Chapter 26 : One of Us Now
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I rolled over and pulled the covers up over my head protectively.
“Rosie!” a small voice whined. “C’mon! Wake up!”
I heard the scurrying of little footsteps on the floor and then something small and wiggling crawled into bed next to me.
“Hello,” that same chirpy voice said. I opened my eyes slowly, knowing exactly what I’d see. There was Mira, dressed in a pretty pink nightgown and pigtails, staring up at me through pretty almond shaped eyes.
“Hello,” I sighed.
“I am now,” I grumbled, pulling back my sheets and sitting up. I glanced around the room. It was a pale shade of pink with dark pink accents, and contained in one corner was an overflowing pink toy box containing more dolls and teddy bears than I could count. Finally, I spotted a pink clock in the shape of a crown on the dresser. 5:30. Dear Merlin, I had never been awake this early in my life.
“Mira,” I said, trying to be kind despite the fact that I was feeling horribly grouchy, “isn’t it a bit early to be awake?”
“It’s Christmas,” she replied, smiling such a cute smile that I couldn’t be mad at her.
“I know,” I replied, feeling suddenly happier. “Are you excited?”
“Yeah!” she squealed, bouncing up and down. “I wanna open presents!”
“Soon,” I chuckled, pulling at one of her pigtails playfully. “We’ve got to wait for your mum, dad, and Scorpius to wake up.”
“Let’s wake them up!” she cried excitedly. In an instant she was bounding off of the bed towards the door.
“Hold it!” I cried, shooting an arm out and blocking her from going any further. “I’m sure your Mummy and Daddy don’t want to be woken up right now.”
She stopped trying to get out of my arm and looked up at me. I could tell that she was trying to think of a way to convince me, but then her little shoulders shrugged.
“Okay,” she conceded. “What about Scorpy?”
I thought for a moment. Why should I have to suffer at the mercy of a four year old at an ungodly hour of the night on Christmas alone?
“I don’t think Scorpius would mind if you woke him up.”
I released her waist and watched her scurry out the door. Then I yawned and stretched and stood up. I couldn’t stay in Mira’s room all day. And for once I was craving a cup of coffee.
As I walked towards the kitchen I wrapped my arms around myself, still self conscious despite the fact that no one else was awake. As I had assumed when Astoria first handed the pajamas to me, the robe and nightdress hung only to my mid-thigh. To make matters worse, the top was low cut in a V style and trimmed with a rose-colored ribbon.
I stumbled into the kitchen and instantly spotted a black coffee pot sitting on the counter next to the sink. I could already smell a pot brewing. They must have had it on an automatic timer. I found the clean mugs in the cupboard above the pot and poured myself a glass, then walked to the table and slouched down in a chair. Today was Christmas. I was sitting in the Malfoy’s kitchen in silk lingerie, drinking a cup of coffee. A lot had changed in such a small amount of time. Had it really only been two days ago that I turned seventeen? Had it only been last night that I’d run away from my family? For the first time in my life I felt older than my age. I was so exhausted, so stressed, and so emotionally vulnerable. It was like I was thirty-five.
I sighed and took a sip of my drink, relishing in the feeling of the hot liquid sliding down my throat. Yes, defiantly thirty-five.
Before I had time to finish my cup of coffee I heard a door open down the hall and Mira’s quick little footsteps across the floor, followed by louder, heavier one’s that I assumed to be Scorpius’s. Ha ha, sucker.
“Look at who I’ve got!” Mira said excitedly to me, walking into the kitchen. She was leading Scorpius by the hand. He looked about as bad as I felt.
“Good morning,” he grumbled, his eyes still have closed with sleep.
I smiled like the sadist that I am. “Good morning, sunshine. Merry Christmas.”
“Merry Christmas,” he yawned, letting go of Mira’s hand and fixing himself a cup of coffee and then slouching down in the chair next to mine. I watched as he took a large gulp of his drink and then dropped his face into his hands with a groan.
“Are you tired?” I asked, just kind of wanting to be a pain. The look he shot me plainly said, ‘you think?’
