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Chapter image by emccentric
Love rule #1 - When in crisis, eat chocolate
Like many teenaged girl problems, my problems started with a boy - or many boys, to be exact - and their inability to recognise me as a female. However, in their defence, who would have considered me, Rose Weasley, as a potential girlfriend? Bookish, plump girls who read their way through quiddich matches don’t often find their way onto many radars.
And truly, take away my bookish qualities and I still certainly don’t compare to the beauties of the world. My reddish hair came from my dad, along with my freckles. Fred once drew a quiddich pitch on my arm by connecting my freckles together, and charmed a few of the larger freckles to move about as players. Needless to say that my air-head cousin did his own essays that week. I suppose my larger figure can be attributed to my love of all things chocolate and refusal to leave the library; exercise is an unknown and scary concept to us library-dwellers.
Mum proudly claims my brains as her genetic contribution. She pressures me to perform well in all aspects of my life, and sometimes I feel as if I'm striving for a perfection that I'll never quite grasp. I spend the majority of my time studying and reading, and hiding in the library to avoid a certain blonde someone.
If it weren’t for my two best friends, I probably would have turned into a weird recluse who only ever leaves the library for food, classes and perhaps the occasional shower.
We grew up together, the girls and I. Although we first met on the Hogwarts Express as tiny, over-confident first years, it was like we’d known each other since birth. Callie started as a scrawny, snub-nosed rascal, but became magnificent by fourth year. Tall and willowy, with large blue eyes, long dark lashes, a beautiful mane of bright blonde hair, kindness mixed with steely determination and a chaser on the Gryffindor quiddich team.
Sophie, our French beauty, stayed the small and delicate girl that I knew from first year, but grew lumps and bumps in all the right places. Her dark, sparkling eyes betrayed her dreamer personality and hid her wicked temper and tongue, and she practically oozed a beauty and love that made you feel warm inside. Her occasional French accent caused boys to fall over themselves to ask her out on dates.
And me? As the years since first year past, I grew, and I grew bigger. I was completely discontent with my body but in love with my hair that gradually faded from horrible orange to beautiful auburn. I had a brain that could spar with any professor and friends who could help me withstand anything.
It wasn’t all books and study for me, though. We had fun. We had adventures. In our third year, we snuck into the boy’s dormitory and stuck all, and I mean all, of their belongings onto the ceiling, including the dirty clothes on the ground. It was made funnier by the fact Peter Maloney was asleep in his bed when we did it. He got an awful surprise when he woke up.
But in seventh year, life in general went wrong. I messed with the system when I realised that I didn’t want to be that bookish, boring Weasley who fixed everyone’s essays. We fell in love, and I became so screwy in the head that I barely knew how to get out of bed of a morning.
But there was one person, the only person in the world, who almost made it all worth it.
Our story starts in the summer before our seventh year. The girls were determined to help me feel happier in my own skin, and so I became their ‘project’ for the summer holidays. Which was completely fine; I no longer wished to be Rose Weasley; the girl who graduated Hogwarts with honours in nerd and a future as a cat lady. I wanted to be Rose Weasley; the girl who actually got a first kiss before she graduated Hogwarts and became a cat lady.
Although we three girls didn’t live in close proximity outside of Hogwarts, finally being of age and legal to apparate made life easier.
We had been staying at Uncle Bill’s old house, Shell Cottage, for a few days at the start of summer. Sophie’s family didn’t like visitors, Callie’s pureblood mum hated me and my 'traitorous blood', and my family didn’t have room at home for privacy and space for three best friends.
The day it happened, was beautiful. A rare blue sky stretched out over the grey ocean, and instead of being in my hand and read, my History of Magic textbook was shading my eyes from the sun.
I remember everything so clearly. You’re probably expecting something truly awful – a death eater uprise, one of the girls drowning, a house-destroying earthquake - but it was nothing of the sort. However, it was something that changed my life completely, and probably forever.
Callie was stretched out on the sand beside me, her long, bronzed limbs glistening and her blonde hair coated in a fine layer of sand. Her face was hidden behind a Witch Weekly –‘Loose five kilograms in five days!’, ‘Fab or drab: Which of these celebrities have let themselves go?’ – as she read, and I eyed her toned stomach. Would life be better if I were skinnier?
Sophie was on my other side, her midriff covered by a modest yet lovely one-piece. She was humming to herself and filing her nails; although quite a high achiever at school, she wanted nothing more than to be a beautician post-Hogwarts, and always took particular care of her appearance.
I shifted uncomfortably on my towel and tugged at the hem of my board shorts. Satisfied that nothing too unsightly was showing, I played with the fraying hem of my oversized tee. Was I burning? Mum would kill me if I got too much sun – “You don’t need any more freckles, Rose! Put some more sunscreen on!”
“Why don’t you take that off?” Sophie suggested casually, but we all sensed the underlying question: do you really have to be so self-conscious when it’s just the three of us?
Truth to tell, I never used to be self-conscious. It was only when the other two started getting dates and I spent more time alone in the library and at dinner that it started. Was everyone staring at me as I scoffed my treacle pudding? Was the Hufflepuff quiddich team judging me as they passed by on their weekly run around the lake? Why did that girl laugh at me – was it what I was wearing?
“Sun,” I muttered. I jumped as Callie threw a tube of sunblock at my head, knocking my glasses askew.
“Problem solved,” she said, her white grin flashing at me from behind her magazine.
I met Sophie’s smiling eyes, her encouraging nod making me sigh.
“If I get skin cancer, it’s your fault,” I said, and she wrinkled her nose at me. I slowly grasped the hem of my tee and pulled it over my head. Was everyone staring? Did I look ridiculous next to my tiny friends?
“Here, I’ll do your back,” was the only comment I got from Sophie, who rubbed the lotion into my skin and returned to her nail filing. It took some time, but I finally relaxed and let the sun soak into my newly-exposed skin.
“Nice, isn’t it?” Callie eventually said, and I gave her a small, tight smile. It was nice, but I still felt uncomfortable.
Trying to diffuse some of my awkwardness, I asked, “Girls, this could be our last ever summer holiday together. Where will we be in ten years?”
“Successful and fabulous,” from Callie.
“Married to Mandrake O’Hooley from Wizard Wackoos,” Sophie giggled.
“Head of Magical Relations,” I mused.
“What about this year? I’m terrified about NEWTS. Suppose I fail?” Callie fretted. School never had been her strong point, but her other incredible qualities made up for it by far.
“You won’t fail, you have super-witch Rose to help you! Besides, this won’t be our last holiday together because even when we’re old and wrinkled and have grandkids hanging off us, we’ll still make time for each other,” Sophie said.
“It’s time to make our yearly goals, girls. What do you want to achieve from this year?”
“I want to date Freddie Weasley,” Soph said immediately, and I snorted. If she wanted to go out with my idiot cousin then that was up to her, so long as she was happy. Callie giggled and nudged her.
“He’s cute,” she agreed, “I want to fall in love properly, not just date the whole of the Ravenclaw quiddich team.”
“Any lucky bloke in mind?” I said, and she shook her head a bit too quickly but didn’t say anything more.
“What about you, lovely Rosie?” Callie asked. I closed my eyes briefly, thinking. I wanted lots of things, many of which I didn’t feel like sharing. I wanted to be thin and beautiful, and actually be noticed when I was with the girls. I wanted to sail easily through my NEWTs. I wanted people to stop judging me based on my family and my school work. I wanted Mum to get off my back. And I, too, wanted to fall in love. Jake flashed quickly through my mind, and I tried not to shudder. Callie’s twin brother claimed to have liked me since our first year - the only boy in the world who has ever liked me. The concept was too weird, though. The boy was like a brother.
Before I could open my mouth to answer, there were several loud popping noises nearby and it happened. The life-shattering, earth-moving moment that changed my life forever. It was two moments, actually.
Moment number one: my little brother groaned and yelled, “Oh dear Merlin, Rose. Who the heck let you onto the beach without a ski suit? We can see all of your wobbly bits! Look away, Scorp, Jake. Save yourselves.”
Moment number two: my neck snapped up in horror and I locked eyes with Scorpius Malfoy. He stood there, dressed for the beach in board shorts and a bare, magnificent chest. I remember the towel slung over his shoulder, and a bag slung over the other. His grey eyes reflected the disdain he’d always held for me, mixed with disgust at my body and attire. I couldn’t hide my utter humiliation and hurt in time, and his cheeks turned pink at my show of emotion. Malfoy hated when I was emotional.
Hugo’s words, although horrible, were sadly typical from him – after all, he was my brother – and he thought nothing more of them after they left his mouth. It was having Malfoy, a boy I’d always so hated but admired all my life, witness to my shameful body that made everything awful. A boy so perfect – for, who else on earth could shake off the shame of his family name and go on to become a valued member of society, incredibly popular at school and utterly, stunningly gorgeous? – that he made me want to cry.
There was an awkward silence as I scrabbled for my oversized tee-shirt and pulled it over my head so fast that my hair exploded around my shoulders in an embarrassing display of red. Albus, my favourite cousin and close friend, smiled sympathetically at me but offered no support. Fred was already chasing a seagull, and Jake was staring at me with a look much akin to a puppy dog staring at his favourite toy.
I didn’t even hear the girl’s voices as they tore viciously into my brother, chasing him away down the beach.
And Malfoy. Malfoy’s grey eyes never left my awful body, not even when I stood up and stormed into the house.
It was from that moment on, that I resolved to lose weight by any means possible. If I were skinnier, life would be better. If I were skinnier, I could be anyone other than who I was.
A/N: Welcome to my first ever fanfiction! I hope you enjoy the story as much as I enjoy writing it. Thanks for reading!
This chapter has been updated and rewritten on the 18/02/13.
Chapter image by Inspector.
Love rule #2 – When in doubt, fake it
The rest of summer consisted of early morning runs, ignoring Malfoy when he showed up with the boys and learning to relax a bit from the girls.
On September 1st, I made sure that my shining new Head Girl badge was pinned firmly in place on my uniform.
Opening my school letter that year and seeing that badge was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. It may sound lame to you, but for me it was the culmination of six years of hard work. My parents had been so excited that they threw me a party, and we all got deliciously tipsy off firewhiskey.
Being head girl almost made my chubby limbs and hours in the library worth the work.
That day at the station, Mum had touched the badge with trembling fingers, and Dad had pretended to bow down before me. I kicked him.
“Get up Dad, you’re so embarrassing!” I wailed, but he just grinned and kept bowing.
“Have a good year, honey. I’ll send you some more course information during the year,” Mum said as she hugged me. I hugged her tightly back, and was surprised to discover I was taller than her.
“I miss you already, munchkin,” Dad said, finally standing up. Merlin, he was going to make me cry. Dad and I had always been close. I hugged him and hopped on the train before I could start bawling, watching them say goodbye to Hugo from where I sat in our usual compartment.
I peered out of the window at the still-busy platform, and spotted a familiar mop of blonde hair. Malfoy and his parents were saying their goodbyes, and I quickly looked away. No need to make him think I was staring, considering that I hadn't said a word to him since the start of summer.
Even without awkward moment number 2, Malfoy and I already had a weird relationship. He was conviced I thought that I was better than him, and I was convinced he hated me.
Pushing him from my mind, I looked at my best friends from where they were sitting across from me and smiled. It was our last year of school. Sophie had her prefect badge on, and Callie had her quiddich captaincy. We were going to go places. Without warning, I jumped up and hugged them.
“Get off, you great lump,” Sophie giggled even as she hugged me back.
“What was that for?” Callie asked, and I smiled and shrugged.
“Felt like it.”
“Your robes look too big,” Sophie commented lightly, and I looked down with a thrill. Were they really? Maybe all those runs were starting to pay off?
“Wow, cool! You girls have to promise to go for runs with me this term. Otherwise I won’t keep it up.”
“Sure, honey,” Callie flashed me a smile and went back to her usual magazine. The compartment door opened and the boys trundled in.
“Here you all are,” Freddie said, and Sophie turned pink. We shuffled over to make room, and I found myself sitting next to Malfoy. We nodded at each other stiffly, before I pulled out some parchment and starting jotting down notes. I wanted to be on top of my head girl duties before we got back, so I didn’t end up too stressed when the school work started piling up.
“Are you sure that Hogsmeade weekend is a week before the ball, or is it two weeks?” a deep voice suddenly asked, and I looked up with a frown. Malfoy was peering over my shoulder as I wrote, and I tried to ignore the heat radiating off his body.
“What’s it to you, Malfoy?” I asked, and he shrugged. As he did, a badge caught the light. I glanced at it, and froze. “No way.”
“No freaking way!”
“Get over it, Weasley,” he said, heaving a long-suffering sigh.
“How can you be head boy! It can’t be possible!” I wailed, and knew the others were watching in amusement. I was over reacting, but I couldn't be civil to Malfoy for a whole year!
“It is possible and you’re going to have to be mature about it so we can work together.”
I just about exploded. Malfoy was trying to teach me how to behave? As if I needed his pig-headed help! Just ridiculous. How could Professor Higgins do this to me?
“We might be different, Weasley, but I reckon we can work through your... quirks... and get on with it.”
Sophie was giggling behind her hand, and Albus and Freddie were nudging each other in glee. I swallowed my sour feeling and took a deep breath.
“You’re right Malfoy. We can make this into a professional team and work together this year. I look forward to it,” I spat out through clenched teeth. So embarrassed and frustrated I felt like I would explode, I stood up and left the compartment, slamming the door behind me.
“Reeeeally mature, Rose!” Freddie called out, and I flipped him off through the glass. I stomped off to go and find someone to vent to.
Albus finally came to find me. It’s funny – when they were kids, everyone though that James would turn out to be a bad boy figure, like Uncle Harry’s father. In reality, James was incredibly studious and actually rather boring. It was Albus who turned out to be the bad boy of the family. He only came to me after he’d snogged his latest girlfriend for a good hour or so, dumped her and then pranked the Slytherins.
How he was ever made a prefect, I have no idea.
As it was, it wasn’t until a few hours later, a good Albus heart-to-heart and three black coffees from the lunch trolley that I was finally calm enough to face the prefect meeting in the head’s compartment. Albus had dressed me down equally, if not even better, than Malfoy.
“Seriously Rose, you’re turning eighteen this year. It’s time to get over this second year crap and grow up a bit! Scorp is my best mate and he’s willing to give it a go, so don’t be so pig-headed. He’s a good guy and a great leader. You just need to see past your pride and get on with the job that’s been assigned to you.”
For the second time in a matter of hours, I was speechless. Stupid males and their stupid, stupid logic. And coming from Albus and Malfoy, it was even more shocking. It just wasn’t fair.
I faced the meeting with Albus and Sophie by my side as a prefects and Malfoy opposite. The prefects this year would make our job easier – they were a good bunch. Apart from Loretta O’Walsh and her perfect raven hair and huge breasts and a tendency to snog all the boys.
“… And to conclude, everyone, meetings for the Winter Ball will be held as early as next month. We want to make this year’s ball to be a mammoth, excellent event. With Rose’s organisation skills and my wicked ideas, we’ll have the best ball yet,” Malfoy finished.
My mouth dropped open and Albus raised an eyebrow at me, as if to say ‘told you he was a good guy’. I mean, Malfoy just paid me a compliment despite my rudeness earlier. Did the world stop spinning as well? Unsure of whether he was being nice or not, I plastered a pleasant look on my face to hide my doubt. When the meeting was over, everyone started leaving. I caught Malfoy’s arm as he walked past, intending to apologize.
“Malfoy, look, I just wanted to –“ I began, but he cut me off.
“I want to work together Rose. That doesn’t mean we have to like each other too.” He glared at me, and I was overly aware of how close we were standing. I could see the light freckles on his nose, and amber sparks in his eyes.
As I opened my mouth to reply hotly, he interrupted again. “No, I don’t want to hear it. I tried to be nice. I tried all summer whenever I saw you at the beach house. But you’re just a rude, ignorant little girl. See you around, Rose."
I stared at his back as he stalked past me at last, then burst into tears.
“I just wanted to apologize,” I said to no one.
Wiping my eyes and leaving the compartment, I was surprised to see Jake was waiting for me outside.
With Malfoy’s words still etched in my brain (“You’re a rude, ignorant little girl”) I tried my best to be nice and patient with Jake. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great guy. Gorgeous, too. We’ve been friends for a long time but his puppy dog eyes got on my nerves in my current mood. Plus blonde just isn’t my type at all.
“Hey Rose,” he said, and I nodded at him. “Have a good summer?”
“Actually yeah, it was great. Spent most of it with the girls at the beach.”
He laughed at that. “I can see! You look great. So fit and tan,” he complimented.
I blushed –actually blushed- and decided that maybe blondes were alright after all. He dropped me at my compartment but I didn’t go in, not wanting to face anyone. Instead, I roamed, killing time until we got to Hogwarts.
By the time I finally got to the feast later that night, I discovered that I’d missed dinner and no one had bothered to save me any food. A run-in with Peeves and a missing first year ensured that dinner was well and truly over when I at last wedged myself between the girls.
About to be angry at someone, I took a deep breath and calmed down. Me and Sophie both had terrible tempers. But when she lost it, she started ranting and swearing in rapid French. Malfoy’s words were taunting me. Just because I was upset didn’t mean I had to be rude or unreasonable. Wait, why was I even listening to anything Malfoy said? He is just –
“Rose, are you okay?” Callie broke into my mental musings, and I jumped.
“I’m just great. I guess I’ll have to wait until breakfast though, I missed dinner,” I said, slumped in my chair.
“That’s okay honey, just have some dessert instead!” she said brightly, about to reach for my favourite pecan pie. Just as she was about to grab it however, it disappeared and Professor Higgins stood up. I could have cried in frustration. It just wasn’t my day.
“Welcome, students new and old!” he boomed in his deep, loud voice. “I have some exciting news to announce for our senior students – Hogwarts now has a gym, which will only be shut during curfew hours and accessible to anyone above fifth year. Quiddich teams are allowed to book for periods of time, and the sign on sheet is available at Master Treelore’s office. This new castle addition is a part of the Ministry’s new healthy citizen initiative.”
My heart lifted. Maybe today wasn’t so bad after all. I could still work on my running even if it was raining or snowing outside! “Yes,” I whispered to the girls, “Let’s go sign up!”
Down the table, Loretta O’Walsh leaned past some of her friends to scathingly say, “You’re going to join, Weasley? Why? They don’t offer food as a good work incentive.”
I felt sick. Beside me, Callie turned pink and Albus stiffened. What did I ever do to make her say such awful things? It was Soph who acted, whipping her wand out underneath the table and casting a silent spell. Before our eyes, Loretta began to swell up until she was like a miniature hot air balloon. I believe Uncle Harry did the same thing to a muggle when he was our age. I couldn’t help but giggle, even though I was still cut from the comment. Titters began through the hall when people began to notice, and some of the new first years look horrified.
“Dear me,” said Higgins in a bored voice, for these things did tend happened on a regular basis, “Someone go and take Madam Rivers her first casualty for the year. You’re all dismissed.”
“I sick of being… lame,” I sighed to the girls later that night. We were all sitting cross-legged on my new bed in the Head’s dormitory, having just admired my new home. It was like a miniature version of the Gryffindor dorms, only closer to the great hall and far more luscious.
Plus, I was sharing a common room with Malfoy. Merlin, the very thought of it. Although it did, as Callie pointed out, make the perfect party venue – teachers wouldn’t suspect, no one really knew where the head’s dorm was, and it had a lovely, open space for a decent amount of people.
“We wouldn’t be friends with you if you were lame, Rosie,” Sophie giggled. I shrugged, and looking down at my crossed legs, tugging at a loose thread on my pyjamas.
“I guess that I’m just sick of being a goody-goody. I thought I wasn’t one, but I am. All I think about is school, and achieving, and doing what my parents want me to do!”
“Throw a party,” Callie said with a grin, eyes flashing wickedly. Sophie stared at her, shaking her head.
“It’ll cost Rose her badge if she gets caught.”
“We won’t get caught. Go on, Rose, say yes,” Calle said smoothly.
“Yes,” I said without hesitating, “Girls, this is our last year. I want to go out in style. A party is a great thing to start with. Also, when you see me stressing out about an assignment or being a bitch about rules, just make me chill out, yeah?”
They shrugged and smiled, nodding okay.
“So when will this party be happening?” asked Sophie, and I mused.
“In a month, maybe? When everyone is settled in and has enough work to start getting stressed. Then we can party and get over the stress, and be good for some more school work! It’s perfect. As far as I see it, we’re teenagers and it's our last year of school – let’s make the most of it! It’s the new Rose Weasley.” I smiled at my idea.
Sophie gave a reluctant nod, before leaning forward conspiratorially and changing the subject.
“I want to fall in love this year. Find a boyfriend, and do all of the things that… well, go along with having a boyfriend,” she said, blushing bright red.
Callie and I shared a glance. Love?
With a wicked grin, Callie said, “I hear young mister Weasley is single and ready to mingle.”
Sophie shrieked with laughter and threw a pillow, and it descended into chaos from there before they finally went back to their dorm.
I went to bed that night feeling troubled. Sophie wanting to find love and have sex, Callie already having done so, where did that leave me?
Restless, I went into the bathroom and stood in front of the mirror. Maybe my favourite pyjama bottoms were getting a bit loose? Perhaps my school robes did feel a bit big?
Don’t get me wrong – I do love being who I am, but I don’t love being curvy. In my friendship group, being the biggest and the least attractive didn’t make me feel good. My friends couldn’t help being who they are, but it still hurt sometimes. In previous years, it didn’t matter so much. But now, with talks of dates and sex and whatnot, well, I guess I just didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin. Mum always told me that I have a beautiful face, but really – what do faces count for?
Glaring at my body, I sat down on the floor and started doing sit ups.
Chapter image by Inspector.
Love rule #3 - There is such thing as love at first sight – or obsession at first glance
The next morning, I found myself outside of Master Treelore’s office just after the crack of dawn. I spotted the gym sign on sheet straight away – it already had several names on it. Just as I was digging a quill out of my bag to add my name, the door to his office opened.
“Ah, Miss Weasley,” he said with a smile, “Welcome back to school. I trust you had a good holiday?”
I smiled at him. Treelore always had been one of my favourite teachers at this school. We’d bonded in the hospital wing over several Weasleys injured from quiddich. “It was excellent sir, and yourself?”
“Most excellent. Signing up for the gym? That’s it just over there,” he nodded towards a door further down the corridor, and I quickly scribbled my name down before hurrying towards it.
Opening the door, I was confronted with a very muggle concept – there were mirrors down the walls, weights, treadmills, bike machines, everything. I gasped in delight. Now I had no excuse not to be fit!
“Excuse me sir,” I said to Treelore who was standing behind me, surveying his new gym with a fond expression, “I’m just going to grab my workout gear then I’ll be right back!”
I was so excited I couldn’t wait another day to try it. Back in no time at all, I spent the next hour going from one machine to another, ignoring my hunger and the occasional dizzy spell I experienced. To my surprise, Albus turned up not long after, and we spent some time laughing at each other on the gym equipment and trying to lift stupid amounts of weight on the machines.
“This is probably why they don’t want immature, young students in here; they might do themselves an injury!” I gasped out between laughing. I grabbed my camera from my purse and took a picture of my idiot cousin. Albus fell off the seat and onto the floor from laughing, pretending he had huge muscles, when the door suddenly opened. I stopped my giggles so abruptly that Albus looked up.
“Hey, Scorp, man! I was just showing my little cousin my huge muscles,” he said, standing up and posing. Malfoy had just walked in and raised an eyebrow, and I saw that Jacob was behind him. I bit back a sigh. There was no way I was going to keep exercising with these three in here. I mumbled an excuse and gathered up my gear. Halfway down the corridor, I was stopped.
“Hey Rose, wait up!” It was Jake, running after me. He almost crashed into me, as if he didn’t think I’d stop so fast.
“What’s up, Jake?” I asked conversationally. He suddenly looked awkward, and turned a bit pink around the ears. I was about to raise an eyebrow at his behaviour before I remembered that that was what Malfoy did.
“I, ah – I um was wondering, like, if maybe you were free for the uh next erm Hogsmeade weekend maybe?” He said in a rush, looking everywhere but me.
My heart skipped – Jake may or may not have liked me since our first year, but this was the first time he (or any other boy for that matter) had ever asked me out. I tried not to stare at him like he had two heads, my mind whirling the whole time.
I’d be crazy not to say yes to any guy. However, as it turns out, I am crazy.
“Oh, wow Jake – um can I think about it? I’ll let you know really soon,” I said, thinking quickly and making things up. “There’s just this.. thing that I have to do, then I’ll come and find you, okay?”
The coward I am, I ran off before he could even say anything. Good grief, Merlin and Nicholas Flammel. Don’t get me wrong – Jake is great and I’ve known him forever, but it was all fine having him like me since he never actually did anything about it. Now I have to be all mature and crap, and decide if I want to go out with him!
Once I was back in my dorm and suitably showered and dressed, I ran to the great hall to see if the girls were there. I may have missed breakfast, but they liked to linger with coffees and the newspaper. To my relief, there they were. I tried to calm down and walk slowly. Sitting down with as much grace as I could muster, I poured myself a black coffee and cleared my throat.
“Oh, hey Rosie, how was your first night in the head dorm? See any naked Malfoy?” Callie asked, wriggling her eyebrows and pushing her newspaper away.
“Ew gross Cal, that’s Malfoy you’re talking about!”
“Yeah, and he’s fit as anything. I’d go there!”
“You’d go anywhere, Callie!” Sophie piped up with a giggle, and the look of mock hurt on Callie’s face made me laugh out loud.
“Malfoy aside, girls – guess what?” That got their attention straight away. Normally I was a straight-to-the-point kind of girl.
“Ooooh let me guess! Pick me!” Sophie was squirming around in her seat, hand up in the air as if she was in class. The sad bit is, she was completely serious. Sophie was the bubbly, slightly spacey one while Callie was cool and collected – except when playing quiddich.
“Let me see… I pick Sophie!” I said with a grin, and she jumped in the air.
“YES! Okay okay okay I guess… You got asked out by Jacob May!” She said it with a laugh, and Callie snorted her coffee accidently.
“Yeah, that would be the day,” she muttered. I however, didn’t say a thing. When they realised how silent I was, they stared at me. “He didn’t!” Callie cried.
“Jacob May asked you out?!” Sophie screamed at what seemed like the top of her lungs. I winced as several students and Professor Higgins looked up in amusement. Great, now the whole school knew.
“Did you have to yell?” I asked Sophie, and she stuck her tongue out at me.
“Well, what did you say?” Callie asked, leaning forward intensely. It was, after all, her brother we were talking about.
“I said I’d think about it,” I blushed, knowing how childish my answer sounded. Sure enough, Callie rolled her eyes.
“But do you like him like that?” Soph asked seriously, and I shrugged.
“I’ve never really thought about it. I guess I could learn to like him?"
“Urgh, you’re so unromantic!” Soph sighed.
“He’s liked you since our first year. Love at first sight or some crap,” Callie said with a laugh.
“Or obsession at first glance!” Soph chimed in.
“If you say yes but you don’t like him after the first date, just promise me you’ll break it off. I don’t want him to get hurt. He is my twin after all,” Callie said, and I nodded.
“I guess I can give it a go, right? And if it doesn’t work out, then it doesn’t work out. I’ll find him and tell him some time before school goes back in two days.” The girls nodded and then squealed excitedly.
“Our little girl is so grown up!”
It turned out that I had to give Jake my answer sooner than I thought. Sophie, Callie and I were going for an afternoon run in the woods around the castle and lake (my muscles protesting the whole way, but I truly loved the steadiness and soothing power of running) when we chanced upon Albus and Jake coming in the opposite direction. I couldn’t help but notice the way Jake’s shirt stuck to him and how he flicked his hair out of his eyes.
I mentally shook my head. Seriously, Rose? He asked you out on a date and you’re already being lame?
“Here’s your chance!” Soph said in an out-of-breath undertone. When we all met on the path, Sophie and Callie eagerly grabbed Albus’ arms and started back towards the castle, while he protested in confusion – “Why do crazy women always drag me places against my will?” I couldn’t help but giggle at his plight. Once Callie got her claws into him, she wouldn’t let go.
Then I remembered where I was – in the woods, hot and sweaty and unattractive, with an extremely attractive boy waiting to know whether I wanted to go out with him or not. I mentally shook my head and stopped myself from screaming out “OF COURSE I’LL GO OUT WITH YOU!”
Instead, I smiled shyly at him and motioned towards the castle. He nodded, and we started walking slowly. I was relieved. Having not eaten much in the last few days and exercising far too much, I was getting pretty tired and dizzy.
Jake didn’t even give me a chance to wallow in awkward silence.
“So did you think about it? I really like you, Rose,” he said, sounding more composed than that morning. I turned, if possible, even redder than my run had already made me, looking shyly at the ground.
Wow, seriously? I guess I now know what it takes to shut me up – a date proposition. And I don't even know if I like the kid like that!
“Okay,” I finally said shyly. Why not? It was all mega random and pretty sudden, but I could grow to like the guy, maybe. It was just a date, after all.
“Pardon?” he asked, a smile in his voice.
“I said yes,” shoving at his ribs. He laughed and grabbed me up in a bear hug. Amazing – I wasn’t the smallest of girls and here he was picking me up! He abruptly put me down, looking embarrassed.
“Uh, sorry, I’m just pretty happy. Thanks Rose, we’re going to have a great time.” With that, we continued back to the castle, sometimes talking and sometimes keeping silent.
Merlin, it was weird.
I wandered into the library that night, hoping to find Madam Pine. She had started her job as the librarian in the same year that I started my first year, and we were good friends. She was relatively young, blonde, had big boobs and so consquenty half of the male population at Hogwarts wanted to shag her.
"Hello, Rose," she said, giving me a quick hug as I walked through the door, "So I was reading Witch Weekly this morning and I saw that Teddy Lupin is single again. And you have my muggle phone number and you said Teddy isn't muggle-retarded and has a phone so you should give him my number, we can get pissed off cheap wine, and shag like the mammals we are. And then he can take me to the Bahamas, propose and get me pregnant with cute little semi-werewolf babies."
I didn't even blink. When I said that Pine was young, I meant she was young. She was also completely in love with Teddy, in case that wasn't very obvious.
Or perhaps in 'lust' would be a better alternative.
"Sorry, Piney. He is still very much in love with Vic. In fact, they're engaged! But you can't tell anyone, there's going to be a media release soon. Think of it as your insider information," I giggled, winking at her. She looked downcast and heaved a great sigh.
"I guess I'll have to be happy for him then. Perhaps he'll take a mistress? Maybe Victoire doesn't need to know?"
"Can you at least get me a wedding invite?" she asked, looking hopeful again.
"Sure, honey." This time I grinned - I didn't even have my invite, and I was going to be part of the wedding party! The happy couple had announced their news (finally!) only at the start of summer.
"Great. So, how were your hols, then?"
I found out after I showered later that evening and went down into the common room that news travels fast around Hogwarts. Malfoy had spread himself across a lounge with a book, and raised an eyebrow when I came down the stairs. What was with him and his damn eyebrows?
“So, Weasley has a date,” he drawled, and I just know I blushed. Blame my stupid red (it’s auburn!) hair.
“So what if I do?” I challenged, and he shrugged.
“Like it’s anything to me,” he said, and I was confused. So why bring it up in the first place then? I gingerly sat down on a couch opposite him. His mean words from the train still rang in my head, and I was determined to make him see me as something different.
“What classes are you taking this year?” I asked as pleasantly as possible. He stared at me as if I’d asked him if he preferred showering with me or sleeping with the giant squid.
“Seriously, Weasley?” he asked, shutting his book with a loud snap and startling me.
“We’ve only had the exact same classes from our first year, all through OWLs and now we’re doing the same NEWTs. Don’t you notice anything except yourself?”
“Well sor-ry for trying to make conversation!” I said, frustrated. Did we really have all of the same classes? I thought I would have noticed someone as annoying as Malfoy. Then again, Albus and I were in the same classes, and you’re sure to find Albus and Malfoy together.
“In the future, don’t bother trying,” he snapped, getting up from the lounge and walking through the portrait hole without a backwards glance.
What. A. Prat.
So instead of joining my friends for dinner, I went up to my room and caught up on some reading. I wasn’t sulking. At all. I never sulk. What a prat. Prat. Malfoy the Prat. Urgh.
Did I mention that he is a complete and utter p.r.a.t?
The next day I ran down to breakfast on a high.
"First day of school, first day of school, first day of school," I chanted happily, heedless of the looks being thrown my way from grumy school-haters.
I love the smell of new books, and clean, unused parchment. I love new quills, and sitting in the front row so I can hear well. I love the thrill of knowing the answers to the questions, and needless to say I love learning.
I bounded over to the Gryffindor table to be confronted with gloomy, yawning faces. Pouring myself a coffee, I grinned and nudged the person nearest to me, who happened to be Freddie.
“Don’t you just love school?” I gushed, throwing my arm around him in a side hug. He mumbled something unintelligible and shoved some eggs in his mouth. Freddie and Albus were lucky. They both escaped the Weasley red hair and ended up with dark curls. And Fred had his mum’s, Aunty Angelina’s, beautiful skin, just a few shades lighter.
“You're the craziest bird I know,” I heard him mumble, and I poured him some coffee in response.
“Just wait until she has her first essay,” Sophie piped up from across the table. She then promptly turned pink when Freddie grinned at her and rolled his eyes. He swallowed his latest mouthful of food and turned to me.
“Oi Rosie, reckon you can help me with something?”
Of course I said yes. Fred was one of my favourite people to be around and he was so easy going.
“Well,” he continued, “I spoke to Professor McGonagall last night, and she says I need a tutor if I’m going to do NEWT transfiguration."
I smiled at him. Of course I’ll help! I said as much, and he grinned at me and shoved his elbow in my side so that I was pushed unceremoniously into the person sitting next to me.
I think that was Fred for ‘thank you’.
Turning around to apologize to whomever I'd been shoved into, I found myself face to face with Malfoy. His wide blue eyes were amused and he had his usual eyebrow raised. One day, I was going to wax it off just when he least expected. Merlin, he annoyed me.
“Sorry,” I muttered churlishly, taking a sip of coffee. That was all he was going to get out of me. He shrugged and turned back to his Daily Prophet. Urgh, even that made me mad. Of course he had to be all cultured and crap, and read the newspaper every day... Even if Callie, Sophie and I did it every weekend - it's beside the point! Malfoy sucked Hippogryff poo.
“When is the first quiddich game?” one of the girls from my old dorm asked from where she was sitting beside Callie. Her name was Anna Hart, and she was lovely. She was definitely asking the right question to the right people, too. The majority of the Gryffindor quiddich team was sitting in the vicinity. Callie, Sophie, Malfoy, Fred and Albus. The other two players, a beater and a chaser, were in the years below and not in the hall yet.
“End of October,” Callie the captain said, and I knew straight away that any chance for normal, school-centred conversation was gone. The moment quiddich was mentioned, the end result was usually a screaming match between players or a brawl. Malfoy even put down his newspaper in honour of the occasion.
With a sigh, I pushed back my chair and picked my bag up. May as well get to my first class of the day. Timetables had been handed out the night before, and I had transfiguration first up. It’s not that I don’t like quiddich – I love it – but on the first day of the school year, I had more important things to think about.
I made my way through the almost-deserted halls until I found the right classroom on the opposite side of the school. Everyone was still in their dorms or down at breakfast, so all I could hear was a bird outside the window and the occasional clank from a suit of armour. With a happy sigh, I slid down the wall, pulled out a book and started to read. Bliss.
A/N Hello lovely reader! What do you think so far? I hope you all like it, and want more! Leave a review telling me what needs to be fixed, or just say hi :)
Chapter image by magnifique
Love rule #4 - Always keep him guessing
It was already October, and the first month of school had passed in a blur. I honestly don’t remember much beyond what my class notes tell me when I’m studying. It was all, ‘NEWTs are big and scary, watch out and study hard or you’ll die’.
No, seriously. Our crazy Muggle Studies professor (I'm quite positive he's a squib, because he always makes us leave our wands at the door every class, saying "Magic is evil and makes squibs feel bad about themselves, so this is a magic free zone." Seriously dude. You're in a school for magical people. What the-?) started our first class of the semester with a video about suicide prevention.
A very serious topic, I'll grant you, but it was followed by a "Don't let the NEWTs bring you down. But still study hard, because if you don't, you'll get kicked out of home, be unemployed and probably pregnant, and then you'll die. So study hard."
There are no words.
The girls and I got into an excellent exercise routine – when they had morning quiddich practice I’d meet them in the entrance hall and walk down to the pitch with them, go for a run while they were training and catch up with them when they were finished. Sometimes at night, I’d go off to the gym and do some extra weights or cardio.
To my delight, I had to shrink my school uniforms and my weekend clothes because they were all getting too baggy. I happily ignored the worried looks from my friends - this was my year of being awesome and different, so I was going to do whatever I wanted.
Consequently, being October, the first Hogsmeade weekend was looming - which meant my date with Jake wasn’t far off. The girls had also helped me plan the party for that same night. It was going to be one big weekend.
School was already becoming exhausting – combined with my exercising, head duties, constant assignments and keeping up a social life, I was lucky to be found awake at ten o’clock some nights.
I sometimes fell asleep in the common room; I don’t think Malfoy has ever seen me though, which is a relief. He never really has hung out in the common room since our first and last conversation. Even though we have every class together, share a dormitory and are heads of the school, we still manage to keep conversations all about what the next prefect meeting will cover, or who wants to claim the common room that night to have friends over.
Albus, however, did me a huge favour and convinced Malfoy to go along with the party idea. After all, it was his space too and we were already on bad enough terms without me going and making it worse; no need to make things even more awkward by forcing a party upon him.
It wasn’t going to be a huge party anyway – just our group, the rest of the older Gryffindors, and a few Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs. Everyone had promised complete secrecy, and I was starting to look forward to it.
I woke up on the morning of the Hogsmeade Saturday very suddenly. I lay still for a few moments, trying to work out what woke me. A tiny scuffle, a whisper, and a high pitched giggle.
“What are you doing?” I asked without opening my eyes. Sunlight spilled into the room as the curtains were wrenched open, and I groaned. I never was a morning person.
“Time to get up, our little beauty queen!” Callie announced, and I rolled over.
“Go ‘way,” I told the pillow.
“You should see Jake, he’s pacing about in the Gryffindor common room looking very spiffy. Keeps ranting and raving and talking to the lounges about how their day is going.”
“Okay, munchkin,” came Sophie’s shrill, excited voice, “Time to make you beautiful!”
I pulled the pillow over my head and thought quietly for a second. Why wasn’t I feeling more excited? This was going to be my first date, but I didn’t really care. As far as I was concerned, I could take it or leave it.
However, I owed it to Jacob to have fun and enjoy myself, so I slowly pushed myself up into a sitting position. Callie had her head in my wardrobe and was flinging clothes out everywhere – thank Merlin for magic so I wouldn’t have to waste time putting it all back together! –, and Sophie was seated in front of my mirror, scrutinizing all of my makeup.
At this point I should probably tell you that I don’t normally wear a huge amount of gunk on my face. I remember that I was shocked in our fourth year when the girls came back to school with a trunk full of makeup –
“You look like tramps! We’re only fourteen, why do we have to look good!” I had yelled when they’d tried to force it onto me.
“It’s not that we think you need it, but it is universally accepted that all women will one day wear makeup every day. Think about it. Does your Mum ever leave home without it?” Sophie had announced, quoting from Witch Weekly.
I had shaken my head and slowly banged my forehead against my bed post, and accepted the tube of mascara they gave me. You may think I am a pushover when it comes to my friends, but it’s the complete opposite. Sophie is fabulous with makeup and hair, so she does mine for me. Callie knows boys, so she helps us. I know how to write a great essay, so the girls come to me when they need help. It all works perfectly.
Now, watching Sophie look in several pots of goo and examine the colours, I knew she was right all of those years ago, about women and wearing makeup. But why do we all feel pressured to look good all the time? It sucked. I’m sure I’d love my body if Witch Weekly wasn’t telling my friends that we all had to be skinny and perfect.
Fuming, I rolled out of bed and locked myself in the bathroom for as long as I could get away with. When I finally emerged, the girls were chatting and sorting through my clothes.
