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Some Kind of Beauty by Celestie

Format: Novella
Chapters: 4
Word Count: 23,171
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Strong Language, Mild Violence, Scenes of a Mild Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme, Contains Spoilers

Genres: General, Angst, Young Adult
Characters: Ron, Hermione, Teddy, Scorpius, Lily (II), Hugo, Rose, Victoire
Pairings: Rose/Scorpius, Ron/Hermione, Teddy/Victoire, Other Pairing

First Published: 08/10/2011
Last Chapter: 08/18/2011
Last Updated: 10/05/2011

Summary:



2011 Dobby Winner: Best Novella

My family was never one for normality nor did we ever try to label ourselves that way. Through the years, we lived through our shares of fights and laughter and chaos. I didn't know much about living, but they taught me all I knew about loving. In the end, there didn't seem to be one without the other.

Heavenly banner by amoretti | September Featured Story at The Golden Snitches


Chapter 1: part i
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Some Kind of Beauty

It is spring now, all perfumed fragrances and sweet beauty.

The pear blossoms will open soon, but for now, their silky forms ripple shadows across the streaming sunlight.  Outside, the garden is wavering in the curious state of post-winter where the leaves are still tinged with cold, but warming by the day. It is reassuring. Whatever the seasons bring, the frosted earth has felt it all before.

It is this unrippled perfection that has so convinced me of the existence and breadth of beauty. I have seen some things that are meant only for poets’ pens and said some things that I came to regret with the depth of an ocean blind to me.

But silent release has come, in muted greens and quiet clumps of dirt, all with the glorious, earth shattering understanding of beauty, painted with the everlasting essence of childhood.

I wandered once as she will one day, as lonely as a cloud, staining rolling green hills where no words have been spoken, with shadows that I do not have. I have been to places where no sorrow has been seen and the brief heartbeats of nature lost to antiquity. It is the eternal flame, the unending voice, the collision of an understanding of life and the ability to live it.

One day, she will cry as I did.

And someday after, she will learn to stop.

She will see the waters of a lake, swerving like the back of a black whale and know that they breathe as she does. She will live on, move on, grow on, and understand as I do now.

This is my lovely niece, looking at me now, puzzled. I am thirty-two and she is fifteen and the decades that have passed since I was her age and she was a baby do not seem so far away.

Jolene holds up the picture to me again. It is a yellowed old picture of two girls by the sea, framed around seashells. “Aunt Rose?”

“Yes?”

“When was this picture taken?”

She is fifteen years old now, but to me, she is still baby Jolie and as lovely as a promise.

 “A long time ago, darling.”

“When exactly, though?”

“I think I was about eight or nine.”

“Is that Aunt Dom? Can you tell me about her?”

“Hasn’t Victoire already told you?”

“Mum rarely talks about her. She doesn’t like thinking about the past.” She pouts at me. “Or something like that. Dad always says that when I try to ask her.”

I look at her, smiling.

Time has changed me. It is an odd thing to be sentimental of an object that I can neither see nor feel. So many things have happened in the last years and time, like the waves lapping the beachside, has erased and rewritten. The very sinews of the seconds etched somewhere between the stars shift and turn. And it unravels and unfolds and blooms and within it, so do we.

She is looking at me expectantly. “Aunt Rose?”

Outside, the dusk sunshine hits a peak over the horizon and the world is fanned in bright oranges. The inside of my small courtyard glimmers with promise; the furniture and the paintings leak a rustic gold.

“Even in a large family, Dominique was impossible to forget.”

Time pauses entirely. And we go back together, with me treading carefully upon its sands, and with Jolene smiling easily. We stand, watching the placid waters of a thousand different oceans, ready to dive in. This time, the journey does not frighten me. I am going back again.

Back to the beginning of beauty. 

*

Growing up a Weasley is something that nobody can ever be properly prepared for.

It is a matter of family, pride, and history and a rather lot of broken vases.

Sunday evenings at the Burrow were the most distinctive part of growing into what a Weasley was. The pandering summer air, the moist blue-black sky, and the flickering stars were the envelope to an age of innocence.

My earliest memories, from when I was seven still come from stomping around the Burrow on Sunday evenings, watching James and Fred steal Uncle Percy’s glasses and hide them. Victoire was twelve and Teddy thirteen and both were eyeing each other over the dinner table and laughing. Nana Molly and Aunt Audrey were both usually cooking dinner and Dad and Uncle Harry sat in the same corner as always, playing chess. I don’t think Uncle Harry ever really won a game, but he sat there, the image of concentration.

Mum was still busy fussing with Hugo, and Aunt Ginny with Lily, when they were both still babies and cute back then. I watched Dominique with part-envy and part-awe as she sat in on everything: Aunt Angelina’s heated Quidditch discussions (Dom already knew the rules), James and Fred arguing over where to put Uncle Percy’s glasses, Albus and Uncle George chasing garden gnomes.

We were something else together: the six Weasley girls. The other five defined to me what it meant to be sisters, growing alongside each other in an isolated cosmos, drifting through the blackness of space. In my seat near the window, I could see the outside sky and to me, the six of us were planets and swirling stars in our own right, though I did not know which correlated to us.

Where Victoire and Dominique were bright, beautiful and burning, I was usually in the back, with the three other forgotten girls: Molly, Lucy and Roxanne.

Roxanne was nine, and she lingered around Victoire endlessly, as though stuck to her side. She played the part of a shadow with dexterity and poise, as though never quite noticing what role she had limited herself to. She sat to the side and watched Teddy and Victoire, biting her lip. But she was only three years older than me and played with me and Dom occasionally. She was different in her own way – timid, but contented and kind. There were days long, long ago when we played together. 

She didn’t shine as brightly as Dom did, talking all of the time and taking all the attention. We were both reserved, so it was a happy spot in the shade. The times that my mum took me to Aunt Angie’s, we lingered in her room as she let me try on her clothes and borrow her books. She watched me with solemn, large eyes as I unshelved her books and took them home, promising to bring them back.

Lucy and Molly had each other for solace when their parents were distracted. Molly was my age and she was afraid of everything. She had a small afterthought of a voice that never seemed to say anything of worth, so I left her behind, in the depth of my disapproval. And Lucy. Lucy didn’t matter. In the mass of shifting and noise and creaking and laughter, Lucy almost did not exist. She wasn’t even worth my disapproval.

Beyond where we sat, Dom was bright even when she was broken. The pock marks that climbed on her arms were always safely hidden away from us under long sleeves and swishing robes and without them, we could never see she was different. She refused to tell me much about why they were there or how they’d come, but watching Aunt Fleur’s wavering expression whenever Dom wobbled under the hot sun was enough to understand.

Mum refused to let me ask her about it. “She’ll tell you when she’s ready, Rose.”

And so we existed in bliss.

There was laughter and cool nights and the sweltering heat of bare feet on pavement. There were jokes that were long forgotten, memories that were slowly replaced. The days passed, the years passed. Childhood melded into adolescence. The unnamed stars, the unidentifiable planets above me seemed still, independent from time.

*

When Dominique and I were both ten, we spent a summer together by the sea.

She spent most of the time inside at home with her mum, wasting time, playing Quidditch and trying on Victoire’s dresses. My mum forced me into preparing for Hogwarts years early and I memorized spells and played the piano as my Dad, probably feeling lonely, attempted to teach Hugo how to play chess. Hugo was only five years old, so most of the chess pieces ended up in his mouth.

My happy little family was oddly dysfunctional and never as perfect as everyone assumed; there was Mum, who was too bossy and neurotic for anybody’s good, and Dad, who was always relaxed and disorganized. Beyond the early morning shouting matches as they ran for work, they balanced each other out in a tangled sort of way. They were all wound up together like string and there came a time you couldn’t really tell them apart, even though they were so different. Mum said that was called marriage. Dad called it insanity. Hugo and I called it our family.

It was different from Dominique’s family, where Uncle Bill and Aunt Fleur were really just the same side of one coin and Victoire was a distant, perfect falling star and Dominique was her sky.

On that beach by the sea, Dominique and I played among imaginary castles and a breathless, beaming sun. The ocean was rife with freeze and salt and we played pretend; she was the perennial queen, the princess, the center of everything – at least in our pretend world, where all secrets were kept. I contented myself with being the elf, the handmaiden, the dying peasant. She had to wear long dresses that covered everything down to her ankles. It never mattered much to me, regardless of how much she hated it and scratched at it and called it a curtain. It made her look more like the princess she was being.

When it got too hot, Dominique’s skin would get very red and she’d slowly begin coughing and I knew it was time for us to get in the shade.

Victoire would sit at the edge of Shell Cottage and wait until Dom began wobbling before she raced through the sand and forced a parasol into Dom’s hand. “I can’t believe you! Why do you have to go outside anyway? Why can’t you just stay inside? I won’t be forced to babysit you all the time if you were just normal!”

“Why is your sister like that?” I asked Dom as Dom watched Vic’s retreating back murderously.

She casually threw her hair back and asked, “Who? Victoire?” like she had any other sisters.

When I nodded, she sighed and drew two lines in the sand. “I think she’s worried that if anything happens to me, she won’t have someone who’ll make her look even more perfect than she is. Well, I’m not staying inside where there’s nothing to do!”

Wide-eyed, I asked, “Do you hate her, then?”

“Hate her? No, of course not. I love her loads. I just don’t like being with her much. She keeps reminding me that I’m sick all the time.”

Dom rubbed her hands and stared at me. We sat parted by a thin line of black. She was sitting under the shade of her bright blue parasol, shaded from the sun as I sat baked under the heat, unaffected. She rubbed the sides of her sleeved arms and I felt something drip down my bare, exposed skin.

But Dom slowly smiled at me and I took the parasol out of her hands and held it up for her, watching the bright blue of the parasol blend in with the unending sky.

That was the perpetual truth about our family: that everyone was looking at someone else. That Victoire looked at her mother, that Dominique looked at Victoire, that I looked at Dominique, and we rotated that way – carelessly, feebly, like lightless stars lost in a great expanse.

*

Two days before I left for Hogwarts, I sat outside in the August breeze with my mum and wondered.

“Mum? What’ll Hogwarts be like?”

Mum sighed. “Wonderful. It’ll be just lovely, Rose. You’ll have a second home and another family.”

“Another family?” Beyond Mum and Dad and Dom, I barely liked our family. Hugo had grown from a big-cheeked five year old to an eight-year old pain in the neck: he followed me around, took things from me, never stopped talking and generally became the loudmouth Weasley I was sure my dad had been.

Mum gave me her half-smile filled with clairvoyance; she always could do the unnerving mind-reading thing that only mums were capable of. “You don’t like yours much?”

“Well, I don’t really know our family much, do I?”

“You do. Somewhat. You’ve always been around your grandparents, and of course, your Uncle Harry and – ”

“I meant my cousins,” I said and Mum stopped her ranting with a nod. “I know Dom.”

“Victoire?”

“Victoire’s old. And she doesn’t really like us that much, I can tell. She’s all fussy and perfect. It’s boring.”

“What about the boys?”

“James and Fred are the same and they always tease and that’s even more boring. Al’s alright when he isn’t accidentally breaking things or tripping on things. And Louis’s just a baby. He doesn’t count.”

“Well, you forgot Molly and Lucy – ”

“They don’t count. They’re the most boring.”

“Rose!” said Mum, properly offended. “They’re your cousins and you absolutely must – ”

“Molly’s so nervous all the time, it’s boring. And Lucy never talks. She just sits there. And then there’s Roxanne. I suppose she’s nice, but she never talks to me anymore.”

““You don’t have to like them much, darling. But you’ll need them all someday.”

*

On the day we left for Hogwarts for the first time, we scrambled on to the train in a mass of trunks and owls and chaos. Dad was still waving from the platform – probably still joking about my disinheritance. Aunt Fleur was wringing Dom’s hand and I could hear her saying with exasperation, “Yes mum, I’ll take medicine. Stop worrying. I’ll be fine!”

“Twice a day, for the six months, remember,” Uncle Bill was saying. “And out of the sun, Dom and absolutely no strenuous physical activity. Your sister will help you if you need anything.”

“Yeah right.” With a final eye roll, Dom clambered onto the train after me and Al.

It took Albus all of two minutes to wave me and Dominique a hasty goodbye and run off to meet James.

“He doesn’t want to be seen sitting with girls,” said Dominique indignantly as he tripped over a trunk and retreated. “How childish.”

“I don’t blame him,” I said, half-wishing that I could run after him as well. “Maybe we should find Victoire and sit with her.”

“Like my sister would want us to sit - it’s so full here,” said Dominique, balancing her way through the crowded hallway. “There’s nowhere to – ooh, Rose, come here, I see Molly! Let’s sit with her!”

She reached behind to grab my hand and yanked me forward.

“No, I don’t want to – she’s so boring. Let’s sit somewhere else, come on – ”

“Don’t be stupid, there’s no room anywhere else. And she’s alone!”

“Yes, for a reason,” I said, tilting myself backwards.

“Just because she’s a little shy doesn’t mean that we can be that rude!”

“I don’t want to.”

“Rose, my legs hurt. I have to sit down now, so come on.”

With one final heave, she dragged us both into Molly’s compartment.

Molly was sitting in a corner, her red hair looking like the usual bird’s nest. She gave an anxious sort of jump as we entered and recoiled at my irked stare.

“Hi Molly!” said Dominique cheerfully, “Mind if we sit?”

“Oh, of course,” said Molly, almost whispering, before looking at me. “Hi, Rose.”

“Hi,” I said curtly, crossing my arms and looking away.

Molly gave a horrified look to Dominique. “Am I – should I – should I leave?”

“No, of course not,” said Dominique, narrowing her eyes at me. “Which House do you think you’ll be sorted to?”

As Molly stuttered her way through an answer, I listened with one ear and laughed. Then Dominique laughed and Molly managed a small smile. That was all it took. After eleven years of never noticing, Molly and I began something like a friendship.

*

The Sorting came and went. To my tremendous relief, Dominique and I both became Gryffindors, which meant that we wouldn’t have to be separated. Molly gave us a small wave as she walked off to the Hufflepuff table.

The Gryffindor table seemed like the residency of most Weasleys: James and Fred were already planning to explode something, Al was looking slightly green at the thought of having to join in and Dom was chatting to the three other first-years girls. As we ate, I looked around at the crowded, noisy hall for signs of familiarity.

