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I can't resist the day
I didn’t think it would end like this. This doesn’t happen to me. I am smart. I am sensible. I don’t do these things. I’m not that girl, I never have been.
Love is something I thought would come along someday in the very distant future; sedate, controllable and nice. I never imagined it would sweep me along before I knew it, lift me to dizzying highs beyond my imagination, dash me against the rocks and tear me to pieces, tilt my world about me and leave me gasping as it all settles in.
Love changes everything. It’s not neat and well planned, the way it is in muggle movies, it’s not the glory it is in poetry, or the fairytale it is in books. It is messy, it is hard, and it is more intense that anything I have experienced.
I don’t know how it happened. It was summer, the last golden summer of innocence. I will always remember it as the summer my shields came crashing down, when the protective distance I kept up to safeguard my soul was lost, when I learned to love, and that once you step across the line between girl child and woman, when you close that garden gate behind you, you can never return.
Things are simpler in that world you leave behind you. You know you will love, that when you love you will know it for a certainty. You will love a handsome prince who will love you back, not your cousin, for love works both ways. He will not be torn, you will not be confused, you will not be plunged in the middle of a bitter war.
They asked me to come, to stay in that little bungalow in France, to keep the peace. I am, after all, the sensible one; wise, calm, placid little Rose, too interested in her books and her studies to ever look at a boy. Undersized, freckled, with the Weasely locks my Veela cousins disdained; I was no competition for their svelte hourglass figures, flawless ivory skin and gleaming golden hair, for their crystal laughs and secretive smiles. I could be depended on, I was safe, reliable and harmless. The one Hufflepuff in a family of Gryffindors and the odd Ravenclaw, I was nobody to take seriously.
It was the way it had always been. I tagged along on the outskirts of life, always watching as others lived and loved and danced through the days. I dreamed, and I thought, and I read, and I wished for something more. Some glorious future, some great destiny, some all consuming love. Anything, rather than being known as just another Weasley, or worse, Hermione Granger’s disappointing, directionless daughter.
There was no where I could go to escape that label, my family’s fame had spread all over the world as my cousins grew and flourished, spreading their wings and taking flight while I stayed landlocked, waiting, wishing and hoping for life to come along.
I lived that summer. Despite everything that happened, I savoured those days, which slipped through my fingers like precious stones, to lie sparkling and untarnished in the river of nostalgia. I felt more alive than I ever had before.
I loved. I was loved. It just was not as simple as the stories make it out.
It never is, though
A/N. Thankyou for reading! I'm being savaged by plotbunnies (I blame all the talented, inspiring people at TGS), so expect to see my author page mutate.
If you have a free minute, please drop a line, I love hearing from you!
disclaimer: All titles are coming from Vanessa Carlton's 'White Houses', all characters belong to the Rowling Jo
Love. It is the obsession of the ages. I have read so many books, plays and poems, listened to wizarding music and watched muggle films, and it is always there, beckoning me with one hand, pushing me away with another.
Love. It makes no sense, it defies all logic. If it is real, which I wonder, it is bloody strange. All that they tell us, all that we expect, is at odds with all that I see. Love is fireworks, frenzy, and an all consuming passion blazing a path to eternal glory. Love is soaring ecstasies and swooning damsels. Love is listening to rants on elf rights and enduring endless Quidditch games with a smile. Love was never enough to keep my parents together. If love is real, it is beyond my comprehension, far out of my reach. I am Rose Weasley, and despite being eighteen years old, I have never loved. I don’t think I ever will. Love is for dreamers, and fools.
Looking out at the gentle undulations of white capped waves ebbing and flowing back and forth from the blinding white sand, it is not difficult to trace the roots of my wayward thoughts. My toes, the only part of my sensitive skin I dare expose to the ravage of the sun, are scrunched in too-hot sand. The stark contrast between my home, my life, my dreary grey existence and this soft embrace of paradise is one root. Another, of course is the small white house crouched several meters behind me, just tipping out onto a suggestion of sand.
I have known the occupants of the bungalow all my life; their faces are as familiar to me as my own. I have seen them grow and change and metamorphosis into beautiful butterflies and a velvety moth. I have known them all my life. How is it that I feel nothing for any of them at all? What does that say about me?
A breeze stirs the weight of the summer afternoon, whipping the tangles of my impossible hair about me. By the time I have pulled them into a knot, retrieved my slipping sunglasses and rewrapped my kaftan around me, I am no longer alone. This is a private beach, but access to it is not mine alone. There are three others who now roam its length, but not with me.
Scorpius is squatting on a rocky ledge that juts out over the impossibly blue water. His gleaming hair and even paler skin, as much as the pencil flying over a scrap of parchment in his hands gives him away. What he writes is a mystery to me, for our uneasy acquaintance has never deepened to anything approaching friendship, or allowed such confidences to be shared. I highly doubt Dominique knows either, for all she is his greatest friend and occasional lover.