“I heard he’s going to take O’Walsh today, can you belief that? She’s such a bint. And she’s got this huge thing against Rose.”
“Well,” said Callie, “I think he’s fit and really nice too, so I’ll be waiting when he’s done with O’Walsh!”
Sophie and I wrinkled our noses at Callie’s forwardness – our upbringing had been far more uptight than hers.
“Who is brave enough to take O’Walsh anywhere?” I asked, interested. Why would anyone want anything to do with such a cow?
“Malfoy!” The girls chorused at the same time with glee.
I stared at them. It was a well-known fact that Scorpius Malfoy was a self-appointed Hogwarts bachelor. The last date he had been on was as a joke in the second year. I felt strangely bothered by the idea of him on a date. It's none of your business, Rose.
“Well, best of luck to him,” I said, sounding surprisingly strained and angry. Really Rose, like you care. It’s Malfoy after all! Who gives a hippogriff’s poo who he’s dating?
“Well I think that he is doing it so you get jealous and –“ Sophie began, but was cut off by a look from Callie, which she didn’t think I saw in the mirror. Before I could ask what that was all about, she threw a bundle of clothes at me.
“There you go, my lovely. Go into the bathroom and emerge like the beautiful butterfly you are,” Callie said, fluttering her eyelashes at me in true Professor Trelawney style.
I snorted and did as I was told, not caring what they dressed me in so long as it was decent. While I was shut in there again, they started calling out instructions.
“Make sure you don’t talk too much or he’ll think you’re nervous.”
“If you have lunch, order something that will be easy to eat so you don’t embarrass yourself and get food everywhere like you normally do.”
“Don’t tell him you’ve having a good time, even if you are. You have to keep him guessing!”
“Hold hands, but DO NOT LET HIM KISS YOU.”
So, feeling like it was just another normal day, I popped on the ballet flats, skirt, top and blazer as directed and stepped out. Callie raised her eyebrows and Sophie frowned.
“That will never do,” she said, and whipped her want out. I backed away, and she held her hands up. “Relax! I’m just going to tailor them a bit.”
I looked down at myself and sure enough, everything looked ridiculous and baggy. I shrugged and gave myself over to their ministrations.
A couple of hours later, I was strolling through a teeming Hogsmeade with Jake by my side and a belly full of water – I had discovered that maybe I was nervous after all, and was made to drink glass after glass of water by Callie. All it achieved was making me need to pee.
“And then maybe we can grab some lunch and I’ll take you to Zonko’s and after that Callie said you need to be back on time to set up for the party tonight, but that’s okay there’s still heaps of time and – “
“Jake!” I interrupted. He was giving me a headache with his constant nattering. Plus our awkward, this-is-totally-weird-because-we've-known-each-other-forever conversation was making me exhausted.
Giving me a sheepish look, he said, “Sorry, you’re just making me so nervous. You look incredible by the way.”
I laughed wearily. “So you’ve said.”
For he had, several times, told me that I look good. I felt good, too. All of this running was making me feel amazing on the inside, and I think my skin was looking better too. A bit less acne than usual.
Then I saw something that made my legs stop moving. The girls were right – further down the street, I saw a familiar blonde head of hair with his arms wrapped around Loretta the Big Boob Bimbo. She was giggling shrilly at something he said, and I was pleased to notice he didn’t look too impressed.
“Is everything okay? We can go back now if you want to, I don’t really mind. I’ll be seeing you tonight anyway and –“
Malfoy suddenly looked back and our eyes locked for a millisecond, his narrowed against the sun. Oh crap, now he thinks I was checking him out or something.
I truly don't know what came over me. Seeing them together, and then meeting his blue eyes across the road made me go crazy. I quickly grabbed Jake by his shoulders and he looked startled. Before he could say anything, I stood on my tip toes and brought my lips to his.
My first proper kiss wasn’t one of my most graceful moments. Both of our eyes were open in surprise, I was standing awkwardly and Jake’s hands were dangling by his sides. But it was a kiss. I broke away, and he just stood there blinking stupidly.
I turned to see if Malfoy was still there, but he wasn’t. Thank Merlin for that.
“I – I – I – “ Jake stuttered, and I smiled at him, grateful he went along with it. Belatedly, I remembered that I just had my first kiss and that I should have been excited, but I wasn’t. Where were the butterflies, and the background music, the explosion of fireworks?
Trying to hide my disappointment, I said, “I’d better get going. Thanks for a lovely morning. See you tonight then.”
Touching him on his arm, I turned away and walked slowly up to the castle, leaving Jake still unable to come after me or form any words.
I flopped down on a lounge in the common room and sighed, all of my energy suddenly gone. I couldn’t be bothered hosting a party, I didn’t want to do my assignments and I didn’t want to be pestered by anyone. Hogsmeade had been surprisingly warm and I had such a bad headache and would it really be so bad to just have a little nap?
“Weasley. Weasley. Weasley. Wake up. Weasley. Hello?” An annoying voice interrupted my happy dream, the one where I’m on a broomstick and I’m not afraid, and the stars are so close that I can almost reach them. I always wake up though, just as I’m about to grab one.
“What?” I mumbled.
“You’re asleep on my potions book,” the voice drawled, and I shot up. Malfoy, great. I was wondering what the hard, uncomfortable object in the lounge was. I dug around and passed the book to him slowly. After he accepted it, we sat in silence for a few moments. It was a surprisingly normal, not-uncomfortable silence.
“Thanks, by the way,” I eventually said. He raised an eyebrow and I sighed. “For being okay with the party idea?”
“Oh, well. They’re all my friends, too. It’ll be fun. Do you need help with setting up?” he asked, and I stared at him in stunned silence. He was just full of surprises this year. Before I could give him a grateful yes, he stood up abruptly, having taken my silence as a ‘no’.
“You know, Weasley, I’m not such a bad guy. Why won’t you ever give me a chance?”
Before I could explain myself, he stomped up his staircase and slammed his door.
“I’d love some help,” I said to no one.
Before I could go and knock on his door, someone called out, “Rose! Rose my favourite, beautiful flower, the best cousin in the world, an unparalleled beauty and –“
I yanked the door open before Albus could embarrass himself further.
“What do you want?” I asked flatly. His eyes widened.
“Wow, cuz. You actually do look beautiful! Don’t tell me you’re already dressed for tonight?”
“What do you think?”
“Okay good point. That would be completely unlike you. I need a favour.”
I shrugged, having already worked out he wanted something for me. I'm not an idiot unlike my cousin. We sat down on the couches, and I studied him. He looked frantic and dishevelled, very unlike the Albus I knew.
“Is everything okay? Don’t tell me you professed your love to Myrtle again, the bathrooms flooded for weeks after the last time…”
“No, no,” he muttered, looking uncomfortable. “Rose, I uh – I think that…”
“Yes?” I prompted, not in the mood to be gleeful over his current state of mind. Albus Potter is usually the most put-together person I know.
I tried not to laugh. Really I did. Albus Potter was two things, even if he was nothing else. One, he was always cool, calm and collected. Two, he was a player. Never has Albus actually liked liked a girl.
“Stop laughing at me!” he cried, jumping up and starting to pace, “She’s so lovely and nice and she isn’t annoying like other girls. And she’s so pretty and has a nice arse and really great boo-“
“Albus! Don’t want to know!” I cried, covering my ears, “Besides, I can’t help you.”
Because really, I couldn’t. This was beyond fucked. Sophie liked Freddie, but Albus liked Sophie, but Callie liked Albus. Holy crappoly. Thank Merlin my love life wasn’t complicated, let alone existent. Jake liked me and I maybe, possibly, not quite sure liked him back, Malfoy hated me and Freddie was just so chilled that you never knew what was going on in his head.
“Will you help me? Please? Please? Please? I’ll do your essays for a month!” he begged, and I raised an eyebrow at him. Thanks a lot, Malfoy. If he did my school work, I’d fail. No thank you, I was quite happy being the top of the school.
I stood up with a sigh, having glanced out the window at the sunset and realising that it was later than I thought. Taking out my wand, I absent-mindedly began putting up decorations for tonight.
“I can’t help you, Albus, really I can’t.” If Callie ever found out that I didn’t make Albus like her more, she’d never forgive me.
“Fine,” he muttered, knowing that once I made up my mind I wasn’t going to change it, “Maybe my natural charm and musk will make her like me.”
“Your musk?” I asked with a snort. He shot me a good old Albus grin and shrugged.
“Maybe you should talk to Callie about –“ I was about to say, about what she thinks of Albus liking Sophie, but before I could finish he interrupted me.
“- About helping me out? Rose, I always knew you were a bloody genius. Oh, by the way, Freddie wanted me to pass these along.”
Rummaging in his pockets, Albus took out a tiny bag, set it on the ground and cast a spell over it. It grew rapidly until it was bulging, and he gently nudged it. A tell-tale clinking sounded from it, and I whooped, already forgetting about Albus and Callie and Sophie.
The whiskey had arrived.
Chapter image by inspector.
Love rule #5 - Don’t play hard to get, be hard to get
A few hours after Albus asked his favour, the party was all set up and ready to go.
A word of warning – this chapter plays out like an episode from one of my favourite old muggle shows, Gossip Girl. And I was at the centre of everything.
It was a night that was meant to be brilliant, but it turned out to be the complete opposite. This is the night that I pinpoint the start of all our friendship problems on, because everything bad that you're about to read just continued to escalate into one huge, horrible mess.
Everything started out fabulously. The girls came to help set up and get ready, and we got changed with the help of a few whiskeys. I was forced into a pair of heels and a lovely dress by the girls, and my hair was straightened and smoothed and glossed and then curled.
The common room looked amazing, with dim lighting, low tables and little alcoves in all of the corners.
I told Callie and Sophie about how the date went, and that I didn’t want things with Jake to progress any further. It just didn’t feel right - when I kissed him at Hogsmeade, it felt like kissing my brother. Not that I've ever kissed Hugo like that, don't be weird.
It's just a metaphor!
“Too bad you kissed him!” Sophie said with a shriek of laughter. To my surprise, Callie seemed quite undaunted by the fact we were talking about her brother. The conversation had turned, of course, to boys. I did my best to steer them away from it, but to no avail.
“I think tonight is the night that I tell Albus,” Callie said, all dreamy eyed. My heart skipped a beat in dread, suddenly remembering my conversation with Albus from that afternoon. My cousin was stupid, but surely not that stupid?
“Freddie is coming, right?” Sophie asked me hopefully, and I nodded at the risk of poking myself in the eye with eyeliner and becoming permanently blind.
“Oh, and Rose, I hope it’s alright – we told Scorp that it was okay to bring Loretta.”
Oh Merlin, no. She was the type of person who would use this party to blackmail me. Just fabulous. Of course I couldn't say anything - the damage had been done after all - so I kept my mouth shut.
An hour or two later, lots of photos, several more firewhiskeys and many giggles, the party was in full swing. The silencing spells seemed to be working, because so far no one had come to see what all of the noise was about.
The room was packed, and everyone had a drink in hand. I saw Malfoy in one corner with a very drunk Big Boob Bimbo once again hanging off him. I put the sinking feeling in my stomach down to disappointment. I thought that my fellow head student had better judgement than that.
Callie - strong, independent, man eating Callie! - was following Albus around unconsciously, and Sophie was dancing with Fred - go girl!
I was standing at a table talking to Anna Hart and a few other girls, when I saw Jake threading through the crowd to get to me.
“Uh oh,” I muttered, “Quick, stand in front of me!” I begged Anna. Imogen Brown, a sixth year Hufflepuff, giggled.
“I bet you’re fighting the boys off you now you look so hot, Rose.”
The others nodded in agreement, and before I could ask what they were talking about, Jake popped up beside the group. Of course, being the huge freaking coward I am, I turned away, grabbed Hugo from nearby and dragged him onto the dance floor.
Thank Merlin for convenient brothers. He grinned at me and rolled his eyes, before twirling me in time to the music. For a sixteen year old, he was a surprisingly good dancer.
I giggled, and for a little while just enjoyed the company of good music and my little brother. Then, over Hugo’s shoulder, I saw Albus dragging Callie towards one of the quieter alcoves, Callie wearing a look of pure happiness. No no no.
“It’s been lovely, little brother, but now I have to go and save someone from certain heartbreak,” I told him dramatically, and pushed through the crowd to get to my best friend and my cousin.
But it was too late.
I couldn’t burst in and tell Albus why he couldn’t ask Callie for help because I’d give her secret away. I slid down the wall behind a plant, and listened unseen to the conversation happening in the alcove.
“And so I was wondering if maybe you…” Albus was saying slowly, and I heard Callie’s indrawn breath. They both sounded tipsy, and I rested my head in my arms.
“Yes?” she asked breathlessly.
“I was wondering if you could pretend to be my girlfriend to make Sophie jealous and want to be with me, because I really like Sophie and you’re such a lovely person that I was sure you’d say yes.”
Poor, poor Callie and stupid, tactless Albus. And yet, I didn’t hear the slap that I was expecting, or the tears.
“I’d do anything for you Albus, of course I will.”
Oh sweet Merlin, why would you do this to me? Callie was so lovestruck that I wasn’t sure if she even knew what she was agreeing to.
On second thoughts – “What will I be expected to do? Just pretend in public, or keep up the charade the whole time just in case?”
When she put it like that, she sounded no better than a whore. Not to be mean or anything, but really. She’s a modern, young witch – why do such an awful thing to yourself? Feminism has come so far, damnit!
Just when I had made up my mind to barge in there, I sensed someone standing above me. I looked up to see Jake with a firewhiskey in his hand and a drunken grin on his face. He ruffled my carefully made up hair, and I refrained from breaking his fingers.
What did he think I was, a dog or something?
“There you are, my beautiful Rose!” he boomed, and I winced. Great. Now I couldn’t save Callie. Jake hoisted me to my feet and went to kiss me, but I dodged it.
“Jake, what are you doing?” I snapped, and he looked hurt.
“You seemed eager enough this afternoon! And besides, I wanted to ask you something. Will you be my girl-“
I wrenched my hand from his before he could finish the sentence and stepped out from the shadowy corner, only to crash into Malfoy.
He was chivalrous, I’ll give you that. Didn’t even say anything as he helped me to my feet and surveyed Jake following behind me with his shirt untucked and my hair dishevelled. Malfoy and I both knew what it looked like Jake and me had been doing, and I could have screamed.
“Why do you keep playing hard to get, Rose? I’ve already got you, babe. Anyway, as I was saying, you’re a great snogger and do you want to be my girlfriend?” Jake continued like we hadn’t been interrupted.
Malfoy raised his eyebrow, let go of my hand and melted into the crowd.
“I’M NOT A HUSSY!” I wanted to yell after him. I opened my mouth to tell Jake no, but as I did so, an over-enthusiastic party goer screamed out, “Yes!”
Jake’s face lit up, and he didn’t seem to hear the rest of the sentence (“Yes! I’m the King of the Cup!”). He gathered me into a huge bear hug and managed to slop whiskey all down his shirt.
“Aw, crap. Oh Rose, you’re the best. Oh, this sucks, I need to go clean up. Yay I’m so happy!” And with that, he, too, disappeared into the crowd. Shit shit shit. Where was Sophie? She’d know what to do.
I found her sitting in a different corner, downing drink after drink after drink.
“Soph, what the hell are you doing!” I cried, prying a bottle from her hands. She gave a hiccup, and tears began pouring down her face. With a shaking hand, she pointed to the dance floor. I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.
Teenagers with drinks, couples dancing, Freddie snogging Anna and – oh. Right.
“Oh honey,” I sighed, and gathered her into a hug.
“I just –hic!- want him to –hic!- like me!” She burst into genuine sobs on my shoulder, and I pulled her to her feet.
Taking her up to my room, I put her on the bed, took her shoes off and conjured some water.
“Go to sleep, sweet pea. It’ll be like you never even saw it.”
I was about to feel bad for just abandoning her there, until I realised she was already passed out and not even listening to what I was saying. Merlin, how long had she been drinking for before I found her?
With another sigh, I shut the door gently and began to walk down the stairs when Malfoy started running up them. He stopped and sneered at me slightly.
“What’s the holdup, babe?” I heard the most awful voice the world say, and Loretta O’Walsh’s ugly mug appeared from behind Malfoy.
I snorted and stepped aside. If it weren’t for the fact that I have great hearing, I would have thought that I’d imagined the “It doesn’t feel good, does it?” from Malfoy as he slipped past with O’Walsh in tow.
And he was right. Seeing them going upstairs, for some reason, didn’t make me feel good at all. Why do I want to kick a puppy every time I see Malfoy, and why do I feel worse than usual right now?
Right, just so we’re all on the same page:
1. Malfoy and enemy number two (Malfoy is number one) are hooking up
2. Callie is so in love with Albus that she’s pretending to be his girlfriend to help him get Sophie.
3. Sophie just got her heart broken by the boy who doesn’t even know she likes him
4. Jake is under the impression that we’re an item
5. Malfoy thinks I’m a skank
6. Fred is so oblivious to the world it’s not even funny
7. I’m currently watching my little brother hook up with a girl in his year GROSS HUGO WHAT ARE YOU DOING, I CAN SEE YOU!
I was about to storm down the stairs and shake my little brother until his teeth fell out (girls are a bad idea, plus he was way too young), when, suddenly, I just gave up.
My stomach gave a lurch because I’d hardly eaten all day, and when someone passed me a whiskey I took it gratefully. Probably not the greatest idea to drink on an empty stomach, but it was way too late now.
I could see Albus and Callie dancing together – Callie looked unsure but happy, and Albus was simply looking - for Sophie I assumed.
With a sigh, I sat down on the stairs and watched the crowd full of my happy friends, leaning my head against the wall. Someone brushed passed me forcefully, and I was surprised to see Big Boob Bimbo running down the stairs and out the door in tears.
Thank Merlin I wouldn’t have to go to bed thinking that she was in the room across the hall doing you-know-what with you-know-who. Someone sat down next to me and I turned bleary eyes on Malfoy. I was actually relieved to see him – he already had such a low opinion of me that I didn’t have to even need to bother to talk to him. He had other ideas however.
“Interesting night, hey?” he asked, rubbing his eyes. His arm was so close to my bare shoulder that I could feel the heat coming off his skin.
“Pretty much,” I muttered.
“Kinda crappy night, hey?” he continued and I couldn’t help but laugh a shrilly, over-wrought laugh. “Yep, pretty much.”
I burst into tears.
The next morning at breakfast, those who made it down alive were raving on about how it was the best Hogwarts party thus far; everyone but myself, Sophie and Malfoy.
Sophie’s eyes were still puffy and red, and she didn’t say a word even when Fred sat down beside her. I poured her a coffee and piled comfort food onto her plate – waffles, cream, and syrup. All the things I wanted to eat but wouldn’t let myself.
She dug in gratefully, and I turned away in time to hear a rather pale, hung over Albus boast, “Well I’m going to host a Halloween party ten times better at the end of the month.”
Great, another night for a million things to go wrong.
“And,” he continued, “My gorgeous girlfriend is going to help me plan it!”
Callie was walking past as he said it, and she turned bright red as he pulled her onto his lap and planted a loud kiss on her lips. Speaking of snogging…
“Hi, Rose,” Jake said, squeezing in between me and Sophie and wrapping an uninvited arm around my waist. Sophie almost spat her coffee out. None of us had actually managed to catch up on the events of last night, so I was the only one who knew all of what was going on – I fully expected a Spanish Inquisition on my bed later on in the day.
I glanced at Malfoy just as he ducked his head to hide a grin, and I almost smiled myself. How could everything be so fucked up?
A few seconds later Malfoy did catch my eye, and we both couldn’t help but laugh out loud. Yes it was Malfoy, and yes we were being chummy, but don’t be shocked. We bonded over a terrible shared party experience last night.
Don’t worry though, that’s the only thing we’re chummy about. With all other aspects in life, I still greatly dislike him.
“Erm, hi Jake,” I finally muttered, desperately trying to think of a reason to leave.
Unfortunately, in light of my date and the party last night, I’d worked hard on my school work so I wouldn’t have to worry about it today. Maybe I could go to the gym, or go for a run in the woods. I knew some great back trails that no one else knew of…
“And I had a great time last night, by the way. I was wondering if you want to go for a walk or something later?” Jake was asking, starting at me adoringly. Crap it all.
“Yeah, sure,” I said tonelessly. What a mess it all was.
“Oh Albus, you’re so funny,” Callie suddenly and loudly gushed, looking across the table pointedly at Sophie. Soph just raised her brows and went back to her waffles. The awkwardness mounted at the table until I couldn’t stand it any longer.
“Well!” Malfoy and I suddenly said in unison, pushing back our chairs. We blinked at each other in surprise.
“Erm, well, I’m going to go,” I continued.
“Yeah, me too,” Malfoy said. No one was even listening to us. I shrugged and walked towards the doors, planning on going back to bed. The common room was already clean, thanks to the wonder that is magic. I knew Malfoy was behind me on the way back to the dorm, but didn’t turn around. There would be time enough to be tortured by him at the head’s meeting later tonight.
Reaching our dormitory, I said the password and held the door open for him.
“Thanks,” he nodded. I nodded back. Could it be any more awkward between us?
“Rose, wait up! What are you doing today? What about our walk?” I heard Jake’s footsteps and stopped myself from groaning. Apparently it could get more awkward.
“Rose! There you are. What are you – uh what are you doing with Scorpius?” he asked, stepping into the common room and frowning.
“Well, we do live together,” I said slowly, and Jake’s lips tightened.
“Of course you do. Well, Scorp, Rose and I have plans for today,” he said, looking straight at Malfoy. There was a silence. We were all standing in an awful little circle with nothing to say to each other.
“Er – cool? What’s your point?” Malfoy asked, and I could tell he was feigning puzzlement to make me feel even more awkward. What a prat. What an idiot. Malfoy is a pratiot.
“Well, can you leave?” Jake asked, and I opened my mouth to tell him to bugger off and not be so rude, but Malfoy beat me to it.
“Actually, Jake, it’s my common room that I share with Rose. If you want time alone, you are going to have to leave.”
And with that, he sat down on a lounge and opened a book.
“Fine! Let’s go, Rose,” he snapped, and I stared at him in amazement. Why was he bossing me around? Like I was going to let him be a prat.
“No, that’s okay Jake. I’m just going to go back to bed for a bit.” I pushed him gently through the door and shut it in his face. I know it was bitchy, but I had a splitting headache and didn’t want to talk to anyone, especially a boy who was under the impression that we were an item.
“Oi, let me back in! Rose!” Jake was banging on the door, and I rolled my eyes.
“Such a lovely couple,” Malfoy commented from behind his book.
“Shut it, Malfoy, or I’ll stick that book somewhere unpleasant,” I snapped, stomping up to my room and slamming the door shut.
Stupid, freaking boys.
Love rule number #6 - Revenge is never too petty or too sweet
A whole week had passed since the whole disaster, 'let's see how much Rose can handle' party incident.
Jake-the-idiot was still under the impression that we were in love, Callie and Albus were still putting their charade on, Sophie slapped Freddie in the face when he asked to borrow a bit of newt’s eye in potions and Hugo thought that he and his new girlfriend, Kayla Lam, were going to be together for ever.
Yeah, right. But that was the least of my worries. For once in my life, I was sitting at the back of a class. All because of stupid Jake-the-idiot.
He insisted on sitting next to me in class, and then proceeded to talk in my ear for the rest of the lesson - It was driving me nutty. If it weren’t for the excellent snogging practice and random feel ups in a broom closet, I definitely would have dumped him.
Instead, Callie had come up with a plan – pretend that we were sitting at the front, but at the last minute sprint down the back and take up all the seats. Childish, pathetic and stupid, but genius. She could get away with it too, because he was her brother and they were meant to be mean to each other.
“So anyway,” Sophie was whispering. We were in history of magic, and if it weren’t for the fact I already knew the textbook off by heart, I would have told her to shut up already.
As it was, Binns was oblivious to the all-out conversations and card games taking place in his classroom. Mum was shocked when she found out that he was still allowed to teach, even though she passed with flying colours when she was at school.
“We were just finishing quiddich training this morning when Petey Myers in the year below us came up to me – do you remember that, Callie? You guys all kept walking – and he asked me out! Said he’s liked me for ages. It's a bit weird, dating a younger guy. I feel like a bit of a cougar.”
She sounded a bit proud, and we squealed as quietly as possible - which wasn’t very. I absently rubbed my hungry stomach as the conversation continued.
“But what about Fred?” Callie asked. We’d all long since caught up on the party events (apart from the bit where Callie didn’t tell anyone she was only fake dating Albus), but I thought Sophie still liked Fred anyway.
“What about him?” she hissed, narrowing her pretty eyes and throwing a piece of paper at the back of his curly dark head. It was a pretty good shot, actually. Unfortunately for Sophie, I knew her as well as I knew myself, and she would never give up on Fred that easily. Maybe move on for a bit, but not give up.
“I don’t know, I guess I didn’t think you’d give up that easy. Or if you did, you’d look closer to home for a boyfriend,” Callie said, looking shifty.
“What are you talking about?”
“Maybe you and Albus would be good –“
“Honey have you gone crazy? You’re dating Albus! Besides, I could never like him like that. He’s just not my type.”
Only I, absently doodling on my parchment and half listening, saw Albus’ shoulders droop. Served him right for eaves dropping and using Callie like he was. Nothing I said to him got through, because his head was just that thick.
“Back to the point. He’s taking me to Albus’ Halloween party at the end of the month. I’m really excited. He’s cute, he’s chivalrous and he likes me. He wants to dress up in matching costumes!”
I almost groaned at that. Jake had already cornered me about the whole ‘matching costumes’ idea. I told him to shove it, and that I wasn’t even going to dress up. I couldn't think of anything more humiliating than his-and-hers Halloween costumes.
“That’s great Soph, I’m so glad for you,” Callie said, and genuinely sounded happy. I was surprised, but then I realised – the longer Sophie wasn’t interested in Albus, the longer Callie had him for.
What a mess.
I hadn’t even realised I was staring at the back of Malfoy’s head until he turned around and raised an eyebrow at me.
What was he, psychic or something?
I frowned at him and turned back to my doodling. I was pretty sure Malfoy knew what Albus was up to; maybe he would be able to convince Albus to stop. I’d tried, but Albus had just walked away.
The lesson finally ended and we were walking down to lunch, when I was stopped in the charms corridor by a serious Professor Higgins.
“Miss Weasley, a word with you, if I may?”
I nodded and followed him down the hall, ignoring everyone’s curious glances. It was probably just something to do with head girl duties.
To my surprise, he took me straight to Professor McGonagall’s office, which was closer by than the headmaster’s office. The two professors nodded at each other, McGonagall shooting me a disappointed look as she left.
The headmaster sat at the desk, and motioned for me to sit opposite. I sat gingerly – maybe this wasn’t about head girl duties?
“Miss Weasley, a student has made a very seriously allegation against you, and I am fervently hoping it is a mistake. If found to be true, the least of the punishments would be that you will be stripped of your badge.”
I felt dizzy. What? I hadn’t even hexed anyone this year, which is a record so far. Normally I don’t get any further than the Hogwarts Express without someone annoying me enough.
“In all my years teaching, I’ve never met a more promising, dedicated and likeable girl than you. Miss Weasley. Please keep in mind that what I’m about to ask you, I ask with a heavy heart and hope that you can deny it truthfully. Last Saturday night did you or did you not host a party in the head’s common room? Past curfew, and more worryingly, with students drinking underage?”
“I – I – I-“ I couldn’t speak. I felt like I was going to vomit. How did he know? Merlin, please don’t let me spew in front of Higgins.
“Miss Weasley? Please tell me I’m wrong.” Higgins looked tired, and worried.
No! I’m Rose Weasley! I’m meant to be head girl! How could I have been so stupid?
As much as I wanted to throw a chair at the professor’s head and run out of the room denying everything, I couldn’t. Taking a deep, shaky breath, I opened my mouth to deliver my own doom.
“Professor, I – I have to tell you that –“
Before I could go any further, the door was opened so hard that it banged against the wall, making us both jump.
To my complete surprise, a dishevelled and frantic Malfoy was standing in the doorway.
Lovely, someone else to seal my doom. He could tell the professor it was my entire fault and that he had nothing to do with it, which was true. I could feel my throat tighten, and my fingers went to my badge that I so proudly wore all the time.
“Mr Malfoy, I’m afraid that you’ll have to come back another time,” the professor said, but Malfoy ignored him.
“There you are, Rose!” he exclaimed, and my lip quivered.
I was doomed. Mum will never talk to me again.
“Sorry to interrupt sir, but last Saturday Rose and I were studying in the Gryffindor common room, and she left a very important book behind. Here, take it Rose! You need it for your next class.”
I stared blankly at Malfoy as he held out his ancient runes textbook.
“Excuse me, Mr Malfoy?” the professor asked, sounding interested.
“Erm.. Last Saturday night, sir?” Malfoy asked, feigning confusion, “Rose and I were studying, as embarrassing as it is to admit. I know we should have been doing something more fun and exciting on a Saturday evening, but school comes first, right?”
I was still staring uncomprehendingly at Malfoy until he stepped forward and shoved the book in my hands. The skin on skin contact broke me out of my trance – images of Dad locking me in the attic and only feeding me bread and water disappeared – and I finally looked at Malfoy properly. He was a bit calmer now that he knew he wasn’t too late, and continued to lie smoothly.
“But you know our Rose, sir,” at this point Malfoy put his arm around my shoulders and squeezed, “Such a hard worker. Look how skinny she’s gotten this year! All the stress from NEWTs. I’d hate for something bad to happen that would distract her from her school work and head duties. I just feel bad that I couldn’t get the textbook back to her before now. No one knew who it belonged to, but I noticed Rose didn’t have hers all week so I just assumed. Was I right, Rose?” he asked me, and I nodded mutely.
The professor surveyed us; me, pale and shaking, and Malfoy, smooth talking, rambling and smiley. As if he’d ever believe us. It was all ruined. Maybe Dad really would lock me into the attic, and maybe Mum would -
“Thank you Mr Malfoy, I’m really rather relieved that this misunderstanding was all cleared up. I’d rather take yours and Miss Weasley’s word over the word of the other student… you’re both dismissed.”
Professor Higgins stood up and walked through the door before I could even stand up, as if he couldn’t get away any quicker. I was shocked. I was speechless. I couldn’t believe what just happened. I almost lost my badge. Would I have been expelled, too? How could I have been so dumb, what the hell was I thinking!
“Rose. Rose. Rose! You’re hyperventilating!”
Malfoy was crouched down next to my chair, and I realised he was right. I must have looked like a crazy person.
I hope you understand how big of a deal that all was. Lose my head badge, and I would be nothing. There’d be no point getting up in the morning. And I owed my thanks to Malfoy.
I burst into tears in front of him for the second time in two weeks, and threw my arms around his neck.
“Thank you Scorpius. Thank you thank you thank you,” I sobbed. He patted me awkwardly on the back and untangled my arms. “How did you know?” I asked, and he shrugged with a half-smile.
“I have my ways. Besides, I didn’t want to lose my favourite head girl, did I?”
I stared at him, and then threw my arms around him again.
“You may be a pain in the arse, Weasley, but you have the best brain in this school. I don’t even have to do anything as head boy.”
I let go and smacked him, still teary. Merlin, now I was in debt to Scorpius Malfoy… and I’d hugged him. Twice!
“Thank you,” I murmured again.
“Can I have my textbook back now, please?”
Revenge. That was all that ran through my head. I couldn’t talk to Malfoy as we walked through the halls straight to our next class, having missed lunch. I feared that if I even opened my mouth I would begin a never ending stream of babbling. Instead, I thought about revenge.
“Loretta O’Walsh,” I announced suddenly, and Malfoy nodded. He squeezed my arm once we got to the charms classroom and went straight in. I would never be able to thank him enough.
“Revenge,” was all I said when I sat down next to the girls. They took in my still-shaking hands and pale face, and simply nodded. The why’s and what’s would come later, but for now –
“Who?” asked Sophie.
“Loretta O’Walsh,” I said into the near-silent classroom, and my hiss carried.
She turned around slowly, and quickly masked her surprise at seeing me with my badge still on. That was all the confirmation I needed. I smiled slowly at her and held her eyes, until she sneered shakily and turned back to the front.
“Rose, you look like a crazy bitch,” Callie whispered, but I didn’t care. There was only one bitch in this situation, and she was going down.
We all finally got to talk properly after curfew. The girls had quiddich – the first game of the season was the next weekend – and I had been at the gym. I'd missed dinner, so I idly sipped on some water and ignored my rumbling belly.
“So Malfoy just walked in and started sprouting crap to the headmaster?” Sophie asked, and I nodded.
“He saved me. He probably saved my life. I don’t know what Mum would do if she ever found out, but yes. I’m quite sure he saved my life.”
“That bitch!” Callie cried vehemently, and we all knew she wasn’t talking about Hermione Weasley.
“Thank Merlin for Scorpius,” Sophie said. I nodded in agreement and murmured, “I thought he hated me. I don’t understand why he’d help me like that.”
Sophie snorted and started saying, “Seriously Rose? He doesn’t hate you, you idiot. It’s quite the oppos-“
Callie suddenly interrupted. “But why would Loretta do that to you?” and we were all silent. Then a voice came from the doorway,
“She wants to be head girl.”
Malfoy’s hair was damp and he smelled like shower gel. I wondered how long he had been standing there for.
We all subconsciously shifted over on the bed and he came and sat down, his dark eyes serious. Before I could ponder the mental ramifications of having Scorpius Malfoy sitting on my bed, he continued.
“She told me about it – she was proud and thought that I’d be impressed. I knew that she was going to do it, but it wasn’t until I got to the great hall that I realised you were missing, Rose. I thought I was going to be too late.”
“Thanks for saving her, Scorp,” Sophie said, touching his knee. He shrugged and looked uncomfortable, as if he suddenly realised he was sitting on a bed with three girls, one of whom he didn’t like at all.
Leaning forward, Callie whispered, “Girls – and boy – I think I have a plan.”
I finally walked Callie back to her dorm in the wee hours of the nights. I had to do rounds to do, and Sophie had left earlier, pleading schoolwork. I'd always admired Sophie for her dedication - she already knew she wanted to be a beautician, but she still tried her best at school, 'for backup'.
I gathered my courage and took a deep breath as I rounded the charms corridor, stopping Callie midstride.
“Cal, we need to talk.”
“I know what you’re going to say Rosie, but I don’t want to hear it.” She didn’t meet my eyes. I'd already tried several times to make my friend see the light, so she already knew that I knew.
“Be serious, Callista! It’s a fake relationship, you’re only going to get hurt.”
“Everything will be fine, Rose. He’ll wake up one day and realise that it’s actually me he wants to be with.”
I shook my head. “You have to tell Sophie what’s going on.”
“No! Then it really will be over, because if she knows then Al will think there won’t be any point to it. I need this. I’ve never liked someone like I like him.”
“But honey, it’s unrequited love. Nothing good is going to come of it,” I said, but didn’t get through to her.
“No, Rosie. I’d rather be with him like this than not at all. This way, I don’t have to see him with my best friend.”
“But Sophie doesn’t even like Albus like that. I’m positive she’s still hung up on Freddie. This would all be so much easier if Albus wasn’t such a Merlin-damned idiot and told Sophie straight out.” I stomped my foot, and Callie giggled a bit.
“It is all rather ridiculous, isn’t it. But Rose, he can snog. Girl, can he snog. Speaking of which, Miss Hypocrite! How is my brother going?” Her eyes narrowed, and I reddened.
“He’s very… loyal. And clingy. Merlin he is annoying. I like him, but…” at this point I blushed again.
“But?” she prompted.
“I don’t get butterflies.”
“Ah,” said Callie, nodding wisely, “I understand. You have to tell him, honey.” I nodded, and we continued on our merry way.
It wasn’t until I was finishing my rounds later that I stopped thinking about the dramas going on. That’s because, a few corridors away from my common room and my delicious, lovely bed, I heard giggles.
Oh great. The only thing in sight was a broom cupboard, and I almost wanted to close my eyes as I stomped over and flung the doors open. In fact, I’ll admit it. I did close my eyes.
But seriously, have you ever been in one of those? Nasty things happen in there.
Two people, thankfully clothed, stumbled out when I opened the door. A girl screeched in surprise, and my eyes widened when I realised who it was.
None other than Hugo’s girlfriend Kayla Lam.
Which meant - oh Merlin, did it really have to be me who found my brother in a broom closet on a Thursday night? – that Hugo was in there and doing things with a girl.
I took a deep breath and turned to him.
It wasn’t Hugo.
Love rule #7 - Absence makes the heart grow fonder – and then it starts roaming
It was the eve of Halloween, and three weeks after the Rose-almost-lost-her-head-girl-badge-but-doesn’t-want-to-talk-about-it incident. Gryffindor had smashed the Hufflepuffs in quiddich the week before, and the professors had given the seventh year students a weekend off from school work.
Albus’ party was that night, and consequently, it was time to get even with Loretta O’Bintface. The difficult part of it was, as much as I wanted to rub her face in Hagrid’s manured pumpkin patch, I couldn’t. Hagrid would kill me, and I had to maintain a professional working relationship with her as my prefect at all times.
On that day, Halloween, Hugo interrupted my girl’s afternoon to ask me about his girlfriend yet again – we three girls were sitting down at the lake, rugged up against the cold wind. Callie nudged me in the side when she saw him, and I sighed.
“Rosie, did you find anything out yet?” he asked when he reached us, sounding very anxious. I put on my concerned sister face and shook my head.
“No, not yet. Whoever hexed her hasn’t shown their face yet.” IT WAS ME, HUGO! YOUR PRECIOUS GIRLFRIEND IS A COW!
He sighed. “It’s been three weeks though. Kayla’s been in the hospital wing the entire time and I’m not even allowed in to see her!”
“Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” Sophie said wisely, but I could see her heart wasn’t in it. Her eyes had their usual faraway look, and I know she was thinking about her date tonight with Petey.
“I’m not surprised she doesn’t want you to see her. From what I heard, Kayla’s probably a little embarrassed right now. Aren’t you a bit suspect as to why she has ‘I’m a bint who cheats on my boyfriend’ emblazoned across her body?” Callie snorted, not at all sympathetic.
Hugo shook his head seriously. “No, I’m certain it was all just a misunderstanding. Okay Rose, well thanks anyway. See you tonight at the party?”
I nodded tightly. I was feeling a bit nervous about tonight, so I had cut my food intake for the week. Eating less always made me less stressed. Hopefully the plan would go ahead without any hiccups. Huge walked away, and we relaxed again.
“Stupid bint deserves what she got from you,” Callie muttered, and Sophie agreed.
“The beauty of the situation is that she can’t tell on you, because then she’d have to admit where she was, and who she was with!” Sophie sounded gleeful, and started discussing tonight’s costumes with Callie.
I tuned out after a while, a bit worried. Would I have time to go for another run before tonight’s extravaganza? I only went for a short one this morning, and spent only an hour in the gym. Wait what have I eaten? Maybe if I don’t have dinner tonight and then tomorrow I can -
“Earth to Rose!” Callie was waving her hand in front of my face, and I shook my head.
“Sorry,” I muttered, then got to my feet, slightly dizzy, “I’m just going to go find Jake. Explain that I won’t be able to spend much time with him tonight.”
The girls nodded, and I wandered off. Ever since Jake had relaxed his grip on me, he was quite nice to spend time with. But I want more than ‘quite nice’, a voice whispered in the back of my head. I ignored it, trudging up the steps to the entrance hall. I had barely made it inside when I heard Freddie.
“Rose! Hey, Rose! Come here!” he called, motioning me over frantically. I went slowly, listlessly, too tired to go fast.
“Are you okay?” he asked with a frown when I reached him, “You look well tired.”
I nodded. Yes I was okay and yes I was tired. School was just getting a bit stressful, and all the drama going on was wearing me down – and we’d only been back for two months.
“Anyway, I have to ask – is it true that Sophie is going on a date with that Petey Myers bloke tonight?” Freddie asked, looking anxious. I nodded again, and his eyes narrowed.