Victoire was seated regally at the forefront of the Ravenclaw table, taking ladylike bites, her Prefect badge glimmering. At the other end of the Hall, Roxanne was reading a book while eating, obviously ignoring the chatter of the other Slytherins.

*

First year began passing us by. Mum wrote me every three days, with the usual message: (“Remember Rose, if you begin badly, it’s very difficult to catch up. You ought to try your best from the beginning.”) Dad never bothered me much about school. He told me I had enough of mum for that. Hugo once owled me a drawing of a hippogriff chasing me around.

Dominique made friends with everyone. We also now had three girls with us in the dormitory – Emily Macmillan, Cecilia Zeller and Ruth Thomas. I kept my friendships with them polite. But I had Dom and Molly, and with all the side-noise that Fred, Albus and James managed to conjure, it was enough.

*

Somewhere near the middle of first year, Molly, Dom and I had a conversation while sitting by the lake. My time with Molly was slowly becoming less awkward and more amicable; she was happy and caring, even if she was vexingly nervous.

Dom had been skimming over a letter sent by her mother during breakfast. “And then mum says that Victoire’s absolutely not allowed to waste her time chasing after boys in Hogwarts.”

“I thought she was with Teddy now?” said Molly thoughtfully, “Or so James said.”

“James is an idiot, so who knows?” said Dom. A small line of disapproval appeared on her forehead and she stared at the letter with distaste, before crumpling it up.

“You shouldn’t do that!” said Molly, looking concerned at the small ball of parchment plopping on the ground.

“Why not?” I asked.

“It’s from her mum!” said Molly, bending down, picking up the letter and smoothing it. Dom snatched it from her and sighed.

“Molly, you’re really strange.”

“Family’s important,” said Molly, still frowning at the letter. “You should be happy for that.”

“Not really,” said Dom, “My dad’s the only one who’s sane in my family. My mum can be so annoying.” She waved the crumpled letter in our faces. “Look, she says I’m forbidden from trying out for Quidditch next year, so I can’t ask for a broom for my birthday.”

“Why?”

“Why else? She’s scared I’ll relapse again and probably end up fainting or something.”

“Have you fainted?” I asked.

“None of your business!” she said heatedly.

“Of course it’s my business! Stop doing insane things!”

“Why is wanting a broomstick insane? If you or Albus wanted one, it’d be perfectly normal!”

“My mum’s like that too,” said Molly, intervening. “I think she wants me to be just like her.”

“That isn’t so bad,” Dom retorted, “it’s worse when they want you to be perfect.”

“Your sister is kind of perfect,” said Molly wonderingly, which earned a glare from Dom. She continued more nervously. “Well – well, you’re just like her. You’re practically perfect too – you really are.”

“Don’t you and Lucy ever fight, Molly? Don’t you understand what that feels like?” asked Dom.

“Hugo’s a real nuisance,” I piped up. “Sometimes – ”

“Hugo doesn’t count as much,” said Dom dismissively, “he’s a boy. It’s different with girls. It’s not more or less, but it’s a different kind of love. Hatred-love.”

That made next to no sense to me, but I kept smiling at Dominique, the girl least likely in the world to know what hatred meant. She had friends all around Hogwarts, had popularity, had happiness.

“Lucy and I aren’t like that,” said Molly, in her same soft sing-song voice. “She helps me with things.”

“Like what?” asked Dominique. I began wishing that the topic would change – and quickly. Nobody cared about Lucy.

“Well, we understand each other. So she helps me.”

“Lucy’s invisible,” I said dismissively. Molly frowned.

“No, she isn’t. She’s my sister. She’s just a bit quiet, but when she talks – when she talks – she’s very lovely and smart. A – and she’s helped me with loads of things – like making friends and being – and being less anxious about things.”

“How would she know? She never talks,” I said.

Molly turned to Dominique. “Lucy’s like you. She – she’s just like you. And she’ll grow up to be just like you as well. She’ll help loads of people. Everyone’ll like her. She’ll be like you.”

I found it unlikely, but Dominique blushed like it was a compliment. 

“Really?” said Dominique, grinning. “That’s nice of you to say. Then what’ll the rest of the family be like?”

“I’d like it if I became like Nana Molly,” said Molly.

“And what about Rose? And Roxanne?”

“I don’t want to know,” I said. “And please don’t group me with her – she’s so strange now, have you seen her?”

“In an odd sort of way, I’ve always thought you and Roxanne were kind of the same,” said Dominique. “Like me and Lucy.”

I sat in silence after that, entirely indignant at such an accusation.

*

First year disappeared along with the summer, where I spent the days with Dominique as always. Louis was three years old and Dom carried him and Hugo walked along with me, sticking his tongue out and splashing us with water. Louis watched us suspiciously with his big blue eyes and plump, drooping cheeks. On some days, Molly joined us, walking along the long stretches of sand.

“Hugo, stop,” I said, as he took a fist full of warm sand and dumped it on to my arms. “You’re so annoying, I swear, I don’t know why mum even – ”

“Mum, mum, mum. What’re you going to do – tell her?”

“Shut up!” I swatted off his hand as he attempted a second retake. “You’re so obnoxious. Why can’t you leave me alone and go play with Al and James?”

He gave me a replica of Dad’s careless smile. “Because it’s more fun annoying you.”

“Yeah, that, and you’re horrible at Quidditch, so they won’t let you play.”

Dom shifted Louis’s position on her hip and Louis stuck his fingers in his mouth. “Rose, don’t tease him so much.”

“At least I can play a little,” said Hugo, blushing at me, “you’re afraid to get on a broomstick.”

“That’s besides – ”

“They – they seem to enjoy arguing, don’t they?” Molly whispered to Dom.

Dom sighed. “Yeah, afraid so.”

Hugo looked up at Molly, as though he had just realized she was there. Idiot. He probably had forgotten she had existed. Then he explained, as though clear as day: “Rose and I are supposed to argue. What’d we do with all our free time otherwise?”

“Maybe we could be civil,” I said.

“Stop trying to sound like mum,” he scoffed. “Since when’ve we ever been civil? Dad says it’s healthy. Our whole family likes arguing. Mum and Dad, you and me.”

“Me and Victoire,” proffered Dom, “Fred and Roxanne don’t really even talk to each other anymore – but Louis never argues with anyone, do you Lou? Do you – oooh, do you? – ” She began tickling Louis’s arm and he began giggling and writhing in her arms.

“Of course he doesn’t argue,” said Hugo blearily, inspecting Louis as though Dom had been serious. “All he does is drool.”

Molly was biting her lip hesitantly. She opened and closed her mouth several times, but nothing came out. She reddened furiously as we all stared.

“What’s with her? Is she always this insane?” whispered Hugo to me. It was a typically Hugo whisper: it was incredibly loud. Molly heard and turned even redder.

“What is it?” asked Dom.

“This is – um…”

“What?”

“This is nice,” she said lamely. “Could I bring Lucy next time? I think she’d like it.”

“Of course,” said Dom immediately.

A huge look of relief spread on her face. “She doesn’t have that many people to talk to – I just – I thought she might be a little lonely – ”

Evidently bored with Molly, Hugo flung more sand at me.

*

By our third year, I had began to understand what mum meant by Hogwarts being another home. Most of my family already lived there: James, and Fred were both fourth years, Roxanne was in her sixth year, and Dom, Al, me and Molly were almost halfway through our Hogwarts lives. Victoire had graduated and left us all behind for a fancy new job at the Daily Prophet that Aunt Fleur raved to no end about.

That same year, Lucy, Hugo and Lily all joined us for the first time on the train and Hogwarts became more and more familiar. James and Fred coordinated a line of dungbombs to explode within the train as we approached Hogwarts and the hallways were filled with clouds of stink. As we clambered off the train, Albus was coughing beside me, looking repulsed. Within a moment, Lucy and Molly both leapt out, looking equally green. From another side of the platform, Roxanne was glaring down at us.

Lily and Dominique shouted themselves hoarse at James and Fred.

“You irresponsible, disgusting, idiotic –

“I’m telling mum, James! I’m telling her!”

“ – no respect for anything but – ”

“She said that if you got in trouble one more time – ”

“What happened?” asked Lucy meekly. “Molly, I’m scared.”

Molly immediately quieted her and took her hand. “Nothing. Don’t worry, we’ll be alright.”

“I hate our family,” said Albus, ever the reluctant cynic, appeared beside me. “Everybody’s bloody insane. First the flying toilets, then jinxing Quidditch brooms, now this.”

“Third year’s begun,” I said, slightly morose at the thought.

*

As third year ended, I had one of my first real conversations with Lucy.

She was small and stocky, with wispy brown hair that waved around her face and trembling glass eyes. Whenever she spoke, she reminded me of how much she was like Molly, but less anxious and with a more quavering voice. But of course, there were some inevitable truths between the two: Lucy was thinner and had blue eyes instead of Molly’s brown eyes and she was a head shorter.

And of course, where Molly had become a Hufflepuff, Lucy had surprised us all with her Sorting: the hat had thrown her into Gryffindor within seconds.

Even if we were similar, we were Weasley girls and therefore not substitutable.

While we were working on a Potions essay, Lucy lingered near our table shyly, obviously waiting for us to welcome her in.

“Hey, look,” Dom whispered to me, “Lucy wants to talk to us.”

“Not now,” I said, not looking up as I wrote. “I’m busy.”

Dominique blatantly ignored me. “Hello Lucy!”

Lucy bit her lip and said fretfully, “Oh, hello…”

She immediately looked away. This was beginning to irritate me.

“Is there something I can help you with?” asked Dom.

“Well…” She began twiddling her fingers together. “Well…actually, I need help. With a spell.”

I looked up sharply. “What?”

“I don’t know how to do it,” she said slowly. “And – ”

“Go ask somebody in your year to help,” I said dismissively.

Lucy’s face got white. “I – I don’t talk to anybody much…”

“Of course we’ll help,” said Dom happily. “What spell is it?”

“In Transfiguration, we turned a quill into a needle and I can’t do it.”

“Oh, I’m horrid at Transfiguration, why don’t you have Rose help you?”

My jaw dropped at the sudden betrayal. “What? Why?”

Dominique stood up, her eyebrows raised at me in a way that clearly said ‘Behave or else.’ “I’m going to go to take some medicine.”

“You’re not feeling well?” I asked.

“It’s nothing,” she said dismissively. “Take care of Lucy, okay?”

To my irritation, Lucy stuttered and blushed her way through a simple Transfiguration spell.

I was getting more and more frustrated watching her as she twirled her wand uselessly and pointed it to the quill. “You haven’t gotten the motion right yet. You’re angling your wand way too far.”

“Like this?” She whirled her wand carelessly. It did nothing but fall out of her hand.

No. Come on, pay attention.” I made a clean swiping motion and pointed it at the quill. She watched in awe as it changed and the feather disappeared into a lean, pointy line.

After her tenth failed try, I gave up. “Alright, I really don’t know how else to explain it to you. You’re completely useless at this.”

She looked up at me nervously. “I’m – I’m sorry, I don’t know how else to do this. Please – just a little bit longer.”

“What’s the point? I doubt you’ll understand even if we try.”

There were several reasons why I disliked Lucy – and for that reason, Molly. Either Aunt Audrey or Uncle Percy was some kind of basketcase for their children to have turned out the way they did: Molly had all of Uncle Percy’s obsessively clean tendencies and Aunt Audrey’s general tics and nervousness. But Lucy wasn’t just nervous. She was shy. Invisible. A nuisance.

“I can try again,” she said even more quietly.

 “You’re rubbish at this.” It had been something like thirty minutes already and I still had an entire four inches left on my essay. I had inherited all of my mum’s testiness. “You wouldn’t have to come running to me for help if you had friends.”

I looked down at her, completely stuck in the arrogance of my age, wondering whether her response would swing from Molly’s tears or her usual silence.

Instead, everything changed. She surprised me.

With all her diminutive rage, she looked up at me and said coldly, “You can go to hell, Rose! I don’t have that many friends, but neither do you, so shut the hell up! All you do is talk to Dom or my sister and at least they’re nice. Molly’s always said you were nice, but she’s wrong. You were never nice to me. And I don’t care how stupid you say I am. You’re bloody annoying!”

She eyed me, huffing angrily and Molly’s words echoed in my head: She’ll grow up to be just like Dominique.

I looked down at her and sighed. “Alright then, be stubborn. We’ll see how much good it does you. Try swishing again.”

She picked up her wand, still frowning. For the first time since hearing Molly’s words, all I could think was, in spite of it all, she had been right.

*

During my fourth year, we all began growing up.

I don’t know how or when it happened, but slowly, it was becoming more and more obvious.

Ted finished Auror school and began working for the Ministry under Uncle Harry. In November, we received official notice of Teddy and Victoire’s engagement.

“Wouldn’t it be lovely if they had a summer wedding?” said Lily, positively mooning over the letter. “And a honeymoon in Italy. I’ve always wanted to – ”

“It’s lovely, now pass the pumpkin juice,” I said, still irritable from an all-night study session.

Molly had finally begun to lose the anxiousness in her voice; she was still as placid and compromising as ever, but some of Dominique’s carefree attitude had started to rub off. Hugo tried out for the Quidditch team and after three separate incidents involving “accidentally” hitting Slytherins who were walking by with a Bludger, finally became a Beater. Albus became the first person in the history of Hogwarts to discover the magical properties of Hippogriff dung. Ten minutes later, James became the first person in the history of Hogwarts to throw Albus in said Hippogriff dung.

Dom became more of a social butterfly and soon had most of Hogwarts under her spell. Even with her occasionally frail constitution, she seemed to be everywhere at once, absorbing everything.

And Lucy began talking and talking. She was tempestuous, but determined and straightforward; eventually, people began listening.

Of course, it helped a bit that she could yell with Nana Molly’s buoyancy and had a knack for cursing, but it was what it was.

And for what it was worth, there was me. My temperament began to even and the adolescent sulkiness began to fade. I immersed myself in studying and reading. Astronomy speedily became a class that was both fascinating and necessary and my nights were spent awake. The breathtaking expanse of space, the glazing stars spewed on the blackness like scattered salt, and the promise of existence within each black curvature.

It was the exhilaration of knowing that all things, that had or were or would be, lay under the sky. The answer to everything, the unraveling of it all. Or perhaps I was still just hunting for which unnamed star in the sky was mine.

And between laughter and homework, botched spells and Quidditch games, love and misunderstandings, we grew up together.




Author's Note: This story is meant to be read as a one-shot, but for practical purposes, was split into chapters. With that in mind, I hope you'll excuse having to read it in parts.

