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Chapter 32 : The End Of An Era
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“Red, I need your help!”
It’s never, ever a good thing when James Potter needs my help. Whether it’s wanting to know exactly how one places a constipating curse on someone, or what the password is to Flitwick’s office so that he can spray-paint ‘Munchkin’ on the sleeping Headmaster for a dare (that was in fourth year – twenty seven first years ran around after Flitwick the next day singing ‘Follow the yellow brick road’. James got twenty-seven detentions – one for each first year), helping James always turns out bad. However, this time he looks far more desperate than usual, so despite my better judgement, I listen to what he has to say.
“I haven’t started studying for Potions yet,” he tells me, “Tell me, how hard is it?”
I stare at him blankly. “By ‘it’ do you mean the entire NEWT course?” He nods frantically. “Well, it’s hard enough that there’s no way in hell you’ll ever get it all learned before tomorrow. You do realise your exam is tomorrow don’t you?”
“Right…” he says, “So you’re telling me I need to fly on a Thestral to the Ministry of Magic, steal a time-turner and go back in time?”
“No, that’s not what I’m saying,” I sigh.
“But our parents got to do it!” James whines.
“If our parents jumped off a dragon would you do it?”
“Our parents did jump off a dragon…”
“I don’t care!” I snap, “The point is you are not flying to the Ministry, you are not going back in time and you are not jumping off a dragon!”
He looks like he’s about to shout at me, but instead he takes a deep breath, runs a hand through his hair and sits down beside me. I can almost hear his brain counting to ten.
“Red, I know you’re good at Potions, can you please help me?” he pleads.
“My notes are upstairs in my bag,” I sigh tiredly, “But I only have half of the course done, so you’re on your own for everything you’ve covered in seventh year.” I can’t believe how irresponsible that boy is. Who starts studying for their Potions NEWT the night before the exam? I have half a mind to give him a good kick up the backside.
James makes Lily run upstairs to fetch my notes and he begins studying like he’s never studied before. Actually, come to think of it, he has never studied before.
“I’m going for a walk,” I tell him, but he barely even hears me because he’s concentrating on the notes so hard. His nose is practically touching the parchment.
I’ve taken to going for short walks recently because I find that if I sit in the one place for too long I get woefully bad cramps in my legs. Also, if I sit listening to James too long I get a woefully bad pain in my head. So I mosey out of the common room and down the grand staircase, looking for something to do or someone to talk to. I see Dom and Mark sitting on a random sofa on the third floor. She’s trying to calm him down about his Potions NEWT tomorrow, so I decide not to interrupt them.
Further on down the stairs, I run into Jenny, who is obviously coming from the library after studying for the end of year exams, which will be starting next week. I wish I cared more about them, but every time I go to study, I end up feeling frustrated and tired, so I just fall asleep. I know I’ll have to pass them if I ever want to sit my NEWTs in the future, but right now I’m more worried about becoming a mother than anything else.
“Been studying?” I ask her.
“Er…yes, sort of,” she shrugs and then blushes a bit. What’s so embarrassing about studying? Why on earth would a Ravenclaw be ashamed of doing a spot of revision? It’s all they do.
“What, were you studying naked or something?” I ask.
“I – I was just helping Albus with his Defence studying,” she says quickly. I think she used his full name in the hope that I wouldn’t know who she’s talking about.
“Oh Albus,” I nod, “As in Albus Potter? As in my cousin, Al? As in the boy you don’t want to get back together with…”
“I was just helping him out!” she protests, “It didn’t mean anything!”
“Jen, you know as well as I do that Al is one of the best in the year when it comes to Defence Against the Dark Arts. Tell me, what you were really doing –”
“Spoken to Scorpius lately?” she cuts me off and completely changes the subject. I hate when she does that.
“Yes, I had dinner with him today, actually,” I say proudly. Everyone seems to think that Scorpius and I are unable to do this ‘just friends’ thing. They’re wrong. In fact, Scorpius and I are spending even more time together now than we did when we were going out. And we’re even better friends.