“Why aren’t you dead as well?” he asked. I wiggled the almost empty cup in my hand.
“Speaking of which,” I said, standing up, “I think I need some more.” I walked over to the counter to pour myself another. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Scorpius sit straight up, suddenly awake.
“What?” I demanded, cradling my freshly refilled cup in my hands and leaning back against the counter.
“You’re wearing my mum’s pajamas,” he replied, smirking wickedly.
I felt myself blush the same color of the skimpy silk that I was currently wearing. Of course, the one time of the entire night that I forget that I’m wearing them is the time that I should be most alert. I could feel his eyes on me and I had the urge to somehow alter it to make it seem more appropriate, but I wasn’t sure if I should pull the hem down or the neckline up. Both seemed to have negative consequences.
I settled for doing both, although I’m not sure I succeeded in making my outfit any more decent. If anything, I probably ended up making an awkward situation worse by drawing more attention to it.
“Yeah,” I replied, hugging my arms tight to me protectively. “You saw them last night, remember?”
“They look much better now,” he replied, still not dropping his gaze from me.
“Well, uh, thank you,” I answered awkwardly, staring down into the depths of my cup so that I did not have to look at him. An odd heat was crawling up my neck, but it did not feel like my normal hot blush. Whatever it was, I kind of liked it. Damn, it was unfair how he could do that.
“Yeah, you’re pretty,” Mira piped up, hopping into the seat I had recently vacated and looking between the two of us innocently.
“Well thank you,” I smiled, thankful that Mira was interfering.
The room grew quiet after that and I sipped my coffee uncomfortably, not daring to move from my spot against the counter. I wanted so desperately to be able to take a shower and get dressed into something more suitable – especially since Scorpius’s father would we awake soon, but I did not have any clothes of my own except for the clothes I had arrived in yesterday. Astoria had taken those clothes though and insisted on washing them. I was stuck in these silk red monstrosities until she woke up.
“When are we going to open presents?” Mira sighed, twiddling her thumbs impatiently.
“Soon,” Scorpius and I replied at the same moment. I snorted in laughter, which made Scorpius laugh as well. Soon Mira started giggling as well, and then we were all laughing hysterically, for no apparent reason.
“Well good morning,” Astoria said, gliding into the kitchen. “You lot are awake early.”
I heard Scorpius mumble something about Mira waking us up, and Mira squeaking something else, but my attention was elsewhere. I couldn’t believe it. Astoria was wearing practically the same things as I was, but in black, and she looked gorgeous. For a forty-ish woman, she was really fit and lean. My mum would never have dared wear something like that. Hell, even at seventeen I felt self-conscious in this, but she seemed comfortable.
“Rose, are you coming?”
I snapped out of my thoughts to see Scorpius standing a foot from me, smirking down at me.
“I asked if you were coming. We’re going to open gifts now,” Scorpius repeated.
“Oh, yeah,” I said, blushing profusely. “Sorry, I’m exhausted.”
“Aren’t we all,” Scorpius replied, taking my hand and leading me over to the living room.
Astoria was sitting on the floor next to the giant Christmas tree, which was probably nine feet tall, and decorated with hundreds of real fairy lights and icicles that were bewitched to stay up without ever melting. Draco had taken a seat in a comfortable looking white leather arm chair next to the fireplace. I noticed that although they had a modern flat and kitchen, they did not own a television.
Scorpius led me over to the white leather sofa and pulled me down next to him, wrapping his arm firmly around my waist.
“Okay, now that we’re all here,” Astoria said, picking up the first gift, which was wrapped in plain red with a gold bow, “shall we open gifts?”
“Yeah!” Mira cried, grabbing the gift from her mother’s hands.
Mira opened a few gifts since she had much more than anyone else, and squealed and bounced over each one. Astoria got a set of engraved wine glasses from Draco, and Draco got a new watch from Astoria.
“Here you go, son,” Draco said, handing Scorpius a gift that was wrapped in green paper and a silver bow. “From your mother.”