My thank you goes to Gubby, Rachel, Annie, Gina, Lily and anyone who encouraged me through this entire process. I hope you'll stick through to the end and let me know what you thought of it!

Celeste

 


Chapter 2: part ii
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Some Kind of Beauty

Before retiring one night, I watched Dom swaddle herself in the blankets in her bed. Beside her, Cecilia and Ruth were already asleep and Emily was downstairs.

“Dom, can I ask you something?”

“What?” she asked sleepily.

“Why don’t you ever talk about…”

“I don’t like to,” she said.

“Why not? You’re okay now, right?”

“Dragon Pox doesn’t work like that, Rose…” She turned on her side.

Perhaps I’d caught her at a lucky time: she was being more benevolent sleepy than she was awake. I pressed on.

“Then what’s it like? Isn’t it rare?”

“Mhmm.”

“Will you always be like this?”

“I don’t know, Rose….go to sleep, it’s late.”

“When did you get it? When you were a baby?”

“Yeah, guess so.” When her eyes began closing, I prodded her.

“You can’t die from it, can you?”

“I’m not sure,” she said, her eyes still closed.

I sank back, horrified. “Wait, then why – ”

In response, she flung her pillow over her face.

For the next week, she avoided looking at me.

*

We were racing across the hallways at a breathless pace.

“We’re going to be late – ugh – and after I told you not to delay – ”

“Not my fault,” I managed to wheeze over the frantic running, “if Hugo hadn’t overslept, and you hadn’t insisted on taking him along, this wouldn’t’ve happened!”

“Of course we had to take him along,” said Lucy, looking slightly scandalized by my remark, “he’s on the team! We couldn’t bloody well just leave him there!”

My brother, in his eternal sensitivity, yelled over me. “Don’t try pinning this on me! It’s Lucy’s fault she had to forget the password and lock herself out – ”

“Sod off!” said Lucy, coloring.

“I can say what I – ”

“NOT NOW!” I screeched, cutting him off.

We were hurtling down the staircases. Hugo attempted to leap past several steps at once and came tumbling down on top of me and Lucy. His broomstick managed to tangle up in his legs and slap me hard around the head as it fell down.

Lucy pushed him off, annoyed. “Hugo, you arse! Get off, you’re heavy – ”

“You idiot, the broomstick fell on me!” I threw it back at him and he grunted as it hit him.

“Now’s not the time, everyone’s already probably there!”

As we ran down the foot of the stairs and made a sharp turn to the door, I passed by a short girl with black hair who was eyeing us curiously as we passed. Her brown eyes were wide with surprise as we ran her by, and for a moment I almost didn’t recognize her until her wavy hair brought me back.

Lucy caught my glance and also stared backwards as we ran on. “Was that Roxanne?”

Hugo ignored both of us, but I kept looking back. “Yes, I think so.”

“Wow, it’s been a while, hasn’t it?” said Lucy, “We haven’t really talked to her since we were younger.”

We were now halfway to the Quidditch pitch, passing by large crowds of people waving Gryffindor banners and scarves. Hugo was welcomed by a unanimous cheer and in seconds, disappeared within the throng.

“Can you blame us?” I asked, “She doesn’t exactly like us. All she did was frown and sit around and sulk during dinners.”

“Yes, but that was ages ago. Like when she was maybe twelve. She doesn’t really even come to them anymore.” Lucy shrugged. “She’s a seventh year now. She must’ve changed.”

“Do you think?” I asked, but Lucy had turned away, already scouting the crowd for Dominique and Lily.

*

That summer came The Wedding.

The first three days of our summer were spent helping with decorations, and listening to Aunt Ginny and Nana Molly scream and James and Fred for attempting to explode the wedding cake. Dom and Victoire had a full-on shouting match a day before.

“It doesn’t have sleeves!” said Dom, taking one look at the bridesmaid dress. “I’m not wearing it!”

“You have to! Do you know how much it cost?” screeched Victoire.

“Not my problem! I told you I’d only wear it with sleeves!”

“What’s your problem, Dom? Why are you doing this to me?”

“Why are you doing this to me? I can’t go out with – ” Her nails dug into her arm. “I can’t! I’m not wearing that!”

“You’ll look fine!

“I’m not wearing it!”

“Why do you always do this?” Victoire sank to the floor, her head on her knees. “You always have to make everything about you! This is my wedding, why can’t you just do what I ask you for once? After everything Maman’s made me do for you, couldn’t you just do this for me?”

Before Dom could retort, Molly had returned, dragging Aunt Audrey behind her. “Mum, could you sow some sleeves on? Something long and light to match?”

And as Aunt Audrey set to work, that became that.

The men had all virtually taken cover, cowering as my many Aunts made a warpath largely composed of streamers, endless bouquets of flowers and never-ending details on the food.

Aunt Fleur had bought Victoire a large, ball-gown styled wedding dress with pearls. Mum was ranting to anybody who would listen about floating streamers and the gold crabapple trees.

But it was the first Weasley wedding of our generation.

Victoire was showing off her wedding gown two nights before to all the girls as we stared at her floating around like a princess. We sat in a circle in the kitchen as she paraded around, absolutely radiant at the thought of her wedding. The noise of everybody else playing Quidditch on the sand wafted through the open window, mingling with the mid-June breeze and the scent of the sea.

Lily clasped her hands together. “I want a gown just like that when I get married. It should be huge and beautiful!”

Dominique was sipping pumpkin juice nonchalantly. “Vic, you should take it off before something happens to it.”

“Oh stop,” said Victoire, frowning. “You always try to bring me down. I’m only getting married once, so I might as well enjoy it completely.”

“It has a train, doesn’t it?” asked Molly, inspecting Victoire with interest. “It’ll look just wonderful. It has a very antique feel to it.”

“Oh, won’t it?”

Lucy and Dominique shared an exasperated look as Molly and Victoire continued gushing.

Lucy leaned over to me and Dom. “Damn it, it’s not like the wedding’s in ten minutes. After today, I’m going to be relieved when this is over.”

“My mum’s gone completely mad,” said Dom, sighing. “You should’ve heard her going on about the cake…like anybody’ll care that much! I was almost wishing James really had exploded it. And the bridesmaid dress she’s making me wear? It itches!”

“Just bear with it. It’s only one day,” I said, making Dominique frown.

“I always have to bear with it for my perfect sister. It’s getting annoying, since she never bears with it for me. Everything has to be completely perfect for her, but she spends half the time dismissing anything I ever ask her to do. She’s just like my mum.”

The door opened to the dark blue sky outside and laughter bubbled in. Roxanne stepped gingerly in, holding a book as always, and walked past the lumpy sofa and past the dinner table where we sat, gawking at her entrance. Both Molly and Dom smiled cheerfully at her.

“Hi Roxanne! Sit with us, we’re looking at Victoire’s wedding gown,” said Molly warmly. God, how typically Molly…

 Roxanne raised her eyebrows at the sudden welcome.

“Oh, I’m sure she’s seen it already,” said Victoire dismissively, “we wouldn’t want to waste her time.”

“This’s awkward,” whispered Lucy to me.

I knew next to nothing about Roxanne. I had enough cousins that losing one along the way had little impact and that was how it had always been. I had vague memories of playing when I was something like seven years old. I had distended and almost irrelevant memories of her room – it had been very blue – and all the books she’d lent me. I usually returned them, except for an old, lone copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland that was now lying abandoned somewhere in my room.

But then I’d had Dominique and those days with Roxanne were gone. A few years of the hello’s and goodbye’s of family parties passed and she went to Hogwarts and I began to see her very rarely. The summers she came home, she went to dinners less frequently and sat in disdainful silence, looking as though the rest of us were never good enough.

There was a time near the beginning of it – that Roxanne had Victoire like I had Dom.

But looking at the two girls standing on the kitchen floor, it became obvious how many years had passed. Victoire was looking icy and uncomfortable staring at Roxanne, her blonde hair piled on her head, and her wedding gown swishing around her. Roxanne was looking blankly back at her, dressed in simple robes as always, and holding a book.

“Yes, I think I’ll go,” she said softly and she climbed on to the staircase beyond.

Dominique and I shared a look and listened to Roxanne’s footsteps fade.

*

The morning of the wedding was chaotic. Even though we had all agreed to keep the guest list small, I spent the first part of the morning with Fred, Hugo and Lily, ushering in family friends under the heat. Pots of floating flowers floated past us and violins that were hanging in mid-air serenaded us as we stood together, sweating exhaustedly.

“Is that Aunt Luna? What the hell’s she wearing?” asked Hugo, goggling as a woman wearing a carrot-shaped hat walked by us.

“Typical Aunt Luna,” said Lily, shaking her head in exasperation. “It even smells like a carrot. She has no sense of propriety, really…”

“You sound exactly like Victoire,” I said to her and she beamed as though it had been a compliment.

Fred was stuck with seating Aunt Luna’s husband – Uncle Rolf – who was also holding something that looked suspiciously like a carrot and waving it in Fred’s irritated face. Lily too vanished with him as their twin boys, Lysander and Lorcan each took her hand and began chatting animatedly to her.

“They’re in love with her, you know,” said Hugo, waggling an eyebrow. “I heard them talking about which one’s going to marry her first. Then they’ll actually be related to us and calling them aunt and uncle won’t sound as completely stupid.”

“They’re seven years old, in case you’ve forgotten.”

“It’s still possible,” he said with a shrug. “I’m betting on Lorcan, personally, Lysander’s a bit of a nut. Must get it from - ” He broke off as Professor Longbottom and his wife approached us and left to seat them without another comment.

I was stuck the rest of the morning with Victoire’s French cousins, none of whom seemed to speak English and were giggling over my exasperation.

Finally, after we were all seated, Teddy and his best man emerged at the front, both clad in dress robes. Fred, James, and Hugo all began wolf-whistling until Mum and Aunt Angelina smacked them into silence.

The music began playing and Victoire emerged with Uncle Bill, looking glowing and golden – outshining even the sun and the heat behind her. By nature she had always been somebody who was proud of how she looked and found it important to be proper and ladylike, but today it shone ten-fold. She looked like a queen taking her throne. Behind her, Dominique walked with a smile, her ivory dress glimmering.

“We are gathered here today…”

Aunt Fleur and Aunt Audrey were both softly crying. To my immense surprise, two seats to my right, Roxanne joined them – softly tearing up, but beginning to sob as Teddy smiled at Victoire. I watched her, wide-eyed as she dissolved from her usual indifference into racketing tears.

“Do you, Theodore Remus Lupin take Victoire Apolline Weasley…”

*

“God, that took forever. My feet are all sore and disgusting.”

“Sound a little more proper, won’t you? It was your sister’s wedding,” said Molly in a dignified voice.

“But I’m completely exhausted.” Dominique mopped her forehead and her hand came back with sweat. Small red marks were breaking out over her skin.

Molly and I shared a concerned look. Molly tentatively began, “Do you need to take your medicine – for you know?”

No,” snapped Dom immediately. “I’m fine, thanks.”

“You look pale.”

“I’m always pale! Stop nagging, you two.”

“I promise never to put any of you through anything like that at my wedding,” said Lucy, still massaging her feet.

 “I liked it!” said Molly. “It was lovely – like a real fairytale! They look like a prince and a princess together.”

We were sitting outside Shell Cottage among the now deflated tent and empty tables. A few candles still levitated in the air like fireflies, illuminating the foamy borders of the gushing ocean beside us. It was a blissfully moist night and the wetness of the air relieved some of the day’s aches.

Inside the cottage, my aunts and uncles were still mingling, congratulating the new couple.

“I wouldn’t say Teddy constitutes much of a prince,” said Lucy. “For one thing, he’s too bloody old.

“It’s also not very romantic that they knew each other for ages and ages. Personally I find it a bit odd, especially since Teddy’s practically a member of our family,” said Dom.

“Your family,” I reminded her. “I barely know him. All I remember of him is that he liked to fool around with James and Albus a lot. And he’s like seven years older than me, so by the time I was four, he was already in Hogwarts and I didn’t really see him after that. And as soon as he left, we joined.”

Another cool breeze blew between us as a wave crashed into the sand. It was a time that I would always remember of peace and nonchalance. Just starlight and the air and words swimming carelessly between us.

“Speaking of,” said Lucy, her eyes huge as she watched the distance, “is that Roxanne?”

There was a swish of sand as a lean figure walked by us.  

I looked backwards at Dom, Molly and Lucy and stood up. “I’ll be right back.”

There was a chorus of “Where’re you going?” that followed me as I ran after Roxanne.

She stopped a few steps later as she noticed me behind her.

“Yes?” Her voice came out more airy than I’d last remembered it.

“Hello, Roxanne?”

She turned to face me. In the dim moonlight, her features were tired and elongated, but she looked curious all the same. “Rose?”

“Yeah. Hi.”

“Anything you want?”

I took a step backwards as she surveyed me.

She was different.

Not simply physically – which she was. Lucy and I looked alike with the same brown hair. Molly and Lily were both redheads with round faces. Dom and Victoire had the ice-queen perfection. But Roxanne, with her black hair and olive complexion looked other worldly.

 Beautiful as though she had sprung from part of the night.

“Are you alright?” I asked tentatively; helping people was Dom or Molly’s domain.

“Why…are you asking?”

“Um…this morning – the wedding – you were…”

She stiffened at my observation. “You saw that?”

“You okay?”

“It was nothing. It was a lovely wedding. There were lots of people crying.”

“Yeah, I know. But…you looked like you were…”

“It doesn’t matter, alright? Rose, please just forget it.”

I took a step forward, emboldened by the promise of the early night. “What was wrong?”

“Nothing.” She was looking at the sand, at my footsteps. “Nothing. Let it go, okay?”

“Why don’t you come to dinners anymore?”

“I don’t like to,” she said coldly. “I have absolutely no reason to, what with – ”

“What?” When she refused to answer, I stared back, curious. This newfound inquisitiveness rushed into me, both surprising and alarming me. When had I started caring? When had anybody begun to matter? “What happened with you and Victoire before?”

“Nothing.” She said it more firmly than before. “Nothing. I’m going to go now.”

“Wait – ”

“Are you always this nosy? Why can’t you let things be?”

“Are you always this strange? I’m just trying to be friendly – ”

“Well, don’t be, nobody asked for it!” she said, incensed. “This is why I can’t stand our bloody family! If one person’s a tiny bit different, everybody jumps on them to tear them apart acting like they’re just trying to help! Everybody has to perfect, and proper – otherwise they just get left – ”

She broke off, her eyes huge with horror. She’d let something out – blurted out something that I could understand.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m sorry about today. About the wedding. About Teddy and Victoire. Teddy. How long?”

