Chapter 18 : XVIII - The Annual Ministerial Ball
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The legend told that around seven hundred years previously, the powerful Ravenclaw family found that their youngest daughter, a clever and devastatingly beautiful girl of sixteen, was found to have fallen in love with a Muggle Knight. They brought their wayward daughter to the castle as it was invisible to the Muggle eye. They said they would keep her imprisoned until she agreed to marry the Minister of Magic’s son as the family had signed away their child’s right to choose her husband through an ancient law. She continually refused and began to starve herself; she could not stand to live a life without her Muggle Knight. The knight, going by the name of Sir Robert, discovered the disappearance of his one true love and began to search for her and eventually through the help of a magical serving girl who was in love with him; he located his lover’s prison. The serving girl hoped the young Ravenclaw would have agreed to marry the Minister’s son, but when the knight and his true love met, they could not live without each other and planned their escape.
The serving girl, overcome with jealousy informed the powerful Ravenclaw family of the lovers attempted escape and the family managed to catch the escapees on the roof of the castle. They instantly killed Sir Robert for his nerve and their daughter, overcome with grief and rage, announced that she would not go one without him and threw herself off the castle battlements. The serving girl, realising she had caused the deaths of two innocent people, both of whom she loved, she killed herself in remorse for what she had done. The Wizarding folk had since called the castle “Lover’s Death” and Rose thought the castle was a totally unsuitable place to fall in love as once upon a time, this cold impenetrable prison had kept two lovers apart. Resting her hand on Uther’s, they reached the top of the stairs at which they instantly began to glide down, their names being called across the ballroom.
“Rosie,” whispered Uther when they reached the bottom of the stairs with a delicate bounce, “my father wanted to talk to us both, about something important. He’s standing over there with your father by the looks of things.” Rose tilted her head to see past her father’s broad back and unsurprisingly she saw Uther’s father, Kingsley, whispering darkly to her own father and they both had very curious looks on their mature faces. Uther led Rose across the ballroom, finally reaching Ron’s side, causing both the men to turn round and smile at their perfect children.
“Rose,” began Kingsley Shacklebolt brightly and jovially, “you looks absolutely beautiful!” Thanking him courteously Rose looked down at her vivid red dress. It was an unusually colour for her to wear, but she just felt so passionate and alive that it seemed the ideal colour to dress herself in during this time when she was just so happy. While she gazed down at her dress Uther said pointedly, “father, you said you wanted to talk to us?” Kingsley nodded briskly and then said,
“Well, just that I hope you have a good time tonight,” there was a mischievous twinkle in Kingsley’s dark brown eyes that was matched in her father’s midnight blue ones. But Rose did not have time to analyse it, for at that moment, Draco Malfoy, his wife and two sons walked over to greet their Minister. Rose felt Uther’s massively strong body tighten beside her as he closed his hand around hers. Draco gazed at them both for a moment and then began to speak, an echo of distain in his smooth voice.
“Good evening Minister,” he said politely, “Weasley.” The last words were cold and spiteful and those mixed with her father’s equal reply made a chill run up Rose’s back. When she and Scorpius finally revealed the truth, their parents would not be too impressed. She caught Scorpius’ eye for a moment, and felt a friendly smile flicker across her face, but she extinguished it immediately when she remembered that she was meant to be pretending to hate Scorpius. He shot her and Uther a cold sneer; he was an excellent actor when he wanted to be. But Rose was weak, she could never pretend to hate her husband and light indifference was all she could manage.
“My sons,” said Draco coldly indicating the two almost identical boys, “Scorpius and Orion.” Kingsley gave them both a diplomatic nod, Ron failed to address either of them and Uther shot a dirty look at Scorpius. “I believe,” continued Draco drawling slightly, ”that Scorpius, Rose and Uther are in the same year at school, and may share some classes with each other.” Uther gave a stiff nod whereas Scorpius reflected Uther’s previous angry looks. Rose however stayed perfectly still as her father added nastily, “It doesn’t mean Rosie and Uther associate with your son Malfoy.”