“And your father,” Astoria added, grinning at her husband, who ran his hand through his thinning hair uncomfortably.
“Wow, a new broom speedometer and Seeker’s gloves! Thank you,” Scorpius replied, holding up the said gifts for everyone to see, even though his parents had got it for him.
“You’re welcome,” Astoria replied. Then she looked at me and her smile wavered a little bit. “Oh Rose, dear, you’ll have to forgive me, but we don’t have any presents for you. I didn’t know you were going to be with us –“
“Oh, no, no, it’s fine. Please, don’t apologize,” I said, cutting her off. “You’ve let me stay here unannounced and uninvited. Besides, you’ll have to forgive me for not getting you anything –“
“No need to apologize,” Astoria cut me off. “Like you said, this was all very sudden.”
Astoria and I smiled at each other, while Draco and Scorpius looked back and forth between the two of us like we were crazy.
“Can I open this one?” Mira asked suddenly, holding up a gold present.
“Yes, I think it’s your turn,” Astoria answered.
Present opening went on for about another hour. Scorpius got a few new sweaters and three new sets of pajamas. I made a mental note to ask him if I could borrow one of those to sleep in tonight instead of having to reuse these.
I helped Astoria to clean up the wrapping paper while Draco and Scorpius helped Mira to stack all of her new gifts under the tree again so that she could play with them later.
“Are you having a nice time here?” Astoria asked me as we walked back to the kitchen to deposit our trash in the rubbish bin.
“Oh, yes,” I replied, smiling gratefully. “Thank you for having me.”
“It’s my pleasure,” Astoria smiled. “I know it does not compare to having Christmas with your own family, but just so you know, you always have a place here with us.”
“Thank you very much,” I said, feeling a pang of sadness at the mention of Christmas with my family. I wasn’t even sure that we were a family anymore. We were broken. I wondered what Hugo was doing right now. Normally we would have woken up, eating a huge breakfast that Mum and Dad prepared together, and then opened presents before going over to Granny Jane’s and Grandpa Joe’s. Would they still do that? Or would Hugo open his presents alone this morning? Were Mum and Dad still living in the same house together? Or had one of them moved out?
There were so many questions, and I had none of the answers. I don’t know if anyone had the answers. Everything I had ever known was changing right before my eyes, and I wasn’t even there to see it. For the first time since I had come to the Malfoys’ I wanted to go home.
“You’re very welcome,” Astoria said, coming over and pulling me into a hug. I hugged her back, but felt my insides twist. I wanted to hug my own mum. I wanted to smell in her normal, tea with sugar and cream scent and feel her short arms around my shoulders. Hugging Astoria was nice, but she was not my mum. She was foreign. She was practically a stranger. And I was just an intruder into her home.
As much as the urge to go back home was strong now, I knew that I couldn’t go back. I wasn’t sure what I would find there. I wasn’t sure if I was strong enough to go back. Or if they would even want me back. I had abandoned them.
Astoria and I pulled away after a moment. “Well, why don’t you go get showered and dressed. Draco’s parents always come over for a Christmas lunch and dinner around noon.”
“Okay,” I nodded, feeling my insides squirm nervously. “But I don’t have anything to wear…”
“Right,” she said, ushering me towards her closet again. “Not a problem dear. I can lend you some clothes for the day. Maybe tomorrow Scorpius and you can go and get your things. I don’t mind lending you the clothes, but you seem a little bit uncomfortable.”
“Yeah,” I replied. “I hate being such a burden to you all. I wasn’t invited here, and I don’t want to spoil your Christmas.”
“Rose,” Astoria said sternly, pausing inside of her room and turning to look at me. “You are not a burden. You’re with Scorpius, which makes you part of the family now. We’re happy to have you here. Draco and I know what it’s like to come from an abusive home, and we’re glad to help you whatever way we can.”
I was stunned into silence. Only one thing had resonated with me during her last speech. She and Draco knew. She and Draco knew about how bad my home life was. How did they know? Scorpius must have told them. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to strangle him or thank him. Or cry. But I was so sick of crying.
