Chapter 25 : XXV - The Rites
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He was laying flat on his back metres from his fallen foe, his grey eyes still opened wide, the ghost of his last look of triumph still etched across his face. The room was silent, it was as if everyone had taken a big gulp of air and not breathed out. It did not take a second for Rose to act. She pushed through the crowd and broke out into the space where Scorpius and the Heir’s bodies lay.
“Scorpius,” said Rose, her voice cracking with shock and grief, “no, please, Scorpius!” She dropped to her knees next to him, pressing her hands to her mouth as the tears began to roll down her cheeks. She grabbed him by the shoulders, lifting his body onto her lap and crushing him to her chest. “Scorpius, no, please!” she sobbed, burying her head into his white hair. He was still warm, like as if he was still with her, still alive. His head fell back and she saw his eyes, those grey eyes that used to be so full of life and vitality. Now it was as if they were empty houses, long since abandoned by their inhabitants. The corpse was the empty shell that use to house Scorpius’ free spirit.
“No!” sobbed Rose, wiping strands of hair out of his eyes as tenderly as if he was still with her, “it wasn’t meant to happen like this! We were meant to be together, forever!” She ignored the shocked and bewildered look of her audience as she sobbed freely, clutching Scorpius’ corpse to her. She was alone now. No longer did she have Scorpius’ calming influence, his beautiful smile, his sense of humour his everything. He was gone and the weight on that news pressed on Rose’s lungs, willing her to stop breathing. It was as if her body and soul were telling her to stop as she could not live without Scorpius.
“Rose,” came a voice. Rose didn’t even have to look round to realise it was her mother talking to her, “what’s going on?” Suddenly Rose felt so angry, the emotion was ripping itself out of her body as she screamed, “you’re all just standing there and he’s dead! Scorpius is dead and you don’t care! He died for you!” Rose looked down at him and gently whispered, “I love you, I will always love you!”
“But Rose,” continued Hermione, “I don’t understand!” Rose lifted her head to look around. She saw her father and mother, their eyes full of shock. She gazed at every last person in the hall who all had looks of incredulity on their tired faces. “I...” began Rose, her voice trembling slightly, “Scorpius and I are...were...married.” There was a sharp intake of breath of those assembled. But Rose did not care and she dissolved into a fresh bout of tears.
She barely heard her parent’s frenzied questions or Cecelia and Julia’s garbled explanation. Her mind was full of Scorpius and the greatest loss she had ever experienced. She did not feel anything but the pain that was eating away at her. Then it finally dawned on her that in this life, she would never see Scorpius again. And that fact alone broke her heart.
The days rolled by and Rose did not know how long it had been since Scorpius had died. She was far too miserable to notice. Her mother had been sympathetic, cried with her even. She had apologized profusely, saying she should have been a more attentive mother, saying she should have noticed her only daughter’s predicament. Her father, while not totally ignoring her, avoided her and when he spoke to her he skirted around the issue instead talking about the weather and what she’d had for breakfast.
She had returned home and received a few letters from some of her friends. Barry had sent her a box of chocolates, Margot some sugary sweets but Rose had touched neither. She lay on her bed everyday just rewinding the picture of how she imagined he died. If she had been there could she have stopped it? Rosaline had also sent Rose a long letter saying how sorry she was, but it felt insincere. Everything felt insincere apart from one letter from a person she knew heart was breaking as much as hers.
I am so sorry for what you are going through. It must not have been good to lose him that way. No matter how much you think I am being insincere in writing this letter, I am not. But for years you pretended to love me and then you hid your relationship with him from me. You don’t now how much this hurts as nobody has ever done that to you.
I think it’s best if we don’t talk for a while. Both contemplate what has happened. Once we’ve had time to forgive each other we could talk again, possibly even concede into being friends again. But I know it will take a while for us both to forget the presence of Scorpius Malfoy.
I’m sorry I was never good enough for you.