“I – you’re misunderstanding me,” she said weakly.

“You do know I’m grown up, right? You can tell me. I’ll understand. How long?”

There was a dead silence.

And very quietly, she said, “As long as I can remember.”

“All this time?”

“Yes.”

“But I thought you used to be friends - all this time – until – why weren’t you the Maid of Honor?”

“They began dating in the summer before her sixth year. I…tried all those years to convince him otherwise…”

“Yes?”

She looked up at me, tired and wane. “She found out. She acted like I’d betrayed her. And that was that.”

Perhaps out of cluelessness, I asked, “But why didn’t you just forget him?”

“Asking me to forget him is like asking her to forget him. We were always together – Vic and me. Whenever Ted came to see her – before they became something - he was with the both of us. We went through the same process with him. We saw the same things in him.” She smiled weakly. “So, I couldn’t. I tried avoiding him and her. My mum understood these kinds of things…but I still couldn’t do it. Even when I heard he was proposing, I wrote to him – told him everything…”

“Roxanne…”

“Victoire tore up the letter beforehand.” A few tears fell into the sand, plopping and disappearing with a whisper. “Of course, she knew. She’s always known it would happen one day. They’re married now. They’re married. I don’t know what to do…I don’t know what to do…”

I looked up at the stars for solace as she paused again. This girl who I’d perhaps once known some distant day in the past. As a crescent moon shined down on us, a feeling of smallness engulfed me. Swirling skies, the blood beating to my eyes, my vision panning to the ocean lapping the raw, bitter swipe of the earth. We were building the tombs we would one day sleep in.

“Could you forget him?”

“No,” she said meekly, and in that moment, though she was taller and bigger, she somehow seemed so much younger than me. Young and silly. “I’ve tried.”

“Fine, then don’t forget him. Remember him as much as you want. But just let go.”

She tilted her head to the night sky as well, lost in its imponderable depths. In that moment, I’d like to think that she wasn’t thinking about Teddy. Teddy was a concept of the past. There was some vague future ahead. But that she was sailing on the curves of the moon, feeling the strokes of the sky, feeling the exhilaration of passing Ursa Major, tasting the coldness of the air, skimming the milky wisps of Ganymede, falling and rising past Saturn’s rings – dreaming herself into reality, making survival unnecessary for existence.

That under the night sky, she was becoming and becoming.

*

Fifth year came and we fell back into the same patterns and changed in little ways.

We studied and cursed our teachers with the usual ire. Lucy began cursing more and more with Hugo’s influence, until she properly topped it off by becoming a Chaser on the Quidditch team. She was integrated entirely as a Weasley. Dom and I watched Lucy whirl around the Quidditch field as a tiny blip in the sky and there was something indecipherably stiff about Dom as she saw Lucy rise and rise in the wind. But I didn’t ask what.

Mum told me over winter holiday that Roxanne had found work in an Apothecary after finishing Hogwarts and that became that.

But fifth year also saw romance in the air.

Molly began her first full-on, sickeningly loving relationship with another Hufflepuff – an Ian something - in the same year. The handholding, food-feeding and matching jumpers led to years’ worth of teasing material for James. Lucy pretended to vomit so often around them that on one unfortunate afternoon, she accidentally did manage to vomit over herself and Molly. Ted and Victoire found and moved into their own flat near the Ministry.

Dom acquired five different dates, none of which went anywhere in particular. She moaned about it casually as I glared over my spellbook at her. At least she had dates. Nobody wanted to the bushy-haired, pasty complexioned brunette listening to the impeccable part-Veela groaning about her looks. I reasoned that I could aptly blame my mum for my looks, just as Hugo could blame Dad for his intelligence.

But, finally, things occurred.

Eventful things occurred to other people, but rarely to me. Eventful things always occurred to good-looking people. The most eventful things that occurred to people who maintained the pursuit of intelligence over beauty was being asked to help with an essay.

And then I met Scorpius Malfoy.

I’d only begun to notice him after we were both in the same Potions class that year.

He seemed as every bit bookish as I was. He arrived as early as I did to class, wore glasses, and carried books. It was a flimsy excuse for fancying someone, but since it had been my first time, my standards were understandably questionable. He also seemed reasonably in my standards – his looks were just decent, he was studious and he was usually alone. He didn’t play Quidditch of have flocks of friends around him. 

Dom being Dom knew him. Dom knew everyone or at least knew of them and Scorpius was no exception. Dom being Dom also had an intuitive understanding of what I wanted and what I needed.

“I’ve known him for two years,” she told me brightly. “So, I suppose I know him rather well. Why do you care?”

“Could you introduce me?” I asked giddily on the way to class.

She frowned. “Scorp? You want to meet him?”

“Yes!”

“Why?”

“You know. That,” I said, blushing furiously.

That?” Her eyebrows were rising.

“What’s he like?  Doesn’t he spend all his time studying?”

“Only Potions,” she said. “He’s a bit strange. He’s got an obsession with that type of thing, but he doesn’t really bother as much with his other classes. He told me he wants to get a job in Potions.”

“But he’s a Ravenclaw! He has to study!”

“Then…is he nice?”

“He’s a bit intrusive and controlling. And odd. He’s very odd.”

“He’s really quiet,” I said, vaguely remembering whatever observations I’d been able to make while staring at him. “He doesn’t talk much.”

“He doesn’t really have many friends, but once you know him, he’s okay. He’s got some issues with his family and people don’t exactly treat him fairly here, since he’s a Ravenclaw and he’s so strange.”

“He sounds like me,” I said adamantly.

 “You’re welcome to try what you want, but I doubt it’ll work. He’s really not like you imagine him, Rose. He’s a bit like you, but not in the ways you think. Actually, who I can - ” She broke off and cleared her throat. “Never mind. Good luck with – you know – everything.”

I spent the next three weeks quietly surveying him from my corner.

Back then, his gray eyes seemed to have unfathomable depth. But I thought I could see more than that. I could see the mysterious allure, the broken past, the air of rebellion around him. My afternoons were spent discreetly following him to the library as he poured over Potions books. My evenings were spent writing dark love poems with the occasional inscrutable drawing.

He really was a bit strange, though, with the Potions books. And he didn’t study anywhere near as much as I could’ve hoped for. He spent his time fidgeting around the Potions dungeons, stirring ingredients together in cauldrons and taking page after page of notes.

A month later, I made a move. I asked him to Hogsmeade for Valentine’s Day after Potions.

He looked up at me. “Sorry, but no thanks.”

That was that. He side-stepped me, pushed his glasses up his face, and was gone.

I was heartbroken. The disappointment of first love had left me invisible to perspective and I wailed around my dormitory room for the next weekend, wrapped in my humiliation. Dom threw my dark love poems into the fire in the Common Room and we watched them burn together as orange sparks flew into the air. We sat there, surrounded by empty chairs as shadows danced from the fire.

She had her usual half-smile. “You can be so dramatic, Rose.”

“You just don’t understand me.”

But for what it was worth, I had forgotten him by March.

*

Near the very end, I would always wonder why there hadn’t been any signs.

She had never been paler than she usually was. The coughs were there, but only when she ran too fast and too far. There was nothing ashen about her. She was Dom. Vivacious.

She’d looked the same, acted the same.

*

During the Easter holiday of our sixth year, Dominique died.

On the step outside our door, my mum sat me down and we looked up at the sky: bright orange, bitter and sharp as the promise

“Listen to me carefully, Rose.” I would remember her eyes forever. Her face had been lined with something…unreadable. Pained. Battered? The colors of a sunset escaping in a gasp, bleeding drop by drop into us.

For a moment, I thought she was about to joke about something. I smiled half-heartedly. “Yeah?”

She began talking. The longer she spoke, the more slowly time seemed to pass. I fell into her arms, quivering. She was crying very gently; they were whole, perfect, experienced tears. I stared at her blindly.

The bottom of my world fell out. Everything that was me hit the earth and oozed away. They were only words and we were only people and this was only the world and I – I was, moment by moment, not only losing the girl who I had loved for the past sixteen years, I was losing the person I had been alongside her.

“Rose – Rose- ” My mum was holding on tightly to me. The thought of disappearing was too calming – too easy – and there was nothing, nothing I would not have given to disappear along with her whispers. I was shuddering in her arms.

“She couldn’t – she couldn’t – Mum, she couldn’t – that doesn’t even make sense, Mum!”

“Rose…Rose…”

It was a symphony of nothingness, burning deep and rancid into the embers of a falling night.

*

That night, I slept soundly in my mum and dad’s bed, dreaming of stairs and chairs and people waiting forever.

That morning, I woke up in disbelief. My mum was already beside me as I opened my eyes, as though she had been expecting it.

*                                         

On the day of her funeral, there was nothing left.

The blue-orange afternoon was shattering slowly into the evening, letting all the things I had never thought to tell her escape into oxygen. The claylike sand beneath my feet seemed to sink in, until perhaps I thought we would sink and sink from standing and not speaking, sink into the voracious, uncaring ocean beyond. Perhaps the bleating morning would consume us whole and all that would be left of us would be this silence.

*

In the days following, I began to think that death was very easy. And that living – living mindlessly, purposelessly – was torturous.

I didn’t leave our house much after that. The afternoons strung along, one by one, lit by a meaningless sun for a summer that would never come. With the door to my room shut and the window closed, it seemed as though the world outside had yet to exist.

Other times, I fell asleep and woke up sweating, the very last syllables of a sentence she’d been speaking alluding me.

*

There were times when I was angry because I would never understand. Times when I was acting as though if I were willing to wait long enough, it would all go back to normal. And many, many times where I cried and cried and never forgot.

It was strange. Every day I thought I was losing her more and more, forgetting exactly what she sounded like, exactly what it felt like when I was with her. It was difficult to be alive.

*

I climbed outside my window as the weeks passed and sat out on my room, my legs dangling off. The loneliness became mind-numbing.

The emotions swirling through me felt like they were too much for one person to feel. The rotating anger, the sadness, the disbelief, the emptiness, the confusion.

I watched the field of flowers outside, ravenously red, burning brilliantly under the violent purple sunsets. I screamed at my mother when she called me back inside, wept openly in front of Dad when he showed me the picture of Uncle Fred he kept in his room, and lived without living.

She should have had everything this world could have offered and more. I should have told her all the things I couldn’t put words to. My parents understood it all.

It was too late.

*

By the sea, all things began and ended.

The sea gave all existence perspective.

I should have known. I should’ve done something.

What it specifically was, I didn’t know. But I should’ve done something other than stand there and say goodbye. By the sea, I thought of all the confessions that I could never voice.

My childhood was ending before my eyes.






Author's Note: Thank you so much for the support and reviews for the previous chapter! I'd love to know your feedback as this story transitions to more serious topics.

Celeste


Chapter 3: part iii
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 Some Kind of Beauty

“Rose?” My dad’s voice floated over from the other side of the closed door. “Rose, I’m coming in.

“Go away. I’m tired.”

“I’m coming in.”

The door creaked open, streaming in warm, stuffy light and my dad entered, looking exhausted and old, but pitying. He was holding an entire loaf of bread on a plate. Just bread. Not even butter. Typical.

“I don’t want it,” I said automatically.

“Eat.”

“I’m not hungry.”

He grunted in disbelief. “Right. You haven’t eaten anything all day. Your mum will my head if you don’t eat something.”

“I don’t want it.”

He set the plate on my bed and went to open a window.

In the summers, my room was always the most beautiful. It had three windows facing the outside fields and yellow walls that would leave the room swimming in light. It made the small bed and rows of bookshelves look like something worth having.

“As my mum would say, being hungry won’t help anything,” he said, lost in a gaze over the window. “If you’re going to be sad, might as well eat. D’you want some tea?”

“I’ve got no appetite, Dad.”

There was a long silence.

“You’ll still need to eat eventually.” He turned back to look at me as seriously as I’d ever seen him. “I know you miss her.”

It was amazing, really. How somebody could have once been laughter and happiness, but after they’d left, all that was left was a blooming hole, shivering shoulders and coldness to remember them.

“That’s alright, Rose. It’s alright…”

I wanted my mum. She would fix this. She could fix anything.

He took a seat beside me on the floor.

“Am I going to miss her forever?”

He was quiet. “Yeah.”

“Always? That won’t go away?”

“That won’t go away.”

“Then what’ll happen?”

My dad was rarely sentimental in front of me. I knew about Uncle Fred, although my mum had been the one to tell me. He put his arm around my shoulder and we sat on the floor of my room, lost together.

“You’ll…learn to live beyond it,” he said slowly. “And remember that they lived too. The things they wanted for you..and did for you…don’t go away.”

I could almost hear my mum in the background saying as she always did: “It’s difficult because you loved her so much, Rose.”

There was a pounding of footsteps on the staircase as Hugo urgently climbed up. “DAD! Where’d all the bread go?”

He stopped himself as he arrived in my room, clearly at a loss for what to do. “Er – uh – I still have to make lunch – ”

“Go annoy somebody else for a while,” said Dad.

“There’s no other food in the house! What am I supposed to eat? Mum told us you’d be making lunch today, but so far all I’ve found is moldy – ”

“Now’s not the time, you idiot,” said Dad, his ears reddening.

Hugo gave me a nod, before holding out his hand to me. “C’mon Rose. I’ll take care of you, come on.”

I took it and he pulled me up. Dad looked between us, shaking his head in exasperation at the state of his children.

*

The next time I saw Shell Cottage was when Mum and Dad went to visit Uncle Bill and Aunt Fleur. I could hear Aunt Fleur’s racketing sobs from outside as Mum hugged her.

Victoire and I walked along the beach, our footsteps indenting in the slate-like sand. A few birds flew through the sky and past us on idle breezes.

For the first time I could remember, she looked tired. Her face was small and red, a long call from her usual windswept perfection.

“How has everything been?” I asked, the answer already in mind.

“Difficult,” she said baldly. “Everybody’s a mess…I don’t know what to do. My mum’s a wreck. I’ve been staying with her to help around, but I’ve been useless. And Louis doesn’t really understand what’s happened.

“He’s eight now?”

“Yeah. He should understand, but I – I’m having a hard time explaining.” She sounded near tears already. I couldn’t will myself to face her. “Uncle George’s been trying to help him, but he’s still young.”