“He told you.” I croaked. It wasn’t a question, it was a statement.
“Yes,” she admitted. “But please don’t be mad at him. He told us last night after you went to bed. We were curious as to why you were here, and why you seemed so distraught. He’s worried about you.”
“I’m fine,” I said robotically, still too much in shock.
“I know it’s hard. And I know that you don’t want to talk about it. If you want to talk to somebody though, know that I’m here for you. And even if my husband won’t say it, he understands as well. Know that we are here for you if you need it. I know that when I was your age, I would have wanted to know that there were adults out there that I could go to when I needed help.”
“Thank you,” I said quietly, feeling tears prick behind my eyes again. “For everything.”
She squeezed my shoulder supportively and understandingly. “Well, let’s not ruin Christmas with this serious talk. Come on, we’ll get you some more clothes.”
I nodded and followed her into the bedroom, where she handed me a pair of dark jeans and a pretty, short-sleeved green blouse.
I thanked her again and walked over to the bathroom to take a shower and get ready. I had a long day ahead of me.
“Rose!” a voice hissed as I stepped out from the bathroom fully dressed and made-up a half-hour later.
I turned to the right, where I sensed the voice coming from and saw Scorpius’ head peeking out from behind his door. He waved for me to come there when my eyes connected with his and I grinned, walking over to him.
“What?” I asked but he just shook his head and motioned for me to follow him into his room. I sighed, but grinned and followed him.
The second I was through the door he shut it and locked it behind me. I glanced around the room, noticing that he wasn’t much more organized than I was. His desk lay in the right back corner and was mostly obscured by his open closet door. Clothes, magazines, and different balls for sports or gloves littered the floor and his bed, which lay on the left and was set with dark blue sheets, was unmade.
“What’s going on?” I asked again.
He turned to me and grinned. “I just wanted to give you your Christmas gift,” he replied, pulling a small present, wrapped in green and red and trimmed with a gold bow out from his pocket.
“Scorpius,” I breathed, staring down at the box and blushing.
“I brought it with last night,” he said, answering my unasked question. “Just in case.”
“Oh,” I said lamely. I wasn’t even sure what to say to that. I was still so in shock.
He grinned and took my hand, pulling me over to his bed and sitting me down next to him. He put the small box in my hands and stared down expectantly at me.
I took a deep breath and carefully undid the bow and then ran my finger under the tape to open the paper. I could tell that Scorpius was getting impatient with me for taking so long, so I clumsily unwrapped the rest of the paper.
My breath hitched in my throat when I saw what lay underneath.
It was a small, square black box, with tiny white words on the top that read Harmony Jewelers. Scorpius had gotten me jewelry. I glanced up at Scorpius, hoping my expression read “are-you serious?” and not “I’m-going-to-faint”. He just smiled and squeezed my knee reassuringly.
I slowly lifted the black lid, trying to remind myself to breathe through my nose so that I really did not faint. This was too much. I didn’t even know what it was yet, but it was too much.
Finally the lid came off and I exhaled a breath of surprise and delight when I saw what lay underneath. Sitting on a bed of white fluff was a beautiful silver charm bracelet with six or seven different charms around it.
I glanced over at Scorpius, who was grinning at me like a fool and then back down at the bracelet. Then I carefully lifted it out of the box and took a closer look at the charms. The first was a tiny Eiffel Tower. The second was a dancing couple, who at closer examination I realized to be Belle and the Beast from Beauty and the Beast. There was a small silver broomstick, a charm with the Cannon’s logo on it, and a purple flower. I gasped when I realized that all of the charms were answers to the questions he had asked me so long ago. I slowly turned the bracelet around, looking at them all again. I noticed that there was one small, round one at the back. It was a plain, flat circle, but engraved on it were the letters SM + RW.
Oh dear Merlin. Those were our initials. My heart felt like it was doing the conga in my chest.
I looked up at him and smiled despite the fact that I now had tears streaming down my cheeks. It was so beautiful. It was perfect.
