“A divorce?” Scorpius asked quietly, leaning over the back of the chair and gently extracting the document from my cold, immovable fingers. I hardly noticed that he had taken it. I couldn’t even begin to comprehend what was going on at that moment.
My parents were getting a divorce. My parents didn’t get divorced. Divorces were for celebrities and those whiny soap opera stars on the television – you know, for people who had nothing better to do. Real parents weren’t supposed to get divorced! Especially not mine!
“Rose, I’m so sorry,” Scorpius said. I hadn’t noticed that he had come around from the back of the chair and was crouching down in front of me, holding one of my ice cold hands and running his thumb in small circles over it.
I opened my mouth to say something, but no words came out. I wasn’t even sure my brain was properly functioning at that point. All it seemed to be doing was repeating the word divorce over and over and over again in my conscious mind.
“Rose, you’re shaking,” Scorpius said. I could hear that he was worried, and I shook my head to try to clear my thoughts, but it really wasn’t working well. I realized that this was around the time that I would have usually started crying, but I couldn’t bring myself to cry.
This had to be a joke, right?
This all had to just be some form of cruel, sick joke. My mother had never really liked jokes though. And my father, well, he knew where to draw the line – most of the time. This did not seem like something he would do for perverse pleasure.
My parents were getting a divorce.
I felt my entire body shudder as the realization finally dawned on me. I heard a strangled sob escape my lips, and before I could even crumple into a ball on the floor, Scorpius caught me and held me tightly in his arms.
“Shh,” he soothed, stroking my hair and rubbing a small circle on my back at the same time. “Everything is going to be okay. Everything is going to be just fine.”
“How can you say that?” I croaked, gazing up at him through tear-clouded eyes. “Nothing is ever going to be ‘just fine’ or ‘okay’ again.”
I felt a soft wail escape my lips and I buried my head in his shoulder, letting my emotions get the best of me for a moment. I could feel that my entire body was trembling from the shock and my head was spinning. My lungs ached from the disrupted little bursts of oxygen that would come down my windpipe to sustain them.
“Rose,” Scorpius said after a moment, “I know this seems tactless at a time like this, but your mum sent us up here to find a file. If we don’t bring these things down to her soon, she’ll come up here and see what’s taking us so long. And from the way that she seems to have hid those documents, I don’t think she meant for you to see them. Maybe its best if you just put them away for now, we find the WEB document, and take it down to her.”
“You’re right,” I sniffed, swiping at the tears that were falling down my cheeks. “You’re right.”
I felt as if a hole had been carved out of my chest. It was incredibly hard to breathe. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to stand up, let alone find a file, walk downstairs, and act as if everything was perfectly all right in front of my mother. How was I not going to let it show that I knew her secret? I was the worst liar on the face of the planet. I couldn’t help it. My face always gave me away.
I pushed myself away from Scorpius and scooted back over to the desk, surprised at how sluggishly my limbs were moving and at how much will power I had to exert to get my body to move. Scorpius obviously noticed, for he was at my side a moment later, yanking open the drawer and shifting through the beige manila folders until he found the WEB one.
He held it up to me, as if silently asking that he had the right one and I nodded. My mouth felt as dry as cotton. He seemed to notice that I was in no condition whatsoever to stand up on my own, so he wrapped his arm securely around my waist and lifted me to my feet. I leaned against his side and I suddenly felt guilty. He was always picking up the pieces of my broken life. It wasn’t really fair for him. It’s not like he had asked for this. In fact, there really wasn’t any reason for him to have to do it at all. Because technically, we were just pretend dating, no matter what I would have liked to believe.
“I’m sorry,” I mumbled as he practically dragged me down the stairs. I felt my feet flailing against the floor.
“For what?” he asked, stopping and turning to look at me, surprised.
“For bringing you to my messed up house. For you having to always take care of me. I’m a big girl; I should be able to do this myself. It’s not fair of me to constantly lean on you for support.”
“Rose,” Scorpius hissed, considering we were almost in hearing range of the living room or kitchen. “I asked to come here, remember? You tried to warn me. And please, stop apologizing for being human. You’re handling this better than most adults I know would.”
I gazed up at him, and I could see the truth and sincerity in his grey eyes.
“Well, thank you,” I mumbled, feeling a blush rise up in my cheeks from his compliment.
I felt his hand move up from my waist and then his thumb brushed away one of the tears that I could not stop from falling.
“I know I’ve said this before,” he said quietly, his breath warm against my face, “but I really hate seeing you cry.”
“I hate crying in front of you,” I admitted, and I had a horrible sense of déjà vu. I shuddered slightly and Scorpius looked down at me concernedly.