My eyes are drawn, as always, as everyone is, to Dominique. She is dancing along the length of the shore to music only she can hear. She is a vision, the soft folds of her scarlet dress flaring gracefully about her marble limbs, her face aglow with the light only she can exude. It is hard to look away from her, from the windswept glory of her golden hair, from the delicate contours of her perfect features, to the animated flicker of feeling across them as she twirls laughingly about the shore. Dominique makes every emotion more intense, every experience more vivid, every moment an epiphany.
It is hard to look at her for long and not be blinded. It is no wonder Scorpius, with his voracious need for beauty, is fascinated by her, as it is no secret, and part of her charm, that she does not care. A sigh escapes me despite myself, for regardless of the painstaking principles my mother has instilled in me, beauty is something I find as alluring as it is repulsive. It is not my lot, it never will be my burden to be judged as nothing more than a pretty face.. but perhaps then.. No, I will not allow myself to think like this.
Lying back down in the embrace of white sand, I turn my head away from my lovely cousin. On the far side of the beach I can make out Victoire’s lithe form, the rich purple of her microscopic swimwear startling against her fair skin. She is not as beautiful as her sister, as dashing as her brother, but she is the eldest and she rules over us all. Even Teddy.
He is stretched out beside her, his golden tan deepened to bronze beside her ivory, his bare arm just touching hers. He whispers in her ear as she turns the pages of her novel and she moves her head slightly. She does not close the book, or return his smile, a glimmer of mischief he cannot repress, but she turns to look at him. He is all tousled dark hair and long lean limbs and as he suns himself carelessly I cannot shake the leonine comparison that rises up before me. Victoire condescends to stretch out one fine-boned hand and trace the sloping cheekbones lightly. The sheer intimacy of this simple gesture is almost more than I can bear, and I wrench my eyes away, wondering why a simple caress should affect me. I have, after all, seen much worse from them, if not for a long time.
Salt spray has wormed its way into my eyes, stinging them furiously, swelling my dry throat and I stand reluctantly, shaking off the sand which clings persistently to me. As I begin to wander my way back to the house, a fat droplet of rain splatters on my shoulder. When I look up at the previously unclouded sky, my vision is obscured as another drop lands in one eye, followed by another, and another. I don’t bother trying to escape the deluge. No one ever outruns nature.
Scorpius, although his nose in always in a book, has never learnt this and he manages to overtake me, clutching his precious papers to his chest as he sprints to the house. I glance over my shoulder to see Dominique still dancing wildly, lifting up her arms to welcome the downpour and when I turn back to the house, Teddy has almost reached the verandah, Victoire held protectively in his arms. He does not put her down once they are undercover, but turns to call to Dominique.
“Dom,” he bellows across the distance of soggy sand breaching them. She pays no heed, continuing to career willfully until Victoire lifts her crystal voice to join his rich baritone.
“Come back,” she demands, her voice not loud, but managing to carry through the rain to her sister. Dominique spins on one foot a final time, just to prove she can, and then she gathers her drenched skirts about her and lopes towards me. She smiles when she reaches me, tossing a brilliant smile my way before tripping along to the white house.
I am the last to reach shelter, and by the time I have done so my hair drips in heavy snarls down my back and cold has seeped into my very bones. Victoire looks disapprovingly on as I trudge into the house, puddles in my wake and before I can reach for my wand she has Vanished them and dried me from top to bottom.
I say nothing, not the thanks civility, if not Victoire expects, nor the retort that bubbles to my lips. I have a summer to spend with these cousins, and a summer on a private beach in France is preferable to the internships strings have been jerked for in England, or the disappointment in my mother’s face, or the bewilderment in my father’s. I will not make waves; I will keep my mouth shut and go on. It’s not as if I don’t have practice.
I thank Merlin devoutly that I at least have my own room. It’s a small blessing, considering the thin walls of the place, but never have I appreciated magic more than when I can curl up on my bed, my door warded against intrusion and sound, a book in my lap and my mind free to travel the length and breadth of the universe. Mum hates it when I do, she’s convinced the house could burn down around me and I would never notice. With her big empty house turned office, and her occasional strained Weasley Sundays, she’s never appreciated the beauty of being alone, that double edged sword that cuts me deeper the more I cling to it.
I don’t know how long I lie on my small blue bed, because I close my eyes for no more than a moment to push away broken images of the scenes played out before me at the beach, and when I open them again the room is no longer flooded with grey light but pitch black and slightly chilly. Fumbling for my wand in the dark, I light it and rummage in my still unpacked trunk for a cardigan.