“Rose,” Jenny sighs, now walking back down the direction she came with me, “I don’t see why you two broke up. Give it a week and you’ll be back together again.”
“No we won’t,” I tell her firmly, “Maybe in five years we’ll be ready for a relationship and a baby, but right now we have a lot of growing up to do. We have to concentrate on little Delilah.” I give her the same speech every time she asks why Scorpius and I broke up. It’s getting old now.
“Delilah?” she curls up her nose, “You’re still sure it’s a girl?”
“Positive,” I tell her, “Well, Scorpius reckons it’s a boy, but I just have a girly feeling about it.”
“James reckons it’s a boy too,” Jenny informs me, “He’s been going around making bets on it. Al put six galleons on it being a girl, I think I’ll put a couple of galleons on it too, if you think it’s a girl…”
It’s nice to know that people are making money off my situation.
“But promise you won’t call her Delilah?” Jenny pleads, “Delilah Weasley just doesn’t sound right.”
I take out my notepad and scribble ‘Delilah’ off my list of baby names. One down, three hundred and forty six to go.
I must be the only person not feeling the stress of exams. Molly has gone completely insane over her OWLs. She has quills sticking out of her hair, she has notes all over the place and she’s going around reciting different definitions and incantations. The really sad thing is that this time last year I was exactly the same. I even drew up timetables for Al and Dom so they’d study too. If I hadn’t, Al wouldn’t have done half as well as he did and Dom…well, she wouldn’t have passed at all. And I didn’t get as much as a ‘thank you’ from Aunt Ginny or Uncle Bill. I practically raised their kids and I get no recognition. When Harry and Dad heard about my timetable-ing, they both paled and looked slightly disturbed by it. Mum told me not to mind them, that what I did was both thoughtful and practical. And I agreed with her, and I still do.
But I really hope I wasn’t as bad as Molly. She looks physically ill. And even though she’s never scored anything less than an ‘Exceeds Expectations’ in any subject, she’s rushing around telling everyone she’s going to fail. I think everyone’s stopped listening to her, especially the seventh years who are just about ready to gag her. Seán Finnegan has his hands over his ears and is whispering the dates of the first ‘End the Discrimination of Werewolves’ protests and Harry Latimer is pacing up and down the steps to the dormitories spelling ‘Grindelwald’, just in case he forgets.
Even the sixth years are going a bit OTT. Jason O’Keefe is lying under the sofa, trying to recall the names of all the Death Eaters who fought in the war. Even Dom is studying and I didn’t even make her a timetable this year. I’m reading over some Charms notes, but I’m not stressing. I think I’ve finally realised that there are some things more important in life than exams. I can almost feel my past self smacking me across the head for thinking that.
When a little yellow memo flies towards me, I grab it immediately and before reading it I can tell who it’s from.
That’s all it says. I close over my Charms notes and leave the common room again. Nobody notices me leave – they’re all far too engrossed in their studying. I sort of pity them. I walk all the way down to the entrance hall, where Scorpius is waiting for me, as I knew he would be. We go for walks together and talk about random things that we never really spoke about before. It’s as if we’re more comfortable around each other now.
“Did you manage to drag yourself away from studying then?” he asks.
“I wasn’t studying,” I tell him, “I can’t seem to get into it this year.”
He holds the front door of the school open for me and I head out into the warm night before him. “I know what you mean,” he agrees, “It seems sort of unimportant now, doesn’t it?”
We walk in silence for a while. It’s not uncomfortable, nor is it relaxed. It just doesn’t seem right to speak.
“Let’s go to Hagrid’s,” I suggest after a while. I haven’t spoken to Hagrid in so long. I mean, obviously I see him around school, but I haven’t actually had a good conversation with him since I found out I’m pregnant. Al sees him a lot more than I do. I suppose he and Al are just closer, being godfather-and-son. I used to go and see him a lot in my earlier years at Hogwarts, but it seems like everything has changed this year, even my relationship with Hagrid.