“Seriously? She can do way better than that. I bet that if she went with me then I would-“
I couldn’t help it. I laughed. Laughed or cried, I’m not quite sure which one. Hitting his chest with my fists, I cried, “Well maybe if you got your head out of the clouds, you would have realised you’ve already missed your chance with her! She wanted to go out with you for so long, all through summer, but gave up because you are too dumb to realise that she liked you, and then you went and hooked up with some bint right in front of her! Merlin, Freddie!” I threw my hands up in the air and walked away.
Too tired. Too stressed. Just need to sleep.
I’m sure I would have found humour in the situation, but instead found Freddie’s jealousy just plain frustrating. He should have acted when he had the chance months ago. Stupid Fred, and stupid Albus still pretending to date stupid Callie to get to stupid Sophie.
Quite by chance, I found stupid Jake as I was walking back to my common room. His face lit up and I smiled wearily, simply taking him by the hand and pulling him back to my room. Don’t get the wrong impression. All I did was go straight to sleep. Maybe if I wasn’t so tired I would have noticed stupid Malfoy and the look on his face as I pulled Jake through the common room past him.
I woke up a few hours later feeling much better, and really guilty for yelling at Freddie. Jake must have left some time after I fell asleep. I sat up and pulled my top back on, and spotted a note from him –
You looked too peaceful to disturb. At dinner, see you at the party xo.
I smiled and yawned. Time to get this party started.
Hopping in the shower, I washed my hair with numerous products that Sophie had given me. Once upon a time I would have scoffed at them, but now they were a habit. And they actually worked, too, unlike many of the muggle products that claimed to straighten or curl or restore. My hair has never looked healthier in my life.
When I was feeling more awake, I got out of the shower and wrapped a towel around myself. I stood in front of my steamed up mirror and just looked. I did this a lot lately, studying the size of my belly or seeing if my collar bones were more noticeable.
Shrugging, I went back through to my room and sat on my bed, going through the plan in my head one last time.
Go to party, mingle, leave, and go to Professor McGonagall. And, depending on how it all panned out, go back to the party. I jumped when someone knocked on my door.
“Yeah?” I called out unthinking, and Scorpius opened it.
“Hey, I was just wondering whether you’re good for tonight.”
No Scorpius, you’re good for tonight, my fuzzy brain thought. Wow he’s cute. Such nice eyes, and a perfect hair flick and –
“Uh, Rose, I’m going to come back when you have clothes on, okay?”
“Huh?” I said, uncomprehending. He raised an eyebrow and looked pointedly at my towel.
“Oh my god, Malfoy, get out!” I yelled, jumping up when I finally realised. He snickered, and I threw a handy shoe at his head.
“Ow, OW! Okay, I’m going!” I could still hear him laughing as he shut his bedroom door, and I sat back down, flaming red. That was so embarrassing. I was getting so scatterbrained lately. Scorpius Malfoy may be my almost-friend these days, but that didn’t mean he could see me in nothing but a towel. Shaking my head, I got up and started to get into my costume.
An hour into the party, and everything was going perfectly according to plan - apart from the bit where Jake wasn’t speaking to me.
I swear Malfoy and I didn’t plan our costumes together. In fact, we thought it was the funniest thing when we ran into each other in our hallway wearing matching vampire teeth and black clothes. Except he had on a dashing cloak, and I just had a skanky black dress with a high collar.
“What the hell, Rose?” Jake had practically yelled at me when we walked in. Was it my fault that Malfoy and I walked to the party together, too? It was just logical – we did live together, we were kinda-friends and we were going to the same place.
“Whoah Jake, just chill out,” I had said, holding up my hands. He’d almost exploded.
“Chill out? Seriously? With Malfoy always one step behind you all the time, how do you expect me to just chill out?”
“He’s barely even my friend, Jacob. In fact, I’m pretty sure he barely likes me.”
Jake had just laughed bitterly at that, and stalked off to talk to Anna.
I took the chance to find Callie and congratulate her. The old dungeon looked amazing. It was actually a whole series of interconnected chambers, so the party was really spread out and everyone would fit. Mist was drifting over the floors and there was barely any lighting in the place. Music was pumping and people were already grabbing drinks. I’d actually screamed when I walked in, thinking that the spider climbing up my leg was real. Dad would have had a heart attack.
“Professors?” I asked Callie, and she shook her head. We were standing in a group of sixth and seventh years, watching the entrance.
“There are so many spells on this place that no one will know.”
I nodded, and smiled maliciously when I finally saw Loretta walk through the entrance. My smile grew wider when she took her first drink from the mysteriously-appeared Malfoy.
“The trick or treat is all through those dungeons in there,” Callie continued to me, motioning with her drink. Tonight she was a hag, and somehow she made it work - probably because her clothes consisted of barely-there rags.
“We owe Malfoy one for doing this. I couldn’t stand spending one second with that cow,”
she muttered, and I nodded in agreement. My heart skipped a beat when I saw him touch Loretta’s waist.
No, don’t touch her! I wanted to scream, but the moment was forgotten when Sophie suddenly walked through the door with her date. She waved at us, looking amazing. Albus chose that moment to appear, wrapping his arms around Callie. What a prat – I needed to have a chat with that boy.
Freddie also turned up at our side, and before he could say anything I quickly said “Fred I’m sorry for being a bitch to you and I hope you forgive me. But you’re still an idiot by the way.” He looked startled, but nodded and gave me a hug.
In the hour that I was at the party for, I saw Loretta drink seven drinks that she drank by her own accord, and Jake didn’t speak a single word to me. I felt surprisingly unaffected by his cold shoulder.
Finally, it was time to leave before it got too late. I squeezed Callie and Sophie by the hand, winked across the room at Malfoy, and ghosted out.
Or vampired out. Whichever.
Making my way through the castle, I was relieved when I finally got out of the dungeons – it was cold down there. When I got to Professor McGonagall’s office, I rapped quietly on the door, before realising: the whole plan would be ruined if she wasn’t there.
Before I could start panicking, I heard a hiccup and an “Enter!” I went in gratefully, and smiled at my old professor. Although she had to be in her early eighties, she still stood straight and had a will of steel.
“Why, Miss Weasley, what can I do for you?” she asked, seemingly not the least bit surprised to have her head girl-turned vampire knock on her door at 9:40pm on Halloween. In a rather indecent dress, too.
“I’m so sorry to bother you on the weekend Professor, but I was wondering if you could help me with something,” I said, crossing my fingers behind my back. McGonagall’s face wrinkled into a smile and she motioned me into the comfiest guest chair by the fire. I sat down still shivering and she brought out two glasses.
“Butterbeer, Miss Weasley?” she asked, and I hesitated.
“Actually, Professor, I hope you don’t mind me asking this… but do you have any firewhiskey? Only, I’m really cold and I am of age so –“ Before I could even finish, the professor reached under her desk and pulled out a half-empty bottle of whiskey. I couldn’t help but grin and wonder how many rules we were currently breaking.
“I won’t tell if you won’t,” she said in a whisper. Mum always claimed that McGonagall favoured me. I wondered what Mum would say if she found out about this. I wrapped my hands around the proffered glass and continued.
“You see, I just came from the Gryffindor common room. The group was having a little Halloween get together” – and by group, everyone in the school knew that meant me, the girls, Albus, Malfoy, Jake and Freddie – “and we got to talking about the future. Malfoy and I were just walking back to our common room when I decided that maybe I wanted some more guidance. I’m awfully stressed, you see. Mum is pressuring me and all of my teachers expect so much and Dad says I’m even smarter than Mum was. You’re the first person I could think of to help me.”
You see, dear reader, the majority of what I was saying was true. Every time I thought about what was going to happen after Hogwarts, a big, black cloud loomed in my mind and I ran as fast as I could in the other direction. Mum kept pointedly mailing me Ministry job applications or Healer pamphlets, but I had no idea what I wanted to do. And McGonagall had always done the career advising at Hogwarts.
“I understand. And I imagine Hermione has exceedingly high expectations?” McGonagall asked, leaning forward. I nodded.
“You have no idea, Professor.”
“I think I do, Miss Weasley. I taught your mother too, once upon a time. You’re every bit as smart and switched on as she was. I can understand why she has high expectations.”
“I know, and I want to do well. But I want to do it on my own, not because Uncle Harry has connections everywhere in the world, or because my parents work for the Ministry.”
I took a big gulp of whiskey. This had turned unexpectedly into a serious conversation. I hadn’t realised I had all this locked up inside.
“And I don’t know if I’m performing well as head girl or doing well at school and I’m so tired all the time and just want to finish school already!” I finished with a gasp, and hung my head.
“Miss Weasley. You are one of the most brilliant students we’ve ever had at this school. Your attention to detail, hard work and organisation skills make you an excellent leader. I understand that everyone has doubts from time to time, but you are concerning me,” McGonagall said, and I gulped down some more whiskey. I hadn’t meant to take my ravings that far. Now would be a good time, Malfoy…
“Tell me, Miss Weasley, and please be honest. Are you eating enough, and getting enough rest? Many of your professors are expressing concern that you’re not your usual self-“
“Professor! Of course I am! Those fears are unfounded,” I said, smiling manically and trying not to panic. At last, I heard it. A knock on the door, hard and urgent.
“Yes?” called McGonagall, seemingly amused by all of her late night visitors. The door opened and Malfoy walked in, half carrying Loretta O’Cowface. He feigned surprise at seeing me.
“What is the meaning of this, Mr Malfoy?” the professor snapped as Malfoy dumped the girl in a chair, her good mood abruptly gone. Loretta was well and truly drunk.
“I’m sorry for barging in Professor, but I found her wandering around in the corridors. Not that I was out and about, I was just with Rose and – “
“Yes, yes, Miss Weasley already told me. Miss O’Walsh! Explain yourself!” the professor suddenly snapped as the cow started giggling uncontrollably.
She raised her head upon hearing her name, and said “It appears that I am very drunk, Professor McGonagall.” Then she saw me. “Urgh, what is she doing here? Rose Weasley is the worst person in this castle, and doesn’t deserve being head girl.”
I was expecting as much, but it still hurt. Malfoy threw me a sympathetic glance, but I ignored him.
“What?” I asked Loretta, hurt, “I never did anything to you!”
She smiled and focused her unfocused eyes on me. “You are pretty and you’re thin this year and Scorpius Malfoy wants to date you and you have friends and even when I tried to get you expelled last month you still got away because everyone loves the Weasleys.”
“MISS O’Walsh!” McGonagall exclaimed, looking infuriated. She opened her mouth and started ranting at the intoxicated girl, but I just took another sip of whiskey. I’d heard nothing beyond ‘you’re thin’.
Was I? Was I really? I grinned happily at Malfoy, and but some reason he didn’t meet my eyes. He probably felt guilty for giving Loretta truth veritaserum and then Obliterating the party from her memory, but he had agreed to do it (hell, it was mostly all his (and partly Callie’s) idea!).
I didn’t even realise that we’d been dismissed until Malfoy pulled me to my feet and out into the corridor. Even with the office door shut we could still hear the professor yelling.
Giddily, I hugged Malfoy and linked my arm through his. With a giggle, I realised that I still had my glass of firewhiskey.
“To the party?” I asked Malfoy, and he finally grinned his familiar grin at me and nodded.
“To the party indeed.”
Revenge is very sweet.
Love rule #8 - If you love someone, let them go. If they don’t come back, beat them with a stick
Winter always has been my favourite time at Hogwarts. Back in my parent’s day, the castle wasn’t even heated, but these days it is. The suits of armour get woolie hats and scarves, and the house elves keep the fires roaring. Everything is so cosy, and I love nothing more than waking up to find out it snowed overnight. Even though it was only mid-November, the temperature was plummeting by the day, and every day I woke up, I ran to the window to see if it had snowed yet.
It was a Wednesday, and Albus and I were curled up in my common room. I was helping him with his potions, and he was moaning to me about Sophie. He did, however, do this less and less lately.
He’d been in a ‘relationship’ with Callie for almost two months now, and they were still the talk of the castle.
The other day I’d overheard a couple of second years gushing, “One day I want a boyfriend like Callista May’s. She and Albus Potter are so sweet together!”
I’d rolled my eyes, but it was true. They really were perfect together - Callie with her stunning blonde hair, supermodel body and sharp mind dating the bad boy famous son of Harry Potter. It was the cutest.
Albus was still talking. “And her hair, Rosie, her hair! Have you seen it? So dark and soft. Although, Callie’s is soft too. And I like blonde better anyway. Callie has such blue eyes. Callie said the funniest thing the other day, she-“
But I’d tuned out. Boys were stupid. Albus was stupid. It was so obvious to me that he liked Callie more than Sophie now, but he didn’t want to admit it. I absently poked at my tummy as he spoke, wondering if it was getting any smaller. A piece of apple this morning and some carrots last night surely won't make me put on weight?
“- And even though Sophie isn’t with Petey any more, Callie reckons she doesn’t like anyone else yet. Callie told me that for Christmas she and her family-“
Nup, he lost me again.
I tried to ignore my rumbling tummy and turned back to my potions, quickly finishing the essay before moving onto my next assignment. These days, I was finding it harder and harder to focus on my school work. I decided to combat the problem by just working through everything as quick as possible, and then going back and fixing it all later.
So far, so good. My marks hadn’t even dropped.
In no time, all of my latest work was finished and I crossed my arms and just looked at Albus. He was still ranting about something.
The door swung open, and Malfoy entered. I rolled my eyes at him and he made a sympathetic face back. Out of anyone in the castle, being Albus’ best friend, he understood my pain perfectly.
As he walked by, he picked up a cushion, threw it at Al’s head and continued up the staircase to our rooms. I giggled, but Al, incredibly, didn’t even notice. I idly wondered how Hugo was going, having not spoken to him lately. A few weeks ago I’d finally relented and gone to the hospital wing, slipping a piece of paper with the reverse enchantment under the matron's office door.
A few days later, Kayla Lam was released and ran the other way whenever she saw me.
Moral of the story is, don’t piss off the protective older sister.
I tuned back in to Al, but he was still blathering on about nothing in particular.
Eventually, Scorpius came back down and sat beside me on the couch. Albus was still ignoring us, so we talked quietly.
“How is the boyfriend?” Malfoy asked, and I frowned. He must have heard Jake yelling at me last night when we were in the common room.
I blushed, and shrugged; Jake hadn’t wanted to leave, claiming “I don’t trust Malfoy, what’s to stop him from coming into your room at night?”
I’d just stared at him, incredulous. It was the most ridiculous thing I’d heard in my life.
“He’s just a bit over protective, that’s all,” I whispered to Malfoy. He raised an eyebrow, and I elbowed him. The familiar gesture felt both comforting and terrifying at the samet time. Pull yourself together, Rose. It's just Malfoy.
“Careful Rose, don’t get too close to me or Jake will find out,” he mock whispered, moving away from me with exaggerated movements. We both lapsed into giggles.
Don’t freak out – between saving my head position and helping me to get back at the currently-suspended Loretta O’Bintface, Malfoy and I were no longer enemies. We were almost even friends.
“Reckon he’ll even notice if we leave?” I asked nodding towards Al. He was now lying down on the couch and staring at the ceiling, still talking.
“Let’s find out,” Malfoy said with a wicked grin. He grabbed my hand and my stomach gave a small, strange lurch.
Without another word, we jumped up and ran out of the door. I quickly dropped his hand as we walked away, but it still felt weird and tingly.
“Where to?” I asked lightly, trying not to betray my sudden nervousness.
“Just follow me,” he said with a smile, and so I did. It wasn’t until we were out in the grounds and walking towards the quiddich pitch that I dug my heels in.
“It’s okay,” he soothed, tugging at my arm, “Callie and Sophie are down here already. I said I’d bring you and we could all have a fly around. I know you don't like flying, but you have to face your fears, or some crap.”
I allowed myself to be alternatively coaxed and dragged towards the pitch, until he finally lost patience and picked me up bodily, carrying me over his shoulders.
“MALFOY! Let me down right now!” I screamed, hitting him with my fists. Oh Merlin, what if he drops me because I’m so heavy? Can he feel how fat I am?
“Malfoy!” I cried, genuine panic in my voice, “Let me go!”
“Okay,” he finally said, and dumped me unceremoniously at several pairs of feet.
“Hello, Rosie,” Callie said with an evil smile. She was holding two brooms, and I almost burst into tears then and there. Sophie was the more sympathetic one as usual. Helping me to my feet, she passed me a jumper and a few scarves.
“Here, honey. That’s your old jumper I borrowed ages ago. About time you got it back anyway.”
I pulled it on in relief – it was cold at the pitch – and wrapped the scarves around my neck.
“That’s a bit big on you now,” Callie muttered, giving me and my jumper a strange look. I just shrugged, but was secretly jumping for joy. It was thrilling, knowing that all of my runs were getting me somewhere. That very morning, I ran further than I ever had before – almost around the whole lake.
Callie suddenly clapped her hands together, going into quiddich captain mode.
“Okay, team! Brooms in hand, right away!” There was a silence. “Well?” she demanded, and Sophie and Scorpius exchanged looks.
“Callie, we already have our brooms. Let’s just get on with this,” Sophie said, tugging the spare broom out of Callie’s hand and giving it to me. I took it with numb, shaky fingers. I can do this. I can. Really. Merlin, please don’t let me die.
“Scorp, me and Soph are going to warm up. You’re the most patient one, so teach Rosie how to take off and land properly.” Callie and Sophie jumped on their brooms and were gone almost before she finished talking.
“They tried to teach me a few summers ago. It was a disaster. Really, they just jumped on their brooms and left me to fend for myself. Is she always that bossy down here?” I asked Malfoy, and he grinned, eyes shining.
“You betcha. But she’s a great captain, so I have nothing to complain about. Now, about that broomstick you’re holding…”
With that, Malfoy starting teaching me, and I decided that maybe it wasn’t so daunting after all.
Eventually, after several goes, I slowly raised into the air. It was far more controlled than my last go on a broomstick, and I felt elated.
“Scorp! Scorpius! Look I’m doing it!” I cried, and he laughed. I was only high enough off the ground that my eyes were level with his.
“That’s the first time you’ve ever called me ‘Scorp’”, he informed me matter-of-fact when he got close enough. Without warning, he put his hands under my broom and lifted me further into the air. I shrieked and rose higher.
“I hate you!” I screamed at him, but there was no need to yell. He’d already jumped on his own broom and risen to my height.
“Higher!” he cried, and he coaxed me further and further away from the ground.
Eventually, I was able to direct my broom to where I wanted to go, and I even tried accelerating. It really was beautiful, being so high up. But not beautiful enough to make me want to stay there.
When I’d finally had enough and Scorpius taught me how to land properly, I slipped of the broom on shaky legs and fell over. He landed much more gracefully a few metres away.
“What are you doing?” Callie yelled, coming in to land beside me. I tried to salute her as captain, but I was just too tired and I started to giggle.
“Stop this and get back on your broom!” She continued, too keyed up to remember that I wasn’t on her team and we weren’t actually training.
“Aye aye sir,” I giggled from where I was sprawled on the ground, and her eyes bulged. Sophie landed beside her and grinned at the situation.
“If you want to stay on this team, you will get back on that broom and get in the air!”
By now, Malfoy was laughing too, and I had tears running down my face.
“If you love me Callie, you’ll let me go!” I screamed, my stomach aching from laughing.
Callie narrowed her eyes dangerously.
I decided it was time to move, and I jumped up and ran away from her, straight down the pitch. When I looked back, I giggled to see her running after me, an old school broomstick raised high above her head.
She looked ridiculous, and I fell to the ground, weak from running and laughing. Tears were still streaming down my face, and Sophie and Scorpius were on the ground nearby.
“Stop, stop, I can’t take anymore,” Scorpius moaned between laughing, clutching at his stomach. The whole situation was ridiculous. Fearing for my life as Callie got closer, I struggled to my feet and started running again.
“What are you going to do with that thing, Cal?” Sophie giggled out, “Beat her with it?”
At that, we all dissolved into laugher again, and I changed course, running at Callie and catching her in a hug. She giggled, and we fell to the ground in stitches. It was a top day.
“Where were you today?” Of course it was Jake. I was sitting in the great hall with Freddie before dinner, turning an apple over in my hands when Jake pounced on me.
“With the girls, how come?” I replied, craning my head to look up at him. He was standing over me, and I wished he’d just sit down.
“No you weren’t.”
I’d started to smile at him, before I realised that he looked really mad. His lips were pursed into a thin line and he kept clenching and unclenching his fists.
“Erm, I’m pretty sure I know what I was doing today, Jake. I was down at the quiddich pitch. What does it matter? Did we have something planned?” I asked, puzzled and confused by his behaviour.
Anna Hart’s words from a few weeks ago drifted through my head – “He’s too jealous and obsessive for you to have a healthy relationship”. I’d ignored her at the time, but now perhaps I was wrong to do so.
“I saw you, Rose!” he hissed, and I stared at him.
Anger bubbled up in me, and I stood up abruptly. Couldn’t I have friends and do something that didn’t involve him?
As I pushed my chair back, it clattered to the ground loudly and several heads turned my way.
“And?” I asked, glaring at him.
I loved Jake. We’d been friends for years and now something more, but I hated this new side of him.
I noticed I barely reached his chin, he was that tall – and Merlin knows I’m not the tiniest, most delicate female in the world.
”You were with him,” he all but hissed in my face, taking a step closer.
I stared at him, incredulous. He had to be kidding me – this was seriously about Malfoy?
I heard Freddie snort into his chicken pie, shaking his head.
“Chill out, dude,” Fred said with a sweet smile. I was a bit concerned Jake would have an apoplexy when Freddie contributed.
“No, you chill out, dude,” Jake yelled, and I stared at him. I couldn’t help but giggle.
“He is chilled out. Freddie is always chilled out,” I muttered, trying to distract him. Jake’s eyes narrowed, and my heart actually skipped a beat when he raised his hand.
Lucky for him, all he did was grab my arm and proceed to drag me out of the hall.
Seriously, who took Jacob May away and replaced him with a psycho? I ripped my arm away from him and stared.
“Seriously Jake? You’re going to push me around like this? What in Merlin’s name is going on with you lately?” I cried, aware that we had the attention of everyone in the vicinity.
“I know you’re cheating on me with Malfoy!” he yelled, facing me. We were standing between the Gryffindor and Hufflepuff tables, and the nearest students edged away.
I could only shake my head. This was ridiculous. There was absolutely nothing between Malfoy and I – we were barely even friends.
I continued to shake my head as I walked away, heading back towards Freddie who was still eating his pie and watching us through half-lidded eyes. I noticed his wand ready beneath the table, and felt a surge of affection for my cousin.
“Oh, no you don’t!” I heard from behind me, and Jake grabbed me again. This time, I whipped my wand out of my pocket and wrenched my arm away. I pointed my wand at him, shocked it had gone this far.
“How dare you touch me like this! How dare you accuse me of cheating when there is absolutely no evidence, and when everyone in this room will happily tell you that Malfoy and I are barely on civil speaking terms?” I was breathing heavily, getting into super rant mode. “I am my own person, Jake, so don’t even try ordering me around and acting like you know what’s best. Not that I currently care what you think, but I promise you that Malfoy is the last person in the world who I could ever love, let alone date!”
Movement at the entrance to the hall caught my eye, and I glanced over to see Callie, Sophie, Albus and Malfoy just entering.
They’d obviously missed out on most of the events, and the girls were staring between my boyfriend and me with wide, shocked eyes.
Malfoy however, was simply looking at me. There was something unreadable in his icy blue eyes, and I remembered how happy and bright they’d been down at the quiddich pitch. Something dropped in my stomach.
Before I could interpret his unfathomable gaze, he simply turned around and walked away. I felt ill, stupidly only just realising that Malfoy and I had definitely become solid friends lately, and I’d just insulted him in front of the whole school.
Before I could think any more about him, Jake caught my attention again.
“How could you, Rose? You know I love you more than anything, and this is what you do to me,” he growled, eyes boring into me.
I just shook my head yet again. This was ridiculous. All I wanted to do tonight was stare at my apple, not be accosted and accused mercilessly. Thanks Jake, you just ruined a great day.
“Bye, Jake,” I said with a sigh, “Come talk to me when the person I know and love is back.”
I went back to Freddie who gave me a lopsided smile and handed me my bag. Pushing past Jake, I turned and walked out of the hall, ignoring the stares and whispers from my fellow students.
I stormed out of the hall, through the front doors and down to the lake, dropping my bag near the shore. How dare he accuse me of something so low, so . . . unRose. I would never cheat, even on an idiot like Jake. I was starting to think that maybe we just weren’t meant to be.
Well, not that I thought he was the One anyway. But still! What a right ass.
“I could never be with someone who doesn’t trust me,” I muttered to myself, kicking at a rock. It rolled along the shore and into the water.
Stupid Jake, and stupid Scorpius Malfoy. Why did he have to look so wounded when I opened my big mouth in the great hall?
After half an hour of ranting and raving up the relatively sandy shoreline, Albus came to find me.
“That wasn’t good to watch, Rose,” he said shortly.
“It wasn’t anything to do with you, Albus! That was between me and Jake, and apparently the rest of the school.”
But Albus was shaking his head. “No, bint – what you did to Scorp.”
“I didn’t do anything to Malfoy,” I snapped, sick of being accused of things I didn’t do. Albus just looked at me sadly.
“You don’t even realise, do you?” he asked, starting to walk away.
“Realise what, Al?” I yell, losing my temper again. What was with my short fuse lately?
“If you don’t even know what I’m talking about, you don’t deserve him,” he sighed without turning around.
A noise, something between a grunt, scream and cry escaped my throat. I scooped up a handful of sand and threw it at his retreating back. It wouldn’t have hurt him, and I shouldn’t have lost my temper, but Al spunaround with murderous eyes.
“What the hell is wrong with you lately, Weasley?” he yelled at me, advancing closer again.
“You’re what’s wrong with me, Potter! Why are you having a go at me?” I was meant to be fierce and angry, but instead I burst into tears.
“You had a go at me! Grow up, Rose. You’ve been babied your whole life, but it’s time to face the real world. Your decisions are hurting people. Just grow up,” he hissed, and I couldn’t breathe.
I opened my mouth, but no words came out. Dizzy, vision distorted, I pushed past my cousin, the person closest to me in the world.
I tore my arm away as he tried to grab it, and just ran. I didn’t even realise where I was until I pushed the common room door open and Scorpius Malfoy stood up from the sofa he was sitting on.
He opened his mouth to talk, but I interrupted before he could start.
“No, Malfoy. I don’t want to hear it,” I whispered, not bothering to wipe my tears away.
“No,” I cried. I already knew all he was going to tell me. Selfish. Childish. Fat. Boring. In a box I can’t get out of. I ignored his proffered hand and ran up the stairs to my room.
Closed my eyes.
Fell into a restless slumber full of darkness, anger, hate.
It was mid-November. Winter was moving in and things were starting to heat up.
Love rule #10 - Love like it’s your last day on earth
Back at Hogwarts on Monday, it was as if the last two weeks of horror hadn’t even happened. Somehow, the sun was still rising and setting every day which didn’t make any sense at all. Didn’t anyone care about what had happened to Dad? Apart from sympathetic looks in the hallways, people left Hugo and I mostly alone which probably was what made me the angriest. I was perfectly capable of talking about Dad and strokes and rehab, I didn’t need to be treated like delicate glass.
Merlin, I wanted to talk about it. McGonagall was so far the only person who had mentioned anything to me. She called me into her office the night I got back, and we had a ‘talk’.
“Miss Weasley, I want you to know that the school will completely support any time off you and your brother take to visit your father. It grieves me to hear that such a wonderful, strong man is going through this. I understand your family is under stress, and so I’ve given some of your head duties to Mr Malfoy.”
I had tried to protest at the last bit. It was bad enough that Malfoy already hated me. I didn’t want him to resent me now as well.
“Really Professor, I’m more than capable of-“
“No, Miss Weasley. I talked to your mother yesterday and she expressed her concern about your current health. I told you earlier in the term that your professors have also come to me expressing their concern too. I want you to know that at Hogwarts you have support twenty four hours of every day of the year. Any troubles, any problems, just seek out a professor.”
I left the strained, awkward meeting feeling troubled. I knew now, thanks to the Prophet, that everyone was talking about my weight. I guess I had to be more careful and not flaunt my weight loss with smaller clothes and constant chattering about exercise. Clearly it was making some people feel uncomfortable.
“Rose, why does Kayla squeak every time I mention you?” Hugo cornered me in my new hiding spot, the green houses. We’d been back at school for about a week, and Hugo distracted me as I happily tore a piece of paper into tiny bits. They floated on a non-existent breeze and were snapped up by the giant venus flytrap.
“Dunno,” I murmured vaguely, sprinkling more paper into the air. It was really fascinating, watching the pieces get swallowed. Hugo gave me an odd look.
“What’s with you lately? You’re being so weird.”
“No I’m not. You’re being weird,” I raised an eyebrow at him, and he rolled his eyes. Not my best comeback, but my brain was fuzzy and it was an effort to even speak. Mentally, I ran through my list again – yesterday, grapes, today, one quarter of an apple, tomorrow -
“Rose! Hello?” Hugo called, waving his hand in front of my face.
“Oh, go away, Hugo,” I sighed, and he stomped out of the greenhouse. Great, he scared the flytrap into shutting.
Once he was gone, I settled back into my moss seat. I didn’t even realise I was crying until a tear dripped off my cheek. I'd been feeling so detatched from everything around me, too worried about Dad and my diet to think about anything else. The only other person who occassionally slipped into my thoughts was a certain Scorpius Malfoy.
I'd screwed up our fledging friendship and hurt him without even meaning to. I actually missed the idiot who spent the first four years of our acquaintance happily yelling at me, the next year ignoring me, and the last two years actually acknowledging me without being hexed too often.
The silence in our common room was getting to me, especially when last night he went to his room rather than have to sit in the same room as me. It really hurt, considering how my heart lifted when he first walked in. Despite the fact he is a Malfoy, he would have listened to how defenceless and ill a Weasley – even Ron Weasley - was.
How could I ever explain to him that I actually valued our new friendship, and hated that he wasn't talking to me?
Callie was still determinedly ignored me every single day, which almost broke my heart. We girls hadn’t had a serious fight since fourth year. Of course, being her ‘boyfriend’, Albus also wasn’t speaking to me even though we’d run into each other several times at Mungo’s when everyone came for a visit. That meant Freddie wasn’t talking to me either, because he often mindlessly did whatever Albus did. They’re my cousins, they should be helping me! The only thing which put my mind at ease was the lack of Jake in my life.
I stood up labourously and made my way through the plants. Walking to my common room was an interesting experience. People still talked to me and asked me questions, but it was as if I was viewing my body from outside of it.
I don’t remember what I said to anyone, or even who I spoke to.
Malfoy was nowhere to be seen when I walked up to my room. He now took back ways to classes to avoid me, and spoke through prefects at our meeting and never to me. It was driving me crazy, and was surprisingly hurtful.
And even though he may have talked to me today, Hugo was still mad at me for not turning up at hospital on the Sunday Dad originally got sick and hadn’t yet accepted my vague reasoning.
This left poor Sophie to pick up the pieces. My gentle friend was torn between myself and Callie, a position I wished she needn’t be in. She hated conflict the most out of all of us.
Seeing her torment most days, I made her go to Callie and Albus because I knew that was where it would be easiest for her- it was also where Freddie was. Ignoring my loneliness and hurt, I threw myself into my school work and planning the winter ball with little input from Malfoy.
It was a few days after Hugo and I talked in the greenhouse; December was well under way and I was being slaughtered with school work. There was a gentle influx of snow falling outside and the castle looked magnificent in preparation for Christmas.
I sighed when I remembered this would be my last Hogwarts Christmas and my friends weren’t here to celebrate with me. I’d seen everyone heading outside a few hours ago, no doubt for the epic Weasley snow fight. Ducking my head to hide my tears at being left out, I’d sought refuge in the library, my favourite place for a good think.
And there I was, ensconced in a warm, dark corner next to a window and silently yelling at the world. What had I even done to make everyone so angry? It was as if all the petty dramas I’d avoided for the first years of my life were coming to surface now, in my NEWTs year of all times.
Since when have I been so angsty and weird?
I ignored the voice, instead pulling out my transfiguration homework. As I did so, pamphlets Mum had sent that week fell out of my bag.
“Have you got Healing feelings?” and “Ever wanted speak to an Unspeakable?”
I rubbed my eyes, knowing that she meant well. With Dad now at home and needing constant care, Mum had to distract herself somehow. Why not continue to interfere with my life? I crumpled them, suddenly angry. Even if I didn’t know what I wanted to do post-Hogwarts, and even if the pamphlets did make me think, I wanted to do it alone!
I kicked the wall in annoyance and winced as I stubbed my toe. The sudden pain made my anger disappear as soon as it had arrived. I sighed again, determinedly pushing all thoughts of fights, careers, Dad, loneliness and hunger out of my mind, focusing instead on transfiguration.
Malfoy didn’t get pushed out of my head though. He’s always in my mind these days.
Just as I started my first paragraph of my transfiguration essay, my attention was taken by something else.
“Psst, Rose!” someone hissed, and I peered into the gloomy bookshelves to see a pair of eyes looking at me.
“Piney?” I asked, squinting. The blonde librarian came into view, looking around nervously.
“How ya doing, then?” she whispered, crouching next to me and glancing around every now and then.
“What are you doing? “ I asked, sniggering. Nothing like a crazy librarian to make life look less bleak.
My answer came in the form of several randy third year boys who came tearing around the corner.
“I swear she went this way!” the leading one said, and Pine growled and straightened.
“Piss off, you tossers,” she snapped at the kids, and I was well and truly distracted from my woes.
“But Miss, we need help for –“
“Nup. No way. Pervy little sods, go find someone else to eye up.”
They slowly trooped away, and I sniggered. “As head girl, I should probably tell you that you’re not allowed to speak to students like that – but that was just too funny.”
She glared at me, hands on hips. “You can sod off too, little bint. Ungrateful little shits – my boobs aren’t for pubescent little tossers to get their thrills from. That’s the last time they’re allowed in my library.”
She stomped off, and I grinned at my assignment. Merlin, I loved that woman.
“Rose! Oi, Rose!” someone yelled in the corridor another week later. I turned around cautiously. Not many people called my name with such exuberance these days.
To my surprise, Albus was pushing through a crowd of people outside the great hall. I slowed my pace warily. I didn’t have time to deal with him right now; I had to go to the gym, do my rounds, write up the alumni list for the winter ball, finish an essay, fill out an application to the ministry, talk to Higgins about a careers expo, go to a prefect’s meeting and maybe even sleep at the end of the long list.
“Yes?” I asked shortly when he reached me, still panting slightly. He scowled, as if suddenly remembering we weren’t talking.
“I was going to ask how Uncle Ron is.”
“Oh he’s great, Al. Just great. He can’t walk, he can’t talk. Merlin, he can’t even use the bathroom by himself these days! But hey, isn’t he fine. Thanks for asking.” I turned on heel and stomped away, utterly furious.
How could he ask such a stupid question? Does he ever think before opening his mouth?
Muttering to myself and not looking back to see the hurt look on my cousin’s face, I tore aside a tapestry that hid a shortcut to the greenhouses.
There, I received my second blow of the morning.
A familiar back (and, might I say it, rather familiar cute buttocks) stood away from me. I hesitated, and then took a step forward.
His blonde hair was growing too long, and my fingers itched to cut it. But it wasn’t his hair that shocked me; it was who he had his arms around and was currently snogging the life out of.
She was tiny, beautiful, and suddenly enemy number one. Everyone just moved down a slot, yay for them.
“S-Sophie?” I gasped, backing away. With a disgusting slurping sound, they broke away from each other and Malfoy spun around to face me.
“Rose! Hi! How are you, honey? Malfoy was just showing me the shortcut to-“ Sophie’s voice was unnaturally high, her eyes wide with surprise. I cut her off, shaking my head.
“Like it matters to me,” I said in a shaky voice, and quickly pushed past them both in fear of them seeing the tears running down my face, “I wish you all the happiness in the world.”
I ran away like a baby, wondering why I so upset. They were perfect for each other; beautiful, kind and caring freaks that they are. Maybe herbology wasn’t the most necessary thing to do that day.
Perhaps going to bed would be better.
When I walked into the prefect’s meeting that night, I did so with a blank expression and steely eyes. A shower, a few charms and some makeup hid the tell-tale signs that I’d been crying all afternoon.
I met Malfoy’s gaze flatly, determined to ignore the funny lurch my belly gave when I saw him. Instead, I focused no how nice it was to not have Loretta O’Walsh smirking at me. She was back at school now, but was under orders from the headmaster himself to not go anywhere near myself and my ‘friends’.
“Right,” I began, but my voice wavered. A few people snickered and I cleared my throat.
“Right, I need everyone to get into teams to start brainstorming ideas for the winter ball. I’ve been working on themes and gift bags etc, but it’s down to you guys to finalise the details. We have about another month and a half before the night.”
I flicked my wand and my list of themes was transferred onto the classroom’s blackboard.
“Are you two going to be opening the ball?” a stupid fifth year Hufflepuff asked.
“It has been tradition for centuries for the head boy and girl to open the ball and lead the first dance. I sincerely doubt that Rose and I will be throwing that many years of custom on its head,” Malfoy answered for me, and I looked away from him.
Great, I was already dreading the ball and now it was going to be even worse.
The minutes dragged by, and after everyone’s papers had been passed up the front and rounds worked out for the week, they all trickled out. I turned to leave after the last prefect, but a hand on my arm stopped me.
“Rose, I’m so sorry. Will you speak to me?” Malfoy asked, and his smooth voice lulled me into submission. I turned around with a carefully blank face, trying to pretend that I was beyond caring what he had to say. He ignored me for weeks, and now he wants to talk?
More complicated than a female.
“Yes, Malfoy?” I asked flatly, and he looked taken aback by my use of his last name.
“Rose, I – I want to apologize for what happened this morning,” he said, looking down at his feet.
“It’s none of my business who you snog behind tapestries or shag in a broom closet, Malfoy. It means nothing to me,” I said tonelessly. He finally looked up at me, and his blue eyes burned into mine.
“We both know that’s a lie, Rose.”
“You dare to presume to tell me I’m lying? You really think I want to hear this crap now, weeks too late? I needed a friend, Scorpius. You weren’t there for me. I thought we were meant to be friends!” My calm façade had cracked, and I felt tears brimming in my eyes.
“Friends? Friends don’t tell the entire great hall that you barely know each other. Friends don’t disappear when everyone needs them. Friends open their eyes to see what is right in front of them. Friends listen to what other friends have to say, Rose!”
To give him credit, he didn’t yell once. Although he did take a step closer, and I could feel the heat radiating off his body.
“Yeah, well, friends are also there for each other when one of us has a father in hospital! I know you aren’t the greatest fan of my family, Scorp, but I thought you’d get over that for me. I didn’t expect to come back to school and be ignored and left to muddle through on my own,” I whispered, wiping my eyes.
“I know, and I’m sorry,” he said to my surprise, “I was just so confused. Jacob May was a right prat for doing what he did, but that didn’t mean you had to say that about me.”
“I don’t care about that anymore! I hate that my stupid relationship with Jake screwed up our friendship.”
“It’s not too late, Rose,” he said, touching my shoulder. Merlin, we were very close now. I remembered this morning, and how close he was to Sophie. Anger flared hot through my veins, and I took a step back.
“Friends don’t kiss other friends,” I whispered, and he stiffened.
“That wasn’t what it looked like, Rose, I-“
“I’m sick of listening to excuses Malfoy. You and Sophie are obviously into each other, I don’t want to get between that.”
“No, seriously, let me explain-“
“She’s beautiful and skinny and sweet, so much better than the rest of us. I’m surprised you didn’t like her sooner.”
We were close again, and both of his hands came to rest on my shoulders.
“Why aren’t you listening to me?” he said, bending his head slightly to meet my eyes. My heart skipped a beat, and I blinked, shutting my mouth with a snap.
“I don’t want to fight with you, Rose Weasley. Just listen to me when I say that there is nothing between me and Sophie.”
“So she was just a convenient snog,” I said, still unable to speak louder than a whisper.
“Something like that, “he said, and I heard laughter in his voice, “There’s actually this other girl I like, and her name isn’t Sophie.”