“Just to remind you of the things in life to be happy about,” he said. “Do you like it?”
“No,” I replied, “I love it.”
He smiled broadly and took the bracelet from me, undoing the clasp with surprising ease for having such big hands. I held out my wrist to him and he redid the clasp. The metal was cold against my wrist, but a surge of warmth shot up from my wrist to the rest of my body. It was a perfect fit.
I glanced from the bracelet back to Scorpius, who was staring down at my wrist and the bracelet. I acted impulsively, grabbing the front of his white t-shirt with one hand and sliding my other hand around his neck. He looked down into my face this time and smirked, then covered my lips with his. It remained soft for a few minutes, and then I felt his tongue trace my bottom lip again. I reacted instinctively opening my mouth and letting him in and then doing the same. This was easier than I had ever thought it would be. I pressed myself closer to him, almost sitting in his lap until his grip around my waist tightened and he pushed me down against the mattress, so that he was on top of me. I gasped at the sudden change and I felt him chuckle.
Suddenly there came a knock at the door.
“Scorpius? Are you in there? Why is the door locked?” a shrill voice I didn’t recognize asked.
“Yeah, Grandma, I’m here!” Scorpius cried, pulling away from me and hopping down off the bed. I sat up, still too bewildered and embarrassed to fully sense what was going on.
“What’s taking you so long?” the voice, dually noted as Scorpius’s grandmother’s asked.
“I’m getting dressed,” he called. He really was too. He had grabbed a pair of jeans and a navy sweater down from his closet and was pulling a pair of boxers and socks out from his dresser.
“Okay! Well hurry up dear! Your grandfather is getting impatient.”
Scorpius sighed loudly and slammed his drawer shut. I chuckled lightly and he turned to me and grinned.
“Do you mind?” he asked, twirling his finger in a circle as if to indicate turning around.
“Oh, right, sure,” I replied, blushing and turning to face his wall. I heard the hurried movements of him dressing behind me, followed by the soft thud of clothes hitting the floor. Oh dear Merlin. I could just imagine what Noel or Ashley, or worse my parents and family would think if they knew that I was sitting on Scorpius’s bed as he got dressed.
“Okay, you’re good,” he said a few moments later. I turned around, biting my lip to stop myself from saying something inappropriate and saw him spray on a squirt of cologne.
I stood up from the bed and walked over to him, taking his hand. “What is your grandmother going to think when she sees you coming out of your room with me in tow?”
He chuckled. “I thought you were over the whole ‘people-think-we’re-shagging-thing’.”
“I am,” I insisted. “But this is your grandmother, for Merlin’s sake! I don’t want to start out on her bad side already. She’s going to hate me.”
“No she won’t,” he replied, squeezing my hand and making the charms on my bracelet jingle.
I wanted to remind him that she was rooting for Anna, and that I was most definitely not Anna, but at the same time I didn’t even want to think about her today, so I kept my mouth shut. I’d let him think what he would, but I knew that I stood no chance with Mrs. Malfoy.
I guess he took my silence as acceptance because he undid the lock on his door and pulled it open, pulling me with him as he stepped out into the hallway. It was empty, but I could hear music coming from the living room/kitchen area so Scorpius pulled us that way.
My heart was beating loudly again, almost droning out the music. Scorpius’ parents might have been nice, but Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy had been Death Eaters. Bad guys. And my family had put their leader and most of their friends in jail. Hell, my mum had personally seen to it that Lucius got a nice long, twenty-five year sentence in jail.
The odds were not looking good.
“There you two are!” Astoria cried from in the kitchen as we passed the bar. “I was wondering where you’d gotten to.”
“Sorry, Mum,” Scorpius replied. “I just wanted to give Rose her gift.” Astoria turned around from where she was stirring a pot on the stove and beamed at her son, her eyes instantly dropping to my wrist. She obviously knew what I was getting ahead of time.
“Rose?” the same voice from behind the door asked. Scorpius and I turned to the small kitchen table where a woman with gray-white hair and cold blue eyes sat, her wrinkled hands folded into a peak in front of her nose.