Rose cried again when she saw this letter. Uther had willingly worn his heart on his sleeve and she had abused and betrayed him. Suddenly a new emotion besides the pain came washing over her. She was absolutely revolted with herself for what she had done to Uther. She had been the object of two boy’s desires and she had played with their hearts, even with Scorpius at the beginning.
No one had actually mentioned Scorpius’ name to her yet and the sight of it on paper sent her into a fresh bout of mourning. When the world had discovered their relationship, they were meant to be standing together, facing it all side by side, not separated by the invisible barrier of life and death, one standing each side hoping for the other’s return.
Her bedroom door opened slowly to reveal the tentative figure of Ronald Weasley. He gave her a heavy smile as he shuffled towards her, sitting beside her on the expensive double bed. For once he was not wearing a costly suit or a designer pair of pyjamas. Rose knew he had been poor most of his life and once he had possessed the money he had flaunted it shamelessly. Now it had seemed he did not care about the money anymore.
“Rosie,” he said sadly, “I’m so sorry.” For once Rose believed what he was saying. “I got swept up in it all. I couldn’t see that I was happy with just you, mum and Hugo. I was blind.” It seemed as if the words were coming from deep inside after fighting to break out for years. “I’ve gone back on everything with the Minister. We have realised that you and Uther must choose your own paths.”
Rose nodded and then said, “thank you, I know you wanted the best for me, the most advantageous marriage, the most money, the beautiful houses and gardens. But, although I love Uther and feel horrible for what I’ve done to him, I could not look at him once I realised I loved Scorpius.” That was the first time she had said his name since sobbing over the body. Ron nodded and then hugged his daughter in a fatherly way, a way he hadn’t for years. That was the most comfort she had received yet.
“I’ve been asked by Mr and Mrs Malfoy to speak at the funeral,” said Rose looking at her father, “but I don’t know if I’m strong enough for that.” Ron stroked his daughters cheek gently before saying, “If you are strong enough to secretly marry against your horrible father’s decision, you are strong enough to say a few words.” Rose gave him a half hearted smile before Ron continued, “after all, you want to say goodbye to him, don’t you?” Goodbye? It sounded all so final as if the clock had chimed midnight and her dress was turning back into rags. The fairytale was over.
“Of course I do,” Rose whispered, “but it’s too much. We planned everything. We were going to be so happy.” Ron nodded before saying, “he had his whole life ahead of him. It is too cruel when someone that young has their life snatched away from him. Remember, it happened to Fred too.” Fred lay interred in the Hogwarts cemetery for people who had fallen in battle, the same place in which Scorpius was going to be buried. Then it struck Rose, Scorpius had died for the school, died for the Wizarding World, died for her. She had to thank him for his bravery and she had to accept he was dead.
“I’ll do it,” Rose said, “Astoria was so kind to me, she will be heartbroken if I do not say goodbye after all we’ve been through.”
A week later, the day of the funeral rose strong and bright. It was beautiful, a day Scorpius would have loved. Rose dressed in a long black dress, reminiscent of her wedding dress. She had decided to dress simply, today wasn’t about her, it was about Scorpius.
The whole of Hogwarts had turned out in the school grounds, near to Dumbledore’s tomb. They all sat in lines, eagerly gazing up at the front to wait for the speakers. The other fatalities had had their funerals before or after, so this was entirely about Scorpius and for that the crowd was especially large, his father was a high ranking Ministry official after all.
Accompanying the students was an influx of Ministry officials, friends of Mr Malfoy, wanting to show their pity for Draco and his wife. Then there were the models, socialites, party girls and aristocrats who always visited Astoria’s dinner table ready to mound their apologizes on the heartbroken mother.
There was Rose’s own family and the Minister, mainly there for her benefit but Rose could see that even they would not want what happened to the Malfoy’s to have happened to their worst enemies. They stood solemnly near the front their heads down, terrified at the thought of catching Draco or Astoria’s eye.
Then, most disgustingly of all were the journalists. Rose would not have minded if they had truly been here to pay their respects but they were here armed with their notebooks and quills ready to write down everything that was said.