Her voice cracked slowly. “Rose – Rose – I regret it. I don’t think I was a very good sister.”

“Don’t be silly,” I said immediately.

“No, I – I wasn’t a good sister. I know I wasn’t. I always acted like she was annoying to be around – and I teased her – and she – ”

“Victoire…”

“No, listen – l really wish – I really wish I could take it all back. Sometimes I think that if I regret things hard enough, she’ll come floating back or something. Like if I give up enough, I’ll wake up one day and she’ll be next to me. I wasn’t a good sister, but I still want her back.”

“You can’t say those kinds of things,” I said, echoing what my mum had told me, but not feeling the sincerity in what I said. There wasn’t a day that passed by when I didn’t think the same. “She’s happier at rest.”

She nodded, mopping at her face and breathing in sharply. She no longer looked tall and lean and distant. She and I were here, in this irreconcilable moment – us and the sea.

*

That summer was a lonely one. I had Hugo and my parents and my solitude.

I saw none of my other cousins other than the occasional visit to see Aunt Fleur’s. Victoire had moved back home with Ted and she was fading away in front of us.

There were times when the ceilings seemed to echo, where the wood seemed to rot in its place without ever moving. The chirping of crickets from the fields beyond and the sound of books closing quickly became the only and most comforting company I needed. The loneliness of the day, the solace and peace seemed to give me years and years to think. I sat wrapped in my sheets, facing the open window and thought of her and us and the future. A parched moon rimmed by windowsill and flooded the room with shadows of nonexistence.

The world spun to itself and I watched blues and reds and oranges taper away, slip past me into the cracks of the ancient earth, into dried blood and tombs that rested beneath me.

There was a time to live. But this became a summer of sinking further into myself, forgetting it all and crying. I’d never thought much about death or dying. I’d never needed to. I sat by my windowsill and watched the world pass, watched time decay, watched the stars come and go. It was almost deafening to think that outside the window, there were millions of people living to whom Dominique’s death would never pass in their lives as even a thought.

Questions came and went.

Why her?

I wish I had told her –

She would’ve loved this, she always liked –

Why her?

Why not later?

If she had gotten married, who would she have married?

They never had answers.

My parents waited patiently. Dad dug up an old, rumpled photo of me and Dom, our backs to the sea, our grins huge and unknowing. One morning, I woke up to find it beside my bed, framed in small shells.

Mum told me that some people would wither and some would be strong. Some would hold on to not forget. Others would let go to remember.

*

Like all things, the summer ended.

My moods swang wildly. On nights, I prayed somehow she’d come back. In the morning, I’d be furious she didn’t. In the evenings, I felt the emptiness that confirmed she never would.

*

The return to Hogwarts soon became maddening.

The train ride was the emptiest, loneliest twenty minutes I had ever encountered. Molly said nothing to me the entire time. The empty seat beside me was hot with tension and by the time we had arrived, she and I were both in tears.

The year fared no better; the hallways were filled with gossip. Everybody was quickly willing to stare and to stifle us.

“Did you hear about that Weasley – ”

“Apparently they aren’t taking it so well – ”

“ – and then Molly Weasley actually started crying, if you can believe it – ”

My only solace soon became Lucy, who raged with me in the corridors. “Everybody’s talking about Dom – I can’t stand it – ugh, I really can’t stand those stupid looks they give.”

“How’s Molly?”

“She’s become a complete nut. She’s crying like a maniac these days. I don’t know what to do anymore. Suddenly everybody around me’s a basketcase. She’s avoiding everyone right now.”

It was the first time she and I had been alone in a long time. She looked taller and older after the long summer we had been apart. Her face had matured and she was looking at me with concern. Under her gaze, I felt idiotically fragile.

“Do you miss her?”

She didn’t need explanation. “Of course I do. What kind of a question is that? We all miss her. I’m not even going to ask you. I can tell just by looking.”

“Sometimes I don’t know what to do. It feels like the things that are happening aren’t real.”

She put her hand on my shoulder. “I’ll take care of you, Rose. I’ll take care of you and Molly and everyone. I can do it.”

I believed her.

*

Everything became a small obstacle.

Lying with the empty bed beside me. The girls in the dorm watching me, quietly waiting for me to start crying. Breakfast alone. Lunch with just Lucy. Class after class with an empty seat. There were too many things that left me dissolving in tears.

Molly had all but disappeared into herself; the rare times we passed each other, she looked away. I disappeared into my books – into studying all morning, staying quiet in class, into my stars.

I had rows and rows of parchment spread out over several desks every night, columns of books and charts and charts of constellations. I was slowly plotting the sky on my own. Ink spread over my hands, imprinted the paper and my robes and I let it. The deep night broke into silence and somehow – somehow I was going to find her – find us – there in the night sky. Blues and blacks and grays scattered over the skyline and anywhere between it lay an answer. I wrote and scribbled and barely slept. Because Dominique had been here and she was out there somewhere and I was going to find her and anchor her back down to earth and back down to me.

*

When we returned home for our winter holiday, I was worn down to my bones.

Nothing was holding me together.

Lucy, Molly and I sat on the same compartment on the ride home. We watched the snow blanket the hard earth and felt the wind rip through our skin. I looked at Molly properly for the first time in months. Lucy caught on to my gaze and sighed.

“Molly looks awful, doesn’t she?” she said to me, eyeing her sister.

“Um – no – ” I said.

Molly managed a weak smile. Her skin was white and papery and her eyes as red as her hair.

“I do,” said Molly with a watery laugh. “I look so, so horrible. I can’t stand this. I miss her so much, Ian broke it off with me, I’m starting to fail Transfiguration – everything’s going wrong.”

Molly and I stared at each other for a brief moment, before we both diverted our gazes. It was difficult to like at Molly without remembering Dom.

Lucy leaned her head against Molly’s shoulder. “We miss her too, Molls.”

“It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair at all,” said Molly, burying herself into Lucy’s hair. “I hate this. I feel completely useless. I wish I could’ve at least said goodbye. I don’t even remember the last thing I said.”

Lucy sighed and strung her fingers through Molly’s hair. “You can’t torture yourself thinking things like that. Nobody could’ve known.”

Very, very quietly, Molly said in her almost normal sing-song voice. “She helped me a lot and I don’t think I did anything back for her.”

“She loved you,” I said. “That must’ve been enough.”

The snowy hills, like the days before us, rolled and rolled on. We fell into silence like that. Lucy against Molly, Molly against herself and me against the sky.

*

For the first time in years, we all had Christmas dinner together. All of us were crammed into the Burrow and it was like all the time that had come in between us had never passed. James was still on the sofa, arguing with Hugo about Quidditch. Aunt Fleur, Teddy and Victoire were murmuring quietly to each other. Molly and Lucy were eating with Mum and Aunt Audrey. We weren’t eating all together. The sight of the empty chair was still too stark for that to happen, so we ate in turns.

I stared at the chair for a long time. Eventually, somebody would either take it away or somebody new would make it their own. It was an unsettling thought.

A few minutes after we’d arrived, Aunt Angelina, Uncle George and Fred shuffled through the doorway. As Fred and Uncle George parted, Roxanne managed a small, tense smile as she stepped over the threshold into the light of the house. Her half-smile slipped into the shadows without dimming.

Victoire looked up and Roxanne saw her hand intertwined with Teddy’s. She waved at both of them and Victoire smiled back.

After dinner, Roxanne found me wandering the garden and she ran up to me, smiling.

“I’m surprised you came,” I said.

She breathed in deeply, inhaling the freesia, the darkness, the gloom, the night. “I know.”

“Did things change?”

“I suppose you could say that,” she said, beaming to the garden. “Yes, I suppose you could.”

“How?”

There was a long pause. “You know, family is really complicated. People are difficult. You don’t know what you want.”

“And what do you want?”

“Vic and I aren’t arguing anymore. I don’t think either of us have enough time these days. And I’ve been thinking for a while now switching out of my job and opening a bookshop. I don’t like Apothecaries much, but I love books, you know, Rose.”

I barely knew Roxanne past the silence and the one confession she had given me. She smiled brightly, her even teeth flashing.

“How’d you forget him?” I asked. “I thought – ”

“Didn’t Victoire tell you yet?”

“What?”

“She’s pregnant.” Roxanne brushed a foot against the dirt. “She told my mum a month ago. Well, that did it. That was what it took. Not just dating or getting engaged or married or moving in together. It took a baby to make me see.”

“That?”

“That Teddy’s very happy with his life. And that it isn’t Vic’s fault that she was the one meant to make him happy. And that it isn’t my fault that I couldn’t. Things happened like that. But a baby – I could never – I could never respect myself if I still went after a man with a baby. I see myself as more than that. I told her that. I think a few months ago, she might’ve laughed at me. But we’ve both changed in ways. She said she didn’t want to waste any more time. Things make sense again.”

“Congratulations.”

She sighed happily, inhaling the fresh air. “Thanks for listening. You know, before. It meant something to me, in a way.”

I didn’t ask what; she was smiling so certainly that she already seemed to know the answer and was looking at me as though I did as well.

*

Near the end of our holiday, Victoire gathered us all together to make the formal announcement.

Lucy, Lily, Molly and I were all squashed onto two sofas in her new flat. Roxanne was on the ground.

Victoire sighed deeply. “So, of course I wanted to tell you lot in person. Roxy, Lily, Rose – you can tell your brothers. I thought it might be too awkward if I called them over.”

“What is it?” asked Molly worriedly, scanning over Victoire.

“I’m pregnant,” said Victoire baldly. She studied our faces carefully as silence descended on the room.

Molly bit her lip and immediately looked on the verge of tears. I already knew the news, but I was quiet as well, waiting for someone else to express how we felt.

 “Congratulations!” said Lucy, making the first sound in the room.

“A baby,” gushed Lily, “do you know if it’s a boy or a girl yet? I hope it’s a girl!”

Lily and Lucy shared a look. “We’ve got too many boys in the family already,” said Lucy. “We absolutely do not need any more Jameses around.”

Silent tears were streaming down Molly’s face. I took her hand and she gently squeezed my fingers.

Roxanne frowned at the polar sights of the room: Lily and Lucy with their heads together, almost bouncing with excitement and me and Molly leaning against each other, lost in quiet remembrance. “Would you please let her talk?”

A baby.

I didn’t want one in the family.

It was a selfish thought, but I didn’t want one. I didn’t want another little boy or girl joining us and stealing all the attention and trying to replace Dom. I didn’t want something crying all the time. I had grown up seventeen years in this family with my impressions of my aunts and uncles and cousins embedded into me. Something had already changed, emptied itself when Dominique had left. We didn’t need anything more.

Next to me, Molly’s tears were falling into my upturned palm.

I took a deep breath when Victoire began to talk. At the very least, please be a boy.

“I found out last week. It’s a girl.”

Molly fell into quiet, racking sobs. Victoire stared at her for a long moment, before sighing. “I knew it. I knew I shouldn’t have – ”

“No!” said Lucy anxiously over her, “no, it’s not like that at all! We’re happy for you Vic, we really are!”

“I didn’t time it this way, you know,” said Victoire gravely. “I wanted everyone to be happy about this.”

“We are!”

“Molly and Rose look like they’re attending a funeral.”

Molly’s eyes widened at the sharpness of what she said. “How can you even say that?”

“I miss her,” said Victoire, “I miss her all the time. Every day. I can feel it. I miss her. It’s become more than a feeling. It’s like something I wear all the time. I miss my sister because I loved her. And you loved her too, like she was your sister.”

Lucy rose and stood beside Victoire, staring at us from behind Victoire’s tired face.

“I’ll never forget her. But that doesn’t mean I can love this baby any less.”

“Of course not,” said Lily gently, “when is she due?”

“Summer. June, actually.” She rubbed her eyes. “Teddy’s very excited already. My mum’s horrified, of course, rather like you lot.”

“Why? Having a baby is a lovely thing!”

“You’re so optimistic, Lily. My mum’s not much better. You know, last month we had to clean up some of Dom’s room. We hadn’t gone inside at all. It was dusty and Dom had left some food in there and it had gone bad. We could smell it from downstairs, but she wouldn’t go in. I had to do it. Clean it all, make her bed, get rid of the cobwebs.” After a sigh, Victoire said, “I think she wants me to name the baby after Dom.”

“Will you?” asked Molly feebly.

“No, I’m sorry,” said Victoire. “I can’t. I just – I can’t. Dom was a lovely person, an amazing sister. She’ll also be amazing. She just won’t be amazing in the same way. I don’t want to call out the baby’s name and think of missing my sister. My mum thinks I’m horrible.”

 Molly brushed away her tears with a sigh. “Time to buy a baby naming book.”

“I’ve got parchment!” said Lily, reaching into her robes. “You lot can start suggesting right now!”

“How about Lucy?” said Lucy, grinning.

No,” said Victoire with an attempt at a smile.

“You’ve got horrible taste. Fine, let’s try Catherine. Ooh, I also like Lavender.”

“I like Fiona. Fiona, Fiona Victoire,” said Roxanne. She smiled at Victoire, before closing her eyes in peace. “Fiona Lupin.”

They all looked expectantly at me and Molly.

My voice shook slightly as I spat out the first name that came to mind. “Um – Lyra?”

“That’s a name?” pondered Lily, but she wrote it out all the same. “Typical Rose. It sounds like a salt brand.”

“It’s a constellation name!” I said, feeling indignant for the first time in ages. It brought out a warm, angry flush to my face as it colored.

“You’re still a know-it-all,” said Lily, rolling her eyes. “Molly?”

“Dana?” said Molly, still dabbing at her eyes.

“First Fiona, then Lyra, then Dana,” said Lily darkly. “I’m not letting you people anywhere near my first child’s name. Soon we’ll have Dumbledore Potter the Fifth happening.”

“If anybody wants to marry you, that is,” said Lucy.

There was an echo of laughter happening around the room.

*

When Molly returned to Hogwarts, she was more cheerful.

“I think having a little niece might be…nice,” she said breezily on the carriage ride to the castle. “She’ll be lovely. Teddy must be thrilled.”

“He’s scared to death,” said Lily. “Mum said so.”

“What changed your mind?” I asked.

“Victoire did. That baby didn’t do anything to us. I’m happy to have her here. I’m happy. I was just sad that Dom wouldn’t meet her first ever niece or - ” she broke off. “No, I can’t think like that. I’m happy. I’m happy it’s a girl.”

It was an adamant statement, but she seemed almost convinced.