Unlocking my door, I wander down the stairs to a dark and silent house. I have no idea where they have all gone. Back to the beach, where I can just hear the crash and boom of waves slamming against the sand? They may have made their way into Nice, to mingle with the locals under the starry sky and share secret smiles when no one is looking. For all I know they are at a party, for my cousins and Teddy have always gathered people around them effortlessly, and although Scorpius is awkward in company, his rare bursts of speech can be as intriguing as the air of mystery he wears like a shroud.
As my ears grow accustomed to the sound of the sea I pick up another faint sound, laughter. I hesitate for a long moment, the familiar comfort of a night on the sofa, with a book or perhaps a film, persuasively pointing out the potential for disaster if I should leave the house. Almost I give in, but the imp sitting on my shoulder that prevented me from thanking Victoire earlier digs in its heels and spurs me to walk to the back of the house. I find them all there, gathered around a roaring bonfire that is a flickering blue bell shade that twists my lips in an involuntary smile. Needless to say, Mum would not approve.
Dominique is laughing at some witticism Scorpius has made, her head thrown back as she giggles. His eyes trace the curve of her cheek, the lines of her throat, and still she smiles, either oblivious or taking it as her due. On the other side of the fire, Victoire stares into the dancing flames, her face inscrutable as always. Teddy plays absently with strands of her long strawberry blonde hair until she gets up abruptly, rising to her feet in one fluid moment. She catches sight of me, hovering in the door way, neither inside or fully outside and her expression softens, perhaps a trick of the light or because I look particularly pathetic with my salt spray hair and incurably lost expression.
“There’s some dinner in the pantry,” she tells me, and if there is no warmth in her tone, there is not more chill than she offers to everyone.
I shrug and let her pass me by to go back into the house. Teddy follows her only with his eyes and only when she has been enveloped by the darkness does he see me, leaning against the doorway and smiles slightly. It is no more than a quirk of lips, the distant but affectionate response of an older brother, but I barely process it before my traitorous feet lead me to the chair vacated by Victoire. We sit in silence for a while, each content with our own thoughts and I wonder if this is how this summer will continue, all of us lost in our own, shared, separate, dreams. And then Teddy speaks; his voice a deep counterpoint to the soft laughter from the other side of the bonfire.
“It was good of you to come with us,” he says seriously, his warm brown eyes turned to black pools in the stillness of the night. I shrug, watching the blue flames dwindle. It was not good of me, although perhaps it was stupid of me. It had seemed a wonderful idea at the time. Teddy lifts an eyebrow at my silence; although why he should be still surprised by it is beyond me. But then, Teddy has never been able to see anyone, or anything, when Victoire is in the room, and he knows me as well as he knows Lucy, or Molly or Roxanne; that is, not at all.
“We’d all murder each other in a week if it was just the four of us,” he continues more lightly. “You didn’t have to give up your first summer out of school.”
“Anything is preferable to Hermione Granger on the warpath,” I mutter, more to myself than to him. He chuckles slightly and my eyes fly from the flames back to his face. I was perfectly serious. He of all people, one of the few old enough to remember what my mother was like when she was still married to my father and turned up to Weasley events, should know how seriously she takes career choices, and what a disappointment I am.
“You don’t give yourself proper credit,” he scolds gently. “You’re here, even though you don’t like Dom and have never got along with Malfoy,” he points out. I blink. What?
“We don’t not get along,” I protest, sparing a glance for Scorpius. He is pointing out constellations to Dominique, who has forgotten whatever Astronomy she ever learnt, and never knew of the legends lying behind each star, which Scorpius is apparently intimately acquainted with. Stars have never interested me, although if anyone had bothered to ask me I would have told them I would infinitely prefer to have been named for stars rather than the most banal of flowers.
“We just have nothing to say to each other,” I finish, realizing anew how common that is.
Teddy merely shrugs and ruffles my hair condescendingly.
“This will be a good summer Rose,” he insists, his hair turning the same blue as the bonfire, the turquoise blue of quiet serenity lapping at the shores of unexplored territory. It is my turn to shrug, to shake off the burden of cynical insight that should be his domain, not mine.
“I hope so,” I tell him, surprising myself by how much I want his words to be true. “I hope so.”
AN. My dear readers, I am SO sorry for how long this took. I have had an impossible block on this and had to stop waiting for something brilliant to fall in my lap and just settle. I’m not entirely happy with this chapter, so all thoughts and cc welcome! Rose will get less pathetic, I promise!
I will be updating much more regularly, and with much less wallow-y chapters (and more shirtless Teddy. Scorpius is a little shy, but I’ll talk to him). The amazing support for this has blown me away and I will do my best not to let you down!
Chapter 3: Maybe you were all faster than me
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The deep boom and crash of waves slamming against the shore has already become familiar, a noise I can only register at the edges of my consciousness. Except at times like now, when every sense is heightened almost unbearably.