“Yeah, Grandma,” Scorpius said, tugging me with him as we approached her. “Rose Weasley.”
Narcissa’s head jerked up at the mention of my last name and she glared at me, and then at our adjoined hands.
“Rose Weasley,” she sniffed, giving me a once over and then looking back at Scorpius. “You’re with the Weasley brat now?”
“Mother,” Draco warned, coming out from the dining room with Mira in his arms.
“Excuse me,” she apologized. “You’re with the Weasley girl now?”
“Yes,” Scorpius said from between clenched teeth.
“What about Anna?”
I felt myself unconsciously grip Scorpius’s hand tighter.
“What about her?” Scorpius growled.
“Why aren’t you with her anymore?” Narcissa asked, arching one of her think blonde brows.
“Mum, would you mind helping me in the kitchen?” Astoria asked, effectively breaking up their argument.
“Yes, sure Astoria dear,” Narcissa replied, standing up and brushing past us into the kitchen.
“I told you so,” I said when she was out of earshot.
“She’ll come around,” Scorpius sighed. “She’s just got to get used to the idea that I don’t love Anna anymore.”
My mind suddenly connected something that Astoria had said the previous night. “I haven’t seen him look at a girl like that in a long time.”
Did that mean that he had loved Anna? Did that mean that he loved me? I was confused, and yet felt enlightened at the same time. I would have to ask Tony more about that when I saw him at New Years.
“C’mon,” Scorpius said, leading me towards the living room. “Let’s go listen to the radio.”
We walked into the living room and I noticed an elderly man with long, wispy white hair and many wrinkles around his sunken, yet still sharp grey-blue eyes sitting in the armchair that Draco had sat in this morning. His eyes were trained on Mira, who was playing with her new baby doll next to the Christmas tree.
“Merry Christmas, Grandfather,” Scorpius called, sitting down on the couch. I took the seat next to him and tried to make myself look comfortable, but I imagined I looked more like I was in pain.
“Merry Christmas, boy,” Lucius said, turning from Mira to look at Scorpius. His eyes were filled with warmth as they looked over Scorpius, but then his eyes landed on me and he looked at me inquisitively.
“Well, who is this lovely young woman?”
“This is my girlfriend,” Scorpius said, sounding pleased, “Rose Weasley. Rose, this is my Grandfather.”
“Pleasure,” I said, smiling nicely. His face, which had been pleased a moment before instantly turned to a look of horror and almost disgust.
“As well,” he spat, turning back to Mira. I glanced up at Scorpius sadly, to see that the muscle in his jaw was twitching again. He looked down at me and tried to smile, but it came out as more of a grimace.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered, tilting his head down so that only I could hear him. “Some people never really change.”
“I understand,” I replied, not wanting for him to get upset. I’d known how they would react to me. Really, it could not be helped. Besides, Scorpius had had to go through much more – what with the majority of my family besides my mum, Hugo, and Nana Molly hating him. I could endure having his grandparents dislike me.
He kissed my temple lightly and pulled me into his chest. I laid my head in the nook between his shoulder and neck and leaned against him, just listening to Celestina Warbeck warble on about Christmas and Hot Love.
We probably sat that way for about a half hour or so when Astoria called out that it was time to eat. Lucius was the first out of the living room and Draco came in to get Mira, who protested that she wanted to bring Samantha, her new dolly, with her. Scorpius helped me up from the couch and then took my hand and we walked to the dining room together silently. I could tell that he was still angry with his family for the way that they had acted. I wanted to tell him that I didn’t care, but I knew he would never believe me.
“Scorpius, you and Rose will sit over there,” Astoria called, pointing to two seats on the left in between Draco, who sat at the head, and Lucius. Scorpius nodded and dragged me over to the seat, pulling out the seat next to Draco for me. I sat down and stared at the white china plate that sat in front of me meekly. Scorpius pushed my chair in and then sat in his own seat. I squeezed his knee under the table and he glanced over at me and grinned the same wolfish smile I had seen him use last night. Dirty boy.