It was at that moment that both Rose and Scorpius’ resolve wavered and they both looked into each other’s eyes, laughing to themselves. Uther tightened his grip on Rose’s hand as he gave everyone a courteous nod and dragged Rose through the throngs of people and into the centre of the dance floor where he forced her into a stiff waltz. She went along with him and his bad mood; she had to at least appear cold towards Scorpius.
“I hate that guy,” muttered Uther darkly, “Scorpius is so smug, and he’s just like his father. The Malfoy’s were proved Deatheaters and they managed to wander back into the heart of the Ministry just because of their money!” Rose thought this was unfair, Draco Malfoy was very good at his job and did not deserve to be branded with the idea that he was only in the place he was because of his vault in Gringotts. But Rose did not fight, and continued to waltz stiffly; diving into the exact beat, thinking about the day when she would finally be a true Malfoy.
The Ball continued to trundle by, and the pace only picked up for Rose when they danced a peculiar old dance called the round circle. Women would form a circle facing outwards and the men another circle wrapped around the first one facing inwards. The music would be played and the two circles would walk in opposite directions, and when the music stopped they would turn to face the partner they had to dance the next waltz with. Rose, to her delight, was left to dance with Scorpius after Astoria had “accidently” knocked the conductor off his podium.
“Red,” said Scorpius playfully, holding his chin smartly in the air, “you’re smiling too much, you’re meant to be disgusted at the mere thought of dancing with me.” Rose then put on a miserable face and whispered back, “and you look like your trying to grope me Mr Malfoy so I’d back off if I were you.” They span around in circles carefully avoiding other spinning couples. Uther was off dancing with that Ravenclaw Amanda, and shooting dirty looks at Scorpius as they danced.
“Your far too close,” chuckled Rose, “you look as if you’re about to kiss me!” Scorpius drew back slightly and then span Rose around swiftly, out of Uther’s view. He then leaned in close and hoarsely whispered, “I want to kiss you, right now, right in front of everyone.” Rose’s heart hammered in spite of itself as they slipped back into the middle of the dance floor, the music swelling and falling around her.
Then the whole dance floor fell into a disjointed muddle. The music had been brought to an abrupt stop and the gentle rhythm was irreversibly lost forever. Scorpius dropped Rose’s hands in a shocked confusion as he looked around at all the other guests with bemused expressions on their faces. Old gentlemen with eyebrows raised and foppish young men looked around quizzically at each other while the young women stopped talking. Then the crowd turned their attention to a raised platform at one end of the ballroom on which Kingsley Shacklebolt and Rose’s own father stood mischievous smiles on their worn faces.
“Ladies and Gentleman,” began Kingsley smartly, gazing around at the audience who all looked up at him curiously. No one ever made a speech at the Annual Ball; it just wasn’t done, so the whole crowd were entirely perplexed by what the Minister was doing. “Uther, Rose, can you just come up here please?” Rose shot Scorpius a troubled look as she pushed through the crowd who stared at her with interest. Young women had their mouths open in shock and gossiping housewives were so shocked that even they couldn’t speak. Uther instantly grabbed her hand almost possessively as they mounted the stage and Rose gazed out into the crowd, catching Scorpius’ grey eyes for comfort.
“We would just like to announce...” began Kingsley, pausing for dramatic effect, “that Rose Weasley and Uther Shacklebolt are engaged and will be married when they leave Hogwarts.” Rose heart leapt into her mind as her mind began to scream, not giving her a moment to think. She barely felt the crash of Uther’s lips on hers because her heart began hammering in her chest. The crowd cheered in surprise and delight as Rose turned to them, her cheeks flushed with shame and shock. Scorpius was standing stock still; his eyes alight with an emotion that was verging on terror. Rose could not say anything, she could not hear anything and when she was finally allowed off the stage she dashed away, avoiding Uther and ran straight into the toilet which she instantly locked with her wand, and allowed the tears to come.
Her father had arranged this without her permission and now it had landed her in a worst place she had ever been. Roxanne’s premonition had come true; it would now be harder for Rose and Scorpius to say anything without causing more stress and upset than they had planned to. Looking up into the cold glass of the mirror she saw her face. Ghostly pale skin peppered with freckles, messy red hair and tired eyes were what looked back at her and the little girl inside screamed with what she had become. She was a liar, a temptress and an adultress. Her face was awash with tears that she had barely noticed and her heart would not cease with its relentless hammering.