He grinned at me adorably, and my heart sank. I’d rather him be with Sophie if he had to be with anyone at all. Not that it was any of my business.
“Oh?” I murmured, and he nodded. He pulled me closer, and my eyes widened. His body felt divine against mine, nothing like what Jake’s felt.
This was fire, and heat, and passion. His lips came closer, and my heart stopped beating.
I stared up into his deep blue eyes, and he kissed me.
On the cheek. Perfunctory and very unsatisfactorily.
Taking a step back, he let go of me and stuck his hand out. I stared at it uncomprehending, cheek burning and my thoughts all muddled everywhere. My head was spinning – did I think he was going to actually properly kiss me? Did I want him to?
“Friends?” he asked, and I finally understood. I put a trembling hand out and shook his large, warm one.
So I stopped speaking to yet another friend, but gained another one back. Sophie turned bright red whenever I saw her, but I was still too angry to even speak. I’ve no idea what my problem was – she’s entitled to kiss whoever she wants to kiss. Just not Malfoy! a little voice screamed at the back of my head.
I felt uncomfortable whenever those thoughts popped into my head. I had absolutely no claim over Scorpius, so why should I care? But the feelings didn’t go away, and I resigned myself to feeling a strange sinking feeling in my stomach when I saw him talking to other girls, or a skipping heart beat that had nothing to do with a diet lacking in nutrients, whenever I saw him.
Another week muddled by and I dragged myself to classes, still finished my work at the top of the school and lost another kilo or two. Then, the steady stream of homework finally dried up and it was at last Christmas, and time to go home.
Love rule #9 - Love conquers all
I woke up the next morning in the predawn light. Rolling over and staring at the ceiling, I considered not getting up. Life would go on, no one would care and it was, after all, Sunday. With that in mind, I rolled back over, burrowed under my covers and shut my eyes.
Then it was Monday, and I did the same. Tuesday passed in a blur of nothing, and Wednesday was gone.
Then it was Thursday, and I had head duties and a quiz in Transfiguration, so I got up. Hoping water would give my weak, exhausted limbs some life, I ran a bath and sunk into it. Then I wondered why no one had come to find me in my fit of pathetic self-pity. Because no one cares, a little voice whispered in my mind.
Listlessly drying myself as I walked back into my room, I shuddered as I stood on something that crackled underfoot.
“What in Merlin’s name?” I muttered, bending down. I stood up dizzily with a pile of letters in hand. Letters addressed to me by Callie, Sophie, Albus and Mum. Frowning, I sat on the edge of the bed and opened the first one.
I’m sorry to hear about everything going on. Please owl me as soon as you get this.
Then the nest one:
You are strong and you are beautiful and you won’t let this get you down. I just know he’ll pull through fine, and you will as well.
Thinking about you and your family (I’m desperate to hear from you!)
My family? What did they have anything to do with my mini-breakdown? I was just a bit stressed, no need for everyone to get involved. Who will pull through just fine?
Seriously, where are you? We need you here at Mungo’s ASAP! If this is about our little spat on Saturday, get over it. I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings, but there are more important things going on right now!
Get here. Now
Merlin, who was in Mungos? I threw on any clothes as I tore open the final letter. Mum’s writing was a mess compared to the neat, pretty writing it usually was, and I shoved shoes on as I read it.
My darling Rose,
Dad has had an accident and has been taken to St Mungo’s. I don’t want to make you and Hugo panic, but I think you should floo here. I’ve made arrangements with Professor McGonagall, and she has excused you from all of your classes and head duties for the week.
Stay safe darling, don’t worry, and I’ll see you very soon.
The letter was dated from Sunday morning, and I choked down the scream rising up my throat. What was wrong with Dad? Why hadn’t anyone come for me? The letter fell from numb fingers, and I raced out of the dorm, through the corridors and burst into McGonagall’s office. My lungs were burning and my head was spinning. Dad Dad Dad Dad chanted through my head.
McGonagall wasn’t in her office, but the fire was crackling merrily. I grabbed some floo powder and threw a handful into the beautiful flames.
“Mungo’s!” I cried, so determined to get to Dad that I didn’t even cough as soot got into my mouth. Fireplaces span past dizzyingly until I was deposited unceremoniously on one of Mungo’s many hearths. A nurse sitting in a chair in front of the fireplaces kindly helped me to my feet.
“You must be Rose,” she said, smiling. I stared. How did she know? In response to my inquisitive stare, she squeezed my hand.
“Everyone knows who you are, dear.”
“What’s wrong with Dad?” I blurted. Her smiled faded at that, and I gripped her hand tightly.
“He’s alive,” she admitted, but didn’t say anything more. I followed her as she walked briskly down a white, sterile corridor. I liked Mungo’s – despite the chaos, mayhem and sometimes tragedy, there was a lovely cleanliness and order to everything.
We stopped abruptly at a ward, and my heart was hammering. I’d never been so terrified in my life. Why hadn’t anyone been to fetch me?
“In you go, love ,” said the lovely nurse, ushering me towards the doors. She turned and walked away, and I took a deep breath.
“Rose?” came an incredulous gasp as I entered the ward. Mum was standing next to a hospital bed with her arms wide open, and I ran into them. Nothing could ever be more comforting than a mum hug.
“Darling, where have you been? I’ve been so worried about you. Why are you so thin?”
“It’s not important, Mum. What is wrong with Dad?” I asked, head spinning. When was the last time I ate?
Mum stepped aside, and I looked into Dad’s pale face. His normally animated eyes were shut, and there was a strange slackness to his mouth.
“Dad?” I whispered, but there was no response. If it weren’t for the steady rise and fall of his chest, he could be dead.
“He’s had a stroke, Rose,” Mum said, a tremor in her voice. Mum, who was usually the strongest of us all, had tears in her eyes.
“Will he be okay?” I asked, terrified. I was expecting something to do with a magical curse, or something gone wrong at work, but this was much worse. Despite advances in magic, the only cure possible for a stroke was muggle rehabilitation and physiotherapy.
“Healer Harmsworth says he will recover in time, but won’t gain his full strength back. He’s woken up three times since I brought him here. He can’t speak, but I know he wanted you here.” There was reproach in Mum’s voice, and my eyes filled with tears.
“I’m so sorry, Dad,” I whispered, dropping into a chair and holding his hand. Mum came around and stood behind me, resting her hands on my shoulders.
“Everything will be okay, Rose. It’ll just take time. But it was such a shock. You’re here now though, and Dad will be okay – that’s the important thing.” She dropped a kiss on my forehead, muttered something about coffee, and left. I sighed, dropped my head onto the bed next to Dad’s chest and promptly fell asleep.
It was dark outside when I woke next, and Dad appeared unchanged. A small note was propped on his bedside table.
Rose, gone home for a shower and dinner. You have next week off school so don’t worry about classes. Hugo is with me. I’ll bring some clothes for you. Love Mum.
I crumpled the note and threw it away. Standing up with a stretch, I realised how quiet the ward was, and how incredibly, painfully hungry I was. My stomach was cramped and my head was spinning.
When was the last time I went for a run? I was suddenly panicked. Yes, Dad was in Mungo’s and very sick, but I hadn’t been for a run! I was distracted from my dilemma by the teeniest, tiniest movement from Dad. If I hadn’t been staring at him, I would have missed it. His little pinky twitched.
“Dad?” I asked, stepping towards him and touching his shoulder. His eyes fluttered and I held my breath, but that was it. I waited for a while longer before giving up and walking out of the ward. I didn’t leave him alone of course – there was a nurse sitting outside the door of the empty ward. Dad seemed to be the only patient in there.
“I’m just going to find something to eat,” I muttered to the nurse sitting outside, and she smiled at me. It was the same woman who brought me here. Her nametag read Nurse Peters. I was about to walk away, but remembered –
“Where are all the other patients? I’ve never seen such a quiet, empty Mungo’s ward.”
“Privacy, Miss Weasley. An important, famous family like yours, and Harry Potter visiting…” she trailed off, looking nervous as she said my uncle’s name. He made lots of people nervous, but to me he was just Uncle Harry who changed my nappies when I was a kid and gave me my first broomstick. I nodded, understanding.
“The press must be having a field day,” I sighed, and she nodded.
“Don’t worry, Miss Weasley. No one has been allowed in. But…” she trailed off again, handing me a copy of the Daily Prophet. I glanced at the cover and shut my eyes.
“Weasley on his deathbed, daughter nowhere to be found.”
“Yes, well,” I whispered, ashamed of my selfishness and stupidity. Albus was right – I was nothing but a child. Unable to form any words other than “Dad moved a few moments ago,” I walked away, dropping the newspaper from lifeless fingers.
I felt so numb. Sitting in the hospital cafeteria, turning an apple over in my hands, all I could think of was how much of a terrible person I was.
I was fighting with my boyfriend and my cousin, and probably Scorpius too. I’d left Dad on his own for almost the whole week without visiting. I wasn’t there for Mum when she needed me. Hugo was probably a mess, and I wasn’t there for him either.
Around me, people were whispering and throwing glances at me. I bit back a sigh and tried to put on a brave face. I took a tiny nibble of my apple, and my stomach cramped in response. I put it down and was about to stand up, when someone sat down opposite me.
I looked up into the blazing eyes of my brother. Uh oh…
“Not here, Hugo,” I hissed, trying to forestall what a knew would be a massive fight, but he shook his head slowly.
“What the fuck, Rose,” he said loudly, and I winced.
“I know, Hugh. Let’s go somewhere to talk. I –“
“I thought you were a good person. I thought you loved him. Where the hell were you?” He was almost shouting, and I stood up.
Someone had a camera out, and another person was taking notes. No reporters, my ass, I thought vehemently. Hugo was continuing to rant, and I was worried about what the people around us were hearing. I had always been the mature, press-ready person. Not that I cared how I was portrayed – I was more concerned about affecting my parent’s and aunt’s and uncle’s careers with thoughtless words.
Then I realised. My family was far more important than a stupid reporter elaborating on the truth; I looked at my brother, who was pale and unkempt, whose bottom lip was trembling, who looked like he hadn’t slept in a week.
I walked around the table and pulled him into a huge hug. He stopped talking and burst into tears.
“Where were you?” he sobbed into my neck, and I held him tighter.
“I’m so sorry, Hugh. I was being stupid and I didn’t even know Dad was sick. I promise. I’m here now,” I whispered, and led him out of the café and away from the gawking people, “Everything is going to be okay.”
But it wasn’t okay. Not even a little bit. A week later, after practically living in Mungo’s, Dad was finally showing some signs of improvement. Unfortunately, it was almost time for Hugo and I to go back to school.
The constant worrying about Dad and stress about my relationships back at Hogwarts and freaking out about what school work I was missing had really run me down. So when the girls suddenly turned up on Friday night, they found me curled up in a bed that I’d laboriously pulled up next to Dad, fast asleep. I woke up to whispers.
“Merlin, Mrs Weasley. I’m so sorry we didn’t think to tell you sooner. I mean, I knew she was getting thin, but I didn’t realise how much.” That was Callie. Who were they talking about?
“I’m so worried about her. Did you know she has a boyfriend? And her and Scorpius are friends? She’s changed so much this year.” Sophie.
“It’s okay, girls. I’ll have a chat to her later on. For now, maybe just let her sleep? There’s a games room upstairs if you get bored, and a few good muggle restaurants around.” That was Mum.
They were talking about me?
“I’m awake,” I mumbled, opening my eyes blearily. The three of them were standing around my bed; it was eerie, like I was the patient and not Dad.
“Hey, gorgeous,” Callie said with a small smile, and my best friends came forward and gave me a cuddle each. Merlin, I’d missed them. Sending letters all week just wasn’t the same. Mum drifted away to give us privacy, and I smiled at her. It was twilight outside, and the girls settled down on my bed with me.
“So, what have I missed?” I asked, “Everything is a complete mess, isn’t it?”
They didn’t meet my eyes, and I felt uncomfortable. “Scorpius must hate me,” I sighed, very bothered by the fact.
“What about Jake?” Callie blurted, obviously suddenly annoyed at me for some reason, “You care more about how things are between you and Malfoy, than between you and my brother? God, Rose.”
Without warning, my eyes filled up with tears and my lip trembled. Why was she being so mean to me?
“Callie, leave her alone. She’s been through a lot these last two weeks,” Sophie said reproachfully, putting an arm around my shoulders. But even she still wasn’t meeting my eyes.
“What’s going on with you two?” I asked when I was sure I’d gotten my emotions under control. What was with me lately? I was losing my head over everything.
“Nothing,” they said in unison, and I was even more annoyed. I sighed and looked away, noticing a paper sticking out of Sophie’s bag. I reached over and grabbed it, unfurling the front page.
“No!” Callie yelled, and I hushed her. I didn’t want her to disturb Dad, and if I wanted to read the Prophet then I was going to read the Prophet.
“Maybe that isn’t a good idea,” Sophie said in a small voice, and I rolled my eyes. I’d been reading about my family in the paper for the last two weeks, and mine and Hugo’s cafeteria conversation had already been well documented. But this title made my eyes widen.
"Daughter of the Golden Trio Wasting Away."
“Merlin, what is wrong with Lily?” I gasped, gripping the paper tightly.
“Not Lily, you idiot. You,” Callie said exasperated, and I raised an eyebrow.
Me? I was fine. Sure, I didn’t eat as much as I used to, but that didn’t mean I was wasting away.
Then I noticed that the article had a picture of me and Hugo at a family event from two years ago, as well as one taken in a Mungo’s corridor only yesterday. I remembered the Gryffindor jumper I had on, and my scrappy old jeans. So what if there was a marked difference in my weight? It wasn’t anyone’s business.
“So what have I missed in class?” I asked, dropping the paper over the side of the bed. The girls were eyeing me like I was going to explode, and I bit back a sigh at their antics. I wasn’t going to freak out over a stupid newspaper article.
“Not much, it’s been mostly revision. After all, we do have Christmas holidays in a few weeks’ time.” Sophie was relieved as she said this, glad the conversation had turned to less dangerous topics. Callie had other ideas in mind though.
“The school is still talking about that fight between you and Jake in the great hall. You’re a right bint, you know that?” she said vehemently, and I stared at her. Her eyes were angry, and that made me angry.
“Do you even know what your charming brother said to me?” I hissed, and she shrugged.
“He accused me of cheating on him with Malfoy of all people! How dare he!”
“That’s not entirely unfounded, considering how you guys spend your spare time having eye sex,” she rolled her eyes, and my hand twitched.
I will not slap her I will not slap her. Instead, I allowed my mouth to drop open and I stared at her.
“You bitch. How dare you even say that? Malfoy and I have never done anything of the sort (how do you even have eye sex?). I thought you guys were here to help me, but apparently not. Feel free to leave,” I hissed, sliding off the bed and determinedly walking around Dad to sit beside his bed.
I heard Callie’s customary heels ringing out against the tiles as she stalked away, but Sophie came round to where I was sitting.
“Honey, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know she was going to be like that,” she whispered, touching my shoulder, “She’s just been so worried about you and your Dad, and we have to remember that Jake is her brother.”
I shrugged her hand off. “She has a strange way of showing her concern. I’ll see you on Monday at school. As weird as it sounds, I don’t really feel like talking to anyone right now,” I muttered sarcastically.
Putting my arms on Dad’s bed, I lay my head down and blocked out the world. I felt a light butterfly kiss on my cheek from Sophie, and then she was gone too.
This time when I slept, I dreamed. I was on my broomstick and reaching out to the stars. I sensed someone flying behind me and glanced back to see Scorpius’ short blonde hair and shining eyes. When I turned around I grabbed at the stars and finally caught one. But it burned bright and hot, so very painful. I let it go, and fell back down to earth. With Malfoy up in the stars, there was no one on the ground to catch me.
“Rosie. my girl,” a mumbled, difficult-to-understand voice woke me up, “Hi.”
I opened my eyes to see Dad looking at me through half-lidded eyes. His breathing was laboured from concentrating on speaking, but his eyes were smiling at me. They were the first words he’d said to me because I had been elsewhere any other time he’d been awake. Happy but distressed, I burst into tears, and climbed into bed beside him.
“I missed you Daddy. Welcome back.”
Love rule #11 – Your mother may love you, but that doesn’t mean she likes you
The Hogwarts Express was just pulling out of the station to go home for Christmas, when I realised I had nowhere to sit. Putting a blank expression over roiling emotions, I pulled my trunk through the train until I found a blessedly empty compartment. A group of girls skipped by laughing merrily, and I scowled.
“Why are you in here looking like the Grinch?” a familiar voice asked. I smiled up at the only person who could make me smile these days. Scorpius sat down opposite me, but I noticed he didn’t have his trunk.
“Where are the others, then?” I asked, and he looked uncomfortable.
“In the compartment next to you, actually. It’s just not the same without you in there. Remember at the start of the year, when you found out that I was head boy?” he asked, trying to break the tension. It worked – I laughed for the first time in a long time.
“I’ve missed that sound,” he said softly, and my heart stopped beating. Merlin, Malfoy could make me blush!
“You’re coming around at Christmas time, yeah?” I asked, ignoring my heart failure.
“When have I not?” Being Al's best friend, he always managed to turn up at family events, especially the ones involving copius amounts of food. I heard an outburst of laughter in the next carriage over, and winced.
“True. This is going to be an awful Christmas,” I sighed, and he shrugged. Pulling out a deck of exploding snap, he leaned forward and conjured a small table. He placed the cards down and cut the pack.
“It’ll be fine. Chocolate frog?” He pulled a pack from his other pocket, and I stared at him.
“Anything else in there? An armchair? Three course meal?”
He laughed, and I savoured the sound like the creepy person I am.
“No, just your two favourite things,” he replied, offering me the pack of frogs. I shook my head and he stared at me.
“Just had breakfast,” I mumbled in explanation, and it was his turn to shake his head.
“You weren’t at breakfast this morning. Or at dinner last night. What’s going on –“
“SNAP!” I yelled to distract him, and the pack of cards exploded. He grinned at me, but his eyes looked troubled.
“You’re not going to beat me that easily!”
So I’ll admit it. That train ride was the best one of my life. It was still difficult for me to get my head around that the person who drove me craziest these last several years was now the one keeping me anchored to reality. Scorp made me forget for eight hours that my friends were falling apart and my dad required constant care these days.
Arriving at King’s Cross was depressing though. Our respective Potter and Weasley parents were standing in a large, conspicuous group and there was no way I could avoid the others now. Depressingly, Mum was standing alone this year looking a little lost without Dad.
“Hiya, Mum,” I said, bounding up to her and squeezing her tight. Stop thinking about Dad! Focus on me, forget for a few hours, I willed her silently, and I was rewarded with a smile.
“Hello darling, I missed you. Hugo! Hello my babies,” she crooned, cuddling Hugo now.
I watched over her shoulder as Albus walked up to Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny with Callie in tow, and managed to close my mouth which had dropped open in surpise.
“Mum, Dad, I want you to meet Callie. My girlfriend.”
Callie blushed prettily, and I stared. Albus had never introduced a girlfriend to his parents ever. My aunt and uncle were perfectly polite, looking pleased. I saw Sophie saying goodbye to Fred and she walked through the barrier alone to meet her muggle parents.
“Callie is going to come for Christmas lunch, if that’s okay,” Albus was still saying.
“Of course, dear. The more the merrier!” Aunt Ginny, the traitor, said. I almost moaned in horror. This was going to be the most awkward Christmas lunch in the world.
“And her twin is coming as well,” he continued, and I resisted jumping back onto the Hogwarts Express to spend Christmas with the house elves. I spotted Jake lurking behind the group, and I glared when he met my eyes. He looked away uncomfortably as I seethed.
Maybe I was coming down with a deadly illness. Perhaps I could convince Hugo’s pet tarantulaculas to bite me.
“Oh, and our other friend Sophie is coming too!” Albus exclaimed, and my aunt and uncle looked amused.
“Any other strays you’re going to invite?” Harry asked with a grin, and everyone laughed. Yeah, laugh it up. Have fun. Bints. Prats. Worse Christmas ever.
By the time I’d raced up to my room, changed out of my school uniform and slid down the stair rails (hey, crappy Christmas or no crappy Christmas, it was still my favourite event of the year!), Hugo was already in the kitchen having a chat to Dad.
I stopped at the kitchen door and watched them. Dad was wheelchair bound, his face still drooping and unfamiliar. Even his vibrant red hair was drooping today. Hugo was seated at the kitchen table, leaning forward and helping Dad drink his tea, all while continuing to chatter on.
“Kayla is really great, Dad. I’ve invited her to Christmas at Nana’s on Friday with everyone. Only three more days until you get to meet her! She doesn’t like Rose though, but no one likes Rose right now.”
Dad tried to talk, but Hugo just kept making him drink tea.
“Slow down, Hugo!” I said, walking in. If he kept it up, Dad would drown. We’d both done a quick course on how to care for a disabled person when Dad was still in hospital, so Hugo should have known better. My happy mood vanished as quickly as it appeared (these mood swings were exhausting me), but I forced a smile on my face for Dad.
“Hey, Papa. I missed you,” I said, kissing him on his head and wrapping my arms around his shoulders. He gave me a lopsided smile.
“I was doing fine, Rose,” Hugo protested. I rolled my eyes and sat down next to him, shushing him as Dad opened his mouth to speak.
“Too skinny,” he mumbled in a garbled voice, and I bit back a sigh.
“I’m fine, Dad. Hugo’s just been stressing me out all term,” I said, nudging my brother playfully. Normally he would play along, but today he glared at me and scooted away. My heart sank. I guess I still wasn’t forgiven in his eyes. I stayed for only a few more minutes. Watching Dad’s slow movements and difficulty with speech was breaking my heart.
Determined to clear my head, I pulled on my running shoes and went for the longest run I could get away with.
All too soon, it was Christmas day and we prepared to head to Nana’s house for lunch with every Weasley on earth. I cornered Hugo after we did family presents that morning. I’d gotten him the very expensive quiddich book he’d been lusting after, and he got me a card.
“Hugo, can we not put aside whatever is shitting you, and just have a nice day?” I said, grabbing his arm as he went to shower.
“Some things just aren’t easily forgiven, sis,” he muttered, wrenching his arm away and slamming the door. I sighed and went back to my room. He was clearly still seething about my absence from Mungo's.
Mum was getting Dad ready, and I had nothing to do but wait for the shower to be free. I sat down in front of my dresser and gazed in the mirror. I’d really stopped looking after myself these last few weeks. My skin was dry and flaky, my hair was limp and dull, and I had scary circles under my eyes.
Rummaging through my draws for products, I quickly moisturised my face and put product in my hair to make it shiny. Make up would help my eyes after my shower. What felt like hours later, Hugo finally emerged from the bathroom and I growled at him as I slammed the door. Following the ‘beauty regime’ Sophie created for me months ago, which I’d been ignoring lately, I washed the gunk out of my hair, shaved my legs, exfoliated, the whole lot - I would be seeing Scorpius and my estranged friends today after all. I emerged from the steaming shower feeling better than I had in a long time.
“We have to go in twenty minutes, Rose!” Mum called out as I opened the bathroom door. I cursed and sprinted to my room. Whipping out my wand, I quickly dried my body and hair, threw on my white stockings and grabbed my dress from where it was hanging in the closest and slipped it on.
It was a Christmas present from Mum – a pale green tunic dress with flowers embroidered on the sleeves. Very beautiful, but a size too big. I craned my neck around to look at the tag – size 8. I grinned, amazed. I’ve never fitted into a size 8 in my life! I quickly shrunk it around my waist where it was too baggy, and looked in the mirror. Maybe everyone was right. I was a bit thin. Perhaps I could keep running and just eat more? So long as I didn’t get fat again.
“Rose, ten minutes!” Mum yelled, banging on my door as she walked past. I cursed yet again, grabbing my wand and curling my hair around it. More hair product, moisturiser, make up and a charm on my nails to make them long and strong again. I’d been biting them down to the quick lately, and they were getting weak and flaky. I surveyed my handiwork and nodded, satisfied. My hair was shining and lovely once more, hanging almost to my waist. The bags under my eyes had been reduced, the dress fitted perfectly and I thought that maybe, for once in my life, I looked beautiful. If I’m facing all of my ‘friends’ and family on a day like today, I wanted to look good for it.
“Okay, we’re going!” I heard Hugo call from downstairs. I grabbed my coat from the closet, sprayed on some deodorant and slipped on my ankle boots.
“Here I am!” I called, sliding down the stair rails once more. Mum tutted and smiled at me, and I grabbed a handful of floo powder. Hugo and I would be flooing, while Mum and Dad drove over. Wheelchairs couldn’t go through a fireplace.
“See you in a few minutes,” I said, bending down to kiss Dad. I grabbed Hugo’s hand, threw the floo powder into the fire and jumped in.
“The Burrow!” we yelled in unison, and I didn’t even have a chance to acknowledge the stab of dread and hunger in my belly before we were spat out into a room full of rowdy, redhaired people.
I noticed several things at one time. As I straightened up and pulled my dress down, I met Scorpius’ eyes across the room. The world stood still as he held my gaze. His eyes were wide with something uncomprehendable, and he mouthed “You look beautiful.”
I blushed and looked away, only to see Albus and Callie talking to Poppa Weasley. He was laughing at something she said, and I felt a stab of ridiculous jealousy.
He’s my grandfather!
She briefly glanced over and met my eyes. To my surprise, instead of her usual sneer of late, her eyes filled with tears and she looked down. Before I could ponder that, Nana Molly bustled over.
“Hugo! Rose! Merry Christmas, dears. I can’t wait to get some roast into you, Rose. You look positively starved!” she cried, bundling us into a cuddle. Hugo edged away from me and fled across the room to Uncle George.
“Hi Nana, Merry Christmas,” I said halfheartedly, and she patted my hand before turning to the new arrivals, Percy and Audrey. I rolled my eyes and wandered into the kitchen. The smells of roasting and baking almost made me cry, it all smelt that delicious. Maybe I could have a whole plate of food today?
“Hello dear,” a voice said from the table, and I saw Aunt Ginny seated with a cup of tea.
She was talking to Sophie, and I smiled at my aunt. She noticed that I didn’t even acknowledge Sophie and raised an eyebrow at me.
“Merry Christmas, Aunty,” I said, walking over and pouring myself a glass of water. Water would fill me up and help me ignore the divine cooking smells. Before I could sit down, Jake walked in and so I walked straight out. He made my skin crawl, with the way he looked at me these days.
Mum and Dad were just arriving through the front door, and everyone crowded around Dad. Through the commotion, I almost didn’t notice Hugo’s girlfriend slip in behind them. She met my eyes and turned white. I forced a smile at her, sick of being regarded like a freak. She just squeaked and disappeared, no doubt to find Hugo, sneaky little bint.
Freddy appeared out of nowhere, and shocked me by wrapping me in a cuddle. “Merry Christmas, skinny Rose,” he said with a smile, and I clung to him. I couldn’t let go of him for fear of him seeing my teary eyes. Of course Freddy would get over everything on Christmas day, he was just that kind of guy.
“Merry Christmas Freddy,” I whispered, tearing myself away and disappearing upstairs. There was just too much going on down there; people everywhere, food, hateful friends and family. Happy people who didn’t see how torn apart I was. I carefully wiped my eyes on some tissue and retouched my make up with supplies that I’d shoved in my handbag before leaving home.
There was a knock at the door, and I sighed. Time to face the world again, and it was only eleven thirty. I opened the door to admit Scorpius. He stood there with worry on his face and two glasses of champagne.
“Can I come in?”
“Into the bathroom?”
“Good point. Join me out the back? Your genius grandpa put heating charms everywhere.”
I nodded, took the proffered glass of alcohol and followed him down the stairs. He’d had a haircut, I noticed. I half reached out a hand to run it through his soft-looking hair, but pulled back just in time.
“Your hair is shorter,” I blurted. He paused and looking at me.
“Your hair is longer,” he said, question in his voice. I shrugged.
“I notice these things,” I muttered, and he smiled at me. The world is a better place when he does that.
“And I notice things about you. New dress?”
I nodded, and we reached the lounge room. Callie and Albus were still joined at the hip, and this time it was him who met my eyes. He began to smile, before remembering we were fighting. We never fight, you see, so I think he finds it hard to figure that we’re not meant to be speaking. I raised an eyebrow at him and he almost laughed. Shaking his head, he turned away.
Just as Scorpius went to open the back door, Nana’s magnified voice boomed through the house. “Everyone to the dinner table!”
I sighed, head dropping. I needed to have a good chat with Scorpius - this was going to be a painful lunch. Malfoy squeezed my shoulder before walking ahead to catch up with Albus. The dining room was magically enlarged to accommodate everyone. I seated myself as far away from my friends as possible, and looked up only when Dad wheeled into the empty space next to me. I put my hand on his knee, and he squeezed it feebly.
Mum sat on my other side and leaned forward to whisper in my ear. “Are you going to tell me why you aren’t speaking to any of your friends, or do I have to lock you all in a room to so that you can fight it out?”
I sighed and shrugged away from her. But she wasn’t finished yet. “You may think we have no idea what’s going on with you Rose, but I talk to your professors on a weekly basis these days. I don’t want to have this conversation at our Christmas dinner, but believe me when I say that your father and I are going to sit here and watch you eat every morsel of food I put on your plate.”
I swallowed nervously and went to stand up, but Mum’s firm hand on my shoulder kept me in my place. I took a nervous gulp of champagne, managing to drain the glass, and it refilled itself.
“I’m perfectly fine Mum. There’s no need for any of this,” I protested feebly, but she shook her head.
“If that’s the case, then it won’t be any problem for your father and I to sit here.”
I looked pleadingly at Dad, but he gave me his droopy smile and shrugged. I sighed and glared at my currently empty plate. Around us, every seat was filled and there was laughter and talking everywhere but our miserable corner of the table. Further down, my cousin Lily who I’d barely seen all term was talking loudly.
“I’ve got a tryout for Puddlemere United in the summer,” she was boasting to anyone who was listening, her dark hair shining and eyes merry. I’ve always been jealous but proud of my cousin. She was a complete natural on a broomstick, and absolutely stunningly beautiful. Two years younger than me and already taller than my 5’9”, I’ve never known someone more sure of themselves than little Lily Potter.
“Like you’ll get it,” Al snorted, and Lily threw a pea at him. Before an all-out food fight could start, Nana waved her wand and everyone’s plates filled up. I looked at mine in dread. Meat, potatoes, dressing, pumpkin.
But seeing Nana wave her wand at the food struck me with an idea. I carefully eased my wand out of my pocket, making sure Mum was occupied with Aunt Angelina on her other side. As I reached towards Dad’s knife and fork to help him eat, I cast a vanishing spell at my potatoes. Glancing around to make sure everyone was preoccupied and hadn’t noticed anything, I allowed myself a few moments of victory. Yes!
“Here, Daddy,” I said, spearing some meat from his plate and holding it to his mouth. He looked at me gratefully, no doubt wanting to shove it all in his face like he normally did - which gave me another idea. Still holding his knife and fork, I cut up all the food on my plate to make it messy and confusing, and scooped up some of my potatoes. Waiting until Dad finished chewing and swallowing, I offered him the potato. His eyes lit up, and he couldn’t eat it fast enough.
So between vanishing my food on my plate and feeding it to Dad, I worked steadily through it all without taking a single bite. I glanced up when about three quarters was gone, to meet Malfoy’s eyes. He raised both eyebrows at me this time, which was a first, looking pointedly at my plate. I flushed and hoped he wouldn’t say anything. Thank Merlin he was much further down the table.I turned my eyes resolutely from him and continued to help Dad. When it was finally all gone, I took a long sip of champagne. There were a lot of calories in alcohol, but I considered it my reward for not eating any lunch.
Finally, finally everyone had finished scraping every last morsel of food from the plates, the pigs. We were all released to mingle and get pissed. I drifted away from the table, no particular destination in mind. My stomach cramped painfully, but my head spun happily.
“Rose, can you grab me some tissues from the bathroom?” Mum said, looking shifty as we went to sit down on a lounge. I raised an eyebrow.
“Okay… Just summon them?” I asked, taking my wand out.
“No! No, just go get them please,” she said, turning away. I stared at her back. The most brilliant witch of her age couldn’t accio a box of tissues. Shrugging, I trudged upstairs wondering where the world was going to.
I reached the landing and wrenched open the bathroom door. Not looking as I took a step in, I jumped in surprise as the door slammed shut behind me and locked with a loud click. Blinking in surprise, I took note of everything around me.
“Hello, Rose,” Albus said dryly from the bath. He and Callie were seated in the empty bath, legs hanging over the side. Sophie was leaning against the wall next to it. Jake was sitting on the ground next to her, Freddie had his bum up on the sink and Scorpius was sitting on the toilet with the cover thankfully down. Hugo was sitting in the shower, and his girlfriend had her back against a counter. I sighed.
“It appears we’ve been locked in,” Freddie rumbled in his deep voice. Albus rolled his eyes.
“Thanks, Captain Obvious.”
I refrained from banging my head against the locked door, at least thankful to any god listening that I still had my re-filling glass of champagne.
After taking out my wand and trying spell after spell against the lock, I grudgingly admitted that perhaps Hermione Weasley truly was the greatest witch of her age, even if she did refuse to accio the bloody box of damn tissues. I finally gave up on the door with a great sigh, turning around and sliding to the floor.
“Lucky your nana is a cleaning freak,” Sophie said, surveying the clean bathroom, and there was a silence.
“This is really awkward,” Albus said, and I threw the doorstop at him. He wasn’t helping the situation. It bounced off his head and hit Callie, and I couldn’t help but giggle at their shocked faces.
Then, they relaxed and smiled, but everything was still tense and awkward. Jake was sitting directly opposite me, shoulders hunched.
“I think we all know why we’re in here,” Callie said, but Hugo shook his head.
“Me and Kayla have nothing to do with this. Hell, I doubt she even knows any of your names!” he protested, and we three girls snorted before staring at each other in surprise.
Don’t get too comfortable Rose. A few shared moments doesn’t mean anything is forgiven.
Yeah, right,” Sophie muttered, and Hugo frowned.
“What are they talking about, Kayla?” he asked, and she didn’t meet his eyes. As he opened his mouth to say something, Jake blurted out, “Rose I’m so sorry for what I said to you, and for not trusting you.”
He turned red and looked back at the tiles in front of him. I just shook my head, not ready to let him off that easily.
“I’m sorry for getting angry at you at Mungo’s, especially when you dad was in the bed next to us,” Callie grudgingly muttered, “I was just so worried about you, Rose. Look how skinny you’re getting!”
“I’m sorry for yelling at you at the lake, and calling you childish. Even if you did throw sand at me,” Albus said, meeting my eyes. Merlin, I’ve missed him.
“I’m sorry for kissing Malfoy and letting you see it,” Sophie piped up, and everyone stared at her.
“You did what?” Freddie hissed, looking shocked. Sophie’s eyes filled with tears.
“It didn’t mean anything,” she said, gazing at Freddie. Her heart was on her sleeve, and I was even more confused as to why she kissed Scorpius. Albus obviously shared my concerns.
“So you guys snogged because why, exactly?”
Sophie didn’t say anything, but just looked at Scorpius. He turned uncharacteristically pink, and despite the situation I giggled softly. Whoever knew a Malfoy could be embarrassed?
“We were helping each other,” he muttered, and Freddie laughed bitterly.
“Helping you? Merlin, Scorp – the world knows I’m in love with Sophie. You’re my best mate, how could you go behind my back – all our backs - and do that?” he hissed.
Sophie’s eyes grew round, and she stared at Freddie.
“You – you what?” she asked in a trembling voice, eyes flashing - in anger. to my surprise. "You hook up with other girls at parties and still think everyone knows you love me? That's news to me." Freddie flushed and threw a sheepish look at her.
“Well, I-" but he was interrupted by Albus who was still looking at Scorpius.
“Helping each other with what, Scorpius?” he asked with a frown.
“Helping each other to see if we could get over... respective people,” he muttered. Everyone elses’ confusion seemingly disappeared, and even Freddie looked pacified. However, my confusion only deepened - I figured that Sophie wanted to get over Freddie-the-brainless-player, but who did Scorpius want to get over? And how exactly was kissing each other going to help?
“This is great and all, but me and Kayla don’t need to hear any of this lovey-dovey bullocks,” Hugo’s loud voice interrupted, and I sighed.
“I can’t believe you’re still with her,” Callie said, staring the smaller girl down.
“Don’t speak to her like that!” Hugo yelled, and even Sophie rolled her eyes this time.
“Are you going to tell him, or do you want us to?” she asked Kayla, almost kindly. I noticed the mean gleam in her eyes however.
“I- I – I don’t want-“ the girl stuttered, and I was sick of listening to it. How dare she stand there, leading my brother on and pretending to be perfect.
“It was me who hexed her, Hugo,” I said loudly. The room went silent – none of the boys knew that little tidbit of information.
“What?” Hugo asked, deceptively quiet.
“It was me. That girl is a lying, creepy little bint who-“
“Shut up, Rose!” Hugo exploded, whipping his wand out. I sighed and rubbed my eyes, careful to not smudge any make up.
I took a fortifying gulp of champagne and said, “I found her in a broom closet with another guy.”
“Stop lying to me! You’re a horrible person, Rose Weasley! I hate you,” he screamed at me, throwing daggers into my heart with his words, “You lie about everything! You still haven’t even said where you were the week Dad got sick.”
At those words, everyone nodded in agreement. Hey, we were meant to be taking the little bint down! Kayla looked smug, and I gazed at her flatly until she turned pale and gulped.
“Fine! I was in my room, okay?” I finally said, and was met with raised eyebrows and eye rolls.
“See what I mean, guys? She’s full of crap,” Hugo said bitterly, still red in the face.
“I’ll take a truth veritaserum and repeat those words,” I said quietly, “After Albus finished tearing down every ounce of self-confidence that I had left-“ he at least looked a bit ashamed at that – “I went up to my room. Scorpius saw me when I walked through the common room. I didn’t get out of bed for four days.”
There was silence as Scorpius nodded in confirmation, and I continued. “None of you even came to check on me. Sure, you sent me a single letter each, but that was it. There was no knock on my door, no checking to see if I was still alive. I get that I don’t matter to anyone, but it still hurt.”
“But – but why would you do that?” Callie asked, for once looking unsure.
“Because I couldn’t see any point in getting out of bed and going to class. I still don’t see the point.”
There was more silence.
“I can’t believe that Rose Weasley doesn’t see the point of getting out of bed in the morning,” Albus said, looking aghast. I shrugged, embarrassed to have said so much. Hugo was gazing at me, but I ignored him.
“I’m sorry I took that tosser to the Halloween party,” Sophie said to Freddie, who smiled adoringly at her.
“I wanted to shove his head into a cauldron of whatever potion I could get my hands on,” he replied, still smiling – it was rather off-putting.
“Wait, what about her!” Callie said, pointing at Kayla. Hugo was instantly angry again, and I took a sip of champagne.
“She wouldn’t do that to me,” he said, and Kayla at least had the good sense to look ashamed.
“Why don’t you listen to me, Hugo? She’s a cheater!” I yelled, temper finally snapping.
“You always want to believe the worst in people, Rose. You don’t want anyone to be better than you! Kayla wouldn’t do something like that!” he yelled back.
“Actually, she’s right. I was in a broom closest with Nelson Carter, and she sprung us. The bitch put that hex on me,” the girl finally said, and everyone stared at her. What a nasty piece of work.
“But – but-“ Hugo stuttered, the truth finally getting to him. Instead of getting angry at the right person, he rounded on me again. “You still lied to me! Every single day when I asked about the hex, you said you didn’t know anything. It was you all along! I don’t even know you anymore, and you’re meant to be my sister,” he said bitterly.
“Hang on, shouldn’t you be angry at her?” Sophie said, glaring at Kayla. The girl shrank back and pretended to be invisible.
Rolling my eyes, I cast a silencing spell on Kayla so we could effectively ignore her for however long it took to sort this mess out. Hugo opened his mouth to yell some more, but I cast the same spell on him too. He glared at me and crossed his arms. I could practically hear his silent “Hmph!” as he settled back to watch the proceedings. Their part in this was over.
“I think it’s time to address the big blue elephant standing in the corner,” I said, looking pointedly at Callie and Albus’ intertwined fingers.
