Chapter 3 : The Beginning of the End
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If I hadn’t been so naïve and excited about the new school year, I probably would have noticed that the heavy promise of bad events to come hung thick in the fall air. But I, of course, didn’t notice, and slipped into the backseat next to Hugo without a care in the world.
The car ride was filled with more witty banter and hysterical laughter, but this time I didn’t join in the fun. Instead, I chose to stare out the window at the sky above. It was a sunny cloudless day; one of those days that made you grateful to be alive.
“Looks like it’s going to rain,” Hugo commented absently, turning around in his seat to point out black thunder clouds just above the horizon. I wrinkled my brow in surprise, wondering why the day had seemed so perfect when there was rain ahead.
Sooner than expected we arrived at the train station. Hugo and Dad grabbed our trunks from the back while I gave Mum a hug goodbye.
“Have a wonderful time, sweetheart. Don’t forget to put on your robes,” she said, hugging me tightly. I smiled and unbuttoned my long jacket to reveal my black robes underneath. Mum smiled and kissed my forehead, patting my cheek and saying, “Good girl. Study hard.”
Hugo said quick goodbyes to our parents and ran off to fetch some carts. I turned around and sprinted to Dad, throwing myself into his waiting arms. “I love you Daddy,” I whispered, hugging him tightly. He picked me up slightly, and gently put me down, putting his hands just under my jaw line.
“Goodbye Rose. Have a good time,” was all he said, because he and I both knew that his eyes told me the rest. I nodded, hurrying after Hugo, who had already said his goodbyes and was now twenty feet down the platform. When I caught up he gave me a brotherly pat on the back, smiling at me as if saying “You just made Dad’s day.”
I turned around to catch a final glimpse of my parents before we reached Platforms 9 and 10. They had their arms around each other, and Dad was looking at Mom like she was the most beautiful thing in the world. I smiled and choked back tears as Hugo called to me from the wall separating the platforms.
I took a deep breath and followed his mop of red hair through the wall, emerging onto Platform 9 ¾ just as the train blew its whistle. We handed our trunks over to the man waiting to load them and hopped onto the train.
I turned around and was almost knocked flat as someone threw their arms around me in a fierce embrace. I pulled away in surprise to find Lily smiling radiantly at me, the sunbeams outside dancing on her glossy red hair. Her SHORT red hair...
“Rose! Look at you, you’ve gotten to be even more beautiful over the summer!” my cousin complimented me cheerfully.
“Lily! You... you cut your hair!” It was true. Her long straight hair was gone, replaced by a chic pixie cut that lightly touched her jaw line.
“Yeah, I did. Do you like it?” she asked, fingering the short tresses fondly. I stepped back for a moment to look at how much she had changed. Her porcelain skin practically gleamed in the early morning sun, and she looked absolutely adorable in a simple red sweater, jeans, and high-rise winter boots.
“Yes, I love it! But why did you-”
“Hey, could you relocate? We have to get through,” a voice interrupted from behind me. I turned around to find a student with a mop of messy brown hair and two of his friends waiting impatiently to pass down the corridor. I murmured a quick sorry and hopped into the nearest open compartment to let them through. They brushed past us and continued on their merry way.
“Anyway, what I was saying was-” I stopped in surprise as I watched Lily’s face turning bright red as she caught sight of something behind me. She averted her gaze to the floor and I turned around in curiosity to see two people talking near the front of the train. One was a scary-looking monster of a boy, with thick shoulders and a permanent scowl on his face. The other had his back to me, but right when my gaze fell on him he immediately turned around to face me, as if he had somehow felt my eyes on him.
My eyes widened and my entire body tightened in surprise as he looked up and held my gaze. Merlin, could it really be him?
He raised his eyebrows quickly at me and I took a step back, almost knocking over Lily. And yet he held my gaze steadily, as if searching for something in my face. I could not believe this. It was really him... the infamous Scorpius Malfoy.