“You’re a stupid girl,” she whispered viciously, “you should have told the truth from the beginning. You should have ended it with Uther to save his heart and your own. This is all your fault for leading him on.” Someone answered her words with a loud knock at the door, which made her jump and turn round quickly. Scorpius would be here to talk to her, to make her feel better, to embrace her like he had so many times before. Slowly she dragged herself over to the door, undoing the charm that kept the door locked tight. To her surprise, on the other side stood her cousin James dressed in his most expensive robes and his usually bright eyes tired.
“Rose, are you okay?” Rose instantly wiped her face of the tears and beckoned James into the empty toilet at which Rose walked over to the sink leaving James to hover by the door. Pausing to answer his question; she was not entirely sure what she was going to say, “yeh, I’m just shocked that’s all. If I married Uther I wanted to decide that for myself, not have someone tell me what to do, and at least not my own father and the Minister.” James did not give her time to say anymore as he enveloped her in a big hug. Then she cried freely into his shoulder, now she was confused and lonely. Part of her didn’t want to talk to Scorpius that would just be too much. She felt like she had betrayed him somehow.
“Do you want to marry Uther?” asked James simply. Rose snuffled into his shoulder and knew she had to tell him yet another lie, at least until she spoke to Scorpius. Gazing up at her cousin she took a deep breath and said, “No, not now. I’m not even ready to think about getting married now. I love him, but I can’t be forced to marry him.” James nodded slowly and then whispered words of comfort and aid into her ear, “talk to him, he’s your boyfriend after all.”
Rose gave him a sad little nod and broke away from his hug. She tilted her head upwards and looked into his eyes and she was shocked with what she saw. James’ eyes that usually danced with light looked tired, and the bright sparkle that usually lit them was gone. His face looked pale and ill and Rose said without thinking, “James, are you alright?” He gave her a timid little nod and nothing more at which Rose gave him one of her grandmother’s formidable expressions, causing him to tell her the truth.
“No, I’m not alright,” he croaked, pinching the bridge of his nose, “I’m scared that Roxanne’s prophecy will come true.” Rose raised her eyebrows in surprise; she had never taken James to be the type of person to believe in prophecy. Rose smiled gently at him and pulled his fringe out of his eyes. For once, the arrogant adolescent who James had grown into did not look back at her, but a terrified little boy crying out for help.
“None of Roxanne’s premonitions have come true,” Rose lied, knowing full well hers had, “you only need to get scared if Dom ends up in remedial potions.” James gave her a sad little smile as Rose pulled him into a strong embrace, patting his broad back. Taking care of him made Rose forget her own fears for a small amount of time, but when he broke away she knew it was over. James gave her an affectionate squeeze and whispered, “don’t hide in here forever, okay?” Rose gave him a nod as he turned away from her and left the room, leaving her to gaze at her dead reflection in the mirror. From outside the door she heard James’ angry voice.
“What are you doing loitering around here Malfoy? If you’ve come to point and laugh I’ll curse you into oblivion,” Rose heard his domineering sneer in her cousin’s voice and she shuddered nervously. Scorpius was bound to retaliate, he was a teenage boy after all and especially with all the pent up emotions inside of him, Rose was worried that a fight would start, but Scorpius remained calm as he answered.
“Believe it or not Potter but I am a human being and I can show some compassion when I see a girl flee from the ballroom in tears.” Rose could imagine James’ chest swelling in pride and indignation and his eyes growing bright with frustration. But at that moment the conversation was punctuated by a third person, and Rose’s heart fell dramatically, with fear and embarrassment. It was Uther.
“Is Rose in there James?” Rose heard as her heart hammered faster in her chest than it had ever done before. “What are you doing here Malfoy?” Uther growled as Rose tip toed across the toilet and into one of the isolated cubicles. Shutting the wooden door behind her, she suddenly heard her cousin’s gravelly voice iterate an interrupted reply.
“He says he was worried about Rose,” sneered James. Rose buried her head in her hands. Her worst nightmare was unfurling in front of her and she was hoping and praying that Scorpius would keep their secrets to himself and let Uther do what he needed to do. Rose curled her feet up onto the toilet seat as she heard Uther’s reply.