They both flushed, and I, feeling emboldened by my handy glass of refilling champagne, said, “They’re lying to all of you. They’re only dating to make Sophie jealous.”
“Huh? Why would I be jealous? I don’t even like Albus,” Sophie said, looking confused.
“Yes, and that’s why it’s the stupidest idea I’ve heard in my life,” I said, glaring at Albus.
“Shut up, Rose. Sophie would have come round eventually if you hadn’t fucked everything up,” he said, all previous apologies thrown out the window.
Freddie frowned, and Callie looked hurt.
“Sophie is mine, jackass. Everyone knows that. Besides, that's actually the dumbest idea in the world. How exactly was it going to work?” he said, glaring at Albus.
“Hang on, no one owns me! Espcially not you, Freddie! I spent the whole year liking you and you never did anything!" Sophie protested, and Freddie rolled his eyes.
"Well it takes two to make a relationship, Soph. You could have said something to me."
Everyone ignored them and looked back at Albus and Callie.
“What about me!” Callie cried, looking at Albus with wounded eyes. Al looked uncomfortable, letting go of her hand.
Callie’s mouth dropped open, and she turned pale.
“You knew what you were agreeing to,” he said awkwardly, not meeting her eyes. Callie started crying, which I think shocked me more than Al’s cold brutality – Callista Mays never cries.
“You jerk,” Sophie said coldly, “I would never love someone who would use my best friend like that.”
And for an instant, we were all united with our mutual dislike of my idiot cousin. Really, couldn't he see that neither of them were pretending to be in love anymore, but actually truly were?
Albus looked lost for words, but then rounded on Scorpius.
“You!” he yelled, and the blonde raised an eyebrow. I drained my glass and sat back to watch the proceedings. Callie was still crying, but I couldn’t help think, told you so - because I did.
As if she sensed my thoughts, the taller blonde girl narrowed her still-leaking eyes at me, and with a sigh I knew my part in this wasn’t over.
“If you had just told Rose in the first place, none of this would be happening!” Al was yelling at the seemingly-blameless Scorpius. Malfoy sighed, looking uncomfortable.
“Told Rose what?” I asked, but was ignored by all.
“If you grew some balls, Jake wouldn’t have even been on the scene,” Al continued to yell.
“Leave him alone, Al. You’ve already done enough damage today,” I said.
“Of course you would defend him, Rose!”
“What’s that meant to mean?”
“The whole world knows that you two are destined for each other. If you just stop being so stupid, all of this could end and life would go on!” he yelled, not making any sense.
Malfoy met my eyes, looking nervous. I rolled my eyes at Albus, shaking my head.
“How many times do I have to tell you, Scorpius and I will never be together. We’re just friends!” I exclaimed. Jake snorted, and I resisted hexing him.
“What,” I said to the boy sitting opposite me, “Have something else to say about this? You haven’t finished being a clingy, annoying idiot?”
“Don’t talk to my brother like that,” Callie hissed, “You used him as much as Albus used me.” Her voice broke at the end, and I sighed.
“But I broke up with him, Callie. It’s different. He’s a jerk,” I said, glaring at Jake. He looked hurt, but I ignored him.
“This is ridiculous!” Sophie screamed over the top of all the raised voices, “We’re meant to be friends! We’re meant to be fixing everything! Just stop fighting, please,” she begged, ever the peace maker. I shook my head.
“Some things go beyond fixing,” I said, standing up on unsteady feet. My stomach lurched uncomfortably in hunger, and I swayed slightly. Shutting my eyes and steadying myself by putting a hand against the wall, everyone’s angry voices disappeared as my vision wavered between black and white. A few seconds of disorientation, and it passed.
“Rosie, are you okay?” Freddie asked from the sink. He reached out a hand, and I snatched my arm away.
“I’m fine, but I’m sick of you lot. Have a very Merry Christmas,” I yelled, wrenching the door open. I’d heard the lock turn a few minutes back, thank Merlin.
I guess Mum didn’t want a death in the family on Christmas day.
I stomped down the stairs, angrier than I’d ever been in my life. Mum looked up hopefully as I walked into the lounge room. She was sitting with my aunts, probably having a cosy little chat about all of us. She took in my pale face and no doubt frazzled appearance, and a frown creased her pretty forehead.
“I hope you’re happy, Mum! You have no idea what’s going on, so for future reference, don’t even bother getting involved.”
The room was silent as red heads of hair turned to stare at me, and I was absolutely sick of everyone in the house. I dropped the glass of champagne onto a side table and I pushed my way to the merrily crackling fire. Grabbing a handful of floo powder, I spun dizzily past fireplace after fireplace.
In every fire that I passed, I saw scenes of happiness. It was like a movie; a small laughing family sitting around a table wearing muggle Christmas hats, a couple making love on the carpet, two kids ripping paper off presents so fast that it went everywhere, an elderly man kissing his wife on the cheek as she breathed with the help of a muggle machine.
I stumbled out of the fireplace at home, by now sobbing. Why was everything going so wrong? Things used to be perfect until this year.
I ran upstairs to my room and threw myself on my bed, wincing as I landed on something hard. I pulled a wrapped present from underneath my leg and looked at it, still sniffing. It didn't have a tag, and Dad's advice paused my hand for only a moment - "If you don't know where it originated from, don't open it." I sighed and srugged.
Pulling back the paper with trembling fingers, I unwrapped a beautiful, deep red photo album.
Turning page after page, I was confronted with images of my best friends at the beach in summer, at our get-together with everyone, Albus being a prat in the school gym, Scorpius and I with our arms thrown around each other and dressed as vampires at Halloween, all of us on our broomsticks the day they taught me to fly.
I touched each picture with reverent fingers, sick of crying. I remembered how Sophie asked if she could borrow my camera for a school assignment a few months ago and smiled. It was the most beautiful present I’d ever been given.
Turning more pages, I came to a picture taken years ago; Callie, Sophie, Albus, Scorpius, Freddie and I were seated on a wall near Hagrid’s house. I remembered how I didn’t want to sit next to Scorp, but impatient Hagrid just wanted to take the picture and get back to his pumpkins. I looked at our chubby, happy faces and couldn’t help but grin.
Scorp was looking at me cross eyed, and every now and then I’d stop smiling into the camera to turn to him and stick my tongue out.
I lay back on my bed, cradling the photo album. A tiny spark of hope kindled in my chest, and I fell asleep early in the afternoon with my arms wrapped around the little book. Maybe there would be a second chance for all of us one day soon.
Love rule # 12 - Bros before, erm.. for lack of a better word, pick axes
It was only a few weeks after Christmas, and Hogwarts was still in the grip of an icy winter. Snow still fell steadily over Scotland, and snowball fights were prone to break out between classes. Filch was spending his hours warming up the resident gargoyles and paintings. In the greenhouses, the plants were wrapped up in scarves and beanies.
Professor Longbottom was brandishing such a wrapped up plant and talking at the front of the green house. Students were in various states of attentiveness - to anyone watching they would have seen me; studious, serious, attentive, seemingly unaffected by the events of the last month and paying close attention to the fanged geranium at the front.
Really, I was trying not to cry. I could see Callie and Soph out of the corner of my eye, and both were determinedly ignoring me. Longbottom’s words floated past me and all I could think of was how everything, everthing had gone wrong.
“Your exams will be starting in almost four months!” Professor Longbottom was saying, squeezing the fanged geranium for emphasis.
It gave a loud hiss!, startling many people out of their reveries. I kept my eyes straight ahead, knowing that if I looked at Callie or Soph then I would burst into tears. I closed my eyes briefly, and a certain blonde-haired-blue-eyed boy popped into my mind.
The winter ball was looming, and I was starting to panic. I knew that I didn’t need to find a date – after all, I did have to open it with Scorpius. Poor thing, stuck with me.
Professor Longbottom threw me a startled glance as I stood up abruptly.
I nodded to him, gathered my gear and walked out of class. Callie didn’t even look at me, still heartbroken over her fake relationship breakup. Storming my way to the library, I threw my books down on a table and sat with my head in my hands. What a mess.
Normally I’d be panicking with the girls about a dress, hair and makeup, but apart from awkward nods in the halls (hey, at least we weren’t ignoring each other anymore!), we still weren’t speaking. Even though I was stressed out of my brain about schoolwork and had a million and one things to do, I was now determined to fix everything after opening my photo album after the Big Fight.
I didn’t go through seven years of schooling with them all only to lose them at the end.
After the disaster that was Christmas day, I don’t think anyone had it in them to speak. Sophie and Freddie were ignoring each other, which frustrated the magic out of me. I just couldn’t believe how oblivious he was to her affections, and that he was such an idiot - but perhaps I’m biased in honour of my once-best friend. Speaking of affection (or lack-thereof), Hugo and Kayla officially broke up, thank Merlin. She was such a bint. Hugo still blamed everything on me though, which was incredibly frustrating.
“Hey Rose, check this out,” Scorpius murmured. We were in an empty classroom, going over the final details of the ball. He’d been acting strange around me lately. Sometimes he wouldn’t speak to me all day, and other times he chattered almost nervously.
I looked up from where I was working on the rounds roster to meet his intense gaze. My stomach lurched and I smiled at him. And he blushed again, just like in the bathroom at Christmas. I liked this new Scorpius; it was nice to see that he was just as crazy as the rest of us.
“Check what out?” I asked, and he held up a poster. It was an elegant white and gold affair, full of beautiful cursive writing. “The Annual Winter Ball” was emblazoned across the top, and I loved it immediately.
“I’m sure all the females will love it, but I don’t think something that pretty will draw the guys in,” I said, reaching out to touch the charmed gold writing. It faded in and out, drawing the eye.
“I know. That’s why I added the last bit,” he said with a cheeky grin. I glanced at the bottom of the page. Written underneath a slowly rotating couple was “Free alcohol, food and entertainment.” I laughed.
“That’s genius. You’re amazing Scorp!”
“Hey,” he said, somewhat hesitantly, “You don’t mind going with me, do you?”
I snorted. “Like I have a choice! We’re stuck with each other.”
He stuck his tongue out at me, and I sighed, struck by a thought. “I will admit, I’m bloody nervous about the dancing bit. I’m such a klutz, I’m sure to fall flat on my face and embarrass myself.”
“You’ll embarrass me, too!”
“Prat. Maybe I should take some dance lessons.”
He stared at me, raising an eyebrow. “You really don’t know how to dance?”
“Of course I don’t. No one does these days.”
“I know how to dance,” he said with a shrug, not the least bit embarrassed, “Learnt when I was a kid.”
“Great, now I really will look like an idiot,” I sighed, maybe a little bit impressed.
“Want me to teach you? We can just do a basic step, nothing too fancy,” he offered, putting the poster down amid all of our mess – rosters, ball plans, detention lists. My eyes lit up.
“Oh would you? That would be brilliant, Scorp, thank you!” I exclaimed, and he smiled his ‘I like to make Rose’s heart stop beating’ smile. He stood up and magicked some desks out of the way.
“What are you doing?” I asked, putting aside my rounds roster. We’d never get any work done at this rate.
“Did you not want to learn how to dance?”
“What, right now?” I asked, suddenly nervous.
“Why not? Better start as soon as possible, don’t want you to embarrass me on the night. There’s no one here to see.” His logic was flawless, and I stood up with a gulp.
I wasn’t sure how long my heart could stand, being so close to him. What was this effect he was having on me?
He was standing in the middle of the circle of desks, and I stood a metre away.
“We can’t do a partner dance if you’re not touching me, Rose,” he said, raising an eyebrow. Damn him and his stupid smart brain! I took a step closer and he grinned, beckoning me further. I took another step and he rolled his eyes, grabbing my hands and settling them on his shoulders. His hands came around my waist, and I stopped breathing.
“Merlin, you really are getting very skinny,” he murmured. I could only blink up at him, my brain foggy. He had such a strange effect on me. “When I move my left leg towards you, move your right leg back.”
I nodded, but when he moved I was still staring up at him. “Oh, you mean you wanted me to move just then,” I said stupidly, and he laughed. His body vibrated under my hands, and I shivered.
“Okay, let’s try again. I’m moving… now!” he grinned, and I obediently took a step back. He nodded in approval. “Now we’re going to move to your left, my right.”
We did so, and he nodded again. “Now you’ll move this leg,” he said, releasing my waist and touching my right thigh, “Towards me.”
Did he light my leg on fire? Why is it so hot? I moved it numbly forward, and he nodded. “Now we’ll take a step to the right, my left.”
Again we did it, and he let me go. No!
“That was the simplest step in the book, the box step. If we keep elaborating on that, we should be fine for two weeks’ time.”
I could only nod, and he gave me a weird look. “You okay?”
I nodded. Then I grabbed my stuff and literally ran from the room, heart racing. I needed to find somewhere to calm down. Running blindly through the corridors, I turned a corner and smacked my head against something hard.
“What the hell! Rose!” someone yelled, and I looked over to see Albus on the ground with me, rubbing his head. Our stuff was scattered around us and my eyes were streaming in response to the hard bang.
“Sorry, I wasn’t thinking!” I cried, and he snorted, rolling his eyes.
“You never do think, do you?” he muttered, getting to his feet and reluctantly hauling me to mine.
"Bony little thing, aren't you," I heard him say as he dropped my wrist.
Gathering our stuff, Albus handed me my bag and noticed my trembling hands.
“Hey, are you okay?” he asked, forehead creased. We were technically not talking, but I think everyone was as fed up with the situation as I was.
“Yes I’m fine,” I said too fast. He sighed and pulled me behind a tapestry. A little alcove was lit by several lamps and there was a convenient seat. I sat down and my cousin dropped down next to me.
“Speak,” he commanded, and I spoke.
“We were dancing and it was divine. He makes my heart stop beating whenever he’s close by, and sometimes when I just think about him I get butterflies in my belly. When I feel lost or down, he looks at me and everything is better. He’s been the only one there for me this last month when you guys were off being prats. He’s so amazing, and does this cute little thing with his pen when he doesn’t want to write an essay,” I said in a rush, flushing a deep red to match my hair.
Albus stared at me bemused, and I looked away.
“Let me guess,” he started in his know-it-all voice, “You like Scor-“
“NO! Don’t say it out loud, because then it might be true!”
“But it is true. You like Malf-“
“ALBUS! Don’t be such a –“
“ROSE LOVES SCORPIUS!” he yelled over the top of me, laughing. I hit him hard, but he ignored me.
“I hate you.”
“Merlin, I can’t believe it took you so long. You’re ridiculous, you know. Our group probably wouldn’t be so broken up if you just dated Scorp in the first place, not Jake the Giant Prat.”
I gaped at him. He was so right. It was all my fault. Now it really was up to me to fix it! But still, he didn’t have to blame me for everything. I sighed.
“You know Callie is in love with you, right?” I said, my heart racing as I tried to ignore what Albus had admitted for me.
“I know, and I love her. But I’ve royally fucked up. She’ll never have me back now,” he said, and to my surprise his eyes filled with tears.
“Oh my God, Al, you’re crying!” I said gleefully, and he pulled me into a hug.
“Shut up, you stupid bint. Be my cousin again?”
“Like I could ever stop.
When I woke up the next morning, I actually wanted to get out of bed. For the first time in a long time, I noticed that the sun was shining through the heavy snow clouds, and everything was sparkling with a clean freshness. Al and I had made up!
“Where did you disappear to last night?” Scorpius asked me, stepping out of his room as I skipped out of the shower. I glowed at the sight of him in his boxers and tight white shirt and kissed him on the cheek in delight.
“Al and I are friends again!”
I shut my bedroom door, missing the look happiness on Scorpius’ face as he touched his cheek. Throwing my uniform on with a vigour I forgot I had, I gathered my books, skipped breakfast and went straight to the library. Despite limited food (I think I last ate on Saturday, perhaps…) my mind felt clearer than it had in a long time.
I flew through several essays before the bell even went, and spent my free lesson planning on how to talk to Callie and Sophie. Freddie wasn’t a worry; he was never angry at anyone (apart from currently ignoring Sophie). I wasn’t interested in making up with Jake, so that cut two people out. Hugo would take a while, knowing his grudges.
When the next bell rang, I walked to DADA with a spring in my step. A portrait scowled at me as I wished it a good morning, but that didn’t dampen my spirirts.
Callie and Sophie were already waiting outside the classroom, not standing together. I walked up to Callie without stopping, know that if I did, I would have second thoughts.
She just looked at me.
“How are you?”
She snorted and turned away. Stumped but not defeated, I went to Sophie.
She allowed a small smile before looking away.
“How is Fred-hating?”
This earned me a grin, but she still didn’t say anything. Deciding that was progress for the day, I walked into the classroom and sat down, twirling my wand.
Nothing more happened until the next Saturday. We had a week to go until the ball, and everywhere I went I heard conversations about dresses and dates. Even the guys were getting into it which was impressive. Malfoy and I continued our dancing lessons, and I finished each one feeling woozy and disorientated.
“I still haven’t got a dress,” I sighed, sitting in the great hall for the first time in a long time. Al was sitting opposite Scorpius and I, and he kept smiling at me condescendingly. I glared at him and continued to push a grape around my plate.
“Well I haven’t got a date,” Al said as Callie strutted past. She threw him a scornful look, but faltered slightly at the longing in his eyes. Less certain of herself, she kept walking.
“Thank Merlin for Hogsmeade today,” I said earnestly, “I’m sure there’ll be a dress there somewhere.”
The boys shifted uncomfortably, and I resisted the urge to reach out and brush Scorp’s hair out of his eyes. “You uh,” he started, “You don’t want us to come, do you?”
I laughed. “I couldn’t think of anything worse. Walk me down, and then you can do whatever the hell you want,” I said, and they both looked relieved. I’d taken Hugo dress shopping once – worse mistake of my life.
A few hours later and we were rugged up against the snow. I was stopped outside a shop, and the boys were looking longingly towards Honeyduke’s.
“Go!” I said with a laugh, and they ran off. Scorpius glanced behind him once and met my eyes, and I stood transfixed until someone ran into me. Shaking myself out of my reverie, I opened the shop door and went in.
Then came straight back out and tried a different shop. Then another, and another, and another. It was hopeless. There was absolutely nothing I could wear in any of them.
Struck by inspiration when I saw a wizard disapparate, I hurried into an alley to do the same thing. It was against so many rules for students to leave Hogsmeade, but I was getting desperate.
Closing my eyes and turning on the spot, I pictured an alley similar to the one I was currently in, but one with the smell of sea salt and the sound of seagulls. With a spin and a gutwrenching pop! I apparated successfully in the tiny seaside town near my family’s summer house.
I smiled, straightening my clothes and walking out. A shopboy gave me a weird look, and I smiled at him.
Walking up the street, I was struck by how quiet the town was in winter. A bitter wind tore through the main street, bringing the sharp smell of the ocean with it.
I stopped by a tiny café, cold and hungry. Ducking in, I seated myself at the window and ordered a black coffee. The cakes stared enticingly at me from their display, but I turned my eyes away.
“Thank you,” I said to the girl who brought me my coffee.
“Sure you don’t want a sandwich, love?” she asked, and I shook my head. She nodded at me and went back to cleaning glasses. I quickly drank the scalding liquid, aware that I had little time. I stood with a slight sway, handed the girl some muggle pounds and headed to the shop where Sophie, Callie and I had found beautiful dresses together at the start of summer.
Pushing the little boutique’s door open, I smiled at the woman behind the counter. She nodded at me warily – in a seasonal town like this, she probably didn’t expect me to be buying anything. Most of their sales would happen in summer.
“Hello,” I said, walking up to her. If I were to find the perfect dress without help from the girls (my heart gave a sad thump at the thought), I would at least need another female’s help. Time to recruit.
“How can I help you, miss?” the middle-aged sales consultant asked reluctantly, taking in my school uniform with the covered crest and clearly thinking that I didn’t actually want to buy anything. I quickly explained that I had a school ball on next weekend, and her eyes lit up.
“You’ve left it a bit late, love. But I do love a challenge. Step back,” she said, finally warming up. I grinned and did as I was told.
“Coat,” she commanded, holding out her hand. I shrugged it off and passed it to her. She hung it up and surveyed me with beady eyes.
“Hmm, you’re only a scrap of a thing. Beautiful hair, beautiful blue eyes, small breasts… let me see.” She hurried over to a rack of floor-length gowns and picked out a creamy, lacy concoction.
“Is money an issue, miss?” she paused and asked, and I shook my head. Her face lit up and she pushed me towards the change rooms. “Put this one on, and I’ll find some more.”
Thank Merlin the shop was well heated, as would the great hall be next week, because there was barely anything to the dress. Although it fell to the floor, the back was open and the front plunged beyond my ‘small breasts’.
“Ummm, maybe something a bit more… substantial?” I asked, pulling aside the curtain, “It is a school event, and this is perhaps a bit much.”
She nodded, straight away understanding, and instead thrust several coat hangers at me. I grinned and tugged the curtains back in place.
This would be perfect if only the girls were here. My heart sank when I remembered Callie’s determined ignoring outside of DADA and wondered if she’d ever forgive me for outing her and Albus, and for whatever she thought I did to Jake.
I pulled the first dress off and tried the next one on. As I was about to call out to the lady, the bell above the door rang and someone entered the shop. I shrugged and tugged the zip up on the current dress, a slinky black, silky thing. I didn’t mind it. It was strappy and pretty, but not me.
“What about this one?” I asked, stepping out of the change room.
I was answered with a, “I hardly think so, you look like a waif. Merlin, Rosie, you can do better than that!”
Callie was standing there, hand reaching out to a rack of dresses as I walked out. I stared at her, and she stared at me.
“What are you doing here?”
“What are you doing here?” she retaliated. The shop keeper raised her eyebrows and walked into my change room to hang up some more dresses and bring the first one back out.
“I need a dress for the ball,” I said in a small voice, “I don’t know what to get.”
“Definitely not that one,” she said vehemently. Then she saw the hurt in my eyes (and maybe the tears starting to form) and she softened.
“How about this?” She held out a pale blue gown, and I burst into tears properly. To the shop keeper’s horror, Callie started crying too. She strode towards me and pulled me into a bone-crushing hug, the dress trapped between us.
“Girls, please! The dress! The dress!” the lady said, and I giggled through my tears.
Callie let me go and sheepishly handed the lady the poor dress. She pushed me through to the change room, and pulled the curtain shut. My head was spinning in happiness. Callie had actually affectionately touched me!
“Here, take this one!” she said, thrusting her hand through the opening. My fingers closed around a beautiful green dress that Sophie tried on when we were here together all that time ago. I hesitated, then stuck my head through the curtain.
“But that one is Sophie’s,” I muttered, and Callie rolled her eyes.
“She’s hardly here to stake her claim, is she?”
I shrugged and put the dress on. The shop bell rang again, but I was too distracted by the dress. It truly was beautiful – a big bow encased my waist, the thick straps crossed over my shoulders and exposed my back, and it flowed down to my toes.
I looked in the mirror and smoothed the fabric with shaking hands. Sophie, tiny little Sophie, had tried on this dress. And now it was fitting me.
You probably don’t understand how much of a big deal this is, so let me explain: in six months, I’ve lost about four dress sizes, I’ve lost friends and gained them (mostly) back, and discovered that I’m in love with the boy I’m meant to hate.
“I love Scorpius Malfoy,” I blurted out, wrenching the curtain aside and stepping out. Callie grinned and raised an eyebrow. Beside her, Sophie put a hand to her mouth and giggled.
“Oh la la, mon cherie, took you long enough to work it out. Now take my dress off, you skinny bint.”
I felt sorry for the shop keeper that day. She thought she was helping one lonely girl to find a dress, but ended up with three outrageous newly- best friends flinging dresses off racks and randomly bursting into tears whenever they glanced at each other.
Now if only I could get Callie and Albus, and Sophie and Fred, all together.
Love rule # 13 - When there isn’t any background music, make your own
“Rosie! Get out of the shower now!“ Callie yelled, banging her fists on the door. I ignored her, still humming a happy tune. I was determined to forget that in three hours, I’d be dancing in front of hundreds of people at the Winter Ball.
Great, now I was remembering.
“I can’t hear you,” I called out, shaving my legs and underarms. A thrill went through me when I thought of Scorpius seeing me in my new dress. I’d fought Sophie for the green one, and I’d won.
It was her fault that she didn’t understand that rock beats scissors – terrible muggle-born she is.
“I have vodka,” Callie coaxed in a sing-song voice. I perked up at that – maybe a drink or two will help to calm me down. I quickly finished my ablutions (great word) and turned the shower off. Wrapping a towel around myself, I opened the door and asked hopefully, “Vodka?”
“Thank Merlin for that,” said someone who wasn’t Callie, and Scorpius slipped past me, nudged me out and shut the bathroom door.
“There you are,” Callie said, coming out of my room, “If I’m going to get you ready to be the belle of the ball tonight, you need to give me the chance to get ready too!”
She stopped short when she noticed the bathroom door shut, and the sound of the shower running. I couldn’t help but giggle, hair dripping down my back.
“Scorpius," I told her.
Callie yelled in exasperation and pushed past me, banging on the door again.
“I swear to Merlin, Malfoy, if you don’t get out of that shower within ten minutes then I’m coming in.”
I could practically see his raised eyebrow and cocky grin, which wasn’t good. Because if I could see that, then I could see that he was in the steamy shower, wearing nothing…
“Earth to Rose? What is wrong with you?” Sophie said, coming out of my room as well. She was wrapped in a robe and already showered. I shook my head and blinked.
“Erm… Scorpius is in the shower,” I mumbled, and she smiled at me kindly.
“Yes dear, he is. Now stop picturing him naked and come in so I can get started. When was the last time you ate, woman?” she asked me seriously as she took in my bony shoulders, and I just blinked at her again. Umm… maybe on Wednesday? Or was it Tuesday? No, I think I ate the carrot on Thursday…
“Never mind,” Sophie heaved a sigh, looking troubled, “Let’s get started.”
She led me to my desk and sat me down. I could still hear Callie yelling at Scorpius, and I giggled.
“What kind of gentleman are you, leaving a woman to get ready last? All you have to do is put deodorant on! I need to wash my hair! And shave! And exfoliate! And moisturise! And do my nails! And do my hair and makeup! I need to make sure my dress is perfect! HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME!”
Sophie smiled at me in the mirror and handed me a vodka and orange, “For the nerves.”
And in the nick of time, we were ready. Thank Merlin Scorpius and I set up the hall earlier in the day, because I would never have got it done otherwise. My stomach was cramping every few moments from butterflies, and I couldn’t be thankful enough that my best friends were by my side.
“I missed you guys so much,” I moaned, wrapping my arms around their waists. We were standing in front of my mirror, surveying our handiwork. Having them back felt amazing – even though I still sometimes struggled to get out of bed, it was made a bit easier knowing they were waiting for me.
“That would be the vodka talking,” Sophie giggled, rolling her eyes and adjusting her dress.
“I only had two!” I protested.
“On an empty stomach,” Callie muttered. I giggled and grabbed my camera. We took turns taking photos, and Sophie slipped the camera into her purse because I wouldn’t get a chance to take any pictures later on.
“But seriously girls, you both look stunning,” I said, smiling happily.
“As do you,” Sophie said, fingering the ends of my long hair. She’d managed to put some of it into a roiling, braided style on top of my head, but bits still hung down around my face, too heavy to stay up.
We quickly downed a bit more vodka (Merlin, I was so nervous. Malfoy. Dancing. Malfoy touching me. Eek, dancing) and headed down to the entrance hall. Scorp and I were meant to be meeting Higgins and a few ministry officials in five minutes.
Sophie and Callie were going together, with Callie proudly proclaiming that a man wasn’t a necessity and ‘stuff the whole male race’. I knew my parents would be there somewhere – plenty of alumni and ‘illuminated war heros’ were invited, which meant my whole family would be in the crowd.
Moving through the hallways, I stopped in a corridor short of descending the main stairs and tried to turn around.
“Oh, come on Rose.”
“You’ve never had stage fright before. You’re head girl, for goodness sake.”
“Not any more. I want you to be,” I said desperately, looking at Callie. She sighed, shared a glance with Sophie, and together they tugged me out into the open. Now everyone in the entrance hall below could see us, so I couldn’t leave.
Forcing a smile onto my face, I hissed, “You’re stupid cows and I hope you live sad, lonely lives.”
They just smiled kindly at me and went down the stairs. Freddie was waiting for Sophie at the bottom, looking up with a lovesick, sad look. Merlin, everyone was watching.
Desperate for a safety net, I scanned the hall. Where is he, where is he, where is he?
Standing at the great hall doors, taller than the officials and the same height as the headmaster, stood Scorpius. He was dressed in a dark suit and wore a white shirt without a tie. His hair was pushed back off his face, and I knew he was wearing his delicious aftershave.
Our eyes met, and my stomach lurched. Maybe I could do this after all. I gripped the handrail and wished I could just slide down it like I do at home. As if on cue, the crowd opened up a bit and I spotted Dad in his wheelchair. He smiled easily at me, and I was elated. He looked so much better! I forced myself to not run down to him, but when I reached the bottom (thank Merlin I didn’t fall), I threw myself at my dad.
“You look fantastic, Daddy!” I said, kissing his cheek. After my dramatic exit on Christmas day, my parents and I had had a few talks, and I was so embarrassed about my behaviour that I was still apologising.
“And you, my shining flower, look radiant,” he said, touching my chin. I blushed and straightened up.
“Thanks, Dad. I’ll talk to you later, there’s someone I have to find…” I trailed off, because I didn’t have to find him at all. Scorpius had pushed through the crowd and was standing in front of me, an eyebrow raised and a smile on his lips.
“Hi,” I managed.
“You look-“ we both started at the same time, and I giggled, relaxing. I could do this. “You look great, Scorp.”
“And you look stunningly beautiful, Rose Weasley. Hello, Mr Weasley. How do you do?” he asked, spotting my dad and shaking his hand. Dad nodded at him, urging us to go.
It was time to start.
I kissed his cheek one last time, took Malfoy’s arm and we made our way through the crowd. They parted for us as we came through, and I couldn’t believe that I was lucky enough to be with such a gorgeous creature.
He didn’t have a choice, the cruel voice in my head whispered, but I happily ignored it tonight.
“Nervous?” Malfoy asked, cocking his head slightly and whispering. His breath tickled my ear, and I held his hand.
If a year ago someone told me I’d be opening a ball with Scorpius Malfoy, in front of a thousand people or more, I would have laughed in their face. But now, I felt nothing but sure of myself as we floated to the middle of the beautiful hall and faced each other. My eyes met his, and everyone else disappeared.
Love is cool like that – makes you forget that if you trip or stumble, your future employers and fellow classmates are in the crowd judging. The hall looked great – we’d charmed three giant chandeliers to hover in the air, the seats were all covered in satiny blue material and waitstaff (younger students who didn’t want to miss out of the fun) were dotted about wearing black and white.
Scorpius’ large hands came around my tiny waist and he pulled me close. He smelt, as I predicted, absolutely divine.
“I won’t let you fall,” he whispered, and I smiled up at him. Even when I was wearing heels, he still towered over me.
“I know,” I promised, settling my hands on his shoulders. At that, the music soared from our craftily hidden speakers and he started swaying me to the traditional music.
McGonagall had come to us a week or so back and offered to teach us the dance. Malfoy had shaken his head, asked what the dance and the music was, and proceeded to teach me himself. Thank Merlin the box step was one of the dance steps…
He flung me out and we came to my favourite bit. My dress swirled around me prettily and I laughed, spinning away from him. We moved effortlessly, but I won’t say I was completely graceful. I forgot a few steps, but managed to blunder through. The music reached a crescendo, and Scorpius pulled me back to him. I spun dizzily, very light-headed, and stopped flush up against him. His cheeks were tinged pink, and I was breathing heavily. Merlin, we were so close…
The sound of applause brought me back to myself, and I took a step away. Kissing him on the cheek, I smiled impishly and whispered, “We’re so high-fiving later for that. That rocked.”
He smiled at me, eyes unreadable, and grasped my hand. We walked to the edge of the crowd, who again parted for us, and up to the podium. No matter how confident I felt with Scorpius next to me, I still shyly refused to meet anyone’s eyes. There were so many people! At the top of the stairs, I slipped my wand from my dress and whispered, “Sonorous!”
“Welcome!” Scorpius’ voice boomed out, “Welcome to Hogwarts’ students and professors, alumni and parents.”
“We wish to open this inaugural ball by saying what a wonderful year we have had so far,” I continued, finding my friends in the crowd who rolled their eyes at our bullshit speech - a ‘wonderful year’, Flitwick’s left buttock.
“We could not have asked to spend an evening with people closer to our hearts,” Scorpius said, and I squeezed his hand behind the podium.
“And with that, we welcome you to Hogwarts’ Winter Ball and wish you a pleasant evening,” I finished. On cue, dinner appeared on the tables at the edge of the hall. Music, a mixture of muggle pop, boring classical and weird wizarding stuff, started playing. My tamed pixies floated around the hall, sparkling and sprinkling glitter, and looking happy for once.
I came back to myself when Scorpius squeezed my arm, and I glanced at him. He nodded at a couple waiting at the foot of the podium, and I saw his parents waiting. Swallowing nervously, I followed him down the small stairs and stood before them.
“Mum, Dad,” Scorp said happily, kissing both of his parents, “I want you to meet Rose Weasley.” I smiled at them both and we shook hands. I was meeting Draco Malfoy properly for the first time, and he was being freakishly normal.
“It’s a pleasure, Miss Weasley,” he said formally, and I blushed.
“Please, call me Rose.”
“That was a wonderful dance you did,” Astoria Malfoy said dreamily. She was a beautiful woman, elegant and plump.
“It was all Scorpius, Mrs Malfoy. You taught him well.”
I waited for the rants of blood purity and traitorous Weasleys, but in vain. Apart from a curious glance from Mr Malfoy, there was nothing. Awkward pleasantries aside, I left them to talk and allowed the crowd to swallow me up.
I was so light-headed and dizzy (no really, when did I eat that carrot last?), but happily accepted a drink someone shoved in my hand. People were talking to me left, right and centre, and all I wanted to do was find my friends.
“Over here, Rose!” someone called, and I looked up to see Al waving at me. They were all sitting at a table with drinks. I arrived to a strained silence. Albus and Callie were determinedly not looking at each other, and I sighed. I guess some things take longer than others.
“You did really well,” Sophie said earnestly, glaring at Fred, “I bet we couldn’t dance like that.”
“Oh yeah?” Freddie challenged, and I grinned at the look of horror on Sophie’s face. He hauled my protesting friend to her feet and to the dance floor, where he started jumping up and down and all around to an awful muggle song.
“I swear I didn’t choose this song!” I exclaimed, and the other two laughed, and then looked at each other in surprise.
“Um, Callie?” Albus started slowly, and Callie raised her eyebrows to show she was listening. She’s a hard woman, my Callie.
“I um… I’m sorry I hurt you?”
Callie scoffed. “Come on Potter, you can do better than that.”
Albus blushed. “I’m sorry for using you to get to your best friend?”
But Callie shook her head.
“Ummmm… I’m sorry for not telling you that I actually fell for you while I was using you to get to your best friend, which I should never have done in the first place, but I can’t help it because I’m a prat?”
“Getting better Potter, but not quite.” Callie stood up abruptly, her eyes blazing. “I’ll catch up with you later, Rosie – beautiful dancing by the way.”
Albus sighed as she walked away, his head dropping into his hands. “How can I fix this?”
“I’m not sure,” I confessed, and he looked up at me.
“Shouldn’t you be doing official head girl crap?”
“Probably,” I said with a grin, “But only after I dance with my most prat-ish cousin. Come on!” I grabbed his arm and hauled him up, and was pleased to see a small look of amusement on his face. We found Sophie and Fred among the dancing crowd, together but not together, and joined them doing the “monster mash’.
Merlin, muggles are strange.
Monster Mash, however awesome it is, doesn't belong to me! Bobby "Boris" Pickett is the owner. Hope you're loving the story!
We danced to the Monster Mash until no amount of massaging could sooth my sore feet. Callie’s snobbing of Albus was the only low point of the night – they remained at an almost friendly distance for the rest of it. I was proud of her - a stubborn Callie wasn't always a civil thing to be around.
After making official rounds with Higgins and Scorpius, I spent the night drinking and chatting to my parents, dancing with my friends and spending precious time with the girls. Scorpius was never far away, and we had a second and then a third dance together.
Every time his hands came into contact with me, I felt as if my body was on fire. Which was a strange feeling, let me tell you. Can't say I've had that kind of feeling before Scorpius entered the scene.
I honestly felt like I was on cloud nine, for the first time in many, many months – nothing to do with the multiple drinks I had, I’m sure. As the ball wrapped up in the early hours of the morning, some of the wait staff fast asleep in chairs, we each grabbed a (large) bottle of (hard) alcohol and disappeared – but only after Scorpius and I checked that it was okay for us to be excused. It would have been awkward if we were meant to do a closing speech at 3am but were nowhere to be found.
“Astronomy tower?” someone suggested, and the idea was eagerly taken up. We not-very-silently crept through the castle which, in retrospect, was completely pointless. All of the professors were down at the ball, probably as tipsy as me.
A very drunk Albus tripped over a sneaky coat of arms, taking Scorpius down with him, and Fred fell to the ground laughing. We girls rolled our eyes and stepped over them loftily, continuing up to the tower.
They still hadn’t shown up a few moments later, so we shrugged, cast a warming spell against the freezing air and seated ourselves under a conjured blanket. I was wedged between my two best friends under a beautifully clear, starry sky, and I didn’t want to be anywhere else in the world.
“Cheers,” Callie said, clinking her bottle of vodka against my whiskey and Sophie’s goblin wine. We giggled and took a swig. Wincing, we all swapped bottles and repeated.
“There you are! The belles of the ball! The beauties of Hogwarts! Nay, the beauties of the world!” Albus suddenly appeared, pausing dramatically at the doorway and throwing his arms out. The effect was ruined when he burped loudly and fell at Callie’s feet, promptly beginning to snore.
“And he wonders why I don’t want to date him again,” she muttered with a giggle, but I could tell her heart wasn’t in it. Scorpius stepped over him with a pretend haughty look and wedged himself between me and Sophie. She shoved at him good naturedly but moved over, giving me a pointed look. I ignored her, shivering at being so close to him again.
Surely this many heart-stopping and butterfly-inducing moments aren’t good for my nervous system? I felt his hot gaze on me again and shivered, taking a large gulp of goblin wine.
“Cold, Rosie?” he asked, and I almost swooned at his use of my nickname. Without waiting for an answer, he reached out and pulled me into his side. Sophie sighed her dreamer’s sigh, and I allowed myself a smile through my nervousness. My head was spinning – too much Scorpius, too much alcohol or not enough food? Merlin knows (but perhaps a little bit of all).
“I’m going to go and find the other prat. He fortunately appears to be missing,” Sophie murmured, standing up. “If I don’t come back, thank you for one of the best nights of my life.”
“Goodnight, hun,” Callie murmured, and I caught her staring at Albus’ prone form.
“Night, Soph. Love you,” I said, and she touched my cheek as she walked past.
“Love you too, tiny Rosie.”
She left, and Callie claimed the goblin wine. She prodded Albus with her foot, and he grunted at her. She giggled softly, and continued to poke him in between sips of the wine.
I was far too aware of Scorpius’ arm wrapped around my back, and his hand on my arm. His chest rose and fell against my side, and I marvelled at him. Yes, reader, I marvelled. You would too, if such a glorious creature was touching you.
I took a fortifying gulp of whatever was now in my hands –whiskey-, and my head span without stopping. The girls were right – drinking on an empty stomach was never a good idea. Too bad my stomach was always empty these days.
“Maybe you should take him to bed,” Scorp’s deep voice interrupted my musings, and I jumped slightly. He chuckled against my ear, and I melted. Callie glanced up, and understanding dawned on her face.
Understanding of what? I wondered.
“Yeah, good idea Scorpy. Oi, lump, get up!” she said, rising gracefully to her feet and poking Al with her wand this time. She left a smoking hole in the back of his dinner jacket, and made a face.
“Oops. Guess I should levicorpus him, hey.” She did so, and Al drifted out the door with barely an aware murmur. Callie waved goodbye.