“You all right?” he asked.
“Fine,” I lied. Where had I said something like that before? I wracked my brain, but it was still moving sluggishly from the shock of finding those documents. Oh well. Maybe it had all been in a dream or something.
“Rose!” I heard my mother call.
I felt my heart rate pick up in my chest. Obviously I had known that I would have to face my mother some time. I just did not feel ready now. Again I opened my mouth to say something, anything, but my reply got stuck in my throat.
“Say something,” Scorpius hissed.
I closed my mouth and licked my lips, taking a deep breath. I could do this. Two little words - that was it.
“I’m coming,” I called, wincing when my voice cracked at the end. She must not have noticed, because she didn’t say anything more.
“Shit, Scorpius, I can’t do this,” I said, looking up at him. I could feel my heart beating faster and my hands started to shake again.
“Yes, you can. It will only take a moment,” he whispered, pulling me closer to him until I was pressed up right against his body. “Just lie if she asks why you’ve been crying.”
“I’m a horrible liar,” I whispered back furiously. He of all people should have known this by now. Well actually, come to think of it, I couldn’t really remember a time where I’d flat out lied to him.
“Rose,” he said sternly, “I won’t let anything happen to you. I promise. The sooner we get this over with, the sooner you can come back up here and relax again.”
I nodded once solemnly and he nodded back, giving my hip an extra reassuring squeeze. Then he carefully towed me the rest of the way down the stairs. Before I had time to even take another breath we were in the kitchen and Scorpius was laying my mother’s briefcase and the WEB file on the counter in front of her.
“Thank you so much,” my mother sighed, dragging her hand through her hair tiredly. She looked over Scorpius and me, her eyes quickly taking in the way that he had his arm wrapped protectively around me and also at the way he seemed to be supporting most of my weight. Then her eyes traveled up to my face, and they widened in alarm.
“Rose, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” I choked out, totally messing up the way I was supposed to stay calm and collected. “I slammed my thumb in the desk drawer is all.”
Her eyes narrowed in frustration and I knew she did not believe a word that had just come out of my mouth. I could tell she was about to say something else, but then I heard Justin clear his throat a little too obviously from behind her back. I noticed that her shoulders stiffened for a moment, but then she relaxed and sighed again.
“Right, well go put some ice on it,” she said wearily, looking at me sadly and at the same time lovingly. “I have to go see what the Wizengamot is doing now. You kids behave, all right? I won’t be home until late. Happy Birthday, honey. I love you so much.”
She grabbed her briefcase off of the counter and clattered forward in her heels to give me a swift kiss on the cheek and pat Scorpius briefly on the shoulder.
“I love you too, Mum,” I said almost silently as I watched her and then Justin Floo away.
“See, that wasn’t so bad,” Scorpius said at the same time I groaned, “That was horrible.”
We both glanced at each other, and then sniggered.
“How can you say that?” I asked quietly, leaning against the kitchen table to support my weight.
“She didn’t find out that we saw the document, did she?” he asked smugly.
“She almost did, but –“
“That’s the key word, my dear,” he said, cutting me off right there. “She almost did find out. But she didn’t. So don’t worry your pretty little head.”
“Would you be offended if I told you that you sounded just like my Nana Molly?” I grumbled.
I heard him chuckle. “Well then it shouldn’t surprise you that my next statement was going to be that you look exhausted, and should get some rest.”
I looked over at him from under heavy lids to see that he was grinning foolishly at me. I couldn’t help but laugh at his expression. He too chuckled a bit and closed the small gap between the two of us, twining his arm around my waist and pulling me into a standing position.
“C’mon, let’s get you to bed.”
I wasn’t really aware of the fact that I was practically carried up to my room, or the fact that Scorpius was the one carrying me. I hadn’t realized it before, but I was so incredibly exhausted. I remembered having been tired when I came home from the restaurant. That really hadn’t been that long ago, now that I thought about it. Actually, it had probably been only twenty minutes or so. It felt like an entire lifetime had passed since then.
Maybe it was because the lifetime of innocence I’d had – the lifestyle I had grown accustomed to had passed. Maybe it was because twenty minutes ago I was a normal girl, with two parents, an annoying brother, and an impossibly wonderful boyfriend. Now I was just a girl, with split up parents, a naïve little wanker for a brother, and an impossibly wonderful boyfriend who might not really like me and just be pretending.
Yeah, that sucked.
Scorpius stopped outside the door to my room, gently turning me so that I was facing towards him.