I allow myself one more glance in the mirror. The girl staring back at me is so fair her freckles fairly scream out from her pointed face. She is not beautiful, with her too big mouth and long nose, but she is not ugly either, with wide brown eyes that have the potential to speak, if not charm. She fiddles with the badger claw hanging from her neck and runs her other hand through her short hair, a colour somewhere between red and brown before she departs with a swish of grey skirts.
I can’t help the slight flutter of my heartbeat as I push open my bedroom door and venture out onto the landing. Victoire glides from her room as I approach it and my jaw drops. I have always known that she is a pretty woman, but next to Dominique, that knowledge always fades away to unimportance. Stars shine brightly in the sky, but suns blaze, and push all pale imitation aside.
Victoire’s hair, normally a sheet of silk, has been twisted into shining coils and her slim body is sheathed in a soft translucent material which clings to her tall form and glimmers in the dusky light. With the simple circlet of ivy leaves topping her head, she looks like a faerie queen about to step out to call her court to order in the woods. She spares me a glance, her eyes flitting over my length and without a word she takes me by the wrist and pulls me along into her room.
“No,” I tell her but she fusses about me with pots and powders, a distant look in her eye.
“No,” I tell her, as she carelessly pulls off my simple grey shift dress and wraps a bit of deep blue gauze about me. It is like her, a thing of elegance with subtle, ever-changing embroidery, and it is fitting raiment for a lady, not a sparrow.
“No,” I tell her as she moves to replace my badger claw pendant with a gleaming oval gem. This time she humors me and steps back, a mysterious smile tugging her red lips.
I do not look around the bedroom, to see the unfamiliar signs of masculine habitation; the vintage Hawaiian shirt lying on the floor, the boxers thrown on the bed, like I do not look into the full length mirror before me to examine the stranger who will greet me. She is a construction for this night only, a myth that might as well never have been. She is neither real, nor me.
I force a smile for Victoire; a movement of muscles I am well accustomed to, and then I leave her to flee to the embrace of the night air. The unfamiliar weight of earrings burns my ears as I step out onto the verandah, as the surprise on Dom’s face burns my cheeks. She recovers quickly and chatters gaily as we wait for the others to join us. I only half listen to the steady stream of her conversation, my eyes fixed on the rhythmic motion of the sea the verandah looks out on. Dominique is in fine form tonight, when I turn back to her, her ivory face is flushed a delicate rose with excitement, her glorious eyes dilated and brilliant.
Scorpius, who is the first of the others to join us, stops in his tracks as he glimpses her. The longing on his face is so fierce I have to look away; it is more than painful to openly watch something so intimate, it is indecent. By the time I dare glance up from the faded wooden floorboards, Dominique is in his arms, for once deigning to be held close and still.
Teddy and Victoire emerge from the house at last, and if her face is pale under her flawless makeup and his mouth set in an unusually hard line, my tongue cleaving to the roof of my mouth would have prevented my commenting. If, of course, I had the courage to speak, which is increasingly rare.
The understanding hovering between them is layer upon layer of gossamer; shared hopes and dreams and memories all swirling together. It has been like that for as long as I can remember, and if there have ever been tears in the glowing threads flowing from one to another, encircling, embracing, defining, then those tears were not visible to mortal eyes. Where Teddy and Victoire led, the rest of us followed as best we could.
Dominique, unngled from Scorpius, waves her fingers in front of my face.
“What?” I ask blankly, my reverie broken.
“We’ll be late,” she laughs, though her eyes linger on the star like ornaments Victoire pinned in my hair.
I allow her to link her arms in mine, and we walk behind Ted and Victoire, Scorpius trailing a way behind us. The walk seems interminably long, but at last we arrive at a tall blue house decked out with fairy lights. The moment we slip around to the back, where sounds of music and laughter are already ringing through the air, it starts all over again. Dominique is hailed with shrieks of delight and catcalling, she dances off to kiss and coo and to hugged fiercely and lifted off her feet. I should not be surprised that in less than a week here she has found friends, admirers, old acquaintances and future lovers. For all her volatility, in some ways she is very predictable.
As is the scene before me. Rather than hover awkwardly, waiting for one of my family to remember me, or for one charitable soul to introduce themselves, and inflict at least ten minutes of empty and increasingly painful conversation on us both, I instead wander away from the groups of people scattered about the deck and garden. I find a drink, I find a wooden bench, and I sit in the almost darkness, listening to the sounds of mediocre mainstream music and unfeigned happiness and wondering if it can really be all it appears.
Even if this had not been a muggle party, still I would have felt out of place. Everyone here glitters, they glow with tans, with health, with the satisfaction of being young and beautiful. There is a couple kissing in the bushes some feet behind me, there is a tangle of limbs and laughs in open air sauna.