“Night, kids. Be good,” she called as she let Albus’ head bumped against the door frame, and then they were gone too. There was silence, and I felt awkward.
Was he just cold? Did he want to be touching me? What should I say?
Before I could say something that would undoubtedly be stupid and make one or both of us jump off the tower, Scorpius saved us.
“I had a really good night tonight. Despite tear-inducing ministry people talking about their wives and children,” he said, and I nodded, unaccountably nervous. He seemed to notice. “You okay, Rose?”
“Yeah, just tired and cold. Probably drank too much, too,” I whispered, taking another sip of whiskey for good measure. The night beyond the tower was still. Clouds were starting to cover the moon and stars, and I was sure it was going to snow again soon.
“Want to go to bed?”
I wanted this night to last forever. Who knew when the next time would be, that I could snuggle up to Scorpius Malfoy and pretend I was ‘cold’? I glanced at him and saw that his eyes were already on me. I raised an eyebrow, and he mirrored my action. I giggled and he pulled me closer.
“It’s cold,” he muttered somewhat sheepishly in explanation, and I nodded. His hard muscled body shifted suddenly underneath me, and I found myself ensconced completely in his arms, my back nestled up against his chest.
“Is this okay?” he purred in my ear, and I held my breath, lest I scatter into pieces. I nodded the affirmative, and slowly relaxed my body against his. His arms were wrapped around my belly, and I was relieved that I didn’t touch the dinner table tonight - he would probably feel all of my fat if I did. It was bad enough as it was, though.
“I’m so glad we teamed up against Loretta O’Walsh, you know,” he said, breath tickling my ear.
“Why?” I managed to breath. Merlin, how did he make my head spin so? I didn’t need to drink anymore, considering Scorpius Malfoy had the same, if not better, effect on me as alcohol.
“Because it made you talk to me, and trust me. I’m so glad we’re friends, Rose.”
My heart sank at the ‘friends’ part, but I was grateful that we at least had this night together. Even if he didn’t know what was currently going through my mind.
“I’m glad too,” I whispered, suddenly sad. Should I tell him? Would it ruin everything?
We fell silent, and I watched as clouds unveiled the moon and a few stars again. It was beautiful. I think I must have fallen asleep, because i drifted into my broomstick dream.
This time, I was flying alone through the stars. I reached out to grasp one, and caught hold of something better. Scorpius’ hand and mine were joined, and he smiled down at me. He burned in my arms, but I could bear it. I could bear anything for him.
“This is it, Rose,” he whispered, and a feeling of absolute happiness coursed through me. And for a few moments, I was completely content. I opened my eyes a minute, an hour, or a whole day later (okay, I’m exaggerating. It was probably only a few minutes that I was asleep). My hair had fallen out of its elaborate up-do and was tickling my cheek; probably it was what woke me up. Scorpius still had his arms around me, but not as tight. His head had dropped onto my shoulder, and with a start I realised his lips were against my neck. I shivered as a delightful feeling coursed through me, wishing that I could just tell him how much I wanted him.
“Scorpius?” I whispered, and he sighed, warm air blowing against my neck, “Are you awake?”
He took a deep breath and straightened up with a yawn. “Sorry Rose, I’m just so tired.”
“Don’t worry, I fell asleep too.” My head was well and truly was spinning, and I glanced at the bottles scattered around us. They were mostly empty.
“Did you want something?” he asked, voice husky with exhaustion.
“Yes, I- I want-“
“You want?” he prompted, and I pulled myself reluctantly from his arms.
I WANT YOU!
“I want to go to bed,” I whispered, clambering shakily to my feet and looking at the ground.
“Oh, okay. Let’s go, then,” he said, sounding disappointed. I was freezing without his body heat, and he slipped his jacket off and put it around my shoulders. I smiled tiredly up at him, and he gazed down at me. He reached out and brushed some hair out of my eyes, and I revelled in his attention and touch.
He sighed and seemed to shake his head. “Come on, let’s go.”
He grasped my hand and pulled me into the thankfully-warm corridor, and we made our way silently through the castle. I stumbled continuously on the hem of my long gown. I was exhausted, had had far too much to drink and spent too much time in the intoxicating presence of Scorpius Malfoy.
“Intoxicating,” I mumbled.
“Nothing,” I yawned, and stumbled again on my hem. With a growl of frustration, his arms came around me without warning and he threw me over his shoulders.
“Not this again,” I sighed, “I’m staring at your butt.”
“And I’m almost touching yours. Shush.”
So I did. Shush, that is. His pace was almost soothing, and I was half asleep by the time we got to the head’s dorm. And he had a great arse, by the way. Really great, one of the best. The best.
“Wake up, Rose.”
“Nah,” I sighed, “Take me to bed.”
A strange, guttural sound came from his throat, and I shivered in trepidation.
“If only,” I thought I heard him whisper, and he trudged up the stairs and kicked my door open. Walking to my bed and sliding me to my feet against it, he gazed at me again. My body was on fire where it had been pressed against him, and I didn’t want to let him go just yet. Emboldened by the alcohol and tiredness that was fogging my brain, I yawned and held my arms up in the air. He stared at me until he realised what I meant.
He sighed and slowly removed his jacket. I turned around and he unzipped my dress with trembling fingers.
“My pj’s are in the second draw down,” I yawned, drowsily leaning against my bed and fighting my heavy eyelids. Everything felt heavy. I was vaguely thankful for the fog of alcohol and that I was wearing pretty undies as I slipped my dress off and waited for my jammies.
Let me stress that I wouldn’t normally do something this reckless. I blame it on the goblin wine. Just be thankful that I actually asked for my pyjamas – I’d be quite happy for him to strip my clothes off and leave them off.
Merlin, I did not just think that, did I? Who is this demon Rose taking over?
“Here you go,” he said in a strained voice, putting them on the bed beside me. I looked at him, and he didn’t meet my eyes. “Rose, put some clothes on. Please.”
“Or what?” I yawned again, and shivered as he pulled me close.
“You don’t want to know.” His face was close again, and I reached out a hand and cupped his cheek. He leaned into me and the world slowed down. His eyes were on my lips, his chest against my bare stomach, and I felt faint.
“Scorpius,” I whispered, and his eyes widened. He let go of me and stepped back, running his hands through his hair and turning away.
“Please put the fluffy turtle pyjamas on, Rose. I’m begging you.”
“Why?” I asked, sounding like a petulant child. I shivered as my skin lost warmth in my cold room, but I was too tired to even lift my weak arms. I was too tired to even climb into bed. With another huge, jaw-cracking yawn, I slid down the side of my bed and sat on my thankfully carpeted floor. He turned at my movement, and sighed.
“Come on Rose, you need to go to sleep. You’ve had too much to drink.”
“Help me, then,” I muttered, crossing my arms over my fat stomach and frowning at him. He reached down and pulled me up, and I was thankful that my brain was still too foggy to ponder the implications of having Scorpius in my bedroom while I was wearing nothing but my ‘intimates’, as Nana Molly put it. He said nothing, but resigned himself at last to the fact that I wasn’t going to bed unless he physically put me in it.
“Up,” he commanded, and I lifted my arms slowly. Lucky I shaved, I thought, and couldn’t help but giggle as he pulled my jammie top down over my breasts and tummy. Scorpius raised an eyebrow and relented at last, laughing slightly.
“This is ridiculous. Leg.”
I lifted my leg and he slipped my foot into my flannel pyjamas.
“Leg,” and the same with my other foot. I was finally ensconced in my warm, comforting pyjamas, and I smiled beatifically at him.
“Was that so hard?” I asked, and he groaned.
“You have no idea.”
I giggled and put my arms around his waist, burying my face in his chest. The butterflies were going mad, and I sighed. He held me close, and then heaved me away and up onto my bed.
“Not yet,” I whispered, and to my horror I felt tears in my eyes. I was seriously about to cry about him leaving to go and sleep in the room opposite me?
“Okay, Rosie,” he whispered back, and I was too tired (and probably way too drunk) to be surprised as he unbuttoned his shirt and threw it over my chair. I gazed at his sculptured body in the dim candlelight, and shivered in delight.
He was gorgeous. Broad shouldered, defined muscles and fit as fuck. I was dazed as he slipped off his shoes and pants.
“Accio pyjamas,” he commanded, eyes not leaving mine. His pyjamas flew through the door, and he slipped the flannel pants over his boxers. “I don’t sleep with a shirt on. Merlin, I normally don’t sleep with pants on either.”
He sighed, and I burrowed under the covers and buried my head in my pillow. I didn’t dare look as he climbed into bed beside me.
“I can’t believe I’m doing this. Al will kill me,” he muttered, and I reached out and found his hand. I squeezed it, and he sighed again.
“Thank you,” I said, and I felt him settle down under the covers. I rolled over so I was facing him, and met his eyes. He reached out and brushed his thumb down my cheek. I smiled and closed my eyes.
“You’re beautiful, Rose. Inside and out,” he whispered, but I was already asleep.
Maybe if I’d stayed awake, I would have known that he didn’t sleep a wink all night.
Maybe if I’d stayed awake I would have heard his murmured, “You bewitch me.”
Maybe if I’d stayed awake I would have remembered his sweet lips against mine at dawn, as he gently let go of me and slipped out of bed,
A/N: Haven't written a note in a while, so I thought I'd say hi, and thank you! Thank you to every single one of you reading this right now. I've been overwhelmed by the response this story has got so far. Couldn't have come this far without any of your encouragment, and I truly feel that my writing has improved so much in the last few months. So thank you to everyone (especially the lovely validators!).
A note on this chapter: Monster Mash belongs to Bobby 'Borris' Pickett. Rose was very, very drunk - in her current state of mind (ie problems with eating) and self conciousness, there's no way she would have let anyone see her without clothes on, let alone Scorpius. So the fact that she acted the way she did was only because of too much drinking. Which I don't recommend. Ever.
Also I'd like to stress that nothing about this was meant to be erotic - just a crazy drunk girl and a crazy drunk guy who love each other, but are too lame to tell.
Okay, that's all. Bye :) :)
Love rule #14 - Don’t speak under the influence of Scorpius Malfoy’s intoxicating essence
The next morning I was a mess. I woke up feeling strangely empty, wondering how I managed to make it into my pyjamas by myself. Then I sat up and noticed Scorpius’ pants hanging over my chair, and I froze, hazy memories flooding back into my throbbing, sore head.
I was still sitting motionless in bed an hour later, too scared and embarrassed to leave my room in case I ran into him. What does he think of me now? Probably nothing good. Dear god, he saw me in my undies and a bra! Did he think I was fat?
I burrowed back under the covers, feeling ill. Had I ruined our friendship, by doing everything bar forcing myself onto him?
I wasn’t left alone for long to muse, because at around ten, my door was suddenly thrown open and the girls trouped in.
“Good morning, my dear!” Callie trilled, and I threw a pillow at her. Judging by their wide grins, I assumed they’d already had a good dosing of black coffee and pepper-up potion.
“Come on, get up! We’re all going to go and have brunch down at the lake. Albus has conjured a pavilion, and there’s heating spells everywhere and – OH MY GOD WHOSE PANTS ARE THOSE!?!” Sophie screeched, pointing accusingly at the pants hanging innocently on the chair.
Callie squealed and jumped onto my bed. My belly lurched uncomfortably as she bounced around in excitement.
“Someone had a good night!” she said in my ear, and my headache spiked. I shook my head and rolled over, stomach lurching at the motion.
“Nothing happened. I’m an idiot.”
“Why, what did you do?” Sophie gasped, sitting on my other side.
“Probably ruined our friendship. It’s going to be so weird now! He saw me in my undies. We slept in the same bed, for goodness sake!”
Callie giggled. “Merlin, is that all? That’s not exciting.”
“Sorry to disappoint,” I muttered.
“Here, have some potion,” Sophie said, shoving a vial into my hands once they’d both established that my night was actually very boring by Callie’s standards.
I sat up, blinking blearily. It was a “Rose doesn’t feel like facing the world today’ day. I grasped the vial with weak, shaky hands and took a sip. It burned like fire down my throat, but didn’t wake me up as much as a touch from Scorpius usually did. I shook my head at that thought and forced down some more. Even with the potion taking effect, my head still felt groggier than ever.
“Shower, clothes and then brekkie,” Callie ordered, prodding me with her toe. I growled at her and stumbled to the shower. Feeling too tired and dizzy to stand, I sat down on the tiles and let the scalding water cascade down. I slowly rubbed the makeup off my face, knowing I looked a fright.
Why did I think Scorpius could ever love me? I was a mess. A crying, exhausted, stressed and hungry mess. I put product in my hair, knowing Sophie expected it, but I didn’t care anymore. I unenthusiastically clambered to my feet and turned the shower off. Wrapping a warm towel around myself, I walked back to my room, feeling physically sick with hunger. Callie had made my bed and was now lying on top of my patchwork quilt, and Sophie was going over my gown with a cleaning spell.
“You better rug up, it’s going to be cold out,” Callie advised, and I nodded. I was so used to her bossiness that it didn’t even bother me. She only meant well, and I wasn’t surprised that I could barely function when they weren’t talking to me. I grabbed clean underwear, jeans and a long-sleeved top from my closet, allowed Sophie to dry my hair and went back to the bathroom to get changed. I giggled almost hysterically when I put my jeans on and they slipped straight back off.
“Too skinny,” I repeated in Mum’s voice, and I giggled again. A shrinking spell fixed the problem, and I went back to the girls. Sophie handed me my warmest coat, Callie wrapped her scarf around my neck and a woolie hat was jammed on my head.
“Warm socks and snow shoes,” Sophie ordered, and I conjured them and wondered, if I sat still for long enough, would they put themselves on me?
Callie sighed after a few moments of me not moving and knelt down at my feet, exchanging a look with Soph. I shook my head when I realised that I was incapable of putting my own shoes on, and tugged on Callie's arm until she got to her feet.
“No Callie, you don’t have to do that for me. But thank you. I’m just so exhausted,” I murmured, barely able to keep my eyes open. Malfoy’s face flashed in front of my eyes, and my cheeks burned hot in embarrassment.
To hide the redness, I leant down and laboriously pulled my warmest socks on, and laced up my boots. I rummaged around in a draw until I found my mittens, my fingers brushing something hard. Finally waking up a bit, I pulled out my photo album with an exclamation of delight.
“Soph, I never thanked you for this,” I said, proffering it to her. She looked at it blankly and shook her head.
“I’ve never seen that in my life.”
“Very funny,” I said, smiling uncertainly, “It was my Christmas present.”
She shook her head, turning pink. “I didn’t buy you a present, I’m so sorry.”
I shrugged and I looked at Callie questioningly. She shook her head too, and took it from me.
“It’s beautiful,” she murmured as they both crowded around and turned the pages.
“If you didn’t give it to me Soph, then why did you ask to borrow my camera before Christmas? That’s where all the pictures came from,” I asked, bewildered.
“Oh, that wasn’t for me, it was for –“ she broke off, face lighting up with a smile.
“For?” Callie prompted, and I raised my eyebrows.
“For Scorpius. He asked me if I could get it for him.” Sophie was smiling widely, touching each picture and giggling every now and then. I sat down at my desk, stunned. He put the album together for me?
“He must really love you, Rosie,” Callie said quietly, and my head snapped up.
“You know what. Has he told you yet?”
But I was shaking my head. “Stop being ridiculous,” I sighed, and this time both girls looked up and stared at me.
“But he does like you,” Sophie said, sounding confused.
“He told us, Rose. Remember at the beach house last summer, when we started playing Spin the Bottle that time? You went to bed, and he admitted to us all that he fancies you,” Callie said. My head was spinning, but that seemed its usual state these days. She continued, “Jake was jealous for days after. That’s probably why he asked you out finally.”
I squashed the little iota of hope that was blossoming in my chest, snatching my photo album back and storing it safely back in its draw.
“Scorpius Malfoy could never like me.”
“Honey, he’d be crazy not to be madly in love with you,” Sophie said matter-of-fact, snapping the album shut, “Come on, let’s go down to breakfast.”
We left the warmth of the castle, stopping briefly in the great hall so I could administer myself black coffee, to be chilled to the bone outside. A watery sun was out, but I breathed in icy lungs of air. The cold seemed to go straight through my layers, and I picked up my pace, hoping to get to warmth as quick as possible. I could see a random pavilion down near the lake with a picnic table underneath, and snorted. Of course Al would conjure a pavilion, the show-off. Not even I could do that.
“Don’t disregard what we said,” Callie murmured as we got closer, and I blushed. Thanks Callie, I was trying to forget that conversation. I saw his blonde head of hair sitting with his back to me, and my butterflies grew claws and tried to shred their way out of my stomach. Merlin, I was so embarrassed about last night. How could he ever speak to me again?
“Hello,” he said, turning about as we approached. Oh, like that then. Callie held my arm in a steely vice as I tried to turn around and sprint back to bed.
“The mimbleus tenaclier grows in hot, dry climates like desert Australia and certain areas in Africa,” I blurted, and there was silence.
“She’s been studying very hard for Herbology this morning,” Sophie said, smiling and patting me on the head like a kid. I think my face matched my hair, and I looked everywhere but at him.
Okay that’s a lie. He was wearing dark jeans and a stripy grey and white jumper and he had dark shadows under his lovely eyes. A Gryffindor scarf was wrapped around his neck, and I wanted to jump on his lap and snog his brains out.
“Rose!” I yelled, and was received with even more silence. Dear Merlin.
“Yes, that’s your name,” Albus said, backing away slowly. I shook my head and sighed.
“Maybe I’m still drunk,” I muttered, which wasn’t true. My previously-throbbing head was evidence of that. I was just intoxicated by Malfoy and his delicious musk. I DID NOT SAY THAT.
“Crazy bitch,” Callie said, rolling her eyes and putting her hands on my shoulders. She pushed me to the table and forced me down next to Malfoy. I scooted as far away from him as possible, knowing that if his thigh even so much as brushed mine, I might faint.
“Get of me, lump,” Fred said, pushing me off his lap. Okay, so maybe I scooted a bit too far over. I opened my mouth and unintelligible dribble came out.
SEE WHAT YOU DO TO ME, MALFOY! I CAN’T EVEN THINK STRAIGHT.
“How are you feeling?” a deep, smooth, velvety voice asked me. I looked up, startled, into Scorpius’ eyes.
He smiled and grabbed my hand under the table. I jumped a mile in the air and stared at him. He was actually choosing to touch me, after my disgusting display of I-don’t-know-what last night?
The butterflies had teeth now, and it was actually starting to hurt – until I realised that maybe my hand in his was calming and comforting, even if he was making me tremble.
Once I was calmer, I reluctantly pulled my hand from his and smiled up at him for the first time today. His cheeks flushed pink, and I wondered if he was getting sick.
“Hey look, it’s Higgins,” Albus snickered, nodding towards the forbidden forest. Our headmaster was wandering along the edge of the tree line, still wearing his suit from last night. He stumbled over a root and giggled.
“Merlin, I think he’s pissed off his tits!” Callie laughed, standing up at the same time as Albus. There was an awkward silence. Callie looked at Al and shrugged, and they both left to go and assist him.
“If I was the headmaster of a group of idiots like us, I’d be eternally drunk too,” Freddie said.
He and Sophie were still in their strange sort of courteous cold war with each other. ever since Christmas. She was currently sitting opposite him and smiling politely, but I could see the pain in her eyes.
Freddie reached across the table for a bread roll and kept chattering on about nothing. The boys had been to the kitchen, securing rolls, juice, fruit and bacon. I reached hesitantly for a bit of fruit, feeling Sophie’s watchful gaze on me. I guess all the dancing from last night counts as exercise?
“Anyone notice Crystal Lewis last night? Drank too much wine, danced with McGonagall and then vomited on the Minister for Magic’s shoes,” Scorp laughed, shoving bacon and bread into his mouth at the same time.
Boys are gross.
I took a careful nibble of my orange, and put it down. The taste burst on my tastebuds, and it was completely divine - my head actually span at the heady taste.
“Here you go, Rose, have some bacon. There’s some eggs under here too…” Freddie said, dumping what seemed like a whole pig on my plate and lifting lids off containers. “Ah ha! Here you go, fried soft, your favourite.”
He slid two eggs onto my plate next to the bacon and Scorp handed me a knife and fork. Our fingers brushed, and I felt like I was on fire. I didn’t know which was more distracting – Scorpius Malfoy, or the bacon in front of me.
“Thanks, guys,” I murmured, staring down at the feast in front of me. Callie and Albus emerged from the castle walked across the snowy lawn towards us, minus the professor. The moment Callie stomped across the pavilion and flung herself down opposite me, I knew that Albus had fucked up again. He followed more sedately and sat next to Sophie. He kept his eyes down and reached for the closest food.
“Took him to the hospital wing,” Callie said, breaking the silence and grabbing a juice. Everyone relaxed again, and chatter filled the pavilion. I was glad for the toasty warmth surrounding us, because beyond the open edges of the hut-like structure, snow began to fall.
“This is so lovely,” Sophie said, all dreamy-eyed. She met Fred’s intense gaze briefly and looked away, blushing bright red.
MAKE UP AND GET TOGETHER ALREADY, I wanted to yell at the two couples sitting with me.
We may all be friends again, but no one was admitting what they were feeling – myself included. As talk swelled over me, I carefully cut my bacon into tiny pieces, wondering how much fat and oil was in it. I speared a tiny fragment and held it up before me, studying its pinkish colour.
Slowly, holding my breath, I popped the teeny piece into my mouth, and I swear it melted on my tongue. I shuddered in pleasure, and then straight away felt terrible.
What had I done? Bacon is full of fat! Trying to keep my breathing even, I took out my wand and Vanished small bits of my bacon and eggs at a time, still pretending to eat. I can’t believe I just put that rubbish in my fat-enough body!
“We should go for a fly after this,” Callie interrupted my careful spell work, and I looked at her dubiously. Flying in the snow? They might do it during quiddich matches, but it didn’t sound like the best recreational thing to do.
“It’s amazing,” Scorpius said, obviously seeing my doubt. He spoke quietly, only to me. “It’s cold and miserable and absolutely crazy, but it’s also beautiful. You’ll love it.”
I nodded once; if he approved, then maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.
He lied. It was worse than bad. I sat aside my accio’d school broom, being buffered by wind and icy snow. Even though I’d cast warming and anti-freezing spells over everything and everyone, I still felt as if my hands were frozen onto the wood in front of me. Around me, the others were laughing and looping through the air. I stared at Callie in horror as she dipped the tips of her shoes in the partially frozen lake.
“Don’t do that!” I shrieked, “You’ll fall in and get hypothermia!” But my words were snatched away by the wind. I knew without looking that Scorpius was behind me somewhere; I always seemed to know where he was these days.
“Have some fun!” he yelled at me, zooming closer on his much better broomstick. I stubbornly shook my head and continued to hover three metres above the ground. Albus was just a speck somewhere high above, probably unable to breath because of the air temperature. Serves him right.
“Come on, Rose!” Scorpius yelled, grinning at me. His smile made me shy again, and being shy reminded me of not-being-shy last night. I turned red yet again.
“Scorpius, I am so sorry about last night!” I yelled impulsively. He raised an eyebrow at me and hovered higher in the air.
“Sorry, what? I can’t hear you, come up higher!”
Overwhelmed with the need to apologize for my behaviour, I growled and slowly went higher.
“I said I’m sorry!”
“Sorry for what?” he grinned, this time drifting further towards the lake. This was absolute madness, having a conversation several metres above ground and having to yell because of the weather.
“Stop being a prat! I’m so embarrassed; I’m amazed you’re even talking to me!” I cried, becoming frustrated. By now, we were at the edge of the lake. Merlin, it was cold. My hands were so numb I could barely feel them, and I was struggling to keep upright because I felt that tired.
“It’s okay Rose,” he relented, coming closer so we didn’t have to yell, “Really. I won’t tell anyone.”
I nodded, not looking at him. This was so humiliating. At least he didn’t hate me.
‘He must really love you, Rose’, Callie’s voice drifted into my head from this morning, and I snapped my eyes back to his face. He was watching me carefully, and I stopped breathing.
Merlin, he was beautiful. He was sitting on his broom like he owned the world of quiddich, his muscled body completely in control and his deep blue eyes on my face. I sighed, dizzy.
Then everything went horribly bright as hunger stabbed at my stomach. I shook my head, but it didn’t help. In fact, it made it worse – the world darkened around the edges. My eyes were still on Scorpius, and he was saying something that I couldn’t hear with a sweet frown on his face. He reached out to me, and his hands on arm felt like lead, pushing me over the edge.
“What?” I asked stupidly, and then everything went black.
And I fell, physically and metaphorically. It was a relief, actually.
Everything was always too vibrant and too alive, I felt too much, around Scorpius Malfoy.
Everything was chillingly, bitingly cold. It felt like a dream – the hands on my body, my clothes being torn off (sounds almost familiar. The previous night comes to mind. Okay, back to being serious), voices reaching me through a vacuum. I decided that, despite what numerous voices were telling me to do, perhaps I didn’t want to open my eyes. Perhaps I didn’t even want to wake up.
It was nice, being in suspense. Despite the cold, I was clear-headed for the first time in months. No dizziness, no thoughts of food and exercise, no dark cloud hovering over the world.
In fact, maybe I would just stay like this forever, there was nothing to stop me from -
“Rose, please wake up,” said the first clear voice in my ear. I sighed internally. As if I could deny the owner of that voice a single thing. He owned me, mind, body and soul; if he didn’t want me to go, then I guess I wasn’t allowed to.
“Okay,” I murmured, and reluctantly let myself be pulled up.
Love rule #15 - Confessions of love in a hospital wing are like confessions of love from a drunk; desperate, amusing and completely sincere.
I hate Scorpius Malfoy. I am Rose Weasley and he is Scorpius Malfoy, and from birth I was told that I shouldn't love him. So I won't.
That determined thought fluttered straight out of my mind as soon as I felt the warm, rough hand holding my own. Scorpius. My heart seemed to sing for him, but everything hurt too much and I was far too tired to open my eyes and look at him.
“Is she awake?” I heard someone ask, sounding desperate. Sophie?
I couldn't move, couldn't react,so I just smiled slightly and snuggled deeper into the not-as-comfortable-as-my-bed-at-home bed. There was a light touch on my face, and I sighed at the feeling and the warmth – I’d know that touch anywhere.
I could just wake up later.
Later came, and the light beyond my eyelids was brighter than before. A light breeze swirled over my bare skin, and with it came the smell of flowers and sunlight. I took a deep breath and slowly released it, gasping at the pain in my lungs and the throbbing in my head.
Maybe I wasn’t quite ready to wake up after all. Especially considering he was now stroking my cheek and holding my hand, and if I woke up then he’d let me go.
The next time it was darker, and I decided that I felt better and I could open my eyes. So I did. I was met with a shadowy white ceiling and crisp white sheets. Colourful flowers were arrayed at my side, and through the window opposite me, I could see that the sun was turning the sky above the distant mountains a beautiful orange.
Why was I in the hospital wing? I tried to sit up, but was held down by something. A weight on my hip bone kept me in place, and I craned my neck to see someone’s head against me. Not just someone.
“Scorp?” I whispered, and his name comforted my whirling thoughts. He sat up with a start, moving to take my hand. His face was haggard, but I couldn’t help smiling tiredly at him.
“Oh hell, Rose,” he whispered back, holding my hand to his lips and breathing raggedly. I shivered in happiness, and pain shot through me. “Don’t move, I’ll go get Rivers.”
He jumped up and walked out of my line of sight. Come back! And then I was too tired to wait for him to come back, so I let myself drift again.
The next time, I was most definitely awake. No more drifting, I swear. Everything hurt too much for that.
“I’m surrounded my wizards and witches, shouldn’t I be feeling better?” I sighed without opening my eyes, and a woman chuckled.
“You should, my dear. So sit up and drink this.”
I opened my eyes to see a whippet thin woman bustling around my bed, shuffling my beautiful flowers out of the way and stacking colourfully wrapped boxes. Rivers, our healer-slash-matron, was a no-nonsense woman, so I did as I was told. She helped me settle back onto my pillows, tutting sympathetically when tears of pain sprang into my eyes.
“That was quite a fall you had, Miss Weasley,” she said, smoothing my cover down.
“What happened?” I asked, “How long have I been here for?”
“You fell of your broom yesterday morning and hit the ice on the lake.Your parents have been here since yesterday afternoon, and your friends are being particularly insistent about visiting, but you're too unwell.”
“But what concerns me most, Miss Weasley,” she continued, stirring a steaming potion and then handing it to me, “Is why you fell off the broom.”
I cupped the potion, enjoying the warmth and soothing feeling it lent to my surprisingly sore hands. I didn’t meet the Healer’s eyes as she glared beadily at me, watching as I sipped the foul concoction. She didn’t even give me a chance to ask what was in in and to calculate the calories.
I chose to ignore her last comment and instead asked, “What’s this meant to be benefiting?” gesturing at the potion.
“It’s to absorb the copious amounts of water in your lungs, to lessen your concussion, bring down overall swelling and give your body much needed nutrients. With your current state of health, I’m impressed you’re even awake. Broken bones, hypothermia and concussion will keep you here for a good long time.”
“Scorpius saved me,” I murmured, then shook my head in embarrassment; it was just the concussion speaking. Shaking my head was a mistake though - ouch. Healer Rivers huffed, snatched the empty glass from my hand and stomped off. She could be a right old cow, but she was the best Healer I’ve known.
The next sleep was a healing sleep, and I woke up feeling better than I’d felt in a very long time. The only thing distracting me was the gnawing hunger in my belly, and my hip bones sticking through the thin bed sheet. I fingered them wonderingly, and shook my head in amazement.
“Healer Rivers?” I called out, unsure if I was meant to be moving. I felt good though. It still hurt to breathe deeply, and my head was throbbing, but it was definitely an overall improvement. The light outside the windows told me it was early morning, perhaps the crack of dawn.
“Yes, Rose?” she asked, sticking her head through the curtain pulled around my bed.
“I need to use the bathroom,” I whispered in embarrassment, and she smiled kindly for once.
“Normally I’d make you use a bed pan,” – I turned red at this and started to protest – “But I want you to move around.”
I pushed the covers back in relief and swung my heavy, weak legs over the bed. I slowly stood up, but had a huge head spin and paused to lean against the bed. Perhaps I didn’t feel so good after all.
“Do you know why you’re so dizzy, Miss Weasley?” Rivers asked, gazing at me over her spectacles.
“Because I… hit my head?” I guessed hopefully, and she rolled her eyes.
“Because you don’t eat, Rose!”
“I eat a satisfactory amount,” I said stiffly, determinedly taking a step away from her.
My eating habits are no one’s business but my own!
I got to the other side of the curtain before my legs almost gave way. Rivers hurried to my side and threw my arm over her shoulder, still huffing.
“We’ll talk about this later, girlie.”
“Nothing to talk about,” I said mulishly, and she all but dragged me to the bathroom.
“Oh my god, Rose!” Callie screeched, and she and Sophie threw themselves across the bed at me. Sophie was pale and babbling.incoherently. She cuddled me so hard that my newly healed bones protested, and hopping into bed with me so she didn't have to let me go.
The girls weren't my first visitors. I felt like everyone I'd ever said hello to had come in to see me.
Everyone but Scorpius.
“Let me go, Soph, I said with a laugh, "I'm fine. What have you been doing in class?”
Callie rolled her eyes and sat down, clearly not interested in school. Sophie wasn’t interested either, because she babbled in my ear.
“Everyone in school has been so worried, it’s just not the same without you menacing the hallways and yelling at first years. Scorpius has had to do it all by himself, and he’s such a mess that he can’t even eat-“
Callie talked over her, distracting me from either the Scorpius comment, or the eating comment, I wasn’t quite sure which.
“Your parents want to come in for a visit in a few minutes,” she said, and my heart lifted. I had seen them already, but I had been so drugged up and hazy that I could barely remember it.
The girls left after promising to bring me homework and textbooks, and were replaced by my parents. Dad was still in his wheelchair, but long hours of physiotherapy were doing wonders for his speech and muscle control. Mum was looking frazzled, her bushy hair greyer and bushier than ever.
“Hello, love,” Dad said, winking at me, “How is my favourite head girl?”
“I’m okay, Dad,” I said, fidgeting with my sheets as both of my parents stared intently at me, “In fact, I feel good. I’m being kept here against my will!” I said the last bit as loud as I could without shouting.
“If you even so much as look at the door, Miss Weasley, I’ll lock you in,” Healer Rivers voice came from her office, and Dad sniggered. Mum sighed and sat on the chair that Callie had recently vacated.
“What are we going to do with you, Rose?” She looked disappointed and worried. Poor thing – Dad sick, daughter sick, son is a prat. What did she do in life to deserve this?
I couldn't meet her sad gaze.
“Nothing, Mum!” I said quietly.
“Guess what, Rose!” Dad suddenly exclaimed, clearly trying to ease the awkwardness. At least I knew who was the good cop and who was the bad cop.
“My Mungo’s Healer reckon I can be back at work in three months!” His eyes were lit up, and a smile was on his rugged, still-a-bit-droopy-face, and I gave him my first gsmiled in response. I knew how difficult the last few months had been for Mum and Dad. The loss of a second income was a rather hard impact.
“That’s fab, Dad!”
Dad leaned forward to say something else, but Mum interrupted. “We have someone coming in to see you tomorrow.”
“Merlin,” I groaned, slumping back onto my pillows, “Not the whole bloody Weasley clan!”
“No, Rose,” Mum said tartly, “It’s a muggle-born Healer.”
Dad shifted uncomfortably as I protested. “What for? I’ve got Rivers, she’s better than anyone.”
“Not for the kind of help you need, Rose.”
“The kind of help I need? Mum, what I need is to get out of here, see my friends and study for my classes!”
“You won’t be able to do any of that if you’re dead, Rose! Which is exactly what you’ll be if you continue like this!” Mum exploded, and I stared at her. So that’s that this is about.
“I am perfectly healthy, Mum! My weight is in the normal range, my grades haven’t dropped, and my friends don’t hate me anymore!”
“Rose,” Mum sighed, head in her hands, “Your weight is at the low range of healthy. If you continue like this, you’ll eventually wear your body out! You don’t look healthy, and I know you don’t feel healthy. Why else would you have fallen off your broom in the first place?”
“I see what this is,” I hissed, so angry I was trembling, “’Let’s kick Rose while she’s down.’ Well you know what? I don’t need any help! Please leave me alone.”
I slid under my covers and pulled them up to my now-wobbling chin. Closing my eyes, I rolled over so I didn’t have to look at either of them. The truth is, I was scared. So very, very scared of this muggle-born Healer. Because despite my protests and my denials, I knew that I was sick, but I didn’t want to be fat again.
I laid wide awake that night, fear filling my chest. A muggle healer. No Scorpius. Fat. Failing school.
I needed to see Scorpius so badly that I worked myself up into a panic. Rivers finally administered me a calming draught, and I knew a brief moment of tranquility before nightmares haunted me.
The next morning I vanished my breakfast into oblivion and slumped to the shower – and made an effort to change my pyjamas for a dress and put on some makeup.
Anything to make myself look healthy and nice.
My hair, thanks to the wonder that is magic, was beautiful again – long, glistening and thick. The moment I had noticed it starting to fall out a few months ago, I’d hunted down the best hair spells I could, and voila! Healthy hair again.
However, the rest of me had little to offer. My nails were brittle, my skin pasty, my eyes exhausted. With a sigh, I tore myself away from the mirror and slumped back to bed. When had I gotten like this?
“Rose, Ductor Lewis is here for you,” Rivers said midmorning, sticking her head through the curtains.
“Doctor,” I corrected her mutinously and turned away. I heard someone walking down the hospital wing towards my bed, and the curtains opened. I forced a passive smile onto my face and looked up at the ‘ductor’. I hid my surprise as a sleek, well-dressed young woman sat next to me.
“Hello, Rose.” She had a pretty smile, and couldn’t be more than thirty.
“Hi,” I said hesitantly.
“Shall we,” she said, looking around with a frown, “Have a chat elsewhere? This place is awful.”
I couldn’t help but warm up to her. The hospital wing sucked.
“There’s a balcony at the end of the wing,” I said hopefully, and the doctor stood up faster than she had sat down.
“Come on, then. Out of this poky old spot.”
I slipped out of bed and into some shoes, throwing a jumper over my dress and hurrying after Lewis. I was tired and dizzy as I walked behind her, but excited – fresh air! She opened the doors and we stepped out into a chilling wind. I went to grab my wand to cast a protective charm, but found I didn’t have it on me.
“Allow me,” Lewis said politely, taking her wand out, casting the charm and conjuring some comfy armchairs. We sat down on the stone balcony, protected from the weather and ensconced in lovely chairs; Dumbledore would have been proud.
Lewis turned to me, looking serious. I suddenly wanted to hit my head against the railings, desperate to be anywhere but here.
“Rose, my name is Amethyst Lewis. I’m a muggle psychologist and a Healer at Mungos. Your mum invited me here today for a chat. I want you to know that you needn’t talk to me if you don’t want to. For all it matters, I’m happy to sit here with a cup of tea until if or when you feel like talking.”
Damn this woman, she was good. I fought with my natural politeness, which was telling me to say, “That’s okay, we can talk! Thank you so much for coming today!” Instead, I crossed my arms and sat back in my chair. I could feel my ribs under my arms and felt a thrill of excitement.
“Cup of tea?”
I nodded. “Black, please.”
The tea was conjured, and silence descended once more. It got to the point of being unbearable – after all, I was never one to keep my mouth shut.
“I don’t even know why you’re here,” I finally blurted out. Lewis took a sip of her tea and smiled at me over the rim.
“Tell me, Rose. How do you feel right this moment? It’s not a trick question,” she added as I glared at her, looking for an ulterior motive. I relented.
“I feel… warm.” The tea cup in my hands was hot, and the chair around me was deliciously warm, but then a shiver wracked me.
“Everything around you is warm, but you’re still cold,” Lewis noted, and I shrugged again. “What else, Rose?”
“I’m tired. Really tired… Which makes no sense, because I’ve done nothing but sit on my fat butt these last few days. I’m also really annoyed at everyone. Did you know Hugo hasn’t even visited me? And Scorpius was here at the start but he hasn’t come back since! I feel angry actually. I can’t even walk without getting dizzy. I can’t believe I hit my head that hard!”
I took a deep, shuddering breath, turning pink. Why did I say all of that?
“Do you really think you’re dizzy because you hit your head?” Amethyst Lewis asked quietly, and I didn’t meet her eyes. As if on cue, my stomach rumbled loudly. I ignored her last question and decided to continue with my rant – anything to distract her.
“I’m so stressed out, all the time. I’ve got Dad to worry about, Mum is nagging me, and I’ve got so much school work to do. Everyone thinks I have to be perfect but I’m probably going to fail my NEWTs and then I won’t be able to get a job and Mum will hate me and Scorpius will pity me and the girls will stop talking to me again!”
“You’re not a self-centred person, are you Rose?” Lewis crossed her legs and leaned forward after I finished my garbled rant. I raised an eyebrow.
“I don’t think I am, no.”
“Good, because I don’t think you are either. This confuses me. If you’re not self-centred, then why haven’t you noticed that people aren’t nagging you, they’re worried about you.”
“There’s nothing to be worried about,” I said obtusely.
“What do you think of the weather today?” she said suddenly, and I raised an eyebrow.
“It’s okay, I guess,” I said, looking out at the sky. A few wisps of cloud dotted an otherwise pale blue sky. It was icy cold and the lake was frozen still. Students were laughing in the grounds and Hagrid was inspecting his cucumber patch with a sweet smile on his wrinkled face. “Actually,” I finally said, “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”
“It is indeed, Rose. What do you think of muggles?”
“Crazy old hero.”
“Crucial for sanity.”
“I love him.” (Cue turning bright red. Me and my stupid big mouth)
“I just vomited a little bit.”
“Dangerous. Wait, what is the point of this?” I said, frowning. Previously, I’d been smiling bemusedly at the strange questions, but now I was suspicious.
“Just a bit of word association, Rose.”
“Well I’m tired,” I muttered, draining my tea – she had entered dangerous ground. “I’d like to go back to bed now please.”