“Are you going to be okay?” he asked quietly, brushing a strand of my hair out of my eyes.
“Define okay,” I mumbled, feeling the urge to cry again. I really had to stop that. Especially around him. He would begin to think I was a cry baby soon.
“Wrong choice of words,” he mumbled under his breath. I gazed up at him sadly, still fighting a losing battle with my tear ducts. He looked up from the carpet at me and smiled weakly, trying to comfort me in some way. I felt one of his hands gently press itself to the side of my face and then he planted a soft kiss on my forehead.
“You should go get some rest, love,” he said, pulling away from me.
I stood there for a moment, feeling extremely alone and close to ripping apart at the seams. I folded my arms across my chest, as if that would stop my body from cleaving in two and tried to form the right words in my head.
“Don’t, don’t leave,” I stuttered, voice cracking.
“Please, don’t leave me alone. Not right now,” I pleaded my voice thick with tears.
He stared at me for a moment. I could see that there was pity in his eyes. “Okay,” he replied, coming back and wrapping his arms around my waist. “I’m not going anywhere. Can I go get my pajamas on first?”
I nodded and he grinned down at me before extracting himself from my arms again and sauntering down the hall to the office. I turned into my room and quickly shut the door behind me, pulling off my green top and slipping out of my jeans. I turned robotically to my dresser and pulled out a pair of flannel red pajama bottoms and a matching red t-shirt. I dressed in silence, my mind blank for once tonight. I was thankful for the fact that I was blissfully oblivious; otherwise I would have probably have been curled up in a ball on the floor, sobbing hysterically again.
I dared a glance at myself in the mirror. My face was red and blotchy from crying and there were dark purple circles under my eyes. My hair was mussed in an unflattering way. Yuck. Oh well. He had already seen me a mess.
I dragged my hair back into a knot at the nape of my neck and secured it with a rubber band. That had been too simple. I needed something to really distract me. And Scorpius was taking too long. I padded over to the bathroom and brushed my teeth and washed my face. By the time that was finished I was feeling the hole in my chest starting to ache and I decided that I would just go to him.
I paused with my hand on the door knob. I should probably knock first. I raised my fist and was about to knock when the door was pulled open, and there stood Scorpius, struggling to pull a dark blue t-shirt over his head and trying to walk at the same time. I resisted a giggle and reached out in a burst of courage, letting one of my fingers drag down from his sternum to the top of his navel. Wow, he had a really nice stomach.
Scorpius started for a moment and then pulled his shirt on completely. He stared at me curiously for a moment, his shaggy hair hanging in his eyes. Then he flicked his hair out of his eyes and grinned at me.
“Well hello,” he smirked.
“You were taking too long,” I replied. He chuckled and pulled me to him, letting his forehead rest against mine. I heard the sharp intake of my breath as I stood so close to him. The ache didn’t feel so bad now. It was manageable. Or rather it was easily forgotten over the quivering of my stomach.
Scorpius pulled away after a moment and traded my waist for my hand. We walked silently over to the pull out bed, and I crawled under the covers. He slid in next to me and we just lay there in silence for a moment.
The silence was beginning to kill me. It just reminded me of all of the dinners we’d ever spent together, where my parents didn’t say one word to each other. It reminded me of the restaurant tonight. It even reminded me of the way they seemed to be living two separate lives in one house.
I let out a strangled sob at the thought. How had I not noticed sooner? It was rather obvious now.
Scorpius wrapped his arm around my stomach and I tucked my head into the crook of his neck. Neither one of us said anything. I decided it was not because either of us didn’t know what to say. It was because there truly was nothing to say.
I listened to the sound of his breathing and felt the rise and fall of his chest against mine. Soon the rhythmic pattern had my eyelids fluttering as my brain slowly turned on autopilot and I gave into the exhaustion that had been threatening to consume me. The last thing I remembered before I fell asleep was the way Scorpius’s hand was tracing small circles on the small of my back.
When I awoke the next morning I was not as taken aback as I probably should have been at the idea that I had spent the night in Scorpius Malfoy’s bed. In fact, said boy was currently have draped across me – his long, strong arms wrapped tightly around my abdomen and his head resting on my shoulder. He was snoring lightly, his chest rising and falling rhythmically against my back.
I yawned and stretched, careful not to shift too much so that I did not wake up Scorpius. He mumbled something into my hair and I froze, afraid that I had woken him. When he did not make any other noise I relaxed. He was just talking in his sleep. A lock of his white blonde hair fell into my face as he shifted his head a little bit. I brushed the hair back, letting my hand linger on his head for a minute.