Draco tapped his knife gently against his crystal wine glass and then stood up, clearing his throat. “I’d like to say a few words before we eat. Father, it is nice to see you here for Christmas again, and not behind bars as usual. I’d like to thank my incredible wife Astoria for making us this delicious meal and to my son, for surprising us by coming home this year. It is great to see everyone here, healthy and happy, with a few additions to our family. Enjoy the meal!”
I smiled up at Draco, who sent me a small smile in return and then sat down. Scorpius ladled a serving of mashed potatoes onto my plate, followed by a few pieces of roast beef and some carrots.
“I can feed myself you know,” I chuckled.
“Can I not do something nice for you once in a while?” he asked.
“You do too much for me,” I replied. He grinned at me and then picked up my full plate, switching it with his empty one.
“There, happy?” he asked playfully.
I ladled my own food onto my plate this time and was just beginning to eat when I heard the sound of a doorbell ringing throughout the house.
“I’ll get it,” Astoria said, putting her white linen napkin on the table and striding out of the dining room. We all heard the sound of the door open and then Astoria talking to someone quickly and quietly.
“Rose!” she called a moment later. I felt every eye in the room fall on me and I blushed bright red. Who could be here? How had they known I was here in the first place? Was the door really for me? I stood up from the table and discarded my napkin like Astoria had and hurried out of there. I turned down the hallway to see that Astoria was blocking my view of whoever was at the door.
“Yes?” I said weakly, coming to stop behind her.
“You have a visitor,” she said, turning and smiling at me. She stepped away from the door and there before me was my mother.
“Mum?” I asked, unable to believe the sight before me. My mother stood in the hallway, dressed in a long brown coat, her bushy hair tied back in a loose ponytail. Her eyes were rimmed with dark circles, and I could tell that she had been crying from her lack of make-up. “What are you doing here?”
“I-“ she said her voice cracking. “I wanted to make sure you were all right. You ran off last night while I was upstairs with Hugo. No one knew where you’d gone…I was worried.”
“I’m fine Mum,” I replied, leaning against the doorframe. I wanted to go over there and give her a hug, but she seemed on the brink of cracking and I was afraid she would crumble if I touched her.
“I can see that,” she said, a tear rolling down her cheek. “I brought you your trunk, just in case.”
“Rose,” Scorpius said from behind me. “What’s going on?” I turned to him to see that his eyes were wide as he noticed my mother standing in the hallway.
“Oh, hello Hermione,” he said, scratching his head uncomfortably.
“Hello, Scorpius,” she said, trying to smile but failing. “Merry Christmas.”
“Merry Christmas,” he replied.
“I brought Scorpius’s trunk as well,” she told me, gesturing to the two trunks that lay next to her. “I’m guessing that you don’t want to go back home, and I don’t blame you. Things are not what they used to be.”
“Yeah,” I said, feeling tears spring up in my own eyes. I felt so horrible. I had acted rashly last night, and she was right, I hadn’t told anyone where I was going or if I was okay. I felt terrible for making her worry. But she was right; I wouldn’t be going back there. “Thank you.”
She nodded and sniffed, folding her hands together like she always did when she was uncomfortable or trying to be strong.
“What happened last night?” I asked, unable to stop myself. “After we left?”
“Your father came inside. He was enraged. He smashed a vase and put a hole in the wall. Uncle Harry and your Uncle Charlie stopped him, and Apparated him away somewhere,” she said, her tone very slow and horrified. “I came downstairs with your brother during that awful scene and Hugo, oh.”
She started sobbing now, and I couldn’t hold back any longer. I ran forward and enveloped her in a hug, rocking her back and forth. She seemed so frail in my arms – almost thinner than she had the last time I’d hugged her, and she didn’t smell right. She smelled like cigarette smoke and booze, which made me think that she had spent the night at the Leaky Cauldron.