I stood up without looking at her or waiting for a dismissal.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, Rose,” she said quietly as I walked away. I threw a glare over my shoulder, stalked through the hospital wing with a vigour I didn’t have and yanked the curtains around my bed.
I needed help, but that didn’t mean I wanted it.
A/N - Hello, lovelies! I hope you're all well. Thanks for sticking with me so far. Writing Love Rules has been a great journey and I've loved sharing it with everyone. I'm not going to be updating this story for a few more weeks because life is getting hectic. As soon as I'm free, you'll have a lovely new chapter to read!
I appreciate any and all feedback, so please leave a review and let me know what you think!
Love rule #16 – I say it’s torture, they say it’s for my own good
It was another beautiful day according to Amethyst Lewis. Outside the window, heavy skies shouted to the world that winter still had a tight grip, and the flurries of snow were still the cause of heinous fights between students. I could only hear the shouts and laughter though, not see the snow fights nor participate – I was still being kept under lock and key.
I had left the stage of anger and denial, and entered into the ‘problem acknowledged but there isn’t anything wrong with me!’ stage. Mine and Lewis’ conversation this morning had gone a little like this;
“Have some toast, Rose.”
“No. Seriously? There’s butter on that. And carbs. And is that jam? Merlin! Can I have some water?”
“You’re hungry. Have some toast.”
“No. I don’t want to.”
“Yes you do.”
“No I don’t.”
“Yes you do.”
“Yes I do, but I’m not going to! I can do what I want. ”
“Okay, but if your BMI drops below eighteen, you’ll be taken to Mungo’s and force fed. It’s up to you, really.”
“I hate you.”
“No you don’t. You hate what your sickness is making you do.”
“Fine. I’ll see you this afternoon.”
Lewis stood up and breezed out the door. No matter how rude or insulting I was, she still remained unruffled and unconcerned about my awful behaviour.
She reminded me of Scorpius in that way – he could take whatever anyone said to him and still get on without it affecting him. My heart ached for him, but I forced him from my mind. It had been a whole week since I’d been in the hospital wing. If he didn’t want to see me, then I shouldn’t have to moon after him.
I sighed and sat back on my bed, angrily pulling some transfiguration homework towards me. The girls had been routinely coming by for the last week and giving me all of my class work. So far, I was only behind by a little bit. I had started scratching a sentence onto some paper when River’s walked by. The force of her passing wafted the smell of the toast to my nostrils, and I paused.
Yes Rose. You need this. You need energy to study and do well at school. You need energy to go on runs. You need energy to live.
Do you really think Scorpius Malfoy will fall in love with a skinny waif like you?
I don’t want it. He clearly doesn’t want me anyway.
Why don’t you just have a little bite? You’ll think better and you’ll feel better. You won’t be as dizzy and weak. Go on.
Yes. If you eat, you’ll get out of the hospital wing. You can see Scorpius and your friends. You can find Hugo and you’ll have the energy to shake him until he sees reason. Your parents won’t look at you with worry and pity in their eyes. If you eat, you’ll be normal again. You’ll be the Rose who gets straight O’s, you’ll be the Rose who is kind and caring and gentle, not bitter and angry and impulsive. If you eat -
“NO!” I screamed, grabbing the plate and throwing it across the room. It shattered into tiny fragments on the wall, shards showering down almost gently. The toast stuck to the stark white wall and I almost laughed. Almost.
“Hi chicken,” I heard. I rolled over in bed and gazed at Dad, surprised to see him. He had wheeled himself up to the side of my bed, but Mum was nowhere in sight. I felt a rush of gratitude when he ignored the shattered plate on the ground and the tears welling in my eyes.
“Just me today,” he said, seeing my eyes dart around for Mum. I nodded without sitting up and he reached out to touch my face.
“Sit up, my darling,” he said, and I churlishly did as asked. If anyone could get me to do something, it was Dad. “It breaks my heart to see you like this, my beautiful girl.”
His voice was quiet, and I shifted uncomfortably. Changing the subject, I asked, “What are you doing today?”
“Visiting my favourite persom. I escaped your mum while her back was turned. Don’t even ask how I got here.”
I couldn’t help but grin. Despite being struck down with a disability and his whole life changing, he still had the energy and spirit to be himself. If only I was half as strong.
“She’ll find you in about ten minutes, no doubt,” I giggled, and he winked.
“In which case, let’s get out of here.”
I stared at him wide-eyed. Was he serious? I could escape?
“Only for a few hours,” he hastily amended when he saw my excited eyes, but that was okay - a few hours was better than nothing.
“Did Rivers say it was okay?”
“She doesn’t have to know,” Dad said, looking shifty, “Come on!”
I jumped out of bed with more vigour than I felt.
I wandered down the main street of Diagon Alley with a spring in my step. Everything, even the dirty gutters and occasional emancipated beggar, seemed beautiful and bright outside of the Hospital Wing. I ignored the looks we were getting from people – Dad in his wheelchair and me not being at school.
People knew the face of a Weasley anywhere.
“Quiddich shop, chicken?” Dad asked, looking up at me hopefully. I couldn’t help but smile. Whenever I came to Diagon with any member of my family (James excepted), I would undoubtedly be dragged along to look at the latest brooms and dragon leather keeper gloves.
We were stopped outside the gold and purple fronted shop, and Dad was jiggling his foot against the wheelchair in excitement.
“What choice do I have?” I said.
“Everything is a choice in life, Rosie,” he replied quietly, wheeling ahead of me through the door. I followed more slowly, frowning. Why did I have the feeling that we weren’t talking about a visit to see quiddich gear?
“Mr Weasley! Oh, and little Miss Weasley, too! Or should I say, young lady? You get more beautiful each time, Miss Weasley,” Tortean Fleet said, tottering over on spindly legs. The old man had opened and ran the shop for almost six decades, and wasn’t going to let a little thing like old age get in his way.
“Hello, Mr Fleet,” I said with a polite smile. The lustre and excitement of the trip was already starting to wear off, and I was getting tired and shaky again. More beautiful every time? This was coming from a man who could barely see five steps in front of him. I crossed my arms to hide the way my hands pinched at my belly fat, and was satisfied; definitely not beautiful.
“Tortie!” Dad exclaimed, shaking hands with the old owner heartily. I wandered off idly as Mr Fleet started talking about brooms for disabled players or special charms that would work for a wheelchair.
I was looking at the latest racing broom without really seeing it, when I smacked into someone coming around the corner.
“What- Miss Weasley! What are you doing here?”
I found myself staring up into the startled, pale eyes of Draco Malfoy, and turned pink. Seeing his blue eyes, so like Scorpius’, stabbed a pain into my belly that was all the fault of his stupid son. Where was Scorpius and why hadn’t he visited me?
“Hi, Mr Malfoy. How are you?” I asked politely, trying to distract myself from thinking of his son. He had a broomstick harness in his hands, and a travelling cloak slung over a shoulder.
“I’m perfectly well. Astoria sent me to do some birthday shopping for Scorpius. Aren’t you missing classes at the moment?”
“No, I’m not missing anything. I wasn’t really at school anyway,” I muttered, feeling uncomfortable talking about it.
It just felt ridiculous and weak – “Oh hi Mr Malfoy. I’m currently being kept in the Hospital Wing and force fed by a crazy matron because I refuse to feed myself.”
“Scorpius mentioned something, yes,” he began , “He’s been worried sick. I hope you get better soon, you’re looking very thin. What is it, some sort of goblin flu?”
I have to say, I was happily surprised at how polite he was –it wasn’t the awkward, stilted conversation I thought it would be, especially giving my short answers.
“Erm yes, something like that…” I trailed off, looking away. Scorpius could find the time to talk about me to his father, but not visit me?
“Rosie? Rose, where – ah, there you are chicken.” Dad rolled past some shelves, pretending to hit me with his wheelchair as he stopped. His face had a mischievous, happy look on it until he saw Draco Malfoy.
“Hello, Weasley,” Draco said somewhat stiffly.
“Malfoy,” Dad said, just as stiff.
“Here I was thinking Rose had escaped a class to come and look at brooms,” Malfoy said, forcing a smile.
“No, just a day trip away from – everything,” Dad said, and I was proud at how polite he was being.
All of us kids knew the stories from the war, and I knew how difficult this must be for Dad.
“Yes, yes. I’m sorry to hear about, well…” Malfoy trailed off tactfully, motioning towards the wheelchair.
“Well, one has to make the best of any situation,” Dad said, and again shot a meaningful glance at me. There was an awkward silence, and Mr Malfoy shifted from foot to foot, before finally breaking the silence.
“It was nice to see you again, Miss Weasley. I hope you feel better soon. I hope both of you feel better soon, Weasley.” He nodded awkwardly, and turned to walk off.
“It’s Rose,” I murmured, and he glanced back. There was a small smile on his lips.
“And I’m Draco. Mr Malfoy was my father.” The last was shot at Dad, who nodded almost imperceptibly. Mr Malfoy – Draco – looked relieved at something and at last turned around and left. Dad glanced at me, and I glanced at him.
“Well, that wasn’t awkward at all.”
I watched as a small drop of ice cream dripped down the cone, ran over Dad’s fingers and onto the table; a delicious, heady little pink drop of sugary energy. My tongue came out and wet my lips unconsciously, and my breath hitched. Head spinning in hunger, I wanted to hit myself for what I was about to say.
“Can – can I have a bite?” I asked, transfixed. To give Dad credit, his expression didn’t even change.
“Hmm? What? Oh yeah, sure. Here you are, chicken.”
He handed the cone over, only just not quite hiding his delight. I held the slightly soggy cone for a few moments, feeling the fragility of it, seeing the ball of ice cream balanced precariously on top, before slowly bringing it closer to my lips. I wanted to close my eyes in horror, but I didn’t. Ice cream was just something that you had to taste, smell and see.
The first mouthful I took exploded on my tongue, resonating in the ends of my toes.
“Good, isn’t it? You have that one, I’ll get another,” Dad said, leaving me to it and wheeling over to the counter again. I stared at the gooey goodness in my hand, marvelling at how perfect it was.
Slightly melting, freezing cold, not too sweet, perfect balance of flavour. I took another mouthful, and another. All too soon, it was gone, and my stomach swelled imperceptibly. I noticed it, though, and felt sick.
“Alright, chicken?” Dad said, throwing me a look as he gobbled down his new ice cream. I fixed my eyes on the table and nodded stiffly. It wasn’t so bad, right? It was one ice cream. Dad gave it to me, and I trust Dad, so it’s all right. Just one ice cream.
But what will it be next? Chocolate? Bread? Pudding? The nasty voice whispered, and it took everything in me to squash the voice and fix a smile on my face.
“It was yum, Dad,” I said truthfully, and his wrinkled, droopy face broke into an ice creamy grin.
“That’s my girl.”
We tried to sneak back in, really we did. But the moment we stepped (and wheeled) into the hospital wing, several angry faces swung around to greet us.
“Rose Weasley! Explain yourself!” Mum’s face was a deep scarlet and judging by the bushiness of her hair, she’d been worried for several hours.
“Hermione love, don’t-“ Dad tried to say, but he was cut off.
“And I haven’t even got to you yet, Ronald Weasley! Just you wait until later! Rose! How could you do this to us? No note, no goodbye, nothing!”
“So selfish,” someone muttered, and I was surprised to see Hugo hiding behind Mum. My eyes narrowed as they met his, and I was pleased to see he was somewhat frightened of that look. Or of how I looked – I wasn’t quite sure.
“Miss Weasley, I am so disappointed in you. You could have collapsed and you would’ve been helpless.”
Now old Rivers was joining the Rose-bashing bandwagon, and my shoulders slumped. I couldn’t do anything right. My stomach gave a tiny rumble, and I could almost taste the ice cream I’d eaten. A nostalgic rumble, perhaps.
“Everyone shut up,” Dad said quietly, and everyone stopped their babbling.
“What?! Ron, don’t you even-“ Mum snapped, but it was Dad’s turn to interrupt her.
“She ate an ice cream. And some salad afterwards. Let her rest now.”
There was a sudden shocked silence, and Dad nodded determinedly. He grasped my shaking hand and led me around the group and to my bed. I held on to him for dear life, trying to forget about the sugar and the salad that was lying heavily in my belly.
It’s okay to eat, Rose. It’s natural. Everyone has to eat, I tried to reassure myself. And to my surprise as I crawled into bed and pulled the covers up, it worked somewhat.
Somewhere behind me, I could still hear everyone arguing.
“How much and what exactly did she eat, Mr Weasley?”
“You were meant to be helping me with dinner!”
“Is she okay? She looks really bad.”
“I can’t believe you escaped like that! And kidnapped your own daughter!”
“I should have come to see her sooner.”
“Maybe this was the best thing for her.”
I sighed and finally called out, “I can hear you all. So shut up or go away.”
With that, I rolled over and went straight to sleep, with a strange, satisfied feeling that I hadn’t had in a while – I wasn’t hungry.
And it felt good.
I woke up in darkness, eyes snapping open in panic. My heart was still racing from my dream. At any other time I would have found it funny; I was flying through the stars as usual, but then they turned into lollies and chips and potatoes, chasing me around on their own broomsticks until I ate them. I lay on my back trying to calm my breathing.
The hospital wing was shadowy and warm, with the only light coming from under River’s door. I was about to lift my hands to my stomach to see if I was any fatter from my pig-out, but was distracted by a noise.
A scuffing, like a shoe, came from near the door. I shifted my head to peer into the shadows, and had to swallow a gasp when the shadows became a person - a person who sat down on the chair next to my bed and put their head in their hands. Hope swelled in me. Scorpius? Was he actually here to visit me?
“I’m so sorry, Rosie,” came a male voice who, disappointingly, wasn’t Scorpius. It was Hugo.
“What do you want, Hugo?” I asked with a tired sigh.
My brother leant forward, moonlight falling on his face.
“I wanted to see you.”
“And you couldn’t wait until morning like a normal person?”
“Well, no. Since when have either of us been normal?”
“Go away, Hugo,” I muttered, suddenly angry at him. Of course he comes in the middle of the night, waking me up and probably expecting me to forgive him after all of this time!
“Don’t be stubborn.”
“Says you! Shut up Rose, and just listen to me.”
I stared at my shadowy brother, indignant. I was the one who was sick, he was meant to be nice to me!
“I’m sorry for not believing you about Kayla. Maybe I was a bit harsh, but she was my first girlfriend and she hurt me. Of course I’m going to believe her words over yours. She was perfect in my eyes. But what you did was unfair and mean. I thought you were the smart one! You could have dealt with it in a kinder, subtler way than tattooing her face.
“You can be an awful person sometimes, Rose. I’m sorry for being mad over Dad. But the truth is,” he continued, surprising me with his rant, “Is that I was so scared for him. And a bit angry, too. You always get all of the attention. Rose this, Rose that. Rose is head girl, Rose is sick.
“I was worried that Dad wasn’t going to be okay. I was at the hospital wing the whole time while Dad was sick and I barely got mentioned in the papers for being so loyal and family orientated. But the moment you turned up everything was about you. ‘Rose is so thin, where is Rose, is Rose okay.’ Blah blah blah. So yeah, I was mad. But then you explained yourself and I was ashamed. But I never got to tell you that because then you changed. You got so distant and so different, I didn’t even know how to talk to you.”
Hugo’s breathing was rough, and his words jumbled as he now whisper-yelled at me. I closed my eyes and settled back onto my pillow, letting his words sink in and forcing the prickling feeling away from my eyes. Sometimes, my little brother just needed to rant at someone. We were alike like that, him and I; holding everything in until it all burst out in one damaging torrent.
“I missed you, Hugo,” I finally whispered, and I heard a smile in his voice as he replied.
“I missed you too, Rosie. Please, get better soon. Everyone is worried sick.”
I sighed and opened my eyes. “It’s not as easy as that, Hugh.”
“I can help! Tell me what to do, and I’ll do it!”
He was pleading with me, and I was shocked. Hugo Weasley never pleads. He just takes what he wants without asking, let alone pleading.
“Change society’s view of beauty and then maybe I’ll feel better,” I attempted to joke feebly, and my brother’s hands tightened on my sheets. I continued, “Or find a spell that takes away my perfectionist personality, or force-feed me or make food free of calories or look for –“
“Rose, stop!” Hugo hissed, sounding distressed. I felt a twinge of guilt, and quickly wiped a few tears from my eyes.
“Sorry,” I whispered shakily, “I’ll try. I promise I’ll try to be better. I hate being like this.”
“Thanks, sis.” He squeezed my hand, and we fell silent.
“Can you tell me where Scorpius is?” I finally asked the only thing I truly cared about. Hugo immediately started fidgeting, and I felt my heart sink.
“I better get back to bed. Can’t afford any more detentions.”
He planted a swift kiss on my cheek and was gone before I could even open my mouth. I lay in silence for a few brief seconds, thoughts whirling through my tired brain.
My brother and I were on friendly terms at last, and there was only one person in the world who I wanted to tell. With a determined, deep breath, I swung my legs out of bed and snuck out of the hospital wing.
Time to go and find Scorpius.
A/N- Can you believe I've written 18 chapters of this story?! Thank you all so much for sticking through with me and Love Rules, I'm so happy people are still reading it! I'm scared/happy/amazed/sad that I over halfway finished - not long to go now before this story is going to wrap up. You're all so amazing and thank you again for reading (and reviewing!).
And yay, Rose is finally going to go and shake some sense into Malfoy! Why didn't he visit her in the last week?
Love rule #17 – Sometimes love and hate get mixed up and are actually the same thing
It felt quite strange, wandering around the castle after so long of being kept in the hospital wing. I felt like one of the ghosts that occasionally passed through walls in front of me – ethereal, light and not truly alive. Lights flickered along the dim corridors, and I did my best not to jump at shadows and noises.
Despite once having walked these halls with confidence and power as head girl, I was now creeping along like a thief. Diminished, unconfident, different.
I turned my mind to the task ahead, determinedly ignoring my rumbling-again belly and weak movements. The plan was to sneak into the Head’s dorm, find Scorpius and… and… and then what? Shake him? Kiss him? Yell at him?
I sighed and rubbed my tired eyes. If only he didn’t make me so damn confused all the time! The winter ball, which felt like a year ago but was really only about a week and a half gone, was one of the most amazing nights of my life. Moments flashed through my mind; flying over the lake, learning to dance, organising patrols, arguing over the last potions textbook in the library, drinking Champagne at Christmas… Scorpius featured prominently in every single memory. An undeniable longing rose like a wave in my chest, and my feet unconsciously moved faster towards our dorm. However, I came to a stop at the sound of voices, shrinking behind a suit of armour.
“That’s all well and good, Mr Potter, but what do you want me to do about it?”
I frowned at McGonagall’s sharp voice coming from her open office door, cursing myself for thinking she’d already be in bed. Mr Potter? What was Albus doing awake in the middle of the night?
“I’m not so sure, Minerva,” came the reply, and I my frown deepened. Uncle Harry, not Albus like I’d thought. I leant against the wall and idly rubbed my back against the stone; the cool stone against my bony back kept me alert when I was tired, oh so tired…
“I’m so worried, Harry,” my professor sighed, and I blinked at the note of hopelessness in her voice.
“We all are. Especially Ron. We all had a meeting this afternoon… the general consensus is to move her to Mungo’s. They have a specialist unit there.”
My head span when I realised what they were talking about. Me.
Leave Hogwarts? Live in a place where strangers looked after me? Be away from school and learning? From Callie and Sophie? From Scorpius?
McGonagall made a noncommittal noise in reply, and I wanted to run in screaming, “No, you can’t force me to go anywhere!”
But why shouldn’t you leave? that cruel voice whispered, and I felt my lip quivering. It was right. I was already far behind the rest of my year, and I doubted I’d be allowed back as head girl. Besides, I’d achieved what I’d set out to accomplish.
I was thin.
But not thin enough.
“I’ve dealt with this situation before, many times before, Harry. In my professional opinion, and as the girl’s teacher, I believe she shouldn’t be moved. Madam Rivers said the girl was in good spirits this afternoon after her... trip away. That’s a positive sign.”
“Whatever you think is best, Minerva. I’ll go back to the others and tell them your opinion. None of us are sleeping lately…”
“Goodbye, Harry,” she said, and I heard a muffled, “The Burrow!” from Uncle Harry as he flooed away.
Swallowing the lump in my throat and rubbing my flat stomach, I slipped into a corridor and continued my journey. Had it always taken so long? Was it always so exhausting, walking around the castle?
My thoughts wandered as I walked, and I was hit by the realisation that this was my last year at Hogwarts. The last year of late nights doing essays, of showing up early to classes, of wondering what Ellie Blakely from Hufflepuff would walk into the great hall wearing on her head. The last year of going to the gym with Al, playing chess in the common room with Scorpius, sitting by the lake with the girls.
And I wasn't living my last year at Hogwarts in the way I wanted to.
Through the haunted halls, I finally reached the achingly familiar door to my dormitory. It had only been a week or so, but it felt like a lifetime since I’d last been here. A lifetime in which everything had changed, and I was now living someone else’s life. I took a deep breath, and then felt stupid.
“It’s your home, Rose,” I muttered crossly, “You’re just going home to him.”
And like I had done so many times this year, I muttered the password and pushed the door open. I immediately sank into warmth. It had been my home for only four months, but home it was. A fire was burning low and spreading its heat into my hollow stomach, and I noticed books scattered across the coffee table; books that would never have been left out and messy if I’d been here. I noticed with a pang of my heart that our chess set was shoved under the lounge, gathering dust. A jumper was thrown over an armchair, and his smell lingered everywhere.
“Scorpius,” I sighed, stopping for a few moments and smiling. I crossed to his door and hesitated before it, staring at the grainy wood and wondering what do say to him.
Where have you been?
Why didn’t you come and visit me?
I thought we were… friends.
I miss you.
Do you want to go to Hogsmead with me?
I shook my head at the last thought and knocked softly on the door. Not hearing an answer, nor expecting one, I pushed it open quietly.
“Scorpius?” I whispered into the darkness, feeling my way forward, “Scorp, wake up.”
Immediately I heard an incredulous, “Rose?” as if he’d never even been asleep.
His wand burst into light, and we stood blinking at each other from across the room. He was shirtless and sitting up in bed. Shadows cast from his wand's light threw his body into sharp relief, and all I could do was stare at his defined shoulders and stomach and wonder what it would feel like if I were to run my fingers over them.
“What are you doing here?”
Hearing his flat, almost lifeless tone snapped me out of my brain lull – what am I doing here? What sort of question was that? Anger suddenly rose up through my veins, and my gaze of adoration turned into fury.
“I came to see you,” I said icily, "Considering that you couldn't find time in your busy schedule to visit me." It felt good, letting my anger out at the one who was once always on the receiving end. It was familiar, even; it was what we’d done for most of our acquaintance after all. He seemed startled at my unfriendly voice, wand jerking slightly.
“You should be in bed,” he finally muttered, looking away from my angry glare.
“And you should be visiting me! Where the hell have you been, Malfoy?” I yelled, maddened from the anger and the frustration and the hopelessness that had been slowly building for the last week.
“I’ve been around,” he said tonelessly, still not looking at me. I was momentarily silenced. Was this what I meant to him? I was someone who he didn't want to look in the eyes, who was not worth a moment more of his precious time. Anger still tearing through my veins, I took a deep breath and turned around. If I kept yelling, I’d say something I’d regret. And despite his reaction to me being in his vicinity, I still loved him and didn’t want to hurt either of us.
“Fine, Scorpius. Goodbye.”
I strode through the door I’d entered only moments before, resisting the urge to slam it. I was confused. Where was the Scorpius I’d gotten to know and love? The one who’d shared a dance and a bed with me and told me I was beautiful?
I had one foot through the portrait hole when I finally heard him call out my name.
“Rose, wait! I’m sorry, please just wait!”
Ignoring him, I shut the portrait behind me and walked down the corridor, shaky and breathless. Hunger bit at my stomach, my small lunch I'd eaten with Dad already long-digested. I felt the urge to eat. An urge so strong that it took over every other emotion. Chocolate, pavlova, chicken, chips. Gasping, terrified, desperate to avoid the images of food in my mind, I spun around to face Scorpius.
“Shit!” he gasped at my sudden stop and tried to avoid colliding with me, but to no avail. I was on the floor in seconds, stars bursting before my eyes and a dull, relentless pain building in my head. At least the food’s gone.
“I’m so sorry, are you okay?” he said, hauling me to my feet. I was quickly aware of how close we were standing, my shaking hand engulfed by his warm, rough one, and I shook my head.
“No, Malfoy, I’m not okay,” I hissed, wrenching my hand from his. I was seriously angry again, and the guarded, distant look appeared in his eyes once more. My sore head sent waves of pain through my already tired and battered body.
There was silence between us as we looked at each other. His hands opened and closed at his side, as if he didn't know what to do with them. Every now and then, one would raise towards me only to be forced back down.
“Why haven’t you been to visit?” I broke the awkward silence, noting how tired he looked.
“It’s just, well, I uh...“
“Fine,” I huffed, and went to walk away again. His hand caught my arm, and he spun me back around to face him. Now my body was flush up against his for the first time since our dance, and I felt light headed and dizzy. His blue eyes were blazing with some unsaid emotion as his hand slid from my upper arm to my waist.
“Rose,” he whispered, and my breath hitched. “Rose, I’m sorry. I feel so guilty.”
“Guilty?” I managed to ask past my closed throat, and he nodded.
“Maybe if I’d said something, if I mentioned to anyone how unwell you were-“
“You think this is your fault?” I gasped, gesturing to my skinny-but-not-yet-emancipated body, and he shut his eyes. Compassion warred with anger, and compassion won. “Scorpius, this is no one’s fault.”
I lay my palm against his strong jaw, and his eyes flew open.
“Don’t, Rose,” he protested at my touch, stepping back and letting go of me. My arm dropped to my side as my face flushed with humiliation.
“I thought we were friends,” I muttered, and he looked at me.
“Friends isn’t what I’d call it.”
At his words, I felt as if I’d been hit in my hollow stomach. “Oh,” was all I managed. Hurt. Anger. Betrayal. I’ll never trust him again.
This time when he went to grab my arm as I turned away, I wrenched myself away.
“Rose, I didn’t mean it like that! You’re misunderstanding, you're more than a fr-“
“Don't TOUCH me! You’ve ruined my life, Malfoy!” I screamed, and he stepped back in shock. If only he’d come to visit, if only he’d not blamed himself, if only I hadn’t allowed those first obsessive thoughts to poison my mind and body, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. He’s ruined my life because I’m never going to trust properly ever again, never going to love any man but him – and now he’s taken himself away from me.
But I was gone, running down the corridor and down the stairs and behind a tapestry. When I heard his heavy footsteps run past my hiding place and disappear, I burst into tears.
I feel so guilty, I heard him whisper in my head.
I didn’t even know where I was going until my feet stopped. Al had taken me there once, back in our fourth year. It was heaven at the time, but now it was my hell. I reached out a shaking hand and tickled the pear.
“How can Milly help miss?”
I didn’t go back to the hospital wing that night. When I was finished in the kitchen, I spent time in one of the prefect’s bathroom, vomiting up everything I’d just consumed. The cheese toastie, a thick hot chocolate, roast potatoes and carrots, pistachio ice cream, handfuls of grapes. I wasn’t entirely sure whether the vomiting was involuntary or not. I didn’t think my stomach would accept so much food at once, but I also didn’t want it to be accepted anyway.
Wiping my mouth with a towel, I glared at my reflection in the mirror. So much self-hate, and who did it help? Definitely not myself, definitely not my family. Not Scorpius or my friends or my school grades.
What right did I have, to make myself so sick and pathetic? Dad could barely even walk, but he still smiled and laughed and made the best of his situation. Not only that, he was still a strong support pillar for the whole family.
Mum, still haunted from her experiences in the war so many years ago, learned how to deal with her demons and move on with her life.
I forced my frown into a smile, and the expression looked foreign on my face. I kept it in place though, and almost felt my non-existent spirits lifting.
So many people had lives worse off than I did, and yet here I was. Crying in the perfect’s bathroom at 2am, sick to the stomach after starving myself for a good two months and then binging on any available food, with a not-boyfriend-but-not-friend running around looking for me and my school grades up in the air. I’d almost ruined my friendships and my family, and probably any future career prospects ruined.
Taking a deep breath, I gazed into the mirror and forced the slipping smile back onto my face again. It’s okay, Rose, the voice whispered, and I almost fell over in shock. The little voice wasn’t mocking? It wasn’t encouraging me to do something I’d regret? I felt almost proud of myself, standing in that bathroom with a smile on my face under the worst circumstances I’d made for myself.
It’s going to be okay.
A/N - if you're reading this right now, all I can say is a BIG thank you and an even bigger sorry. My hiatus for my exams turned into a four month disappearance. I'm so sorry for not updating! This chapter is just a shortie to get us all back up and running, and the rest of the chapters will be big long ones :)
I'm not entirely pleased with this chapter.. When you stop working on a story for a few months, it can take some time to get back into the swing of things, and I think that that shows in this chappie. So please, if you've got any tips, see a spelling mistake or just want to say hi, leave a review! Love you all, and sorry again for disappearing!
A/N number 2! - I updated this chapter just then, and i'm already happier with it. Those who have already read it might not notice a difference, but i certainly can :)
Love rule #18 - Tough love is always preferrable to no love at all
It was a beautiful day outside the hospital wing window. Snow was built up on the sill and in the grounds below, but the sky was a clear if watery blue. I trailed my hand along the glass window pane and revelled in the icy feeling that shot through my body.
Today, I was dressed for travel. Behind me, my bed for the last two weeks had been stripped of its linen and my suitcase was placed on top.
“Are you sure you wish to do this, Miss Weasley?”
I turned around to face Professor McGonagall, sombre but certain. “Yes, Professor. It’s for the best.”
My professor only nodded, and shifted some papers in her hands. “Here. This is the address to which you send your assignments. They’ll be marked externally by Ministry examiners until you return to Hogwarts as a full time student.”
“Thank you, Professor McGonagall. I really appreciate what you’ve done for me. I just..”
I broke off, red-faced from embarrassment. I’m sorry that I’m seeking treatment at Mungo’s? I’m sorry for leaving you without a head girl? I’m sorry for being sick?
I had to leave, though. Staying at Hogwarts, with the thought of head duties, Scorpius and schoolwork hanging above my head all the time, wasn’t doing me any favours. I just needed to focus on getting better and getting on with real life once more.
“I understand, Rose, and I look forward to your speedy return,” my professor spoke with surprising warmth, and I gave her a real smile – not one of the ones I’d been practicing in the mirror lately. Picking up my bag, I thanked her once more and made my way to Professor Higgins’ office.
I was barely halfway there before I was waylaid.
“Rose?” came Callie’s reproachful voice, and I stopped short.
“Hey,” I said softly, turning to face her and Soph. They both wore worried frowns, and Callie seized my bag from me. “I can carry that, you know,” I protested, and she snorted.
“Where are you going?” Sophie said, but I could tell from her voice that they both already knew. I shifted awkwardly and shrugged.
“Oh, Rose!” Callie surprised me by bursting into tears, dropping my bag and crushing me in a hug.
“Geroff me!” I gasped with a laugh, tears filling my own eyes. Callie stepped back and Sophie took her place. I clung to her before forcing her off. If I let them have me for too long, I’d never leave. “Who told you then?”
“McGonagall,” Sophie answered, and I nodded. I wasn’t angry at my teacher; I was going to tell the girls eventually but I just lost track of time.
“I’m not going to be gone for long, you know. Just until I get better.”
“Can you promise to be back a few months before NEWTS?” Callie pleaded, and I found this small, worried side of her endearing.
“I’ll try. That means I’ll only be gone for two months or so.”
We were almost at the headmaster’s office by now, and I took my bag off Sophie who’d picked it up when it was dropped by Callie.
“We love you, you know that yeah?” Sophie said, and I nodded. Tears were threatening again and I started to turn away.
“Did you speak to Scorpius?” Callie wanted to know, grabbing my arm before I could speak the password to the gargoyle.
When Scorpius had apparently been closed-mouthed for the last two days and I had stopped talking about him for once, the girls knew straight away that something had happened. The truth had been forced out, but I found no sympathy from Callie nor Sophie. Callie had gone so far as to tell me that running away wasn’t going to solve any problems to do with Scorpius. I’d bluntly told her that it would help other, more pressing problems.
Callie let go of my arm and fell back with a small nod – neither of the girls had been pushing me towards any train of thought of late, as though I were too fragile to be pressed – and they both waved.
“Gumdrops,” I said, and the gargoyle jumped aside. “Bye! I love you girls!”
And they were gone.
I gripped the handle of my bag tightly, feeling the plastic dig into my hand. I was surprisingly nervous as I lifted my hand to knock on the headmaster’s door. It was here that I’d come yesterday with my parents. I’d sat down in the middle chair, cleared my throat and said nothing. Dad had held my hand and Mum did the talking, and now here I was. Ready for Mungo’s like the basketcase I truly was.
Before I could push the door open this time around, it was flung open and Mum bundled me into a hug. What was with these people? I was going somewhere so close by that I could floo there, and the plan was to only be there for a few weeks max. Telling the girls that I was gone for months was to get them off my back about a speedy recovery. I could only do the best I could, and that wasn’t usually enough.
“Hi, Mum,” I said weakly. Behind her choking embrace, I could see Dad leaning against his walking sick. His new joke was to poke me with it; needless to say that he was the only one amused.
“You came!” she cried, and I pushed her away.
“Of course I did,” I muttered, looking at the floor. Everyone in the room, however, knew that I’d be running in the other direction if I was allowed to.
“Hello, love,” Dad pushed Mum out of the way unceremoniously and planted a whiskery kiss on my cheek. “All ready to go, then?”
I nodded determinedly, at both him and Professor Higgins standing behind his chair.
“Right, then. Give me that.” Mum snatched my bag from me –what was with people doing that?- and marched to the fire place. Her bushy hair was bigger than ever, and I self-consciously patted my hair own down.
“It’s fine, love,” Dad said with a wink as we watched Mum scoop up a handful of floo powder and throw it into the fire.
“St Mungo’s!” she cried, and was gone in a flash of blue flame. There was silence in the circular office, and I shuffled my feet awkwardly.
“Professor, I’m so sorry for leaving.”
Higgins came around the desk and gripped my bony shoulder. “Rose, take as much time as you need. You’ll always be head girl.”
“Thank you, and again, I’m just so sor-“
“Miss Weasley, apologise once more and I’ll dock fifty points from Gryffindor.”
My mouth closed with a snap and Dad snorted. “If only I could get her to do that at home. Off you go, love.”
He shoved me towards the fireplace with a gentle smile, and I took a deep breath. My parents battled Lord Voldemort at my age; now it was time to go and battle my own demons.
White and sterile was my first impression – then I noticed the vase of red flowers on the desk, the blue ribbon in the receptionist’s hair, the faint sound of laughter coming from the hallway.
Perhaps this wouldn’t be the second coming of Voldemort that I was expecting.
Mum was standing in front of the reception desk talking to the woman sitting there. My bag had disappeared, and their words found their way into my ears.
“I assure you, Mrs Weasley, that we operate this ward, and all of Mungo’s wards for that matter, under the utmost discretion. You and your family have nothing to worry about.”
I was almost floored as Dad stumbled through the fireplace, his walking stick slipping on the spotless tiled floor.
“Oof! Watch it, Rosie!” he gasped, tripping over. Our presence announced, both Mum and the smiling receptionist turned their heads to us.
“Welcome, Mr Weasley, Miss Weasley,” a new, almost slimy voice said, and I looked up to see a healer entering from one of the many doorways leading to reception. “I’m Hr. Trumpleton and I’ll be looking after Miss Weasley during her time at St Mungo’s.”
Mum strode forward, ever domineering, and shook the healer’s hand. I felt a twinge of annoyance and forced it down. She’s only trying to help, Rose.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Hr. Trumpleton. Please, call me Hermione. This is my husband Ron, and, of course, Rose.”
Trumpleton shook hands with Dad before surveying me over his round-rimmed glasses. I immediately hated the way his cold blue eyes bore into mine, calculating and judging. The moment was broken when he showed his teeth in a harsh smile.
“Welcome, Rose. It’s a pleasure to have you with us,” he said, and I tried not to raise a Scorpius-style eyebrow. A pleasure to be in an eating disorder unit? Please sir, the pleasure is all mine.
“Of course,” I forced out, taking a step away from him. We were led into the room he had emerged from and offered coffee. At my request for a black coffee, I felt eyes in the back of my head from the healer.
“Please, sit,” he gestured, and we all did so. The chair was hard on my bony back and I noticed even Mum shifting in discomfit.
“Today I’d like to talk you through our procedures here at the eating disorder unit, and answer any questions you may have about your daughter’s wellbeing. Following our conversation, Rose will be evaluated by myself and another specialist. At this evaluation, she will be weighed, mentally reviewed and her warden given an eating plan for Rose to follow. Depending on what she weighs now and what she needs to weigh in order to be a healthy weight, she could be kept here for anywhere from a few weeks to an indefinite amount of time.”
His words, and the way I was excluded from the conversation, made my heart sink. An indefinite amount of time? Mental evaluation?
“Visitors are allowed on Sunday afternoons only after your daughter has been a guest for two weeks and has cooperated with all requests from staff.” At this, his steely eyes bored into mine once more, and I took a scalding sip of coffee to avoid eye contact. Was he always so awful, or was it just because he didn’t like me?
“Two weeks?” Dad broke in, looking worried, “That’s a long time. How can we be sure that she’s okay?”
“Daily correspondence from myself and also from your daughter,” his oily voice assured my father, and I wanted to hit him. I don’t think I’d ever hated anyone so much, so soon. Not even Loretta O’Walsh. As if sensing my hate, he raised his voice, saying, “Miss Balfour?”
There was silence, and then the pretty receptionist stuck her head through the door. “Yes sir?”
“Please take Rose Weasley to her room and see her settled.”
The girl smiled at me, but I was too busy bristling at his commanding tone of voice. I had wanted to hear the end of the conversation.
“Go on Rose,” Mum encouraged, “we will come and say goodbye when we’re done talking.”
Dad patted my knee and I stood up reluctantly. I purposely placed my moist coffee cup on an important-looking document sitting on the healer’s desk and looked up at the hateful man. His lip curled up in a cruel smile, and I smiled sardonically back at him. Two can play this game.
I left the room and followed the receptionist down the hall. She was chatting inanely, and I interrupted her to ask, “What’s the deal with Hr. Trumpleton?”
A frown creased her pretty forehead, and she looked like a confused puppy. “What do you mean?”
I sighed and shook my head. Clearly she hadn’t noticed how awful he was. “Never mind.”
Through a rabbit warren of corridors and more stark white walls, we finally stopped in front of a door.
“Here you are, Miss Weasley,” the Balfour girl simpered, and I cruelly wondered if there was anything in her head apart from cobwebs. “You have a room to yourself, but you’ll be sharing a bathroom with four other girls. There’s only fourteen of you here at the moment, so it’s nice and cosy!” she gushed, and a surge of annoyance rose in my chest. It was hardly as if I were on holiday in a boutique hotel.
“Lovely,” I forced out, stepping into the room and shutting the door pointedly. I went to lock myself in but stopped short. There was no lock on the door handle, nor a latch to secure it. Anyone could just come in. Did these people not know of privacy? Troubled, I turned to survey the room. It was the same bleak, white walls and spotless, clean floors. Bars across the window caused the sunlight to slant across the single bed, and I moaned.
What had I gotten myself into?
“Miss Weasley?” a knock on the door, and then it was opened before I could say anything. I sat up from where I’d been brooding on the unyielding bed, and met the hard eyes of Trumpleton. “It appears that we have to go through a few ground rules.”
“There’s an open-door policy in this ward, Miss Weasley. Given the nature of the illness and the… unstable minds it affects, it’s in the interest of everyone’s safety. On that note, I’ll take your wand thank you.”
“My wand?” I gasped, standing up and crossing my arms. What would I be without my wand? “What for?”
“For everyone’s safely, of course,” he said, advancing with an outstretched hand.
“Oh dear,” he said softly, “I feared that you’d be a spirited one. Security!”
He raised his voice only slightly, but straight away two burly people, a man and a woman, bundled into the room and stood poised.