He was too good to me. He put up with so much. I honestly did not know how he did that. For someone who really hated seeing me cry, he sure saw it a lot. But he never seemed to mind helping me.
I had no idea how I would ever repay him for that. I guess there was always money, but his family had never seemed hard pressed. From what I had heard the Malfoy’s were well off. More well off than we were probably. Food for thought, really.
I glanced at the clock on my mother’s desk. It was still very early, only about 6:30. It was odd for me to be up so early. I was usually the last one awake in my house, generally stumbling out of bed at midday. I was also the only person who once they were awake, I didn’t go back to sleep.
Well that sucked. I was going to be awake for a while now. And Scorpius, from the looks of it, was not. Maybe I could gently wiggle out of his arms and go finish wrapping gifts before we went to Nana Molly’s and Grandpa Arthur’s house this afternoon. That idea didn’t sound very appealing.
Fuck. Neither did going to Nana and Grandpa’s. In fact, it sounded downright horrible. I loved my family obviously. But going there meant I would have to see James, and Al, and Lucy, all people who hated me. And my mother and father would have to act civil again. It was all just a charade. One that they had gotten quite good at perfecting over time.
I couldn’t stand to see it any more. It was going to eat me alive to see them sitting at the long table in the kitchen, trying so hard to make everyone believe that their marriage was a healthy and happy one – when in fact the divorce papers were ready to go and just waiting to be signed. Or maybe they already were signed.
I dared a glance at the top drawer of my mother’s desk. My heart started to beat faster and my stomach twinged painfully. No, that had not been a good idea. Out of sight, out of mind. I closed my eyes, but I could still imagine seeing the desk drawer, containing the incriminating evidence. I sighed and twisted around so that my face was in Scorpius’s chest. I froze again when I heard him groan and then mumble. I felt the lean muscles in his chest tense as he stretched.
“Hey you,” he mumbled. Damn. I had woken him. Oh well, at least it was a distraction.
“Good morning,” I replied, grinning up at him. He smiled back down at me and flicked his hair out of his eyes.
“You sure are up early,” he pointed out, nodding at the clock.
“I couldn’t sleep.”
“Did you have nightmares?” he asked concernedly.
“No,” I answered, feeling suddenly odd. “I don’t think I dreamed at all last night.”
That really was odd. Usually I could remember all of my dreams vividly, whether they were good, bad, or odd. If I couldn’t remember dreaming, did that mean that I hadn’t dreamed at all?
“Well that’s good,” he said.
We both just lay there for a while, neither of us saying anything. It was comforting to lie in his arms. I didn’t have to worry about the day ahead – like the fact that he would be meeting the rest of my family or how my parents would act. All that really mattered was him, and that was nice.
I wasn’t sure how long we stayed that way, but soon I began to hear signs of life from my parents’ room.
“I think I should go,” I whispered, although I didn’t make any move to go anywhere.
“I guess you should,” he replied. I thought I detected a hint of sadness in his voice, but I wasn’t really sure. It could have just been tiredness. “Wouldn’t want Daddy Dearest to catch us.”
“Yeah, that would not go over well,” I agreed, chuckling. “You would probably be killed, and castrated.”
He grimaced at the last part and kissed me swiftly on the mouth. I worried briefly about my morning breath, but it seems it was just a good bye peck and I was relieved.
“See you soon, Shorty,” he said as I got up and shuffled over to the door.
“Later Scorpius,” I sighed. “Don’t forget to dress nice. We’ll be going over to my grandparent’s at about three.”
I heard him scoff loudly and then he chuckled and I waltzed over to the bathroom to take a shower. I had a feeling that the brief period of unfeeling bliss I had endured this morning was not going to last long.
“Do you have everything ready to go, Ron?” my mother asked as she folded a long strip of tin foil over her famous Cheesy Potato Casserole.
“Yes, Hermione, the car is all packed,” my father replied gruffly. “We’re just waiting for you now.”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I’m going as fast as I can,” she said hurriedly, looking not at my father, but at Hugo, Scorpius and me. We were standing along the wall in the kitchen, dressed in our Sunday finest, already in our shoes and coats.
“It’s fine, Mum,” Hugo mumbled. He looked nice today for a change. And he smelled different too. Maybe he was wearing cologne. He had been acting strangely since his conversation with Scorpius.
“Okay,” my mother sighed after another minute of futzing with her casserole. “I’m ready. Let’s go.”
I heard my father grumble something like “finally” from the mud room. My mother just ran her fingers through her curly hair and picked up her purse and contribution to the dinner. She clacked across the floor on her heels and I sighed and pushed away from the wall to follow her.