I could close my eyes, block out the noise and be at peace. My thoughts have always been the best of companions, they were my greatest amusement in my Hogwarts years. Albus gathered friends about him for his own sake, I on the other hand drove people away. If they were not jealous of my abilities, they were unable to handle my tongue. I don’t suffer fools gladly. I call it as I see it, and I cannot help it – nor should I care – if others are more short sighted, or willfully naïve.
Perhaps if I had been in another house, it would have been different. . the Ravenclaws might have appreciated my particular brand of humour if I had been one of them . . but I was not. I was in Hufflepuff, the home of ‘the rest’.
I push these musings aside. I have been down these pathways many times, I know how they circle and never end. None of it matters. I am here, school is at last behind me, and the future – frightening for it’s possibility, for it potential for further failure – awaits me.
A cough brings me back down to earth, and I glare automatically as someone seats themselves on my bench. Scorpius almost glows in the night, his white shirt only a few shades lighter than his fair hair. He is smoking again, as if it will not have him nauseous the next morning, and the whiff of his affectation mingles with the smell of salt and sea to burn my sensitive nostrils.
I ignore him – it worked well enough through all of school, and I suspect before this summer even unfurls that I will have seen enough of my cousins and their lovers. He does not take the hint, he is not as perceptive, or as sensitive, as a poet should be. But then, he is a new type of literati, this sharp featured youth with eyes of endless darkness. He drinks in beauty, but he does not reflect it, he swallows it whole.
“What are you doing in this corner, Rose?” he asks. The disgust mingled with pity in his tone sets my cheeks aflame. How dare he, the son of a Death Eater, look down on me?
“I’m fine,” I tell him as coolly as I am able. I pluck a carnation from the bush beside me and begin to tear strips methodically from its velvety petals.
He laughs, a snort of disbelief.
“No, you’re not. Why are you hiding?” he demands.
“I want to,” I say simply. If it is not the exact truth, it is not a lie.
“Why are you alone?”
That is the question, isn’t it? I do not answer, will not give him the satisfaction of hearing a tremble in my voice. I sit there, twisting the remnants of my flower, and he allows me, give me a brief moment of respite before he begins his attack again.
“Have you always done this?” he asks suddenly and I drop the flower in surprise.
“I don’t know what you are-”
“How long have you been pushing people away?” he presses. “At Hogwarts, I always thought it was just me, but you do it to Victoire, you do it to Ted, you even do it to Dominique.”
I stand up. I do not have to take this from a Malfoy, of all people.
“What are you running from Rose?” he asks. It is not a taunt but a serious question and when I glance at him, he could be a marble statue, so pale and motionless is he.
“I’m not running,” I say automatically, knowing myself that it the most transparent of lies. Running is what I do best; I ran from my family name at school, I ran from my mother across the channel and I will die before giving that ferret faced albino busybody the satisfaction of knowing I would run from him.
I do not sit down again, but nor do I move away. We remain trapped in our own little bubble of tension while in the distance people shriek with laughter and scream in delight.
“What happened?” he asks suddenly and I look up at him, surprised he was the first to break. “What made you like this?”
There is genuine curiosity in his voice, but it is the intensity in his eyes that infuriates me most. I have seen it before. It is the hunger of the writer within him to know, to understand, to analyse and capture in neat little words.
I am no clock piece, for mechanisms to be taken apart, cleaned and reassembled.
“Nothing,” I tell him, a sneer that feels worthy of him twisting my lips. “People can’t be boxed into neat little categories, Malfoy. I am who I am, and that is all there is to it.”
This time I begin to walk away, irritated at myself for having got into conversation with the idiot. He was never known for his conversation, quite the reverse, but if he was this abrasive when he did speak, it was a good thing his diatribes were rare.
You’re selfish, Rose,” he says with a calculated cruelty that stops me, as it was meant to. Unable to believe what I am hearing and I turn, my fingers itching to strike his cheek.
“What did you say?” I demand.
“I always thought you were a mystery. The one Weasley the whole world didn’t know about, the one girl in our year who didn’t care about who was dating who, who didn’t bother with the posturing and pretence. I thought there was more to you, darling, but clearly I was wrong. You’re just a selfish child, and you always will be.”
My hand scythes through the smoky air to hit him this time, but he catches my hand and forces it down. He is only inches away from me, and the intensity of his eyes, for once not empty or shadowed, almost mesmerize me. I remember to struggle to free myself but his long fingers remained encircled around my wrist, not hard enough to bruise, but strong enough that I cannot slip away.
“You little fool,” Malfoy says slowly, throwing his cigarette on the floor with his free hand and stamping on it. “So you have issues. So you’re scared. The world doesn’t stop for your problems, Rose. The stars don’t go out.”
"Who the hell do you bloody think you are, telling me-”
“What’s going on here?” breaks in a familiar voice.