*

January faded into February. All that was left of me were my spellbooks and used quills and astronomy charts. I spent the nights staring through the open window with a telescope, blindly in search of something. Lucy would regularly stop by the library, peering me in the eyes carefully, inspecting me for what it was worth. She sat through a few minutes with me, talking absent-mindedly to the air. Roxanne had started ordering books. Victoire had written to Lily asking for more name suggestions and it became normal for Lily to spend breakfast reading aloud from the list of names that Victoire had been pondering.

“Olea, Anna, Sara, Abilla, Claire, Adrienne, Bluebell…”

Meanwhile, Aunt Fleur had gone to France to visit her parents.

“She’s still completely shaken up,” whispered Lucy as Madame Pince walked past us. “Uncle Bill reckons it might do her some good.”

Life was moving on for everybody else in the only way it could: forward.

But I was still here. I was somehow even quieter than I had been and scared and tired of the world. I wasn’t alone, but I was lonely all the same without Dominique. 

But I had Lucy.

The odd scraps of conversation weren’t much, but they put the first steps of regularity back in my life. By two o’clock every afternoon, I began staring at the seat across from mine, wondering when Lucy would come strolling in, her shoes making the assuring clacking noise with every step.

It wasn’t much, but it was a beginning.

My map of the night sky was filling itself; there were different skies for the different seasons and all the constellations had stories behind them. Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Sirius, Andromeda -

It made my head spin, but at the very least, I felt like I was doing it purposefully. Beside me, the gentle breaths of Emily, Cecilia and Ruth were falling and rising in symphony. The sound of Dominique’s absence never seemed louder than it did in those lonely nights.

*

The strangest part about losing Dominique was that I lost part of myself with her.

I lost the part of my life I walked through the beach in the summers with her, lugging Hugo behind me. I lost being childish with her, laughing through the rides to Hogwarts, having her chastise me, advise me. I missed being envious of her and being angry with her and wishing she would leave me alone. I wanted her back in my life so I could have the privilege of not wanting her. That was a luxury when you loved someone.

I lost her and I lost the azure skies and childhood days and silly retorts.

I lost the person who I was when I was with her.

*

In March, after two years of forgetting, I met Scorpius again.

I hadn’t noticed him much after my idiotic heartbreak in fifth year. He occasionally came to the library around the mid-afternoon and launched himself into the Potions bookshelves.

He looked different and he looked the same. It was the funny thing about time.

He was taller, but had the same round glasses and bird’s nest hair. I still knew about him only what his Ravenclaw robes told me.

He lingered over the neighboring table, then over two bookshelves, then over my table before finally addressing me. He was odd and slightly nervous.

“Hi, d’you remember me by any chance? Rose Weasley, right? I’m -”

I looked up at him exhaustedly. “What do you want?”

“I’ve been meaning to talk to you since – ”

He broke off at my skeptical look, looking still more anxious. I’d heard the condolences by the bucketful: they’d all missed her, they’d loved her so much and she had been so beautiful and -

“Thank you,” I said stiffly. I looked down as a dismissal.

Instead, he took a seat. “I liked her a lot too. But you must get that a lot. Everybody was talking about it.”

“Look, do we have to discuss this right now?”

There was a long pause and he awkwardly inspected my hands, before shifting his gaze to my charts.

“Oh wow, what’s this?”

“Nothing,” I said, placing my hands over the parchment. The last thing I’d wanted was another idiotic, nosy fool trying to pretend he knew how it felt.

He tilted his head. “You’ve got Cygnus in the wrong place.”

“I have not,” I said, yanking my hands away to inspect the parchment. “It’s right where it should be –”

As soon as I moved my hands, he pulled it from under me and held it up. “Wow, this is amazing!”

“Give it back!” I stood up, knocking the chair over.

He held a palm up. “In a minute. Hold on.”

When I made a move to tear it out of his hands, he frowned. “You’ll rip it in two. This is really comprehensive. I’m impressed.”

“Could you please just leave?”

“And look, you’ve got one for different months – ”

“I don’t even know you! Stop taking things that don’t belong to you! You’re horrible, I don’t even know why Dom -”

“I fancied Dom and I miss her,” he said over me. I paused, mid-insult.

“I didn’t know. She never said anything about…”

“She didn’t know either.” He shrugged, before reaching over me to yank Virgo closer to his face. “Funny, isn’t it? I was planning to tell her this year. I almost did last year, before we left. I couldn’t do it. Odd, the things you end up regretting when someone’s gone.”

“How did you know each other?”

“We had Ancient Runes together in third year. I’ve known her since then. Four years it’s been. She was a nice girl, a nice friend to have.”

“A friend?” I said skeptically.

“I fancied her starting fourth year. She was very lovely.”

“I know.”

I didn’t need the usual listing from him of all people.

“Never told her, obviously. She was also ridiculously intimidating. Every time I thought to start, she’d just start staring me down and I’d go blank.”

I nudged my foot against the chair and his eyes snapped out of the worn stare they’d been in.

“Er, you’re wondering why I’m telling you this?”

“Yes, a bit.”

He was a nut, barging into the library, harassing my astronomy charts, going on about some nostalgic encounters when I didn’t know him.

“I didn’t tell her so I suppose I felt like telling somebody. Uh, this wasn’t very well thought out. I hadn’t thought this through much.” He ruffled his hair nervously. “I’ll just be going now…”

What a complete idiot.

He stood up with one of the charts still in hand. “Cygnus’s still in the wrong place.”

“It is not,” I said hotly, “And what would you know about it anyway?”

He grinned and took his seat beside me again.

*

For the rest of the year, all I had left was Lucy, Scorpius and the stars.

Lucy was Lucy. Every day, she was beginning to shine brighter. She became a stronger Chaser by the day, more popular and well-known and sweet. There was rarely a day that went by that she wasn’t stomping through one hallway or another, swearing loudly and attracting a small crowd wherever she went. She had finally lost the tomboyish edge to her face and clothes; she looked and played the part of a Weasley with ease.

Scorpius was different than I’d imagined him in fifth year.

It took less than that first library conversation to realize that Dom had been right: he was silly, airheaded and slightly more than annoying.

I had the rare deep friendships with people like Lucy and Dom. With Scorpius, I finally understood what a light-hearted friendship was. He didn’t intrinsically understand me the way Lucy or Dom did. He tripped over himself trying to be cautious around me, but the few visits we had in the library came more and more often.

He sat across the table with his Potions book, engrossed in his reading, never looking up as I propped up astronomy books and models of the expanding universe. Despite occasionally correcting me on my stars (he was always wrong), he kept silent. We read and stayed in other worlds because this one had such little to offer us.

I didn’t know much about his family other than that he was rich and the second Malfoy to ever be in Ravenclaw.

Scorpius was twitchy and annoying and nervous – nowhere near as intelligent or mysterious as I’d daydreamed. He was too much like Hugo for anything to come of an us so I let that lie, forgotten.

“Why do you bother coming here?” I asked once.

He looked up without answering. We didn’t know each other much, even then. I didn’t know him like friends knew each other – their hobbies, their families, their pasts. He knew next to nothing about me.

But I understood what the loneliness felt like. What the silence sounded like when only the walls were speaking. On the afternoons where the sun burned the sky into smudged red sunsets, we studied in the slowly expanding heat. The stuffiness of the library mingling with the smell of aged books and old parchment stifled the fragrance of the coming spring and we lived like that – in mutual discontent. We didn’t speak much and on the few occasions we did, he managed to annoy me.

We would never be enough to replace the girl we had lost to each other, but at some point, we both stopped trying.

*

Lucy met Scorpius two weeks after his new position by my table.

She came thundering in as usual, this time still in her Quidditch robes and splattered with mud.

“Rose!”

I was between two bookshelves and turned, already ready for the impatient voice. “I’m here, Lucy.”

When she neared me, the same harried expression in place, I could smell the wafting mud. “You smell horrible.”

“Not now,” she said crossly, “Quidditch practice went terribly, so don’t ask.”

“Anything new happen?”

“Just checking up on you. If you’re alright, I mean.”

I still thought about Dominique several times a day. Everything reminded me of her – her empty seat beside me, her empty bed. The Quidditch pitch, the blue sky, her favorite foods and her favorite books.

Sometimes I would see another blonde-haired girl walk in the hallway, and for one spinning moment, think it was her again. The tears still came. The feeling of something spreading within my chest, trickling through me was still there as well.

But somehow, I was surviving.

 I looked down at my younger cousin. Little invisible Lucy had grown up in front of me and somehow between it, she’d exceeded us all.

“Thank you.” I smiled at her, understanding something nameless.

Her eyes grew wide. “Um – okay then. No problem, Rose.”

From behind the bookshelves came an awkward cough. Lucy stopped half-way and peered through. “Who’s that? You never told me someone sat with you.”

“Oh, it’s – ”

“Isn’t that Scorpius Malfoy?

“Yes, but – ”

“Is Malfoy giving you any trouble?” she said, nostrils flaring. “He’s teasing you or bothering you, right? I’ll take care of this!”

When she began rolling up her sleeves, I pulled her back. “He’s – he’s Dom’s friend. He comes here sometimes. I don’t mind him.”

She stopped and stared, before rolling her sleeves down. She smiled and walked around the bookshelves. I could hear her throaty voice whispering, “Hi, nice to meet you. I’m Lucy Weasley.”






Author's Note: Thanks so much for the reads for the last chapter! I know this story isn't popular, so it means a lot. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this penultimate installation of Rose's story.

Celeste


Chapter 4: part iv
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Some Kind of Beauty

Lucy and Scorpius understood each other immediately in a way that I couldn’t.

He was nervous and reserved. She shouted over him and swore and brought her Quidditch broom into the library and got us chased out. She made him wince when she teased him about his glasses and whacked him around the head with the broom when he started ranting about Potions. They were an odd cacophony of a pair – haphazardly thrown together and not entirely tasteful, but she made him smile covertly when she stormed to interrupt us. His inability to fight her off made her laugh.

Between them, I understood why we could have never worked out.

We waited for her arrival one day, both anticipating the huffing footsteps.

“She’s remarkably angry for her size, that one,” he reflected, but he smiled and the glowing iridescence of the pink April twilight was floating in his eyes. “I can’t see how you two are related.”

I thought of Dom. Dominique who had lived like my sister.

There were days when I hadn’t stopped crying. I still felt the sadness sitting inside of me, but instead of the tears, it became something warmer. I didn’t feel tears slipping out, but when I saw the lake and dungeons and the library, I would see her standing beside me, smiling.

And I thought of everyone else. Perfect Victoire, now like corrupted marble, but blooming with her new baby. Roxanne sobbing and silent. In the beginning, she had waited for him to save her. In the middle, he never had. In the end, she had never needed him to.

My mum had survived death and dying, war and danger. My dad had lost his brother like I had lost Dom. I was part Hermione Granger and part Ronald Weasley. Perhaps I’d gotten the bushy hair and insensitivity, but the thought that I had my mum and dad with me was enough for this lifetime.

*

When we returned for our Easter holiday, Victoire was incredibly pregnant.

“God,” said Lucy, poking her, “you look like you ate a watermelon or something.”

“You’re so crude,” said Roxanne, tsking.

There was still a tenseness in the way Victoire looked at Roxanne, but they both laughed all the same. Victoire was radiant as we sat around in her flat.

“We’ve already gotten the nursery ready,” she told us. “Teddy’s just painted it!”

“Has the new job gone anywhere?” I asked Roxanne as we toured the light pink room.

“Haven’t started yet. I’m still raising enough money to start, but my Dad and Uncle Percy both agreed to invest. I think your mum might too! She told my mum so!”

My mum and buying books. Like our house wasn’t exploding with them already. As I shook my head in exasperation, she all but bounced in excitement. “If your mum can, this means I can get started in July or August!”

“On about the job again, are you?” said Victoire, her protruding stomach cutting in between us. “She’s already told anyone who’d listen.”

“Like you already didn’t bore everyone to death just because your husband painted a room,” said Roxanne. Victoire leaned and put one arm around both of our shoulders, navigating us out of the room.

There was no longer enough time to be angry or to hate each other. We found that if we weren’t around each other, the world felt more chaotic.

*

We sat our exams and I passed after a few weeks of studying and stress. It was gone before I’d noticed it had begun.

And with that, my class graduated with little fanfare.

I packed my clothes and notebooks into my trunk and Ruth, Cecilia and Emily all slowly hugged me in goodbye. I didn’t know if I would ever see some of the people from this school again as our paths diverged and schooling became simply life.

It was almost a comforting thought.

In a place like Hogwarts where we grew up together, what we were once never left us. Staying at Hogwarts meant that you were trapped in memories. It was a corner of the world that didn’t much change, a static little universe in its own right and you could never escape the person you once were while you stayed within its walls.

It had been my home for seven years. The four-poster bed, the Gryffindor Common Room with the squashed chairs, the stuffy Potions dungeons, the Charms classroom , the Transfiguration classroom, the Astronomy tower where so many things had begun and the lake where I had spent so many lunches with Dom.

Everything was doused in familiarity on that last day.

The air smelled like honey. The bright morning sun flashed from a brilliant blue sky and we crowded onto the train for the last time. Something stirred in me again – regret? sadness? – as the doors closed for the last time. I looked on the castle for what might be the last time in my life and felt the memories take flight into the air.

As Hogwarts castle began billowing out of view, tears rolled down.

This was a day I knew would come, but one I thought I would never have to live.

It was the final good-bye. To my childhood, to the laughter and friends and memories. To the Quidditch games. To having been a Gryffindor where I was now just a person. To the Dominique who would forever be sixteen and in her robes in my mind. To the shuddering sadness and maddening exhaustion and the loneliness.

Beside me, Molly sat tearfully, gently squeezing my hand as Lily and Lucy sat at her feet. At least we were ending this journey together, with much more than we had begun it with.

It was the end of an era.

The train ride was over and we wobbled out, uncertain with what to do with all the mingling emotions.

At the train station, I could see all the former seventh years spilling onto the platform and the noise and tears overwhelmed us. Molly ran past me straight into Uncle Percy’s arms, still crying. Some distance away, I could see Scorpius embracing his mother.

 I was still, feeling paralyzed in the center of it all.

“Rose! ROSE!” Hugo emerged behind me, grunting as he pushed his trunk. “Here you are! Mum and Dad’ve been looking for you!”

“Rose!” Mum jostled her way past the crowd, rushing to hug us. She engulfed us in a lopsided hug, breaking out in fresh, happy tears. “Rose, darling, I can’t believe you’re all done with Hogwarts! I can’t believe it! It’s been seven years!”