I really was not looking forward to going this year. It wasn’t even just that I didn’t want to bring Scorpius. Or maybe to put it better, I didn’t want to expose Scorpius to them. It would probably scare him away. No, it was the fact that every moment we spent pretending to be the perfect family was a lie. Every time we got in that car as one family, as one whole safe unit, it was a lie. It felt like a blow to the stomach just even thinking about it.
I climbed into the backseat and Hugo sat next to me, still determined to follow my father’s rules. I had a hunch that he was also still mad at me and Scorpius for what he had caught us doing yesterday. He could be so immature sometimes. Then again, who was I to judge? I had the maturity level of an eleven year old.
All too soon the car was pulling out of the driveway. The silence was oppressive. I tried staring out the window for a while, but the endless white and trees soon became boring. Just when I thought I was going to explode from exasperation my mother turned on the radio.
I breathed a long sigh of relief and I stole a glance over at Scorpius. He was nodding his head in time to the music, even though I knew that he didn’t know the name of the band. I didn’t even know what the name of the band is.
“Turn that rap crap off,” my father growled, pressing the button on the radio to change the station. I instantly covered my ears and I saw Hugo do the same thing, while Scorpius stared at the radio in horror. It sounded like someone was yodeling in Spanish while running over a cat.
I removed my hands when I saw my mother change the station yet again. A new song came on, this one upbeat and poppy. I heard my father growl and then he flipped the station again, this time to some sort of heavy metal song where the lead singer sounded like he was literally screaming.
My mother tutted in disapproval and switched the station, this time to a classical station. My father switched it again. I had barely heard the first few notes of music when my mother changed it again. My father followed suit, and soon it became a battle of the radio.
“Stop it! Just stop it!” Hugo cried with his hands over his ears.
My parents both froze and turned around to look at my little brother. My father was red in the face and breathing hard, and my mother was pale, her normally curly hair looking incredibly bushy.
“Sorry,” my mother said finally, reaching over and turning off the radio. My father just glared at us for a moment and then turned back around, concentrating on the road.
I was extremely relieved to get out of the car an hour later when we reached Nana Molly’s house. I noticed that we seemed to be the last one’s there, as Uncle Harry’s car was already parked along the street, as was Uncle Percy’s. The rest of our family had children that were old enough to Apparate alone, or small enough to be brought along by Side-along.
We trudged up the small path to the side door and I could feel my heart hammering against my ribs. I could tell that my mother was uncomfortable by the way her fingers were unconsciously fiddling with the clasp on her purse and the way the corner of her bottom lip was pulled into her mouth. My father on the other hand just seemed despondent – as if he’d rather be at home watching the television than doing anything remotely family oriented. Hugo didn’t seem to notice any of this, something I was grateful for, and just marched happily to the door, pulling it open without any qualms.
I could hear the commotion from within; the laughs and shouts of the children and the thuds of little feet scurrying across the floor. There was also the loud din of the adults discoursing loudly on various topics. I could imagine Uncle Harry and Uncle Charlie talking about Quidditch with mugs of butter beer in their hands and Uncle Percy rambling about Ministry and political issues to anyone that would listen. Nana Molly was probably in the kitchen cooking away, her tattered “Kiss the Cook” apron tied around her waist. Aunt Ginny would be in the kitchen helping, along with Auntie Angelina and the dreadful Auntie Audrey. All of my cousins were probably gathered in the back living room, playing Wizard’s Chess or Exploding Snap. Maybe even Truth or Dare.
It was all so normal and yet absolutely terrifying.
My father grunted something unintelligible and followed Hugo inside. My mother lingered at the doorstep. I could tell that she was breathing hard and fast and I noticed that her knuckles had gone white around the casserole dish.
“Aren’t you going to go in, Mum?” I asked, feeling guilty for playing the Devil’s advocate.
“Yes, right,” she said, sounding terribly flustered. She glanced over at me and I saw her try to compose her features. How had I not noticed this before? Surely she’d been like this for a while. I watched as her posture straightened and she strode into the Burrow, her walk confident and normal.
“Are you ready?”
I turned to Scorpius, who was standing behind me a bit; his shoulders slouched in his tan jacket. I took a deep breath and shook my head no. He laughed and took my hand.
“No, I’m not ready to feed you to the sharks,” I said playfully. “But I guess I don’t have much of a choice.”
“That you don’t,” he conceded, his grey eyes sparkling. “But I don’t think it will be as bad as you assume.”
“You don’t know my family very well. They are going to eat you alive and then spit you back out.”