Despite the edge to his voice, Teddy brings calm with him, as well as the realization that my voice had risen and more than a few eyes were on us. As Scorpius steps back and releases me, I flush automatically. I cannot explain even to myself why it is that Teddy, of all people, should not have been the one to find me here, loitering in a corner with Malfoy, my hand in his and his face inches away from mine, but even Dominique would have preferable, and not formed a false idea.
When I can lift my eyes from the ground, Teddy is still giving Scorpius a look compressing many volumes of threat, though it slides off the ferret’s back. I wonder if Teddy even remembers that is Scorpius, not the extended Weasley family whom he is actually related to. Regardless, he makes it clear where his allegiances lie.
“Alright, petal?” Teddy asks neutrally. I frown automatically at the nickname and he laughs and the tension is broken.
“I’m fine,” I say firmly, not looking behind at Malfoy as Teddy tucks my arm in his and begins to lead me away. “I’m fine.”
A.N Not a three month wait this time! XD Last super angsty chapter for a while, this was never supposed be (this) depressing! Did you like, or think things happened too fast? Let me know :)
Chapter 4: She's so pretty and she's so sure
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She's so pretty and she's so sure
Maybe I'm more clever than a girl like her
Rain. I should be used to it, living as I have in England for so long, but it isn’t something that I, in all my romantic cynicism ever associated with the lap of the sea against the fair white shores of France. Still it is here in full force this week, and beats down my window pane. It has trapped the five of us in the house today and I wonder how long it will be before one of us breaks. Or who it will be. One would expect Dominique, with all her passion and fire to be the first to snap. She did spend the first day pacing about, wearing the wooden floor boards of the bungalow out as she ranted and raved to anyone who would listen, as if the whole house were not forced to by virtue of paper thin walls. Now however, she has fallen into a rare quiet mood, and I cannot hear the rhythmic rise and fall of her voice. The silence is ominous, because it is unfamiliar and the unfamiliar always holds hidden threats waiting to pounce.
I watch the fat droplets splatter against the glass and each drop is a dream given up, a love soured or a day, or week, or lifetime wasted. Added up, they are the tears of the world.
Scorpius’s voice echoes in my head still.
“The world doesn’t stop for your problems, Rose. The stars don’t go out.”
It’s ironic, really that a Malfoy could ever lecture a Weasley on being selfish. Or try and teach them how to live. His life has been one long declaration of self-centeredness, a testament to raising one child’s wrong. The Malfoys adored their only child, lavished all their attention and love on the child who was going to redeem them in the eyes of the critical Wizarding world. He was to be a Minister: respectable, reasonably liberal and universally well liked. Instead they got a son who left school after OWL year to live bohemian style with twelve others in muggle London. Tales of experiments with smoking wolf weed and sexual depravity trickled back even to school, followed by rumours that he was writing a book, although no one has ever been privileged to read a word he has written.
Scorpius hasn’t apologised for his words last week, so it is lucky I never expected him to. I know him better than to be foolish enough to imagine him to care for the feelings of anyone beside himself, or to even notice when he went trampling across lines that normal people dared not approach. What I did not expect him to do was to ignore me completely; Scorpius has always had an idle interest me, watching me when he had nothing better to do, occasionally braving even my most pointed stare to attempt conversation. Yet since the party he has had the audacity to act as if I don’t exist, as if we really were a pair of strangers, worlds apart instead of two misfits who had observed each other from a distance for years on end.
I don’t care, Scorpius is nothing to me, and never has been.
“Don’t get too friendly with him Rosie. Grandpa Weasley would never forgive you if you married a pureblood.”
Darling Daddy, you never did know what you were talking about, did you? If there is anything I miss about being a child, it was the days you carried me on your back around the house, skipping work to discover the delights of Cinderella with me, and then trying to convince me that Babbity Rabbity was superior to Beauty and the Beast. There was a lovely simplicity about those days that I long for; it was a time of stark clarity where everything made sense. You needn’t have worried, Daddy, that was never going to be me. It was Dominique in the end who would risk breaking Grandfather’s heart, Dominique with her crimson smile and laugh like sunshine, who stole what passed for Scorpius’ heart, but maybe saved his soul along the way. She is not his spouse, and probably never will be, but from the way he drinks in her presence even I can tell she is his reason for living.
Perhaps the reason I have never liked Scorpius is that I see a terrifying hint of myself in him. There is the same emptiness when we are on our own, the same distaste for pretense and need for something brilliant and beautiful. But while Scorpius pours himself into his writing, fuelled by the presence of his erratic muse Dominque, I have no skill, no special ability, no anchor.
“Really Rose, not even one Outstanding? Why can’t you apply yourself more?”