He answers the door and grins widely when he sees it’s me.
“Rosie! Scorpius! Great ter see yeh!” he booms and ushers me and Scorpius inside. There is a strange smell of raw meat from inside Hagrid’s cabin and I can see that Scorpius has picked up on it too because he’s screwed up his nose. Then I notice his very large dog, Hamlet, in the corner chewing on a raw piece of steak. The smell is making me feel sick, but I try to ignore it. “Can I get yeh a cup o’ tea?”
“I’m off tea, actually,” I tell him, “Water would be nice, though.”
Scorpius takes a cup of tea politely and Hagrid planks a huge bucket-sized glass of water down on front of me. I don’t dare touch the queen cakes he’s laid out on a plate – I’ve had quite enough experience of Hagrid’s baking. He has a heart of gold, but the man can’t cook.
“I was talkin’ to yer Mum just the other day, Rosie,” Hagrid starts, “She was sayin’ how exited she and yer Dad are ‘bout becomin’ grandparents. ‘Magine! Ron and Hermione becomin’ grandparents!”
Hagrid loves to reminisce about the days Mum, Dad and Uncle Harry were at Hogwarts. I think he still thinks of them as kids my age, not as parents and grandparents. I’ve always loved listening to Hagrid tell stories about my parents when they were at Hogwarts. He tends to let slip the minor details that Mum and Dad ‘forget’ when they’re telling the same story. Like the fact that my Mum lost fifty points for Gryffindor in her first year.
“And Harry too, and Neville Longbottom! One hundred an’ fifty points they lost altogether for Gryffindor. Poor Harry had a rough time of it – had to serve detention with me, the whole lotta them! Yer Dad too, Scorpius! All caught out of bed late, they were. But they earned the points back in the end. Dumbledore gave ‘em back at the end of year feast. Great man, Dumbledore, great man.”
I’ve heard the story before, but I never knew that Mum lost fifty points. Scorpius says he’s heard the story too, but he heard that it was ‘all Potter’s fault’ that his father lost the points for Slytherin.
“I got yeh somethin’,” says Hagrid and starts routing around in a cupboard, “I know I shouldn’ be givin’ yeh this before the baby’s born, but I couldn’ resist!”
It’s a little solid silver teddy bear ornament. It’s the kind of thing you’d keep forever and always remember the day you got it.
“Hagrid, it’s perfect,” I tell him and hug him, “I’m so sorry I haven’t been down to see you more –”
“Nonsense!” Hagrid waves his hand, “I know yeh have more on yer mind than visitin’ me! You just concentrate on that baby o’ yours! Can’t wait ter see him!”
“Him?” I glare at Scorpius.
“Told you, it’s a boy,” says Scorpius smugly.
“The only reason I say it’s a boy it ‘cause James Potter was down here just today makin’ me bet it’s a girl! I figured he knew somethin’ I don’t!” Hagrid chuckles.
“He knows nothing,” I say firmly, “He’s just guessing.”
Hagrid makes us go back up the school soon afterwards because he doesn’t want us wandering around in the dark. Plus, he reminds us, we should be studying for our exams, which start tomorrow. As if I could forget.
Scorpius walks me the whole way back up to the Gryffindor tower and with one last friendly hug, he goes back to Slytherin. See, we have this friendship business down to a fine art. The common room is empty, except for James, who is still studying Transfiguration notes. I thought he’d learned his lesson after the Potions exam, but apparently he hasn’t studied for any of his exams.
James is going to lose a lot of money if this baby is a girl. He has bets on with anyone who has the slightest feeling that I could be having a girl because he is so sure it’s a boy. Since he finished his NEWTs, he has been going around to practically everyone in the school, even the teachers, making them place bets. Fred was a little unsure when James approached him.