“You worry too much,” he said quietly, gazing down at me intently. I felt my breath hitch in my throat as I stared back at him. He seemed so calm and sure of himself. And he looked and smelled so nicely today. The combination was intoxicating.
“I probably do,” I agreed quietly. “And we should probably go in now. It wouldn’t do for someone to discover the two of us lingering out here.”
He smiled a crooked smile and squeezed my fingers reassuringly. I took a deep breath and stepped over the threshold.
The house was exactly the way as I remembered it. There was a huddle of adults around the table and I could see Nana Molly swiping at her brow as she stirred something on the stove. Then she looked up and saw that my family was still standing by the door and she dropped her spoon and hurried over.
“Oh, Ron, Hermione, kids! It’s so good to see you again!” she cried, throwing an oven mitt on the table and enveloping my father in a hug. She was a good foot and a half shorter than he was, and she looked immensely fragile next to him. “You’ve gotten bigger,” she noted and I heard him snort in reply.
“And Hermione,” she added, turning to my mother and giving her a warm hug. I saw my mother wrap her arms around Nana and hug her tightly; as if this was the last time she would ever be able to hug her. “You look thin, dear. Well, not to worry about that. We’ll add some meat on those bones straight away.”
She turned to my brother and commented on how big he had gotten as well, giving him a hug and sloppy kiss on his cheek before pinching his dimple. I saw him go bright red, and then he bolted for the living room.
“And Rose!” she cried, finally turning to me. Then she stopped, her eyes going to the blonde next to me.
“Hi Nana,” I said abashedly, going bright red. My words seemed to wake her from her thoughts and she smiled up at me again.
“You look wonderful, darling,” she gushed, pulling me down into a crushing hug and kissing my cheeks. “So grown up. And who is this young gentleman?”
“This is my boyfriend Scorpius Malfoy,” I told her, smiling down at her and then up at Scorpius, who had put on his most charming smile. “Scorpius, this is my Nana Molly.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, ma’am,” he said warmly, extending a hand to her.
She seemed taken aback for a moment, her blue eyes trained on his hand. I knew that she was surprised by his name and I silently prayed that she would not reject him. If Nana Molly liked him, then so would Grandpa Arthur. And well, from then on no one would say anything.
“We don’t shake hands in this house, Mr. Malfoy,” Nana said. My eyes grew wide. That wasn’t supposed to happen. And then Nana enveloped Scorpius into one of her hugs.
I watched bemusedly as Scorpius stood in Nana’s arms, his grey eyes wide. He looked over at me, as if asking what he should do and I shrugged, trying not to laugh. He patted her awkwardly on the back and she released him a moment later.
“The rest of your cousins are in the back room,” she told me, smiling. “Go make yourselves at home. Dinner should be ready in about a half hour.”
I nodded and she returned to the kitchen, where my mum was talking with my aunts as she put her casserole in the oven. My father had joined Uncle Harry and Uncle Charlie and was laughing loudly at something one of them had said.
I turned to Scorpius and grabbed his hand, dragging him through the throng of my relatives and trying my best to ignore the shocked whispers that followed in our wake. Finally we reached the living room and I breathed a sigh of relief.
“See, that was good,” Scorpius smirked to me as I took of my coat and threw it in the closet that was attached to the small room. Scorpius did the same.
“Yes, well Nana Molly is the easiest,” I replied, smirking back at him.
I turned around and surveyed the room. Louis and Roxanne were playing with what looked like a train set and a doll over by the fireplace, while Molly was curled up in her namesake’s rocking chair, reading a book. The rest of my cousins were all sitting casually on different pieces of furniture. James and Al were seated on the couch, while Teddy sat with Victoire on his lap next to them and Ben sat on the arm next to Al. Dominique and Lucy sat on what looked like extra kitchen chairs while Lily sat in Grandpa Arthur’s armchair over by the Christmas tree. Hugo was perched on with windowsill, not looking at anyone. The chatter that had filled the room previously died down as everyone turned to look at us.
“Uh, hi,” I said to no one in particular, feeling the heat rise in my face.
No one replied. I glanced over at Scorpius helplessly, as if to say ‘see, I told you that it would be this way’. He just shrugged and led me over to the lone empty armchair in the room. He gestured for me to sit down and I did, still feeling everyone’s eyes on us. Then he sat down on the floor and rested his head against my knees.
“Bloody Slytherin,” I heard James say not exactly quietly. “At least he knows where he belongs – on the floor, with all the rest of the filth.”
Al and Freddy laughed loudly at this. I heard Lucy giggle as well.
“James,” I barked, glaring over at him.