It is lucky for my mother, her second husband Nott and all their terribly intellectual friends in upper Ministry circles that Hugo is certifiably gifted and talented, because in that sphere I cannot make them happy. I am clever, certainly, but no more than that and school never interested me, let alone was my passion. I love to read, but refuse to do so on command, I have opinions, but have never felt the need to share them. I couldn’t care less if the Minister of Finance is a bumbling fool or if the newest legislation on harvesting crystal balls is going to upturn the market, or impact the international value of the galleon. Politics interests me as much as history – not at all. It is not what the world expected from Hermione Granger’s daughter, it was not what Hermione Granger expected from her daughter, but it is what I am, plain and simple. It does remain a comfort, however cold, that for all Dominique’s beauty, and Victoire’s unshakable serenity and calm certainty in herself, I am the clever one.
I don’t know how long I stay staring out the window, adrift in the swirling mess of my thoughts and memories but I am snapped back to reality by the urgency in the voice that cuts across the thin walls of house.
“Tell me what is wrong.”
“Nothing is wrong!” lashes back a second voice, of a woman pushed to her very limit. I wonder if I will spend my entire life listening to other couples fight. These two could almost be my parents, if I closed my eyes and forgot that those years of them even speaking are long past.
“You’re crying. For Merlin’s sake, something is wrong.”
“Sometimes a girl just needs to have a good cry. Stop making such a fuss, you always make such a drama out of the smallest things!”
A pause. Then a voice grows in volume.
“You think pretending problems aren’t there makes them go away, but it doesn’t, not even for you. Vicky, happy women do not cry for no reason.”
There is a silence that stretches out for years and then a whisper wafts through the walls to me.
“Please don’t call me Vicky.”
When Teddy speaks, there is a crack in his voice that causes my fingers to clench around the soft wool of my bedspread. Teddy does not beg. He has always been the leader of us all; not a patronising elder brother like James, who would ruffle our hair and send us on our way, Teddy was our king. He sorted our squabbles and dissolved our disputes. Therefore the raw vulnerability in his voice is not possible.
“I’ve called you Vicky since you were two.”
Victoire is silent for a moment, and when she speaks, she sounds infinitely tired. “I’m not two anymore. We’re not children; in fact, we’re close to no longer even being young.”
“Vicky – Victoire - just tell me what is wrong. I can’t fix it if you don’t tell me.”
“Theodore.” There is wealth of emotion compressed into Victoire’s single utterance and I can’t but wonder how long this argument has been coming – or how many times it has occurred before. Her voice does not shake like this, that is the quality of the younger sister, never the elder.
“You don’t always have to fix things. You can’t always fix things. Why have you never been able to understand that?”
When Teddy speaks again, his voice is very cold, colder than I have ever heard it before.
“Because if I could understand that, I wouldn’t be me, and you know it”
A door is slammed, although by who I can only guess and steps beat down the staircase before a second door, this time the heavy oak of the outer house, is shut forcefully.
My own door opens and I jump to my feet automatically. Dominique glides in, hand in hand with Scorpius. She seats herself on my bed and he closes the door and leans against it, looking bored as usual.
“What are you doing?” I ask. I would expect Dominique to be comforting her sister, not voluntarily seeking me out for the first time in years. Even the offer to accompany the quartet had come from Tante Fleur, and no doubt was orchestrated by Nana Weasley, still uncomfortable with modern unchaperoned life.
“She’s charmed her door shut, and I know better than to cross her when she goes into ice bitch mode,” Dominique says peremptorily.
“That doesn’t explain why you are here,” I say.
Dominique rolls her eyes.
“God, Rose, you make me tired. Not everyone is after something all the time. Can’t I come to have a chat with my cousin without wanting something?” she asks, widening her eyes in mock hurt.
“No,” Scorpius and I say at the same time, and then look at each other, and immediately away.
“What do you want, Dominique?” I ask, for once meeting her eyes squarely. Her beauty dazzles even me, but I am not stupid enough to be taken in by her transparency.
She drums her long white fingers against my bed, looking at Scorpius.
“This will be a very long summer if they continue to fight,” he says evenly. “As I understand it, they’ve been doing this for some time now.”
“What does this have to do with me?”
“You’re Teddy’s favourite,” Dominique says simply.
I snort. I can’t help myself. I’ve never known them to be so absurd.
“You’re always talking about books and things, you both like the same awful music.. I can talk to Victoire about her problems, but neither of us are any good when it comes to Teddy.”
“He’s actually related to him, remember?” I say simply to be difficult, pointing my finger at Scorpius.
“I don’t get along with my actual family, did you really think being second cousins would make us best friends?” he drawls.
“Molly always said you were the only person in this family who could actually listen, and I know Teddy’s commented that you are surprisingly insightful for someone our age or something. We’ll take care of Victoire once she’s calmed down, but Rose, you have to keep tabs on Teddy.”
“This isn’t a spy movie. We don’t need to allocate keepers and track the pair of them.”
