from Scorpius, or just be so perfectly polite that it would be abundantly clear that she really hated Rose. And once that happened, her relationship with Scorpius was going to be a lot more strained. What if it led to fights and resentment? What if -
She brushed the letter onto the floor, threw a pillow on top of it for good measure, and stared up at the ceiling trying to think about anything but what she was sure was her impending break up.
She didn't know how long it was until there was a knock at her door. After a moment, Lucy stuck her head in. “Rosie, do you want any tea – oh, no, Rose, what's wrong?”
Rose grunted and rolled over to face the wall. Part of her wanted Lucy to just go away and leave her to her misery. Another part – a bigger part – wanted Lucy to comfort her, but she certainly wasn't going to ask.
She felt Lucy sink onto her bed. “Rosie, what happened?”
“It was from his grandmother.” Rose pulled her knees up to her chest. She wondered whether it was possible to convince your heart to beat slower. “The letter, I mean.”
“I thought it might be. What did it say?”
Rose sniffled. She thought she might be about to cry, but given how awful she was feeling already, she felt very sure that she ought to avoid crying if at all possible. Crying had a tendency to give her a headache and make her too nauseous to eat, and she had work the next day. “I don't know.”
“You don't know?”
She shook her head. “I didn't read it.” She waved her hand in the vague direction of the letter. “It's down there.”
Her cousin reached over her to retrieve it. “Would you like me to read it first?”
Rose nodded, and she heard Lucy unfold the parchment. Her heart was hammering, and she was beginning to feel quite ill despite her successful attempts to hold back tears.
“Rosie, I think you should read this.”
“No. She hates me, and she probably told me to stay away from Scorpius, and I don't wa – want to stay away from Sc – Scorpius, and once I read it everything is going to fall apart and – “
“Rose.” She hiccuped and glanced up at her cousin. Lucy was holding out the letter with a look of long-suffering patience across her face. “Read the letter.” Rose started to shake her head, but the look in Lucy's eyes made her reconsider, and she took the letter without further complaint. She struggled into a sitting position and steeled herself before looking down at the elegant, sloping script.
I had a lovely time at lunch. It was very nice to finally meet you. I hope we can get together again soon.
Thank you for coming.
Rose blinked down at it a few times after she'd finished it, and then turned the piece of parchment over, half-expecting to see something written on the other side. It was blank.
“Mm.” Lucy looked like she was struggling to contain her amusement. “Think you might have overreacted a bit?”
“I – why on earth would she send this? What was the point? She scared me half to death!”
Lucy shrugged. “She's old wizarding blood, she was probably raised to have good manners. Yes, I know it's a difficult concept for you to understand.” Rose reached out to shove her lightly, and Lucy got to her feet. “Come on. I’m making tea, come join me.”
“I'll be there in a second.” Rose let herself fall backward onto the bed again, buried her face in a pillow, and screamed. Sometimes, she really, really hated her boyfriend's family. 'Manners' were no excuse to give a person a heart attack.
Rose was just glad that she was back at work the next day. It saved her from having to think about whether she ought to write Narcissa Malfoy back. Work was a safe little bubble in some ways – when she was there, she didn't have to worry about people judging her or liking her boyfriend too much or not liking him at all. She could just be herself and say what she pleased, rather than worry about all the ramifications.
“Morning,” Victoire said as soon as she walked in.
“Morning,” she replied, hanging up her coat and collapsing into her chair. “How was your weekend?”
Victoire grinned. “Not bad. But how about you?” Victoire asked as Dedworth appeared in the doorway of their little cubicle. “Weren't you meeting Scorpius's grandmother this weekend?”
Rose grimaced. “Oh. That. Yeah, I did. She was...” She had no idea what to say, so she trailed off. Victoire gave her a sympathetic look.
“You met Narcissa Malfoy?” Dedworth asked as he sat down. Rose nodded. “Did you get a 'thank you' note?” Her surprise must have been apparent on her face, because he let out a loud snort. “That's what she does. Jo’s got a stack of them from every one of her cousin's family birthday parties that she went to when he was a kid.”