“Rose, leave it alone,” Scorpius said, cutting me off. “It’s not worth getting into again.”
“Oh yeah, sure, just boss her around,” James said sarcastically, glaring at us. “Rose, are you going to take that?”
“Shove off,” Scorpius snarled. “I wasn’t talking to you, was I?”
James stood up from his seat, red in the face from anger. “Who the hell do you think you are, Malfoy? What makes you think that you can come in here with my cousin and expect us all to just accept you? Newsflash, scum like you isn’t welcome here!”
By this point Scorpius was on his feet too, his grey eyes flashing dangerously. He and James stood less than a foot apart. If I hadn’t been so angry or so worried I would have had to admire the sight. Where James was more stocky and muscled, Scorpius was tall and lean, with a sort of wiry strength. Scorpius stood a few inches taller than James, which made up for the fact that in brute force, James was probably stronger.
“It’s no use to fight a fight that does not belong to you, Potter,” Scorpius snarled in a low voice. “We’re not our fathers.”
“Like hell we’re not,” James yelled, shoving Scorpius hard in the shoulders. Scorpius staggered back a step, but recovered quickly, shoving James back. James staggered, but caught himself.
“Please!” I cried, jumping out of my chair and rushing forward, putting myself between Scorpius and James. “Stop! Stop!”
I shrieked as James took a shot at Scorpius around my head, but he couldn’t reach. Scorpius didn’t respond, but was breathing heavily, the muscle in his jaw twitching angrily and his hands balled into fists.
“Whipped,” James mumbled loudly. Scorpius’s jaw jumped again and I saw his fists shaking.
Just then Aunt Ginny poked her head into the living room. “Dinner’s ready,” she called, her careful eyes focusing on the three of us in the center of the room concernedly.
There was a roar of noise as we all stood up and ambled over to the kitchen. I could hear that most people were talking about the exchange that they had just witnessed. I could still feel my hands shaking and my heart pounding. That muscle in Scorpius’s jaw was still jumping anxiously.
“I’m so sorry about that,” I whispered. “James is an arse.”
“You can say that again,” he said absently, his hand brushing my side unconsciously. We filed into the kitchen behind Hugo, and took our seats across from my parents. Hugo sat next to Scorpius, while Lily sat next to me.
Grandpa Arthur began the meal with his usual speech about joy, the love of families, and how my deceased Uncle Fred was enjoying this meal with us. Then Nana Molly said a few words and the entire table broke out in chatter as we began to load our plates.
“This looks good,” Scorpius said, putting a few pieces of ham and some potatoes on his plate.
“It is,” I replied. “Nana Molly is the best cook in the world.”
“My mum makes a mean blueberry pie,” he told me, digging into his plate. “You’ll have to try it some time.”
Meet Scorpius’s parents? The idea of that was more intimidating than confronting my father, or even facing Lord Voldemort.
“Yeah, sure,” I replied, my voice higher than usual.
“What are the two of you talking about?” my mother asked from across the table. She seemed to be picking at her food. I could see that she was uncomfortable, and even a little bit sad.
“I was just telling Rose that she should come meet my family some time,” Scorpius said before I could respond. “It’s been great meeting her family; I think she would really like my parents.”
“No,” my father barked, staring right at Scorpius, his eyes angry and narrowed. I just realized that that was the first direct thing my father had said to Scorpius during the entire break. “No.”
“Ronald,” my mother sighed, looking over at him, “you can’t possibly still hold a grudge against Draco Malfoy for things that happened when we were children. And you can’t take it out on his son.”
“Who the hell are you to tell me what I can and cannot do?” he hissed, throwing his fork down on his plate. I watched in horror from across the table. “I’m a grown man, damnit!”
“Stop,” my mother hissed back venomously. “Remember where we are.”
“At my parents’ house!” he replied, banging his fist on the table.
“Stop it! Just stop it!” I yelled. The entire family stopped their chattering and looked at me. I hadn’t noticed it before, but I was shaking uncontrollably, my knuckles white from where they clenched the edge of the table.
“Rose,” my mother began uncertainly.
“I know about the divorce papers, okay?” I said, beginning to feel the tears build behind my eyes. There was a little voice at the back of my head shouting that I should just stop there, that I shouldn’t have opened my big mouth, but something was possessing me to continue. I just could not sit there and take this anymore. I could not sit there and pretend everything was okay and all right, when nothing would ever be all right again.
Seeing my parents argue, it was just too much after all that had happened today. When we were alone in the car, and they were battling with the radio – it had been different. But seeing them sitting here, surrounded by my giant, loving family, and knowing that this was the last time that this would ever happen, it was just too much to handle.