Dad’s arms wrapped around her and me. “You did pretty well for yourself, Rosie. All things considered.”

“Everybody’s forgetting me!” said Hugo crossly. “Oi, I had OWLs this year and I – ”

Mum whacked him around the head. “Congratulate your sister now! We’ll have plenty of time to discuss you failing Charms later!”

Hugo looked at me on command. Freckly, annoying, loud-mouthed, insensitive Hugo. Intelligent as a toaster. But my brother was now taller than me and considerably well-built and looking like Dad more and more. “Congratulations, Rosie.”

“Thank you!” I pulled my arms around his wide shoulders and he grinned as he hugged me back. “I love you, Hugo.”

“You too,” he said, sounding surprised as he pulled away. New tears bounced off my cheeks and fell down his face and onto his clothes. “Ugh, you’re crying all over my robes!”

“It’s just – I can’t believe it – I can’t believe I’m done, Mum, I can’t – and Molly and Al are also – I should find them later – but I can’t believe it! It’s been seven years and I did it – somehow – ”

“When did you get so grown up?” said Mum, breaking into more crying. Tears were obscuring my eyes as she pulled me into another embrace. She was sobbing over me as she yanked Hugo towards us.

Why am I surrounded by weeping females?!” he said frantically, attempting to fight her off.

Dad patted him on the head serenely. “You get used to it after a while.”

*

In a week, Victoire’s baby came. It was nightfall, and all of us were in scattered locations, but we received Teddy’s panicked phone call to all of our parents. “She’s at St. Mungo’s and she’s giving birth and I don’t know what the hell I’m supposed to do! So get down here NOW.”

Hugo and I had both been eating dinner while Mum was showering when the call to us came. Hugo raced down the hallway with the phone still in hand, waking up Dad from his sleep with his yelling.

St. Mungo’s ended up with a dozen Potter-Weasleys all in various states of disarray. James came, with mud splattered all over from Quidditch practice. Mum’s hair was still wet from her shower. Uncle Percy was wearing a bathrobe and Aunt Audrey was touting an apron.

Aunt Fleur, Nana Molly and Roxanne were all with Victoire as we paced outside. For the first time in what felt like ages, I saw Louis, staring cluelessly at the door. He was now nearing ten, but still had the same drooping cheeks that I remembered from our days by the seaside.

“What’s going on in there?” he asked, his big blue eyes looking up at us. “Why are we here?”

Everyone promptly avoided eye contact.

When I nudged Hugo, he cleared his throat. “Er – well, you see Lou – your sister’s about ready to pop.”

“Pop what?”

“It’s kind of disgusting, so I’d rather not talk about it,” said Hugo, to general eye-rolling.

“If it wasn’t for birthing, you wouldn’t be here,” chided Molly gently. “So be more sympathetic.”

“Not me,” said Lucy shuddering. “Imagine a big, fat thing coming out of  – ”

“Lucy!” said Molly, clapping her hands over Louis’s ears. 

 “What name did she choose in the end?” asked Lily.

“She’s got something in mind, but she won’t say,” said Aunt Ginny.

“Anything as long as it’s not Lyra. Ooh, it’s already been forever. I hope she’s all right.”

“She’ll be fine,” I said, my voice hoarse, “everything will turn out okay.”

It had to.

They all looked at me, surprised. I hadn’t said anything until that point. Hugo put his arm around me. “Glad to see you’re coming around, Rose.”

*

When we finally saw the baby a few hours later, we paraded around. We had winced through Victoire’s screaming from the other room and the fresh cries of a newborn girl. After Victoire, Ted and her parents had seen the baby, the Healer brought her outside, swaddled in blankets.

James poked her cheeks, only to have his hands swatted by the Healer. “It’s so pink.”

“And little,” said Hugo, in equally hushed tones. “Why is it crying?”

“Sensitive, aren’t we?” said Roxanne, looking exhausted but pleased. Aunt Ginny was holding the baby up now, for all of us to see. Louis was watching it with an unreadable expression.

“Are you okay, Louis?” Mum put her arm around him. “You’re an uncle now. Isn’t that exciting?”

“I’m fine,” he said, biting down on his lip. Looking at the little girl that his sister would never meet, he said firmly, “She’s nice. What’s her name?”

“Jolene,” said Teddy proudly. “Jolene Fleur Lupin. Vic wants us to call her Jolie.”

“What does it mean?” said Molly. Everybody looked expectantly at me. So many years had gone by and so many things had changed, but I was still the little girl who was considered the know-it-all.

“Pretty…flower, I think?”

“That’s lovely. Aunt Fleur’ll be so happy,” said Molly. Within seconds, she burst out in tears. “Dominique would’ve been a good aunt.”

Teddy put his arm around her. “Yeah, she would’ve.”

“This – this is lovely – I’m not sad – really – ” Tears were slipping down her cheeks.  “ – it’s just that a lot’s happening at once and I – I – ” Aunt Audrey took Molly from Ted and steered her away.

Lucy passed the baby to me. She was pink and soft and sleeping peacefully after the crying. Looking down at her, I could never believe that she would one day face the same things that I had to. That she would see beautiful green valleys pass scarlet trains or lose or cry or be frightened or do anything but sleep and dream of a beautiful future.

One day, she would lose someone dear to her. One day, she would lose all her battles. One day, she would sit on a beach and think of the world passing her by, of lives rotating without her. That she would live and struggle and die.

I didn’t have a name for how I felt about her. Her soft, crinkled pink skin. Her tufts of brown hair. Her tightly sealed eyes, unable to see the world beyond. Her small cupped palms seemed to be holding us all into the truths that we would never be able to see. 

But this was a child. It was perfect innocence in my hands.

Whatever she would be, whoever she would become, she was a step forward.

*

Baby Jolie became a gift to us.

Victoire had never looked more in her place than she did with Jolie. I had grown up seeing Vic as some metaphorical queen, beautiful and untouchable; she was cold and fussy and far away. With Jolie crying loudly on her hip and a soiled diaper by her feet and her hair out of place and her eyes rimmed with circles, Victoire was smiling more than I had ever seen her before.

Molly and I visited often and took Jolie out to Shell Cottage.

With Jolie in our arms, the world seemed softer. The bellowing sea became rasps of water the first time Jolie reached out and grabbed Molly’s hair. Molly whirled around with Jolie in her hands and day by day, I could see the sorrow slowly leaving her.

 A few weeks later, Jolie’s first smile – a silly grin, goofy on her delicate face – was at me.

“I can’t believe I was ever sad Vic was having her,” Molly whispered.

Jolie cried and cried and fussed when Victoire didn’t feed her fast enough. There were exhausting moments, but in the depth of her newborn dark blue eyes was everything. I saw her and felt the questions I had asked a year ago being answered one by one. She knew nothing of this life or hatred or suffering and so she knew everything. It was a cosmos in her eyes. Twinkling stars, gaping nebulas, the arms of galaxies, stars filled with wanderlust. It wasn’t the astronomy of my schooldays. Those were constellations.

This was more than the exploration of the universe. It was the definition of existence.

In July, I threw away the charts and circles and maps. I’d wanted to find our place in the sky, some proof that Dominique had never really left me. But I held Jolie and saw it all.

And like that, we spent our days together.

Roxanne became Jolie’s godmother and Teddy asked James to be her godfather. Teddy and Victoire eventually moved to a house that soon saw an endless parade of Weasleys and Potters coming in and out.

It was chaotic and maddeningly tiring, but after a long time, I was happy.

*

I was in the kitchen early some July morning, eating stale bread. Hugo was sulking over how it tasted. “This stuff is rubbish, I bet snogging Moaning Myrtle would be more pleasant than this.”

“Why does it sound like you would know?”

He stared at my tired attempt at humor, and perhaps out of pity or good spirits, burst out laughing. “I’ve got about as much experience as you’ve got with Peeves, I suppose!”

 In the other room, I could hear whispers. Ignoring them, I opened the door with Hugo at my feet, before stopping starkly at the sight in front of me.

Mum. Dad. Snogging.

“Ugh!” Hugo covered his eyes. “God, have some decency!”

It was a sight so ingrained in my childhood’s most embarrassing memories: walking in on them snogging while with Dominique and Aunt Fleur. The image of Aunt Fleur’s expression swam into my eyes and I began laughing. It was harsh and strange and it ripped from the bottom of somewhere I had long forgotten, but it spiraled out.

I was laughing, laughing, laughing, until it exhausted me. Laughing until tears were springing forth and I was bending forward, my stomach aching, my throat drying, my mouth. Hugo was holding on to me in alarm, but I was laughing and it was a wonderful, wonderful, floating feeling.

Mum peeled herself off Dad, looking embarrassed. He was grinning sheepishly. She attempted to flatten her hair and she gave me a disapproving look. “Alright, Rose, that’s enough.”

It was.

*

In August, Lucy invited Scorpius to one of our usual Weasley dinners. Since Jolie’s birth, we had all made a tradition of meeting by Shell Cottage once in a month.

I hadn’t seen him since we’d left Hogwarts and he lingered around the rest of us nervously. Molly later told me that he’d stayed in contact with Lucy all through the summer.

“He writes her three times a week,” she said to me as we watched them from afar. “She gets excited every time his owl drops by.”

They were walking together on the warm sand, distant from the rest of us, their silhouettes long and lean in the burning light of the sunset. When I walked up to them, they both smiled at me and continued talking. It was slightly awkward being with Scorpius after several months of no contact, but he didn’t let on to it. We’d barely talked even when we were together anyway.

He was on about something or the other. “My new flat really is rubbish, though – you were right about that.”

Lucy crossed her arms. The gesture seemed lifetimes away from the small girl who had frowned up at me in second year. “I told you, but you never listen to me.”

“What d’you think, Rose?”

“Hmm?”

“You’re not listening to me again,” Scorpius said accusingly.

“Well, who would want to listen to you drivel on about your filthy flat?” said Lucy.

“Are you interested, Rose?”

“Not particularly,” I said.

 “See, Scorpius? I was right!”

“That’s only because she hasn’t heard the story about my flat yet. The roof smells like dead – ”

“I don’t want to know,” I said, retreating backwards into the sand.

“You wouldn’t have any of your problems if you’d listened to me,” said Lucy. “See, he wrote to me telling me about the place, but I thought he was getting into it too quickly. And it’s damn suspicious that the rent’s that low, so I knew something was off!” She punched his arm and he winced. “You idiot, if only you listened to me! You never do!”

We were by the ocean now and the tints of the sunset had wetted the canvas of the water.

“I should, shouldn’t I?” His eyes were soft.

And he leaned down and kissed her, the sunlight spreading behind them, the air breaking, the world spinning.

Her eyes grew wide. She stood on her toes and kissed him back.

From the tables where everyone else sat, somebody had noticed them and catcalls broke out. The air was filled with delighted shrieks and whistling and there was a mass movement as everyone ran towards us. Lucy was being hugged by Molly and Scorpius was being torn off her by James, Hugo and Uncle Percy. Lucy was blushing profusely and Scorpius was muttering a half-hearted explanation as Uncle Percy frowned down at him.

Finally, behind everyone came Victoire, barefooted and her hair splayed in the evening wind. She was still holding Jolie and sprinting across the sand wildly. “Wait, what just happened? Why’s everyone shouting?”

But only Lucy and Scorpius heard my triumphant shout over the noise. “I knew it, I knew it! Finally! What took you two so long?

*

One day as August flew into September and the nights became cooler and bluer, I sat downstairs, reading half-heartedly. Mum was beside me still editing the preface to her edition of Hogwarts, A History. Dad and Hugo were playing chess, occasionally making strangled sounds as the game proceeded.

“No, forward you idiot, forward.” Hugo was prodding his knight on. “Come on, attack, do it right – ”

I shut my book and stared up at the empty ceiling. The open windows were letting in a breeze that smelled like fields and earth and sky. The sitting room was shrouded in shadows from lamplight and the same feeling overcame me.

“Mum?”

My mum looked up distractedly. “Yes, darling?”

“I feel bored.”

“Yes, I expected as much. It’s about time you did feel bored, don’t you think?”

“What?”

“It’s a good sign,” she said, smiling. “It means you’re ready to do something else now. Have you thought at all about what you want to do, Rose?”

“Like what?”

“Like your career. You got six NEWTS in Hogwarts. You’d do well in a Ministry job. I could talk to – ”

I hadn’t thought much about life after this summer. There wouldn’t be a Hogwarts to return to, so it seemed only reasonable that everybody would move on and find work. “I don’t know what I want to do, though.”

“Have you talked to anybody about it? Your old classmates? What about those girls you stayed with?”

“Er – ” I tried vaguely remembering a conversation with the my dorm mates from the middle of our sixth year. Nothing particular came to mind. “I think Cecilia was planning to work for the Wireless Wizarding Network.

“Oh, that’d be no good for you. You’ve got such a soft voice and you’re too nervous to do anything like that.”

“Thanks, Mum.”

“I’m just being realistic, Rose.”

“Molly said she might go to Healing school.”

“I was never under the impression she’d wanted to.”

I shrugged. “She did all right, I suppose. She told me she wants to work in the maternity ward.”

“That suits her,” said Mum. “Ever since Victoire had Jolie, I presume?”

“Yeah, Molly adores her.”

“And I know Roxanne’s starting her bookshop.”

“Your mum only knows that since she tossed in five hundred galleons,” piped up Dad from his corner. “And it was my money, too.”

“Be quiet, Ron,” said Mum crossly. “I was more than happy to invest. Harry did it for George, we’ll do it for his daughter.”

“I’m not complaining,” said Dad, looking frightened at Mum’s expression. “Er – really, I’m not – ”

“At least we get free books whenever we want, right?” said Hugo.

“That would be useful if you actually read,” said Mum. “Instead of just flying around on your broomstick. Hugo, an education is the most important – ”

“Forget I said anything!” yelped Hugo over her.

As they argued, I watched the flowers outside titter in the breeze. Something was making sense when it hadn’t ten minutes ago.

“Mum,” I said, my voice shaking. She stopped mid-lecture at Hugo. “I think I want to leave.”

Mum and Dad shared a look.

“Darling, I was wondering when you’d finally say so.”

*

“Where’re you going?” asked Lucy.

“Don’t be so intrusive,” said Molly, though she was nodding.

We were sitting under a broad umbrella, huddled away from the bright sun by Florean Fortescue’s. Molly was the only one eating ice cream and it had melted fifteen minutes ago into a pile of chocolate milk.