“I don’t know, James…I mean, what are the chances it’s a girl?” he asked unsurely.
“Well Fred, it’s pretty much fifty-fifty,” James sneered. Fred, so he wouldn’t feel stupid, placed a bet. Six galleons that it’s a girl. I’d congratulate him on his good decision, only I still can’t look at him after the ‘Quidditch Scores’ revelation.
I bet twenty galleons that it’s a girl, because I don’t want to miss out on the action. I might as well make a profit from this. I’ve heard a rumour that Professor Davies has a bet on with Professor Chang that it’s a boy, but I’m not sure if that’s true. Even Saint Lily Potter is betting it’s a girl. Hogwarts has been turned into a Casino.
On the last day before we go home for the summer holidays, the atmosphere is very relaxed around the school. All exams are finished and we don’t have to worry about the results for three weeks. They used to give out the results before the holidays back when we were in first and second year, but they stopped when they realised that students just wanted to forget those stupid exams once they’re done. So now we get them around the end of July, the same time the OWL and NEWT results come out.
Because it’s such a beautiful day, we decide to have a picnic out in the grounds – there’s a whole crowd of us. All of the Weasley clan – including the Potters – are here, and Laura, Chas, Mark, Scorpius and Jenny have popped along too. Even Lucy comes, and she rarely acknowledges us as her family, considering she’s a lone Hufflepuff. She just sits with Molly and they have some sisterly-bonding, mainly because nobody else is talking to them. Hugo, I’ve noticed, hasn’t worn weird Goth-like makeup since the Quidditch match and he’s even cut his hair. And when a group of girls his age walk past giggling amongst themselves, I see him sit up a little straighter and he looks very smug. My little Hugo’s growing up.
“So Rose, have you picked godparents yet?” Molly asks and suddenly the whole group goes quiet. I could hit her for bringing it up. Although Scorpius and I have talked about it, it’s hardly appropriate to announce it without asking them first. And I wasn’t planning on asking them until after the baby’s born.
“Well, we haven’t asked them yet,” says Scorpius uncomfortably, “But we were hoping Hugo and Jenny?”
There are a few ‘aww’s, and Hugo looks very surprised indeed. Jenny bursts into tears and grabs Hugo into a big hug. When she lets go of him, his ears are so red it’s as if someone’s set fire to them.
“Y-you want me to be the godfather?” Hugo asks me quietly as everyone else starts chatting amongst themselves, “I…I’m really honoured…but what if I muck it up?”
“Hugh, you won’t have to do anything,” I assure him, “It’s just…you were there for me when you first found out. You’re just about the only person who didn’t completely freak out when you heard. And you came to my first scan, and you’ll be the baby’s only uncle…if you don’t want to do it I can ask someone else –”
“No!” he says quickly, “The job’s mine! Thanks Rose…you know, you’re not that bad, as far as older sisters go.”
“Well you’re not that bad as far as annoying little brothers go either,” I assure him and give him a dead arm like I used to when we were kids, “It could be worse – you could’ve gotten Molly.”
We look over at Molly, who is giving out to Lucy for eating a bar of chocolate.
“It’s so bad for your skin! And you’ll get fat – do you want to get fat, Lucy?! I’m just looking out for you, don’t give me that look!”
“Yeah, you’re definitely not that bad,” Hugo decides.
“Rose…I don’t know what to say!” Jenny sobs happily, “I’m so honoured. I’m going to be the best godmother since Cinderella’s! I promise!”
We all pack up our trunks before heading down to the end of year feast. It’s sort of surreal to think that I’ll never be coming back here again. This is my last ever end of year feast. This is my last night sleeping in a Hogwarts dormitory. I’ll never go to another class, or to another Gryffindor common room party. I’ll never play Quidditch in the stadium again. I’ll never put on the uniform again. Technically I’m no longer a Gryffindor. I’m going to be erased from existence, as far as this school goes. My name won’t be on the list of graduates next year…it’ll be like I never went here.