“Rose,” Dominique says pleadingly and I shrug. I really have nothing better to do, and of all them, Ted’s company is easily the one I’d prefer.
“I’ll talk to him,” I say soothingly. When, after all, have I refused them?
Dominique shrieks and engulfs me in a hug before dancing from the room, pulling Scorpius out with her. I go back to staring out my window, but my raindrops have fallen away. The sky is still grey, but my gaze is drawn to the tall figure pacing along the shore. Despite my agreement, I do not immediately go out and tag along after him. Even from the distance, the stiffness of his posture suggests that he will not welcome interruption. Although not a werewolf, there has always been something latently lupine about our Teddy. Mum has this muggle theory that it was what drew Victoire to him from the start; not that he was always there terrifying any boy who looked in her direction, not because he was her first everything, but because there are parallels between Uncle Bill and Ted Lupin that would have thrilled Freud to the core. It is not there most days, usually he is happy, laughing Teddy, but every now and then the anger of the wolf flashes to the surface.
I let him thrash out his energy hiking, I allow dinner to pass in awkward silence, and then when he silently stalks up the staircase to the rooftop, Dominque’s jab of elbows is unnecessary to inform me that my moment has come. I follow him to the rooftop, a place of level stone adorned only by a muggle telescope, a few scattered cushions and two chairs that must be fixed with magic to maintain their precarious position.
As I sink into the chair not occupied by a silent man, I realise why such measures have been taken, because from this vantage point, the whole world seems spread at our feet, the endless expanses of sea and sky almost one under the cover of night.
“Did they tell you to make sure I wasn’t going to jump?” Teddy asks suddenly.
I choke on an unexpected giggle.
“Don’t be ridiculous Ted,” I say briskly. “I’m here for the view, if you want to kill yourself, don’t let my presence stop you by any means.” I look up the stars, faint pinpricks of light peeping from behind shifting velvety covers of cloud, but I know he is smiling despite himself. Like his wolf moments, his dark moods never last long. We sit in silence for a while. Dominique may think I am close to Teddy because we occasionally talk books. In fact, if I am any closer to Teddy than anyone else, it is because we can sit in silence, comfortable in not needing to talk. There are no ghost to be chased away with chatter, no tension that needs to be softened by words.
“I don’t know what to do, petal,” Teddy confesses. “I don’t know why I’m here, I.. I just don’t know anymore.”
“Ted, you took this holiday because Uncle Harry forced you at wand point. Even for a Healer, you were wearing yourself down to the bone,” I remind him. “You needed this holiday.”
“Work.. was a distraction,” Teddy says almost to himself.
“Teach me to Apparate, Teddy.”
I don’t know where it comes from. I don’t know why these words feel like they have been suppressed for years, hidden by clouds of pain, because my inability to Apparate is something I thought I had dealt with. It was not what I intended to say when I opened my mouth wanting to comfort Teddy in whatever inadequate way I could.
My words are not a command, or a plea, but a strange somewhere in between and they cause Teddy to straighten in his chair and look at me. He really looks at me, this is no quick comradely glance of compassion and shared suffering, no teasing smirk or careless grin, his eyes rake over me as if I am a curious specimen, or a puzzle that his gaze will force together.
“Alright,” he says simply, and a breath I did not know I was holding captive is freed. He does not mock, as Dominique might and Scorpius would, my inability despite being Hermione Granger’s daughter. He does not point out, as Victoire gently would, that there is no reason I will succeed now where I have failed before, more times than anyone knows. He does not comfortingly remind me that many witches and wizards choose not to Apparate, preferring the slow safety of brooms or Floo.
Teddy looks at me and seems to understand that I cannot cope with anymore of slow and safe. He might realise that I am trying to distract him, to take his mind off his own problems, but he recognises how much this means to me. I want it. I need it. I want freedom, I want power, I want to go away and be able to leave everything and everyone behind me in the blink of an eye. I may loathe myself for all that I have become – for all that the world has made me – but I am tired of being shoved about by fate and moulded by the cruel hands of chance.
I’ve had enough. I am Rose Weasley, for better or for worse, and I am tired of being overlooked and forgotten. I’m making a bid for freedom, and if Teddy Lupin is distracted from wallowing in the process, so much the better.
A. N Ok so I totally lied, there was SUPER angst in this chapter. I can’t control Rose, but this was a turning point for her. Again, my usual beg for forgiveness for shocking update delays, but I’m a very busy girl and stupid enough to attempt five (count ‘em!!) works in progress. Your support is deeply appreciated and the main reason I haven’t been able to put this on hold like I should. Thankyou, thankyou,thankyou
Anything you recognise is JK's (Ron is quoted from Deathy Hallows Epilogue) and chapter titles remain from Vanessa Carlton's song White Houses