“Anyway,” she said when she had calmed down enough to go on. “Hugo told me that he hated me. He said that it was my fault that you’d left and my fault that your father was acting this way. He ran back upstairs and I broke down. Your Aunty Ginny helped me to get a room at the Leaky Cauldron and then went back to the Burrow to fix things up there. The last I’d heard, Hugo spent the night at the Burrow with Nana Molly and your father was at home alone.”
“Mum,” I said, unsure of what even to say. What did you say when your family was irreparably broken?
“Please, don’t feel bad,” she said, stroking my hair. “None of this is your fault. Your father and I have to work out our problems like adults. In the mean time, it’s probably best if you stay here. I’m assuming the Malfoys don’t mind?”
She looked over my shoulder to Astoria, who had been hovering in the background. Astoria nodded, and I could see that there were tears in her eyes as well.
“Yes, she can stay,” Astoria said.
“Thank you,” my mother replied. There seemed to be an unspoken mother thing passing between the two of them.
“What about you, Mum?” I asked. “Where are you staying?”
“I’m staying at the Leaky Cauldron right now, but tomorrow I’m going to start flat shopping. Once I find a place I’ll go back home and get all of my things.”
I hugged her tightly again, never wanting to let go. I wanted to tell her that she could stay with me, that everything would be okay, but I couldn’t. For one, it wasn’t my place. For another, I knew that everything most definitely was not going to be okay.
“What’s going on?” Draco demanded, emerging around the corner and striding down the hallway. “It’s bloody Christmas, and the food is getting cold – Weasley?”
My mother smiled a small smile at him. “It’s Granger now, but yes.”
“Oh,” he said, taking in the trunks and the way that she seemed to be crying. “I’m sorry to hear that.”
“I’m not,” she said seriously. “It’s a relief.”
Draco nodded, obviously uncomfortable with what was going on. It was not a secret that the two of them had not gotten along during school.
“Well, I should be going,” my mother said, gazing at me sadly. “I don’t want to intrude on your meal. I’m sorry to come at such a bad time.”
“It’s not a problem,” Scorpius assured her.
“Mum,” I said, my voice giving out. I tried to find the words to convey to her what I needed to, but I couldn’t.
“Hermione,” Astoria said, striding forward, her expression set and determined, “why don’t you join us for lunch?”
“Oh, I don’t want to impose,” my mother said, blushing.
“It’s Christmas,” Astoria said warmly. “It would be an honor to have you. Besides, what else are you going to do? Go back to the Leaky Cauldron?”
My mother considered her offer for a minute. “I guess you’re right,” she agreed. “I don’t want to be a bother though.”
“It’s not a bother,” Astoria assured her. “Right Draco?”
Everyone turned to look at the blonde haired man, who was leaning against the wall. He looked from his wife, to my mother, and back again and sighed. I guess he knew it was a lost battle. “No. It’s not.”
“Thank you,” my mother said, releasing me and stepping over the threshold. “This is really too kind of you. I don’t want you to take any pity on me.”
“Certainly not,” Astoria agreed, taking her coat and leading her down the hallway. “You can do the dishes.”
I heard my mother chuckle and then she disappeared around the corner. Draco sighed again and then pushed off the wall, following his wife and my mother back to the dining room.
“Are you all right?” Scorpius asked me when we were alone.
“Not really,” I replied, picking up the handle to my trunk and dragging it inside. “I’m still in shock.”
“A lot is changing,” he said, pulling his own trunk in and shutting the door.
I leaned against the wall and he placed his hands on either side of my head, leaning his forehead against mine.
“It was nice of your parents to let her stay,” I said after a moment. “It means a lot to me.”
“Rose,” he replied, his voice husky and low, “you’re going to learn that we Malfoys take care of our families. And you’re one of us now.”
I smiled up at him and kissed him gently. I liked the sound of that.
A/N: I've finally finished it! :) This has had to have been the worst week of my life. I've been super busy, and I started school again, so I've been bogged down with homework on top of it. But a new chapter's out!
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Thanks for reading everyone! I'm at over 25,000 reads so far! That's incredible! I can't believe it! Thank you all so much. :)
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