They contrasted the real emotion of those gathered. Isabelle and Marie hugged each other, they had recently had to suffer the deaths of two of their best friends and they both looked distraught. Orion was looking down at his hands, unable to believe that his older brother was actually gone. Julia and Cecelia were comforting each other, horrified at the turn of events. The Gryffindor boys looked slightly guilty about having got the wrong end of the stick about Scorpius.
Then there was Uther. Rose spotted him across the seats sitting all on his own. She could imagine his mix of feelings. First he would have felt sad as a young man had prematurely lost his life, then he would have felt awful for what Rose was going through. He would have felt jealousy as Scorpius had loved Rose and finally shame as his girlfriend had betrayed him. Rose could not bear to look at him and she instead kept her eyes resolutely on the front.
The priest began, telling everyone the tragedy that had befallen them was not in vain as Scorpius had saved everyone. Scorpius had killed the Heir and stopped a disaster beyond their imagination would have occurred and for that everyone loved him. His name would go down in history. When the priest had finished speaking, Uther’s father went up. He bitterly thanked Scorpius for his sacrifice and to Rose’s relief did not mention either Uther or herself.
That was followed by a very tearful speech from Astoria Malfoy, proclaiming him a wonderful son. She referenced Rose once, saying she could see why Rose, in fact why any girl would fall in love with him. Mainly she skirted round the issue of her son’s marriage, and her own part in it, instead highlighting Scorpius’ “stellar personality to match his name” and how much she would “miss and never forget her beautiful son.” She had to be helped back to her seat by Professor Brown as Scorpius’ father took her place, ready to make his speech. He stood, his face gaunt in the early wind. It was evident he had been crying.
“The Daily Prophet,” he began, his voice husky as he spoke, “made many comments about my private life. It inferred that my home life was unhappy. It said I had cheated on my wonderful wife with a string of women, which I will admit I haven’t been entirely faithful.” He rolled his eyes over Rose for a moment and she instantly knew that he was doing this in the hope that it would take some of the attention off her.
“But that paper has suggested that I never loved my children. That I neglected them for these women. That is a lie. I loved my son, I love my remaining son. Damn it, I still love Scorpius although he’s gone.” He flicked his grey eyes, so similar to his deceased son’s, up to the sky for a moment. “I will not repeat what my wife has said so well but he was a truly astounding boy and he cannot be replaced for all the world.”
Rose felt herself welling up as Mr Malfoy got down from the platform. She knew he was not a man to show his emotions but his eulogy had been truly beautiful. He returned to his family putting one arm round his wife who began sobbing freely into his shoulder, and one arm around Orion who held onto his father, looking like he would never let go.
Then Rose realised it was her turn. Where the crowd had been whispering to one another after Mr Malfoy’s speech they became deathly quiet as Rose stood up. She felt hundreds of eyes on her back as she walked to the front, willing herself to cry. She knew it was the hardest thing she would ever have to do.
Lifting herself up onto the platform she turned to face the people watching her. They were waiting tentatively for her to speak. She cleared her throat slowly and willed the words to come out. Her carefully prepared speech that she wanted to be perfect for Scorpius was stuck in her throat. She wanted to say how much she missed him and how much she loved him. The crowd watched her in silence as she willed the words to come, but they never did.
She began to panic, her breathing becoming fast. She had to say goodbye to Scorpius without ruining everything. Just as the tears started to come to her eyes she heard a voice coming from deep within her mind. She knew it was Scorpius, “just calm down and improvise.” That word made her snap. She wanted to show the world how much she had truly loved him and the words fell from her mouth before she had time to stop them.
The crowd gasped as she looked down at herself. She had only found out the night before, but she wanted everyone to know how serious it had been. “Scorpius would have loved to have been a father, but he never knew.” Rose stopped the tears coming as she continued, “he would have made a wonderful father, but he never will have the chance to know and that’s just heartbreaking.”