“Abroad for a while.”

“Where though?”

“Around,” I shrugged. “I’m going to Italy first. We vacationed there once when I was younger in a castle. I’d like to go back.”

“Then?”

“Then I’ll figure out where I want to go from there. Greece, maybe. Or Turkey.” The idea exhilarated me. I’d be away from it all and I’d be beginning anew again. “I’ve always wanted to go to Russia as well. I want to see the stars from all around the world. I might drop by South America.”

“It’s the same sky,” said Lucy and Molly nudged her.

“Is your mum paying for this?”

“Yes,” I said. “She thinks it’ll be good for me. I’ll get a job somewhere along the way and start paying her back.”

Molly looked at me anxiously. “You’re leaving permanently?”

“Not permanently. Maybe like a year. Maybe more.” I smiled at her. “What about you two? What’re you going to do?”

“Lucy’s still got Hogwarts, of course,” said Molly.

“After that, I want to be a Chaser for the Tutshill Tornadoes!” said Lucy.

“We’ll see,” said Molly over her. She broke out into a large smile and pulled her hair out of her eyes. “I’ve been accepted to Healing School.”

“Congratulations!”

“I’m entering the Dilys Derwent Institute of Healing in October! My mum and dad are so happy! In a few years, I’ll be working with babies!”

“She won’t stop bragging about it,” said Lucy in exasperation.

“You’re not much better,” said Molly, her head held high. “Ever since Scorpius asked – ”

Lucy went very red. “Don’t!”

“What?” I asked, staring between them.

“Scorpius asked Lucy to be his girlfriend two weeks ago,” said Molly in hushed tones. “He keeps writing her and visiting us at home. He’s already met Mum and Dad! Mum’s very taken by him. She finds him very proper.”

“He’s a bit strange,” I mused. “With all the Potions and – ”

“That’s very true,” said Molly. “He’s actually working under a Potions master in Diagon Alley. He’s an apprentice for Roland Tugwood these days.”

“Like I said, he’s strange.”

 Lucy bypassed red into scarlet. “Would you two stop? I’m right here. I can hear you talking about him!”

“You’re family, we’re allowed to embarrass you,” I said and Molly began laughing.

*

Three days later, I was standing inside an empty store that was filled with boxes. There were enough boxes to drown us, but Roxanne and I found solace on the desk she had shunted into a corner.

It was late afternoon outside in Diagon Alley, and the dust swirling in the store mingled freely with the air of the coming twilight. A few stars were already beginning to be emblazoned in the sky.

“You seem excited,” she said. With her dark hair pulled back, her face was clear and familiar.

“I am.”

 “So I’ve got to congratulate you, then?”

“I suppose it’s finally your turn.”

She smiled. “I’m happy for you, Rose.”

“I’m happy for you too.”

Over the last few weeks in which I’d begun to know Roxanne more, we’d both found precisely how much in common we’d had. It was the same resilience and silly stubbornness. And the same whimsical hope that was taking us both away from who we once had been. The plate on her desk introduced her as R. Weasley and the thought that we were both an R. Weasley made me smile.

I looked around at the bare, cobwebbed walls, dusty windows and dozens of boxes. “When do you open?”

“Next month. Fred and my mum are both going to be helping me around here. Speaking of - ” She dove under the desk and retrieved a large sign that read in curly lavender script: Weasley & Co. “I’m going to put this out front. Could you help me?”

We both struggled under the weight of it as we shuffled out.

“Okay,” she said, grunting as she held it up, “now we’ve got to levitate it and hang it from the roof.”

I yanked my wand from my pocket and the sign rose through the air. We both watched it fly up.

When Roxanne placed a sticking charm on it and it dangled down, we looked at our handiwork in admiration.

“Looks nice, doesn’t it?” I said.

“It looks perfect,” she said, staring up at it and breathing deeply. Her eyes were full of the night and stars.

*

“I’m leaving,” I told Victoire.

She was changing Jolie’s diaper. Her expression didn’t flinch. She looked up at me with her rainwater blue eyes. “Yes, I knew. You seemed like you would for a long time. Just remember.”

“What?”

“Come back.”

She handed me Jolie as she cleaned up. Jolie gave me the same toothless smile as she waved her small hand into my hair. I kissed her cheek and she smiled more.

“I’m going to miss her. She’s a little princess.”

Victoire smiled as I transferred Jolie back to her. “She’s a very fussy, spoiled little princess. She starts crying immediately if you don’t feed her or clean her. She isn’t very patient.”

“She’s just like her mum, then.”

Vic stuck her tongue out at me as Jolie flailed around in her arms. “Of course. She’s my little princess, after all.”

“And what about you, Vic?” I asked. “You going back to work any time soon?”

“I’m staying at home for a few years until Jolie’s grown up a bit more. I like the time with her. It’s so peaceful.”

“Are you planning on a sibling for Jolie?”

“Maybe someday,” she said airily. “But not any time soon, trust me. Teddy wants a boy, but I’ve gotten enough diapers and crying to worry about for now.”

*

Molly wrung out of me several promises – to write, to take care of myself. Roxanne wanted a long list of interesting things from every place I was going to visit. Rugs and brushes and vases. Lucy wanted a riveting account of all torrid romances, nonexistent as they would be. Victoire wanted me to write, telling her everything interesting I had done.

“So I can tell Jolie what Auntie Rose has been up to,” she said. “They’ll be bedtime stories of beautiful places.”

The night before I left, it was only me, my mum, my dad, and my brother in our home. It felt strangely full, even with the silence.

Mum was cutting vegetables. Dad and I were both reading. Hugo was scribbling something. Mum looked up and said, “Take care of yourself, darling.”

“Of course she will,” said Dad. “If anything comes up, don’t be scared to jinx the hell out of – ”

Ron!

“Merlin, I’m only joking, Hermione,” said Dad feebly. But he gave me a sideways glance that said otherwise. Hugo and I broke out into grins.

“Take care of yourself, will you though, Rose?” asked Hugo. “Not fond of Mum lecturing only me.”

“You’ve got such good intentions,” I said dryly. But we laughed all the same.

*

I waited outside the fields outside my home around midnight for my Portkey and all I could think of was Dom.

It had already been over a year.

I wondered if I should have said my goodbyes to her like I did with everybody else.

In the end, I never did.

Every time I thought of her, I still felt the pang.  

My muscles still stiffened at the thought of her lying there in her grave. The cool air washed over me and I stared up at the flowers rippling in the breeze and up at the sky.

I would never be able to tell her all the things I’d wanted to. The past still felt strange and sweet and more faraway by the day. I pushed myself as far back as I could, taking in all of the sky at once, willing the stardust to fall into me. Somewhere through the endless echoes of time, somebody would hear everything that I should have said and felt for Dom. Somebody had felt it once and somebody would feel it someday. There was some perfect place in the universe that would always understand.

It would understand the salty taste of the ocean on those seaside days. It would understand our laughter. It would understand falling asleep together and the teenage anger and the envy. It would understand how much I’d loved her. The unsaid, nameless things that defined us. It would know.

And wherever it was, whatever arch of the sky it was – flying past Neptune or between Mercury and the sun or deep in the Andromeda galaxy, I would never find it. But that was where Dom was.

I’d given up trying to look for her or an us. The sky held no answers for me – only the promise of an existence. So I left her in my memories, where she was meant to be and all my love, which she always had.

The Portkey – an empty bottle – appeared with a pop. I breathed in the stardust, reached down to it and left the world behind me.

*

The years away took me around the world. Into small towns in Italy, and the warm ocean in Greece. I felt the dust of Turkey, the desolate whiteness of Siberia in the wintertime. It was an antiquated season drenched in the perfect wilderness of nature.

There were still places forgotten by man and lost to time, old archaic caves and vine-filled forests. I wandered through destroyed cathedrals, and saw time in all its forms. There were still black lakes and flowing blue rivers and rolling days where I forgot it all and just walked and remembered. There was finally enough time in this lifetime for me to just breathe.

There were villages in Mongolia and looming palaces in India. There was the dirt and the pavement baking in the sun and mountains that cascaded from the sky. The world had more greenery and water and I’d imagined. I didn’t know much about beauty, but I knew plenty about love and standing there, I wondered what it mattered because they were the same thing anyway.

I drank it all and watched and listened.

Within the magnitude of it all, I found the solace of my individual existence watching the stars every night. Lucy had been right. It really all was the same sky. That alone was more reassuring than I could have known.

The moon swooped through ebony clouds and the seasons passed.

Four years passed when I made the most important journey: I went back home.

*

Home offered old and new puzzles alike.

By the time I’d returned, everything had changed and nothing really had.

Hugo had sprouted until he was positively thundering over me. He showed off his new Chudley Cannons uniform by wearing it absolutely everywhere – even at Lucy’s wedding the month after my arrival.

Lucy’s wedding to Scorpius was the happiest chaos of my life.

My aunts all rushed around, fretting with food and decorations and planning the minutiae of a Weasley wedding. There were the usual violins and wedding tent and streamers. Lucy forced us all into light blue bridesmaid’s dresses – even Victoire, who now had a pregnant belly all over again. Lily’s red hair clashed horribly with the dress and Roxanne’s was a little too long, but in the pictures, all we could see were our bright, happy grins.

Molly cried as she walked down in her Maid of Honor dress and it seemed like not so long ago that another girl had attended her sister’s wedding.

After the wedding, James, Fred, Hugo and Al all pelted Scorpius with eggs as a bright new welcome into the Weasley family. Even with cracked eggs all over his robes, he was grinning brilliantly and his wedding dance with Lucy left Aunt Audrey and Scorpius’s mum in tears.

 A few months later, Victoire delivered her baby boy – Olivier Remus Lupin. A year passed and Molly had her engagement and Lucy had her first pregnancy. I joined work at the Aurora Sinistra Observatory that winter. That spring, I published Stars From Around the World, my first book on astronomy; Roxanne stocked up the entire of Weasley & Co. with copies of the blue book speckled with white. I left the dedication to Dom, knowing that wherever she was, she’d understand.

I contented myself with the observatory and writing and watched many of my cousins get engaged and married before me. Mum joked often that I’d left behind my future husband somewhere in Siberia, lost in the snow.

It took two years from my return for me to find him. I’d lingered over some of the most exotic and romantic locations in the world, thousands of kilometers from any civilization. I could have met him in Venice or Paris or Morocco. In the end, we met at Weasley & Co., which was only ten minutes from home.

Dan understood me, even from the start. I was perusing Roxanne’s growing astronomy section. He was looking for a history of the Giant Wars. We met in between when we went to pay. After that, he started coming in every Tuesday afternoon like I did and sat in the corner and read. A month later, he asked me to dinner. He had brown hair and brown eyes and I was seemingly hoping for more from him. I almost said no, until Roxanne shouted a yes over me.

He wasn’t as broodingly romantic as I’d hoped for my husband to be when I was fifteen. He was cheerful and studious and light-hearted. With my stubbornness and his ability to laugh anything off, we were engaged when I was twenty-five, about a year and a half after we first met. He’d been at Hogwarts around the same time as me – he was only a year older – and it was a strange thought to think that we might have passed each other in hallways and crowded corridors and never once noticed each other. My husband had been somewhere in the background all along, waiting for me. He studied magical history, I studied the stars and between us, we learned to grow.

It wasn’t the glamorous lifestyle I’d dreamt for myself, but I was happy with my place in the world. Between becoming Mrs. Greene and my ever-growing family and writing more books, life became easier to love.

*

“That’s it?” asked Jolie, her eyes wide. “But you didn’t say the rest of it!”

I laughed. “But you know the rest, don’t you? It’s caught up with the present.”

“It hasn’t!” she said, looking outraged. “You left out some important stuff!”

The door downstairs opened with a loud creak and there was a frantic shuffle of feet.

“Oh, they’re home,” said Jolie, looking at the floor.

“Yes, they spent a lovely day with the grandparents and your Uncle Daniel went to pick them up.”

“How come you didn’t mention everybody’s children, then?”

“Because you already know them!”

“It doesn’t sound like a good story otherwise, alright?” She crossed her arms stubbornly and began listing her cousins to the walls. I let her, wondering who she was trying to impress, but thinking she looked more and more like her mother as she did so. “Aunt Roxanne and Uncle Jack had Tatiana. Aunt Lucy and Uncle Scorp have Genevieve and Orion. Aunt Molly and Uncle Ed had Francine.”

“You can’t possibly list everyone,” I said, thinking of all the others. James’s three sons, Albus’s daughter and son, Louis’s daughter, and -

“And of course, Uncle Hugo has Aunt Eve and Arthur. And Auntie Rose, you have twins and they’re both six!” She clapped her hands together, evidently satisfied. “Rebecca Jane and Hermia Dominique.”

“Yes, I know.”

“Mum told me you named Hermia that because it sounds like your mum’s name.” She leaned back in her chair smugly. “I know everything about our family!”

“All right Jolie, you can stop now.” She reminded me too much of myself when she gave me the self-satisfied smile; she was the next Rose Weasley-Greene, the beginning of another line of know-it-alls.

The pounding of feet on the staircase interrupted us both and the door opened. Dan peeked through.

“Hey Rose, Jolie.”

“Hi Uncle Dan.”

“I picked up the girls, Rose.” He waggled his eyebrows. “And there you were, telling me I’d forget. Are you impressed now?”

“Yes, we heard,” said Jolie testily. “Everyone can hear them.”

“Oh, I’m very impressed,” I said. “So, did you remember to buy some dinner like I asked?”

“Er…”

He slinked out guiltily.

“How predictable,” said Jolie, staring after him. 

As Dan left, there was a new, frantic pounding up the stairs, bubbling towards us like an explosion. There was a jostling towards the door as it flung open.

The running was enough to set the floor bouncing as they hurtled towards me, their brunette braids untying themselves and their brown eyes large and excited.

I opened my arms as they ran towards me. “Welcome home, darlings!”

Their sparkling cry came out together.

Mummy!”

Fin.

 








Author's Note: Thank you so much for embarking on this journey with Rose. Hopefully, it's been enjoyable. I hope you'll review with your thoughts on the conclusion! Writing this story was extremely special for me. It was based on some real life events, including the birth of a very beloved baby girl in my family.This story took me two years to write, six rewrites and a rather lot of frustration. But finishing it has been a rewarding and enlightening pleasure and one that I consider a milestone in my writing. 

Thank you for the support through this story. 

Celeste

 


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