“She doesn’t need your help Malfoy. I’m her fiancé, she only needs me!” After this comment Rose was sure Scorpius would break and tell the truth about the secret marriage, but he kept silent and suddenly Rose realised he had turned around and walked away, followed by James who had left Uther to talk to Rose and suddenly Rose heard her boyfriend’s calm voice as he entered the toilet.
“Rosie,” he murmured, “Rosie, please talk to me, I don’t understand.” Rose could feel the pain in his voice, and it softened her heart slightly. But she could not tell him the truth, not now and as he walked towards the dingy cubicle she occupied and opened the door, gazing into her blue eyes, she felt her heart fall as she realised what a predicament she was in.
“What do I do mother?” he whispered desperately, “what the hell do I do?” Astoria looked at her son, his adolescent face a ghostly white in the panic and fear. His love for Rose had led him into a dark and dangerous place, but Astoria knew her son had to win at all costs. She watched him with all the motherly affection she could as they waited in the empty corridor outside the ballroom. Scorpius had attempted to see Rose, but with no success.
“Do nothing Scorpius,” she murmured secretly, “this is for her to sort out. If she needs you, she’ll come,” said Astoria, squeezing his hand affectionately and dusting his white blonde hair out of his eyes. Her son’s eyes looked tired and he seemed mature beyond his years. His relationship with Rose had turned him from a boy to a man and Astoria hoped her son would be brave enough to weather the oncoming storm for all their sakes.
“But mother,” he whispered panicked, “what if she reveals our secret! We had a plan; we knew the best way to reveal it!” Astoria patted her sons shoulder, desperately trying to console him. “Scorpius, don’t panic, remember as they say love conquers all.” Astoria thought she heard her son mutter sarcastically “so they say” but she brushed the remark aside to kiss him on the cheek.
“Go to the ball, have fun. For one night forget what you’ve done, forget everything. Just dance and have fun. Sometimes it’s the only thing that can keep you sane.” Scorpius gave her a sad smile and turned his back on her, taking himself back into the ballroom, leaving his mother to reminisce about the many times she went out dancing to forget the cruelties perpetrated involving her husband and pretty witches from the Ministry.
Rose was numb all over. She had put a stop for her feelings for an hour, just until she got home, and then she would have to think. She should have told Uther the truth; telling him she loved him but was just shocked at the sudden announcement did nothing good for anyone. She was meant to be a Gryffindor, she was meant to be brave. Sitting in the little carriage being pulled by winged horses through the night sky she breathed in taking in the musty scent of her surroundings. Since her father had become rich and acquired power he had become rather more frivolous, much to Rose’s mother’s revulsion. The carriage was empty apart from Rose and her mother, as everyone else had deigned to stay at the party.
“Are you okay Rosie?” asked her mother meekly looking into her daughter’s eyes. Rose gazed up at Hermione, the mother who had been loving and affectionate despite her difficult job. Rose knew she could not lie to her mother as she gave her that all knowing stare. But Rose could not tell her the truth; she could not face everyone’s disappointment and anger at once and she had to combat it with Scorpius at her side. But despite all these thoughts she could not stop the tears coming to her eyes. “Rosie, tell me, what is it?”
“I just feel like you and dad are dictating my life! I’ve not even talked to Uther about getting married and yet you arrange it without our consent.” Hermione looked sad for a moment but then said, “this was not my doing Rosie. It was your father and the Minister. Are you saying you don’t love Uther?” Rose shook her head violently yet not believing what she was showing. Her mother leant across the carriage to hold Rose’s hands.
“Everything will be okay. If you love Uther everything will be okay.”
So, obviously important stuff happened in this chapter. This is kinda the turning point as we are not to far off the end! In this chapter I wanted to show Rose's relationship with her family more as while you know all about Scorpius' home life there has been no hint to how Rose got on with hers. PLEASE REVIEW!!! There are lots of people reading this yet I've only got 19 reviews!!! Next time...Rose returns to Hogwarts and after the feast starts to question whether Cecelia is a true friend and whether her secret can be kept for much longer...
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