She suddenly noticed the journalists frantically scribbling on their pads. Rose’s nostrils flared as she continued, “I know some of you are not here to mourn him, or even remember him. You’re just here to find out why I ‘the people’s angel’ as you call me, would want to marry a Malfoy. I’ll tell you. Because he was my everything. He was funny, intelligent and perfect. I will miss him so much. He was brave for all of us and we should be grateful he willingly gave up his life.”
The people watched her sympathetically as she continued “I loved him unconditionally and I will never forget him.” With those words Rose knew her speech had ended. She could not say anymore without breaking down and stopping totally. Scorpius wouldn’t have wanted that. She dismounted the platform and made her way back to her seat, fully conscious of everyone staring at her.
After the body had been interred a wake was held in the Great Hall. Lavish amounts of foods and copious amounts of drink had been laid on for the guests to “celebrate Scorpius’ life”. He had been seventeen and he had died too early, the vitality had been stolen too prematurely and for that Rose could not celebrate. Instead she sat with a small platter of food, putting one piece of pastry into her mouth after another. She did not care anymore.
Her moment of quiet indulgence was suddenly spoilt when she felt a person’s presence behind her. Whipping around she found herself gazing into the eyes of Astoria Malfoy. She smiled down at Rose before bundling her daughter-in-law up in her arms so she could smell the expensive perfume that she wore.
“Oh Rose,” she sighed, “why didn’t you tell me?” Rose knew perfectly well what she was talking about. The baby would arrive in nine months time and that piece of news obviously kept a piece of her dead son with her for Astoria. Rose smiled sadly before saying, “I only found out yesterday and I was too busy panicking about what I was going to say today. What if it sounded stupid? What if it insulted Scorpius’ memory?”
Astoria gave her a little smile before saying, “that could never happen. You loved Scorpius, still love him. What you said was absolutely perfect.” At that moment Rose spotted something over Astoria’s shoulder. Draco Malfoy was standing over the other side of the room having a conversation with Rose’s parents.
“Look!” said Rose in surprise, pointing to them. Astoria instantly spotted what Rose had seen and dragged Rose across the room until they met their parents. All three of them looked at Rose in silence before Draco said, his voice cracking with emotion, “you’re having Scorpius’ son?” Rose nodded sadly, ready for the argument to break out. It was known that Draco Malfoy still held some of his old prejudices.
Spontaneously Draco wrapped his arms around Rose and held her tightly. “Thank you,” he whispered, “thank you so much for loving my son.” The statement shocked Rose beyond anything and when they split apart she found her parents smiling happily. “Of course,” said her mother jovially, “you’ll be able to see the baby all the time when it’s born. Rose will love that, won’t you?” It seemed to Rose that Scorpius’ death had brought the two families closer and for that she felt slightly cheered.
Soon she was able to leave the adults as their conversation turned to grandparent duties and she found herself going to get a drink. But before she reached the table she found herself meeting Uther. His eyes were red and they looked extremely tired. When he caught her eye he gave her a little smile before saying, “Are you okay Rose?”
Rose looked at him for a moment. Here he was seeing if she was alright again when clearly he had been going through something terrible as well. Before she could stop herself she found herself saying, “I’m so sorry Uther. It was never meant to happen like this.” He nodded slowly as he ran his finger dejectedly through his hair.
“How was it meant to happen then?” he asked bitterly before continuing, “did you ever love me?” Rose answered, a hint of defiance in her voice, “yes of course I did. It’s just, I felt pressured into loving you and that ruined it for me. But with Scorpius, I was free.” Uther nodded, a Rose sensed he may have understood what she was trying to say.
“I still love you Rose,” he said pained, “and if you ever decide that you love me, I’ll be here. You may think me foolish for that but...I can’t help the way I feel.” Rose suddenly felt so ashamed of herself she could barely look at him. “One day,” he said, “one day...” With those words he turned away from her and walked across the hall away from her, leaving her alone with just her memories of Scorpius to keep her happy.
Okay, just one more chapter to go! I really hope you've enjoyed this story and I hope you will like the Epilogue. Next Chapter...Rose gives birth to the baby and it offers her one last chance to see Scorpius...
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