A small bit of the tension she'd been feeling lifted from her shoulders. “Yeah, I did. She does that to everyone?”
“I don't know about everyone, but she did it for Jo.”
Victoire reached over and patted her arm. “See? It must have gone better than you thought.”
Out of the corner of her eye, Rose saw Dedworth wince. “What?” She was starting to feel a little more comfortable talking to him about non-work related things - something about him knowing one of Scorpius’s favorite cousins made him feel more trustworthy.
“Well, a note doesn't necessarily mean she likes you,” Dedworth said. “I mean, maybe she does, but she really doesn't like Johanna.”
Victoire rolled her eyes. “Oh, Rose, don't listen to him. Jo's always exaggerating and saying people hate her when they don't.”
“Well, yeah, but this time she's serious. Narcissa Malfoy really doesn't like her.”
“Why not?” both women asked together.
Dedworth shrugged. “I don't know. Probably a combination of Johanna's bad manners and her lack of self-preservation. Maybe she thought Jo was be a bad role model for her grandson.”
Objectively, what he was saying probably should have made Rose feel worse, but it was actually having the opposite effect. Whether or not Mrs. Malfoy hated her, if it didn’t affect Johanna, she could probably shrug it off, too.
“Come on,” Dedworth said, jerking his head toward the chair next to him. “I have something for you to look over. What does this sound like to you?” he asked, passing her a report.
She scanned it. The first thought that popped into her head didn’t make much sense, so she read through the document again, this time more slowly. “I - I’m not sure,” she said after her third time through.
Dedworth raised his eyebrows at her. “It’s bad form to lie to your superior, you know.”
Rose wrinkled her nose as she read through the document a fourth time. “Well, I had an idea, but it’s stupid.” When he kept looking at her, she sighed. “It sounds a little like an erkling. The little boy said he heard someone giggling in the forest, but he wasn’t allowed to go out on his own. But they’re on the continent. They don’t exist here.” Her voice wavered slightly with uncertainty as she looked up at him. “Do they?”
“Good question.” He ran a hand through his dark brown hair, which was cropped close to his head. “That we know of, no, but there’s an awful lot we don’t know these days.”
“But how would it get here?” she asked. “They don’t swim. And I thought the German Ministry had them under control.”
He shrugged. “Maybe it hitched a ride on something. Maybe someone or something brought it. Hard to say. And as far as the German Ministry goes... well, if this does turn out to be an erkling, that’ll be a good question to ask them, won’t it?”
Rose only half-heard his comment about the German Ministry. “Someone?”
“Well, you’ll have a hard time convincing me that all the creatures that seem to have hopped over from the continent in the last decade figured it out on their own. Most of them aren’t very smart, you know.”
Victoire, who was sitting behind Van, tossed a book to her. “Start reading up. I’m sure you could use a refresher on Erklings - when was the last time you thought about facing one of them?”
Rose managed to repress a sigh. She didn’t understand how even the most exciting jobs could have so much boring desk work. She’d have almost regretted going into the D.C.B., but according to her cousin Louis, Hit Wizards was exactly the same.
And if even the Hit Wizards made you crack open a book, everyone did.
“Got it.” Rose cracked the book open. It wasn’t that she minded reading, really - she’d spent most of her last few years at Hogwarts devouring every book they had on the subject of magical creatures - but when she was in the company of people who actually had extensive field experience, it seemed stupid to read about these things. She could read any time.
On the bright side, though, the illustrations were very detailed.
Her cousin and Dedworth took pity on her after lunch and started talking to her about Erklings and other creatures that more habitually went through Hogsmeade. They really weren’t telling her much that she couldn’t have found in the book, but somehow, it was significantly more interesting when someone was telling the story.
A/N: Oh, Narcissa. I've shuffled this around a little in the edits to this fic, but hopefully it still works. Tell me if I've overlooked anything! ♥
Thanks for reading, guys. I hope you enjoyed it, and as always, I'd love to hear your thoughts.