I watched as my mother’s eyes widened it horror.
“How did you – why did you?” she choked, glancing around at the rest of the family. Her face was an odd mixture of red and white. My father looked livid.
“I saw them in your desk when I was looking for your file last night,” I choked out, the tears beginning to fall down my cheeks.
There was a murmur around the table as everyone began to realize just what was going on. Why was this such a surprise to them? Then it dawned on me.
“You haven’t told anyone, have you?” I asked, shaking my head sadly.
“We were going to wait until after the holidays to tell you all,” my mother explained, but I could tell that she was grasping at straws. She looked around pleadingly to my father, but he just sat there stoically, glaring up at me. “Maybe we should talk about this privately.”
“That’s a good idea,” Nana Molly said waspishly from the head of the table. I nodded and stood up from the table and I saw Hugo do the same thing. My mother scooted her chair away from the table. She wasn’t looking anyone in the eye, and neither did my father. Scorpius stayed seated and I assumed that he knew that this was something that I needed to do alone with my family.
We shuffled into the living room and my father closed the door loudly behind us, locking it and casting a quick Muffliato at it so that we could discuss what we needed to without being overheard. I sat down in the armchair I had sat in earlier and pulled my knees up to my chest protectively. My head was spinning with all that had happened in the last few minutes.
“So,” my mother said, settling herself on the couch next to Hugo, “this is not how we wanted you kids to find out.”
“What were you going to announce it with a card and balloons?” Hugo asked sarcastically. I glanced up in shock – it wasn’t like Hugo at all to say things like that to our parents.
“No,” my mother said, obviously as shocked as I was. “We were just hoping that we could tell you calmly and respectfully. We just want to make it easier for you kids.”
“How is getting a divorce making anything easier for us?” I asked darkly, glaring over at her.
“Your father and I are not happy together anymore,” she explained, looking at me pleadingly, as if begging me to understand. “Things have been difficult in our house for a while now because we are not happy. But if we’re not together, it will make us both happier.”
“And so our happiness doesn’t matter to you?” Hugo asked. His voice was dark and I could see that he wasn’t looking at anyone, but staring at the carpet.
“Of course it does!” My mother cried. “We’re doing this for you both! We’ve tried to make our marriage work for the both of you for a long time now. But things are just getting worse. Things will be better soon.”
“Yeah right,” Hugo growled. I watched with wide eyes as he stood from the couch and stormed to the door. “You don’t care about us at all! You’re just being selfish! You could make it work if you wanted to!” He unlocked the door and yanked it open, sprinting out into the hallway. The door closed with a bang and we could all hear the loud thuds of his feet on the stairs.
“I should go after him,” my mother said sadly, tears streaming down her cheeks. She walked quickly across the room and pulled open the door, letting it close more gently behind her.
I sighed and lowered my head onto my knees, letting the sobs that had been threatening to overcome me for the past twenty-four hours out.
“Thanks a lot, Rose,” my father growled. My head snapped up, and I looked at the man across from me. I had almost forgotten that he was still in the room with me.
“This is not my fault,” I said matter-of-factly.
“Why couldn’t you have kept your mouth shut for one more day?” he asked in exasperation. “Why?”
“They would have found out soon anyway!” I cried. “What, did you just think you could pretend that things were fine and dandy forever? Did you think that no one would notice the way you hate each other? Because it’s pretty obvious!”
“Shut up!” he cried, storming over to stand before me. “You will not talk to your father that way!”
“Some father,” I muttered darkly.
“Listen, you,” he yelled, putting his hands on either side of my head on the back of the chair. “You don’t deserve to have a father like me!”
“You’re right,” I replied, shaking my head in disbelief as the tears poured down my face. “You’re right. I don’t deserve a father like you. I deserve a way better father than you.”
He stepped back from me as if he had been slapped and I took advantage of the moment, jumping up from the chair and sprinting to the door.
A/N: Yay! Another chapter finished. I'm sorry the wait on this has been awhile. I've been crazy busy with the holidays, my birthday, and I also had a moderate case of frostbite on my hands for three days. But anyway, that doesn't matter, because the chapter is finally here!
What did you guys think? This one was a doozy. Did you like it? Please, leave me a review and let me know. I've worked really hard on this chapter, since it's one that's been planned from the beginning.
Anyway, in case you haven't seen or heard yet, I did decide to write the one-shot conversation between Scorpius and Hugo. It's up now, so if you're interested, check it out!
Thanks for reading you guys! Happy Holidays (a little late for some). Please, please review! :)
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