“It appears that Miss Weasley is reluctant to part with her wand. Secure it for me.”
Before I could even protest in horror, I was being searched and my wand was taken from my school robe.
“Get off me!” I cried, trying to ward them off. They batted aside my weak attempts like I was nothing more than an annoying fly. The moment my wand was gone, I knew that I was in a bad situation.
“I’m awfully sorry that it’s come to this already, Miss Weasley,” Trumpleton simpered, sounding anything but sorry, “You’ll understand that it’s for the best, of course. Ryan, Sanders, accompany Miss Weasley and myself to the examination room. I don’t want any… trouble.”
“Wait!” I protested, shaking their hands from my shoulders, “I didn’t say goodbye to Mum and Dad!”
“Didn’t you? Such a shame. In that case, I suppose you’ll have to be on your best behaviour for the next two weeks. Come along, now.”
The evaluation was worse than I thought possible. The room was cold, and I idly wondered if the ward didn’t get enough funding or if they were sadistic on purpose.
“Please keep still, Rose,” came a soft voice, and I tried not to glare at Megan van Rosen. She was my other healer, and as surprisingly lovely as Trumpleton was horrible. “This will be over soon.”
I pulled my robe tighter around my body and let the icy metal of the scale numb my feet. At a desk in the corner, Trumpleton was tapping a pen against the wood. My clothes were folded neatly behind a changing screen, their warmth far out of reach.
“Interesting,” Meg, as she asked to be called, hummed. “The good news, Rose, is that you might not be with us for too long.”
Her smile made my hopes rise, only to be shot down seconds later by Trumpleton.
“Depending on your attitude and your impending mental evaluation, of course.” His smile was brief, cold and very satisfied, sending a further chill through my body.
“Now now, Samuel, don’t worry the girl with you words. She’s had a big day.”
The constant babying was wearing down on me, and I sighed. “Please, let’s get this done with.”
I stepped down from the scales as Meg scratched something down on a piece of parchment, and an onslaught of questions ensued.
“What is the average daily calorie mean that you consume?”
“Why are you vegetarian?”
“What do you think of soups and drinks?”
“Do you have many friends at school?”
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
“Do you feel pressure from your parent’s fame?”
“How well do you get along with your brother?”
The constant questions wore me down as I answered the best I could. After all, I didn’t want to be here and the only way to get out was to get better.
“Do you ever binge eat?”
“When was the last time you purposely expelled food from your body?”
“What do you want to do when you leave school?”
When they finally stopped I was exhausted. My stomach rumbled loudly and the two healers exchanged significant glances.
“Time for lunch, then. Your evaluation will be handed to your warden, who will in turn oversee your meals and ensure you receive adequate nutrition. We will continue to evaluate your progress each week, and when deemed suitable you will become an outpatient. Your days will be spent in workshops and counselling sessions with both the other patients and individually. Until next time, Rose.”
Meg bid me goodbye while Trumpleton gazed at me from his desk. I ignored him and followed my warden, Cecelia, out of the door and through the rabbit warren of corridors once more.
Cecelia was a whippet-thin woman who could probably do with adequate nutrition herself. She spoke little, hardly sparing me a glance. Since arriving at the ward hours ago, I’d felt like nothing more than a nuisance.
“In here, girl,” Cecelia said shortly, ushering me through an open door. I was faced with two long tables, each set for lunch. A buffet ran along the back wall, and the same stark walls glared at me. Gone were the colourful touches from reception. “You’ve missed lunch with the rest of them. Sit.”
I slowly sat down at a table near the door, wondering why I hadn’t seen even a hair of any other patients.
“Eat this. Eat this. And eat this,” she said, placing three plates in front of me and seating herself opposite. I noted the lack of sympathy and cajoling, and frowned at her. Was this seriously how the ward was run?
I looked down at the food and longed to be back at Hogwarts, even if it were just in the hospital wing. At least the house elves tried to tempt me with appetizing food… this just looked like leftover sludge.
“Erm… thank you?” I questioned, and the warden harrumphed.
“It’s the best you’re going to get, girl, so eat.”
I slowly picked up a fork and prodded at a grey mound, wondering if it would wobble like jelly or collapse in on itself. It did neither, choosing only to suction onto my fork. I shuddered and brought it to my face to smell. There were no words to describe what it smelt like, and I hastily dropped my fork.
“What in Merlin’s name is that?” I muttered, and received only a glare. “There’s no way I’m eating it. At least try to feed me something nice.”
“You’re not at your precious Hogwarts anymore, girlie.”
I hated the condescending tone and I hated the grey sludge in front of me – I was so determined to get better and get out of this place that I probably would have eaten a meal if it had been even slightly edible, but whatever was in front of me had to be a joke.
“I’m not eating it,” I repeated, and those steely eyes narrowed once more.
“Fine. To your room then.”
I was hauled to my feet, fast discovering that her thin frame belied her fierce grip.
“I can walk,” I protested, but was only tugged along harder. Without a word or movement in edgewise, we arrived at my room and I was thrown in, the door locked behind me before I could even shut it.
Was this place meant to be helping me or meant to be making me worse off?
Lacking anything else to do, I lay back on the hard bed, whose legs were bolted onto the floor and sheets attached to the blankets. I sighed - I wasn’t one of those girls, who self-harmed and who needed to be protected from themselves. The sunlight from the blue sky I’d admired only that morning struggled through the barred window and I bit my lip and sighed once more – what on earth had I gotten myself into this time?
A/N – Ahh don’t hate on me! Poor Rose, she’s stuck in an awful place!! What do you think about the new characters? Healer Horrible? I hate him so much! You’re not in Kansas anymore, Rose!
This chapter is a bit different from usual, mainly because Rose is so far out of her comfort zone and somewhere she’s never been before. I sincerely hope that there are no eating disorder clinics in the world run like the St Mungo’s one is run.
Thanks so much for reading, and I hope to hear your thoughts in a review!
Love rule #19 - Hope is the breeding ground for those with ill intentions
I cradled my plastic mug of lukewarm tea and surveyed the room from my seat in the corner. Thirteen other girls of varying ages were likewise sprawled across chairs, their skinny limbs glaring white under the cold light. The youngest was nine and the oldest was twenty-two. Across from me, Emily Patterson leant forward and opened her mouth to speak, but was quickly shushed by our overseeing warden for the afternoon. She fell back with a frown and I offered her a sympathetic smile.
It was reflection time, and I’d been stuck in the ward for eleven days. Right now I was supposed to be rethinking my choices in life, but sending encouraging smiles at our youngest and sickest, Lucy, was occupying my time.
I sighed when Lucy looked away, and I wished to be anywhere else in the world. I was wandless, practically friendless but slowly gaining weight. I didn’t know how much, but my clothes were certainly fitting better. It was hard psychologically to accept the weight gain; I was desperate to get out of the colourless life I was leading in the ward and I felt better for having more meat on my bones, but it felt wrong to be gaining weight. Fat. Heavy. It was getting harder to feel my ribs.
The awful food they fed us did nothing to bolster anyone’s mental and physical situation.
“Shh,” I hushed quickly, not wanting to get in trouble and miss out on letters later on. So far I’d received none, and I was starting to doubt whether those I’d asked to be sent had actually left Mungo’s yet.
“Did you hear the rumour?” Emily hissed, ignoring my hushing. She only had an unattached aunt as her guardian, and therefore didn’t care if she was allowed visitors or not. I relented to the conversation, craving human interaction beyond weigh-ins and cajoling to eat.
“What, has Trumpleton been handing out smiles and lollypops and releasing some of us again?”
My comment caused a few snorts of muffled laughter around me, and Emily grinned, her mouth wide in her thin face.
“Apparently Lucy Myers heard Balfour on the fellytone the other day.”
“Well, the next visitor’s day – not the one on this Sunday, the one after – we’re getting a visit from the Chudley Cannons!”
“What would an A-League quidditch team want to have anything to do with a bunch of crazy girls?” Gretchen Rowe asked, and Emily shrugged. She was only the messenger, after all.
“Girls! There will be no more talking!” the warden hissed, standing up and striding over to our small group. I winced, hoping to take most of the blame. I’d quickly noticed since the start that mentally I could withstand more than the others - perhaps because I’d only been unwell for a few months, or because I was not as severely unwell as the rest.
I’d be damned if I was staying here for more than a month. Maybe that’s what management aimed to do – create an environment so horrible, so hostile and not at all conducive to healing that one had no choice but to get better and get the heck out.
“I’m sorry warden, it won’t happen again,” I said quickly and loudly, and Emily shot me a surprised glance. I shook my head minutely at her. No need for another incident like the one a few nights ago. It was clear to me just exactly why our cutlery and mugs were plastic, and why our beds were bolted to the ground.
“It better not, Weasley, or you can spend your Sunday afternoon alone. You’re this close to having your visitor rights revoked,” she said, and then turned to the rest of the room, “Right girls, dinner time. I want no complaints, no tears and no refusals. Move it!”
We slowly shuffled out of the room in various states of distress; dinner time was always a big deal in this ward. I followed closely behind our tiny ten-year-old, keeping my eyes on her tiny frame.
"Sit, sit, stop wasting time!" the warden snapped as the food was served. I snagged a seat next to Lucy and smiled at her.
“It’s okay to eat it, Lucy. I know it looks like what your puppy Hugo vomited up when he was sick, but it’ll make you better.”
Tiny Lucy, our nine year old who was barely four foot tall and whose wrists were the size of Hagrid’s fingers, didn't appreciate my joke. Her lip trembled when I mentioned her puppy, and so I tried a different tactic.
“Will you take one bite for every two that I have? That way, we’ll both be out of here in no time.”
She shrugged, before turning her small face to mine. “Will we ever leave, Rosie? I’ve been here for months, and I want to go home. I miss my mum.”
“Only if you eat this, my darling,” I tried to encourage. I sighed and stared down at our plates of food. Our wardens were all lined up against the walls, beady eyes watching for any food disappearing where it wasn’t supposed to go – on the floor, under plates, even in clothes. At least tonight, dinner was recognisable as food.
“Look Lucy, mash potato. And chicken!”
“I love mash potato,” she said in a shaky voice, picking up her fork. I could have punched someone; why was I doing the job of a healer? Where was the poor girl’s support?
“Me too. Let’s dig in. Remember, two for one, okay?”
I picked up my own fork and slowly dug it into the mash potato. I truly did love mash potato, but just because I wanted to leave the ward didn’t mean that I was okay with eating it. I took a deep breath, smiled encouragingly at Emily sitting opposite me and brought the fork to my mouth.
The potato was floury, lumpy and tasteless, but it was mash potato and it was sustenance and I’d be damned if I wasn’t going to eat it. My stomach growled in response to the food, and at Lucy’s pointed gaze I scooped up another mouthful and ate it.
My heart soared to see her do the same, even if she did take a long time to swallow and tears ran down her face as she did so.
“I’m so proud of you, Luce. Did you know I have a cousin called Lucy? She’s only just a bit older than you, too.”
“Rose, everyone knows your family,” Emily interrupted with an eye roll. I poked my tongue out at her and ate some more mash potato. It sat heavily in my stomach and I tried to calm my racing heart. Carbs. Calories. Fat. It’s okay to eat, Rose.
“Is it true that your cousin James is single?” piped up the oldest, Hayley Grant, from further down the table. She pushed her glasses further up her thin nose with a shaking hand, her own dinner so far untouched.
“Of course he is, it’s James. You’d have to be deaf, stupid or foreign to want to date him,” I laughed, and immediately felt bad as Hayley’s face flushed red. I quickly amended, saying, “Or, of course, happy to put up with his constantly-voiced opinions and body odour. Last I heard though, he only goes after bigger girls. Weird, huh?”
Hayley didn’t reply, but I watched out of the corner of my eye as she carefully spooned some mash into her mouth. Every mouthful of food was a small victory for all of us.
“What about Fred Weasley, then? His eyes are just dreamy,“ Amelia Hurston sighed, and the others nodded vigorously.
“I’m not sure,” I began, troubled as I thought of my best friend and my cousin’s relationship. The others sensed my discomfit, and urged me to tell the story.
“Well you see, I have a best friend called Sophie - French, dark, very beautiful. At the start of the school year she was so into Fred, but he had no idea. When Sophie…”
I caught my odd group of misfits up to date on what I knew of the story so far, urging them to eat between each main point. By the time I was finished, plates were on their way to being half-eaten and the girls had smiles on their faces when I told them about being locked in the bathroom at Christmas.
“That’s enough, Miss Weasley. Stop your incessant chatter and eat your dinner,” my warden, Cecelia, finally snapped, and I threw down my fork in annoyance. Frustration and anger warred in my chest, pushing words into my mouth. I truly had had enough of these people.
“Why?” I asked shortly, folding my arms, “They’re clearly enjoying the story.”
“It’s dinner time, for goodness sake, not frivolous gossiping time.”
“Tell me then, the last time all of us had half-eaten plates at dinner time. Hmm?”
Cecelia blinked her beady eyes and quickly took stock of emptying plates and bulging stomachs.
“Getting you all to eat is our job, not yours Weasley. Shut your mouth and eat your dinner.”
“Shut my mouth and eat my dinner? You have a double negative there, Madam. Oh, and I have eaten my damn dinner. If it’s your job to have these girls eat, then why did I just do it for you?”
“Shh Rose,” Gretchen tried to say, but I ignored her and pushed my chair back with a loud screech.
“Sit down, Weasley!”
“I’ll do no such thing! Next time you want me to spend dinner with my mouth shut, do your damn job and help these poor girls get better! How dare you tell me what to do?”
There was a silence, and then the awful woman smiled a slow, horrid smile. “Go to your room, Weasley. Expect to be well acquainted with it this Sunday afternoon.”
“I hear you’re still giving us trouble, Miss Weasley,” Trumpleton said in his slow voice, gazing at me coldly from across his desk.
“Who, me?” I asked sweetly, smoothing my shirt over my growing stomach. It had been almost a month since I’d been admitted to Mungo’s and I’d had no contact with my family or friends. My mindset was slowly changing towards my growing body, thanks only to Megan van Rosen – she seemed like the only staff member who wanted to make a difference. I was well and truly fine to leave, but for some reason I was still being kept under lock and key.
“Conversations during reflection, sharing a bed with other girls, ignoring instructions from staff?”
“Sir, no one ‘reflects’ during reflection. What a ridiculous concept. And you expect nine-year-old Lucy Myers to be happy alone in her cold bed? Don’t be ridiculous. The girl still has nightmares and sleeps with the light on. And the only instructions I follow are the ones given to me by people I respect.”
If Mum could see the way I’d been treating the staff, she’d be livid. Always one to bow to authority herself, I used to have the same trait. Merlin, four months ago I would have been marching to the sound of Trumpleton’s drum. But when a nine year old is crying for her mother and her warden ignores her, something is very wrong with the situation.
“Talking back to me, Miss Weasley, will only make me revoke your visiting rights… again. You wouldn’t want to miss out on this particular visit, would you?”
My mouth snapped shut and I glared at the healer. The visit from the Cannons was something I was actually looking forward to. “Of course not, sir.”
“Good. Now, a review of this week’s weight gain and mental evaluation. Hr van Rosen says you’re improving each week mentally, and your weight gain is steady and healthy. Any comments?”
“Yes, I have a comment. Why am I still here?” I asked through gritted teeth, forcing a smile. I was not better, not by a long shot, but my recovery could continue back at Hogwarts. Scorpius.
“I have my reservations about releasing you, Miss Weasley. One can never predict how one will act once outside the care of this ward.”
His eyes locked onto mine, and I swear to Merlin he smiled. The man was evil – pure evil – and I wanted out.
“Oh my Merlin, they’re here!” Gretchen squealed in my ear, clutching tight onto my hands. It was my first visitor day, and of course all normal visits were suspended for the Chudley Cannon visit. My heart ached to see Dad, to even be hit in the shins by his walking stick, if only it meant he was here with me.
“And look, we’re all dolled up, too,” I said dryly, detaching myself from Gretchen to wrap an arm around tiny Lucy. The girls around me – Gretchen, Lucy, Emily and Crystal Norton – all had on the nicest clothes they had brought with them. My hearts swelled to see that some dresses were too tight or were ill-fitting, even if Emily kept tugging at her hem, clearly distressed by her weight gain. I calmly took her hand and smiled.
“It’s okay, Em. You look fantastic. You all look fantastic. Ready to go and check out some fitties?”
Constantly forcing cheerfulness and hope for the girls was becoming exhausting. I had fast become their backup for all stresses – missing home, cream in the pasta, voices in one’s head.
We walked down the corridor together, and I noted the flowers and pictures and colours that appeared whenever we had visitors. Filing into the dining room, we were met with the blinding orange jerseys of the Cannon players and smiles plastered onto the faces of the matrons.
The whole situation was insane. We were expected to act like everything was okay, as if we were being treated well in the ward.
“And here’s the last of them! Refreshments are by the window, and girls – I expect you to all eat two biscuits and a cup of tea,” Lucy’s warden said with false cheerfulness and a babying voice. I saw a few frowns on the faces of visitors, and was glad that too many bludgers to the head didn’t stop them seeing through the charade.
The silence in the room was awkward, with the ten or so players not knowing what to say, and the girls too awestruck to speak. Eyes went to me as I moved from the door to the tea table, my little group of girls not leaving my side.
“It’s okay, you know. Go have a chat!”
I shooed them away, and the silence was broken as Gretchen gasped to the nearest player, “Marry me, Walter! I’m your biggest fan!”
I giggled, for the first time in what felt forever, and yet again drew attention to myself. The captain of the team, Lucas Little (who, as a beater, was certainly not little), stared at me with a frown. I knew every player here, including the substitute players and the coaches. There was only one person who wasn’t familiar, a man carrying a bag and wearing a hat.
“Yes?” I prompted as the captain motioned for me to join him.
“Do I know you?” Little asked, and I shrugged.
“Probably not personally, Mr Little, but my dad is your biggest fan. Rose Weasley,” I said, sticking my hand out and shaking his large one. Recognition dawned in his eyes, and he looked amazed.
“A Weasley? In this ward? That’s kept well under wraps.”
“And I’d like it to stay that way, if you don’t mind.”
“Of course, Rose – do you mind if I call you Rose? If I may ask, what are you doing here? You look fit as a fiddle… Beautiful, even.”
I blushed at his compliment - what teenager wouldn’t? – but was saved from answering by an interruption. The man wearing a hat, who I could only assume was a team assistant or a Mungo’s staff member, spoke something in the captain’s ear. Little excused himself with a charming smile and disappeared out of the door.
“Forgive the interruption, but Mr Little was needed elsewhere. Can I offer you a cup of tea, miss?” my interrupter asked, and I shrugged.
“Sure, why not.”
We moved away from a nearby warden and back to the tea table where I had been standing previously. Conversations were going on around us, and I smiled to see the other girls smiling.
The man making my tea was tall and broad shouldered. He wouldn’t be out of place in one of the lurid orange team jerseys. As he turned to hand me my mug, I was struck with a sudden feeling of recognition.
“Here Rose. Black with two sugars, just as you’ve had since you were ten.”
I almost dropped the mug in shock as the man tilted his hat back. My eyes met the unchanging green eyes of Teddy Lupin, friend and soon-to-be cousin-in-law. It was all I could do to not burst into tears and throw myself in his arms. His lovely, familiar face was more than welcome.
“Teddy! Oh, I’d hug you but I’m guessing there’s a reason you’re disguised and pretending to work for the Cannons? You have no damn idea how good it is to see you!”
I quickly wiped some stray tears away and took a scalding mouthful of my tea. He had made it perfectly.
“Rose, we’ve all been so worried about you. Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione haven’t heard a word from you in a month. Your assignments have been sent to be marked, but that’s the only communication anyone has received. What’s going on?”
We subconsciously moved closer together, and his hair briefly flickered to its usual blue before turning to a flat brown again. Hayley, standing nearby, started at the sudden change of colour and I shook my head sharply at her before she could say anything.
“It’s been just awful in here, Ted,” I said in a small voice, shaky with tears, “I haven’t got my wand, I don’t get my letters sent, and I’m practically saving all of these poor girls from death because no one in here will help them! It’s like Azkaban, but they probably get better food than we do!”
“You haven’t got your wand?” Teddy said sharply, ever the auror. I shook my head, fingers itching to hold my ten inch, unicorn hair, willow wand.
“Shit, Rose. We had no idea it was like this. Aunt Hermione said that the reports they were getting from a Trumpletoot fellow said you were still very sick, but you look fantastic to me. Thinner than you used to be last year, but very healthy. It suits you.”
“That man is pure evil,” I hissed, “I’ve been healthy for the last few weeks. I think that I can be discharged, but he’s keeping me here. Help me escape? My wand is under lock and key in Trumpleton’s office, and there’s always security guards at the exits.”
“I can’t do anything today, but we’ll come up with something. Did you know that your dad has been to see you?”
“Five times. Every time he was turned away, and told you weren’t well enough. That’s why he sent me in – anyone can smell a rat here.”
“But why am I being kept in?” I whispered, eyes darting around to make sure no one was too close.
“I have no idea, Rosie, but I’ll definitely find out.”
“Teddy, do you see that little girl over there?” I said, nodding subtly towards Lucy. She was swallowed up among the huge men, her eyes constantly darting towards the door. Teddy nodded, raising an eyebrow. “She’s nine and yes she’s very sick, but she shouldn’t be in this awful place. If you get me out, please get her out as well.
“I will, Rose. Stay hopeful, okay? I’ll find a way to contact you, to get you to –“
He cut off suddenly as Cecelia approached me.
“And who is this, Miss Weasley?”
“He’s just a water boy, warden.”
“In that case, he won’t mind if you leave,” she said, then turned to my cousin, “She gets very tired you know - poor constitution, unstable mind, the usual ailments of the sickly. Come, Rose. You’ve had enough excitement for one day.”
I was hauled away from Teddy, craning my head around to send him a desperate, hopeful look.
He was going to rescue me, and rescue Lucy. And when I’m out, I would be able to help the others get out too. But while I was in here, Scorpius was out there, and that was the way it was supposed to be. So why did my heart ache to see him?
Love rule #20 - Fast thinking can mean the difference between love and death, or incarceration
I sat up suddenly in my bed. Faint moonlight struggled through my barred window, and I wondered what had woken me in the middle of the night.
Then I noticed it. A patronus, the small, shaggy wolf which I knew to be Teddy’s, was sitting at the end of my bed.
I leapt up, pushing the thin hospital blankets off my legs and scrambling closer to the shining apparition. My heart was beating unevenly, from my sudden wake up and from the anticipation of what Teddy had to say.
“Teddy?” I gasped, kneeling in front of the patronus. I briefly marvelled at the genius of using a patronus for communication – all letters went through reception, and the air space around all of Mungo’s was protected from broomsticks and magical creatures such as hippogriffs.
“Sorry I took so long, Rose. Your dad decided he didn’t want anything to do with your escape, so I had to improvise.” The voice sounding from the wolf was clear and loud, and I quickly shushed him. To be found out now would be the end of any escape plan.
“Talk quieter. Dad doesn’t want anything to do with it? How come?”
“I think he figures that you’re meant to be getting better in here. He trusts those damn Healers too much, probably because of how well he has been healing; trusts them enough not to question your lack of contact any further than he already has. I think that your Trumpleton bloke must have said something reassuring.”
I felt my bottom lip wobble slightly, before pushing the news from my mind. I understood Dad’s concerns, but it would have been nice to have his help.
“So what’s the plan?” I asked, slightly frustrated that I hadn’t been able to escape by myself. This place required a contact on the outside. In light of a ridiculous and possibly illegal escape from the ward, the logical, rule-abiding side of me had approached Trumpleton earlier that day to ask to be released. He had laughed in my face.
“You have to wait another week. Use that week to get as healthy as you possibly can. I don’t think anyone in the family will approve if I bring you out still waif-like.”
I started to protest at his last comment, but he held up a paw to stop me. “Rose, you looked great when I saw you five days ago. Still much thinner than you were this time last year, but great. I just need to reassure myself that I’m not doing something stupid by helping you get out. I want you to be healthy again.”
I was touched by his concern, and tears briefly clouded my vision. “I understand, Ted. I am feeling so much better now than when I first got in here, but much of it has been an improvement that I’ve forced myself to make, not the healers. I will get so much better if I can just be back at school with my friends again. I know how to do it now.”
I felt as if the little wolf patronus was studying me, and almost laughed at the absurdity of the situation. Sitting on my bed talking to an apparition – I really had gone crazy.
“And your little friend? Lila?”
“Lucy,” I corrected. “She’s sick but she’s improved since I’ve been here. I asked her who looks after her, and she said she lived with her aunt before here. I’m a bit worried about suddenly turning up on her doorstep and surprising her, but hopefully she will be a rational person.”
The Teddy-Patronus barked in laughter, and I half-smiled, too. People were never rational when you needed them to be.
“Here’s to hoping. What’s her last name? Maybe I can track down the aunt before next Sunday. If I can’t find her, what to do with Lucy is one part of the plan that we can decide upon when we get to it.”
“Hollingberry,” I said, and the patronus looked puzzled.
“Hollingberry,” he repeated, “Now why does that name sound familiar?”
I shrugged as I settled back onto my bed, hope blossoming in my chest as I thought of freedom. I’d first write to the girls and Albus, visit Mum and Dad, report Trumpleton and his team – with the exception of Megan van Rosen – and try to sort things out with Scorpius. My heart skipped just thinking his name.
“What about my wand, Teddy?”
“I haven’t forgotten,” the little wolf told me, “Here’s what we’re going to do next Sunday…”
Sitting at breakfast the next Sunday, nine days after I spoke to Teddy’s patronus, I was hard pressed to contain my nerves. Looking around the table at my fellow containees, I couldn’t help but feel almost grateful for my time in Mungo’s. It had changed me, and for the better. I’d never been so mentally strong, even if I did still struggle with self-image. Life was starting to make sense again, and I had hope for the future.
“Is that all you can do?” I encouraged Gretchen, who was picking at her scrambled eggs. She rolled her eyes at me and swallowed another mouthful. Another small victory. My own plate was scraped clean, and I breathed through the panic of my heavy stomach. I was handling it well lately, and there had only been one incident in the past week where I felt I couldn’t deal with eating.
“Anyone getting a visitor this afternoon?” Emily asked, and I could have kissed her for mentioning it. There were various nods and head shakes around the table in answer to her question. Lucy, sitting next to me as always, shook her head.
I took a deep breath and turned to the small girl. Making sure my voice carried, I asked, “Do you want to come to my room after lunch, then? I can show you that braid I was telling you about.”
Just as she opened her mouth to reply, a Warden’s voice cut across our conversation. “I don’t think so, Miss Hollingberry. If you don’t have any visitors, self-reflection in one’s room is non-negotiable.”
While Lucy’s excited smile turned into a sad line, my heart lifted. Phase one of the plan was complete.
“Seems a bit unfair, doesn’t it?” I said cheerily, beginning the objections to authority that came so easily to me now.
“What does, Miss Weasley?” my warden Cecelia questioned flatly, looking past me. Really, I don’t think they’d miss me much after this afternoon.
“The way we’re all shut up alone so often. You’d think constant social interaction would be beneficial to us all. Help the little ones come out of their shells a bit.” I nudged Lucy, who poked her tongue out at me. I loved when she acted her age – it was a sure sign that there was still a functioning little girl hiding in her frail, aged body.
“Enough, Miss Weasley,” another warden snapped, and I smiled lazily at her.
“Do accept my apologies, great and respected figure of authority,” I said sarcastically, and I heard some of the girls giggle.
“See you tomorrow then, Rose,” Emily pre-empted, and I grinned.
“To your room, Weasley!” Cecelia yelled over the laughter, and I stood up and bowed. Under the pretence of my arrogant and uncaring display, I quickly spoke to Lucy.
“Stay awake during reflection time, okay? I’m going to come and visit you.”
“NOW!” yelled my warden, and I quickly straightened, forcing the sarcastic smile back onto my face. Lucy only looked at me with big eyes, and I winked at her. Saluting the livid wardens and grinning girls, I marched out of the dining room and into my room, feeling safe in the knowledge that no one would check on me until dinner as punishment for speaking and acting as I did. Cecelia slammed my door shut, and I sat on the edge of my bed.
Phase two complete, and now time to play the waiting game.
At about one o’clock, I started to hear voices coming from a few corridors away. At last, the families coming to visit their sick daughters. Various shoes clacked on the cold floors, and I waited until the noise faded away. Trumpleton would be in the dining room, simpering and lying to the visiting families, along with most of the wardens and other healers. Those wardens not in the dining room would be stuffing their faces in the staffroom until dinner time.
I stood up, relieved to finally be doing something. The long wait was starting to do my head in. I looked around the room and felt a stab of regret at leaving my school books behind. They were piled neatly on my bedside table, but I couldn’t take anything with me. A girl carrying bags of books and clothes down the corridor wouldn’t get far.
I crossed the small room to the door, peering down the corridor nervously. Time for phase three: get Lucy and go to reception.
Hastily making my way to Lucy’s room, I didn’t see a single person. It was eerie, as if everyone had simply disappeared. It wasn’t until I reached Lucy that I was reassured that there were still people in the ward.
“Lucy. Lucy!” I gasped, skidding to a stop at her door. The tiny girl looked up in confusion,
“Rose? What are you doing here?”
“Getting you. Come on, we’re leaving,” I said, crossing the small room and pulling her to her feet. Hope blossomed in her eyes.
“What do you mean?”
“Going, leaving, escaping. Come on, let’s go!” I said quickly.
“What about my stuff?” she asked, and I shook my head.
“We don’t have any time to pack anything up.”
She gave a small, scared nod and followed me out of the room.
“I can’t believe this,” she gasped as we hurried along, and I squeezed her hand.
“Here,” I said, stopping and opening my arms. Lucy quickly climbed up, clinging to my middle. She weighed next to nothing, but in my own weakened state she felt heavy. Burying her head in my hair, I heard her snivelling and brief doubts about what we were doing crossed my mind.
Those doubts left when we reached reception, and I saw who was standing at the desk.
“I made an appointment,” a man was insisting, looking down his overly-large nose at the receptionist and rubbing his bald head.
I shrank back behind the door frame, watching and waiting for my moment. My arms were wrapped tightly around Lucy, who still had her head hidden.
“I’m sorry sir, but you’re not in the book. Perhaps you spoke to the wrong department.”
“I insist you take me to your superior,” the man replied, familiar brown eyes meeting mine as I peered around the door. I’d know those eyes anywhere.
“How about I call him…” the receptionist, who I remembered as Balfour, said uncertainly. Teddy frowned impressively and shook his bald head.
“I don’t think so. Do you know who I am?”
The receptionist clearly had no idea, but slowly stood regardless, pushing her chair back. “This way, sir.”
He followed her towards where I was hidden behind the door, stopping when he reached me.
“Pardon, my lace has come undone.”
He knelt down and rolled his wand towards me when she turned her back impatiently. I bent, still holding tightly onto Lucy, and picked it up. I gripped it ecstatically, pleased to have access to wand magic once more.
“Right, fixed,” Teddy said, straightening. The receptionist turned around and frowned impatiently at him.
Once their footsteps faded away, I darted around the door and entered the lobby. Trumpleton’s office was to our left, and I quickly approached the door.
“You have to hop down,” I said quietly to Lucy. She obliged, but still clung onto my shirt. I reached out and grasped the handle, turning. The door didn’t budge, so I held the wand out in front of me.
“Alohamora,” I whispered, and was rewarded by the sound of the lock clicking. I quickly pushed the door open and pulled Lucy through, before slamming it shut behind me.
“Stay put, okay?” I said, detaching Lucy from my shirt and gripping her shoulders, “This won’t take long.”
She gave a small nod and sat down next to the door, watching me with wide eyes. I surveyed the office before me. His desk sat in the middle of the room, with chairs arrayed in front of it. Behind the desk was a large window that I didn’t remember from my first visit. Most importantly, there was a row of filing cabinets along one wall. I hurried to the one that had ‘W-Z’ displayed on the front and pulled it open.
“Warring, Wealsie, Wester, Wheezer…” I trailed off, running my fingers over the files. Mine wasn’t in the filing cabinet. “Shit! Accio file!”
Nothing came soaring towards me, and I was ruffling through the names one last time when I heard the footsteps outside and the door handle turning. Heart in my mouth, I shut the cabinet as quietly and as quickly as possible and threw myself under Trumpleton’s desk. Please, Merlin, don’t let it be Trumpleton.
“Lucy!” I hissed, holding my hand out to her. She jumped up, face pale, and joined me under the desk as the door opened.
Eyes squeezed shut in fright, we listened as someone crossed the office, placed something on the desk and exited the room. The door was slammed shut.
Surely, just maybe, Dad could have come and taken me out of this place. Does it seriously have to be this hard? Do I really, actually have to escape from a ministry institution?
I squashed my doubts with a resolute yes, because I tried to get out in a legal way and opened my eyes. I could almost hear my blood pulsing quickly through my veins as I once again took a moment to calm myself. If I didn’t find my wand, then there was no point in leaving.
The consequences were unthinkable.
One last deep breath and I was ready to start searching again. I had pushed Lucy back to where she was before and I was crawling out from under the desk when an irregularity in the desk caught my eye. Just above my head, about where Trumpleton’s right hand would be if he was sitting down, was a panel of wood that didn’t match the rest of the desk. I grinned, grateful that he would resort to muggle techniques in order to hide something and grateful that Mum had encouraged me to read a variety of muggle stories when I was growing up.
I reached up, poking and prodding at the panel determinedly, and was rewarded when a draw popped out and hit me in the face. Pain lanced through my head, and I almost laughed. Where were my smarts gone, given that I was sitting on the ground trying to open something that I knew would open level to my face? Drawing upon some Gryffindor courage, I quickly wiped away involuntary tears and pulled myself onto Trumpleton’s plush office chair.
The drawer had been magically expanded, and I rifled through the files. Some of the names were familiar, some were not. I kept looking, until I found my own face smiling up at me.
I grabbed the file from its fellows and eagerly opened, only to be greeted by the glorious sight of my wand. I snatched it up, beaming happily as I tucked Teddy’s wand into my pocket. It felt indescribably good to have it between my fingers after more than a month of no magic, and I resisted the strange urge I had of rubbing it against my face. Resting it on the desk, I quickly glanced through the rest of my file.
There were various notes written by Madam Rivers during my time in the hospital wing, notes from Doctor Lewis, newspaper clippings about Dad’s illness and my own declining weight, a letter written to Trumpleton from the editor of the Daily Prophet and a large wad of envelopes all with my name written on the front in Callie’s, Sophie’s, Albus’ and even Scorpius’ handwriting.
My anger was growing as I stared at the huge pile of letters. Why were they kept from me? My eyes fell once more on the letter from the Daily Prophet, and I picked it up.
Dear Hr Trumpleton,
I would like to extend my gratitude over your recent contact with my esteemed publishment. Your letter detailing your current patient was most welcome, and will serve us both well in the future.
As you may imagine, this is a difficult matter. Due to the delicacy of publishing articles of a slanderous nature, one cannot simply publish articles at ones whim. One must wait and observe, and be sure of one’s facts. Therefore, I ask that you keep Miss Weasley under your careful eye for as long as possible. For this, you will be handsomely rewarded.
And, as one understands, this reward may be enough to cover one’s rather significant debts. Discovery of a scandal will double any such reward.
I look forward to future conversations,
I immediately recognised the name from History of Magic lectures, and I crumbled the letter involuntarily before shoving it in my pocket. That one missive answered so many questions, but opened up my mind to more doubt and confusion.
My musing was interrupted as Lucy spoke. “What were you reading? Can we go?”
I grabbed my wand from the table and pointed it at my thick file. “Diminuendo,” I muttered, and shoved the now-tiny wad of papers into my pocket alongside Teddy’s wand and the letter from Avery. I wanted to think more on the letter, but it was time for phase four: go to the elevator.
I twirled my wand through my fingers, getting used to it again before I called Lucy to my side.
“We’re going to leave now, okay? I need you to be as quiet as possible, because the spell I’m going to cast doesn’t silence sounds.”
“Okay. Who was that man who gave you the wand?”
“Teddy Lupin. He’s helping us. He’s really nice, I promise,” I reassured her as she climbed back into my arms.
“Okay,” she said again, and I raised my wand and cast the disillusionment spell. I used to be able to disillusion someone perfectly, but my magic was weak at the moment, from lack of practice and lack of proper nutrition. Lucy and I wavered into view briefly, before disappearing again. I’d have to focus hard to keep the spell up.
I slipped back through the office door, sparing the room a last, contemptuous glance for the man to whom it belonged. We waited quietly by the receptionist’s desk for Teddy to come back from his trip around the ward, Lucy tracing patterns on my back to distract herself. I felt a rush of affection for the small girl, and made a silent promise to help her get better.
After what felt like a lifetime, we finally heard voices and footsteps coming down the hall.
“Well, that was a waste of time,” Teddy was saying cheerfully, and I could imagine the receptionist’s eyes rolling at his comment.
I focussed my magic to ensure the disillusionment hadn’t slipped, and waited for Teddy to stop before the receptionist’s desk as she once again took her seat.
I touched his shoulder to let him know we were there, and a tiny smile lifted the corners of his mouth.
“Well,” he said cheerfully, “Have a good day.”
He was turning away as more footsteps hurried down the hall. Lucy’s grip around me tightened, and panic rose red-hot through my chest as he came into view. Trumpleton.
Teddy began to turn quickly towards the elevator, and I followed, breathing shallowly.
“A moment, if you please,” Trumpleton called after Teddy, who stiffened.
“Who were you claiming to be visiting?”
“Are you a relation?”
“Yes, an uncle. Good day.”
“A moment, if you please,” Trumpleton repeated, voice dangerously sharp. “Lucy Hollingberry’s only relation is an aunt. The rest of her family is dead.”
Lucy whimpered in my ear, and my arms tightened around me.
“I’m a distant uncle,” Teddy said coolly, stepping towards the escalator.
“I don’t think so. Call security,” Trumpleton said to the receptionist, who was watching the proceedings with wide eyes, “They can sort this imposter’s purpose.”
At his words, my disillusionment charm wavered. The look on Trumpleton’s face would have been funny if I wasn’t so utterly terrified.
“Weasley!” he began to thunder, but in the next moment I disappeared again. A piece of material had fallen over Lucy and I, and I struggled silently, believing that we’d been captured.
It wasn’t until a pair of strong arms went around my back and a voice spoke in my ear that I realised we were still relatively free.
“Be still, Rose.”
At the sound of that voice, I couldn’t possibly have moved even if a herd of angry centaurs were galloping towards me.
Outside the invisibility cloak, Trumpleton was staring at where we’d been standing seconds before.
Teddy appeared to have regained his composure, because he said “No, good sir. My name is Stevenson, not Weasley. There is no need for security when I can assure you that I am certainly a relation of Lucy Hollingberry; indeed I am quite offended that I am being questioned by one such as yourself.”
Teddy ran disapproving eyes over Trumpleton’s ruffled, panicked appearance, raising an eyebrow.
“Now, if you’re finished with your absurd accusations, I will be on my way,” Teddy continued haughtily, stepping into the elevator before anyone could protest.
The pair of hands around me gripped onto my waist, pulling Lucy and I into the elevator behind Teddy. My almost-cousin pushed the button for the ground floor, and my image of Trumpleton was cut off by the doors closing.
“Rose? Rose, are you okay?” Teddy asked, looking around the elevator blindly. I tore the invisibility cloak, which should have been with Albus at Hogwarts, off our little group, gasping and almost hysterical. I stumbled into a corner of the small elevator, my now-aching arms still clutched around Lucy.
I ignored Teddy and his worried, now-back-to-normal face, my eyes glued on the last person I ever expected to see that day.
“Who is that, Rose?” Lucy whispered, and I rubbed a shaking hand over her bony back. I couldn’t open my mouth to answer, so the person in question answered for me.
“Hi there. I’m Scorpius. Scorpius Malfoy.”
A/N – Okay, I think I got a bit carried away in this chapter. Believe it or not, this is the shortened version.
Scorpius is back! But what is he doing at Mungo’s and how did he get there?
I hope you enjoyed, thank you for reading. Please review!