And Merlin, did he look different. His long blonde hair hung slightly over his eyes, giving him that dark and mysterious look that made you want to know everything about him. His bright blue eyes had that mysterious twinkle, almost as if there was a joke being played on you that only he was aware of. He was leaning lazily against the wall with one hand stuffed into his pocket, showing he really didn’t care what people thought about him. His lips curled into an amused smile as he took my appearance in, dragging his gaze deliberately up and down my body.
And then, just as quickly as he had turned to face me, he turned away dismissively and continued the conversation he had been having with his friend. I exhaled suddenly, realizing that the entire time that he had been looking at me I had been holding my breath.
Lily’s sharp fingernails dug into my arm as she turned me around to face her. “Did you see that? He totally just checked you out! Merlin, Rose, you’re so incredibly lucky! I’d KILL to have him look at me the way he just looked at you!”
I was too in shock to reply, so instead I just glanced at Lily as she in turn gazed at Scorpius. My heart squeezed painfully as I took in her features. She was gazing wistfully at Scorpius, her beautiful brown eyes filling with hopelessness and despair. She bit her lip as if fighting the urge to call to him, and sighed in defeat, tearing his gaze from him to look back at me.
“What’s that look for?” she demanded, as if she had not just had an expression on her face that practically screamed her feelings for Scorpius Malfoy out loud.
“Lily... is he the reason why you cut your hair?” I asked softly, glancing at him then back to her.
My cousin took a step away from me, her eyes widening in fear and vulnerability. Glancing at the floor in embarrassment, I heard her whisper, “I think you can guess.”
I pursed my lips, immediately wishing I hadn’t said anything, and grabbed her hand. “Come on, let’s go see everyone!” I suggested, grinning at her. Her crest-fallen expression lifted and she smiled one of her hundred-watt smiles, squeezing my hand gratefully and leading me down the corridor to the compartment in which our friends waited.
Before we arrived at the compartment, I turned back to look at Scorpius. He was staring straight at me, his gaze following me as Lily dragged me down the hallway. He didn’t blink, not even once. He only stared, his face unreadable and blue eyes now devoid of all emotion.
What did he want? Why was he looking at me that way? Through the years, we had hardly even acknowledged each other, so why was he acting so strange now? In fact, I had a nagging suspicion that he had started a few nasty rumors about me and my family through the years. What was his reason for staring at me, almost as if he was after something that required my help?
I couldn’t answer any of those questions, but something inside of me was stirring. But it only happened when he looked at me. Could it be...?
No, absolutely not. After everything that had happened this summer, I couldn’t afford any more downfalls. I couldn’t survive getting hurt again. I wouldn’t let him toy with me, or use me as his pawn in whatever game he was trying to play.
Or at least I thought I wouldn’t.
I suppose it was inevitable that some sort of attraction to Scorpius Malfoy would have formed inside of me. If not then, it probably would have happened later, because everything that happened after that had definitely been destiny. From the very beginning, our destinies had been intertwined, and we hadn’t even known it.
But how could we have known it? It’s pointless to think about it now, but I still wonder if he hadn’t been standing in that exact spot on the train, would things have played out differently? Would we have been dealt a different set of the cards than the ones we were forced to deal with now?
The answer, in my opinion, is probably not. No one messes with fate when it’s determined to bring two people closer amid tragedy and chaos. Fate will always have the upper hand. If it wants to change you into a different person, it will.
Much to my dismay, that’s exactly what fate had in store for me. Say goodbye to the good girl concerned only with studying and following the rules, and say hello to a whole new person stained by darkness.
It wasn’t my fault. There had been nothing in my power I could have used to stop the change that now made up who I was. I couldn’t stop fate. There was absolutely nothing I could have done.
Yet the thought still haunts me that maybe I could have resisted. That maybe, just maybe, I could have remained the same and protected my soul from becoming unclean. But now, I was impure, and I knew it.
From now on, my soul would always be tainted.
* * * *
A/N Author's Note: Hello readers! Ah, our infamous male lead has finally swaggered into the story! I hope that my description of his features painted his picture clearly in your mind, because that was the goal I had in mind.
This chapter is the beginning of the end for Rose, because it's the starting point of everything that tears her life apart. Please review and tell me if you'd like to keep reading!
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