I go down to the feast before I start to cry, because if I start, I’ll never stop. I’ll end up a pathetic mess, on the floor of the dormitory, clinging to the foot of the bed. Or, alternatively, I’ll lock myself in the bathroom again, have the baby there and live on a diet of toothpaste and shampoo as I originally planned.
The feast is quite extraordinary. Flitwick has gotten rid of the four main tables and everyone is sitting on the floor eating. It’s impossible to tell who is in which house because everyone is mingled together. It’s just like lunchtime with everyone sitting around together, eating and laughing. And I’m going to enjoy it because really, this is my last chance to be a seventeen year old kid.
I take a spot on the floor beside Scorpius, who is having a heated debate with one of his dorm mates, Briggs about Quidditch.
“Wimbourne Wasps are brilliant, I tell you,” Scorpius is practically shouting, “Tell me one player on the Chudley Cannons that’s better than Uliack…”
“How about James Potter?”
James is standing over us, grinning and holding a piece of paper in his hand. Al jumps up from the floor and grabs the piece of paper off James and reads it quickly. Then he jumps on James and gets him in a headlock – in a happy kind of way. The way stupid boys do when they’re happy.
“YOU GOT IN?!” Al cries, “I fucking knew you could! Have you told Dad?!”
“I only just got the letter!” James laughs and pushes Al off him, “Ladies and Gentlemen, you are looking at Chudley Cannons new reserve seeker!”
“Chudley Cannons?!” I cry, “You’re going to be their seeker? I didn’t know you went to try outs!”
“I kept it under wraps,” says James as many more people now start to crowd around him, “I didn’t want to say anything in case…”
He’s cut off by the swarm of people coming up to him, congratulating him. Al seems just as excited as James is.
“My brother! A Cannon!” he cries.
“That’s great,” Jenny says to him kindly. She’s only just arrived and is getting the gist of what’s happening.
“Great? It’s…it’s…” Al struggles to describe just how brilliant this news is. So instead he just grabs her and kisses her square on the lips. “That’s how great…actually, nothing’s that great.”
Some people have now turned their attentions away from James to look at Al and Jenny. Jenny’s staring at Al in shock. It’s difficult to tell if she’s happy about this or if she’s going to smack him across the face. It could go either way.
She kisses him. Thank God. I can’t quite take any more of their nonsense.
“Oi! Al!” James calls, “Way to steal my thunder!”
The feast is the best I’ve ever tasted, but maybe that’s just because I know it’s the last one I’ll ever have. Or maybe it’s because we’re all finally happy. I don’t know what makes me happiest – the fact that James is going to be a Chudley Cannon, or the fact that Neville announced to us during dinner that he’s being made Head of Gryffindor next year, or that Al’s been tipped off by Neville that he’s going to be made Head Boy, or knowing that Jenny and Al are finally back together again. Or maybe it’s just a mix of everything.
I have to admit that despite the fact that I was twice humiliated in front of the school, my parents broke up and reconciled, I lost my grandfather, I got pregnant and I broke up with Scorpius Malfoy, this year had to be the best one I’ve had. And tomorrow, it’s all over.
A/N - I can really feel the story starting to wrap up now. It's weird that it's nearly all over with! But don't worry, it's not quite finished yet, there's still a few more chapters to go! I know people are upset about Rose and Scorpius breaking up, but to cheer you up, I am planning an epilogue and/or a sequel, so all is not lost! They're seventeen year olds, they really don't want to be in a serious relationship AND have a baby.
I just want to say thank you so much to everybody who has reviewed, and I really hope you'll keep it up until the end because as I've said, there's not much more to go. Also, anyone care to take a guess? Is Rose right in thinking it's a girl? Or is James right in thinking it's a boy? Or are NEITHER right? (Yeah, I don't know how either...)
Thanks again, Ladies and Gents, and have a nice day!
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