Chapter 13 : In my hand there's a pulse of my beating heart
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In my hand there’s a pulse of my beating heart
When her father arrived, dawn was breaking and Hugo was conscious. Rose still cradled his head in her lap, her spare hand gripped tightly in Scorpius’. She could see her father was torn between his desire to do his job and to gather both his children in his arms. She managed a weak smile, amazed to realise it was morning.
“We’re okay, Dad.”
Ron bent and looked searchingly at his daughter’s face. His brow furrowed and he reached up to gently touch her throat. “Where did those marks come from?”
Rose swallowed, not knowing what to say. Everything was still a blur, a whirlwind, and it was Scoprius who spoke.
“But he didn’t mean it,” Rose cut in, alarmed at the look that crossed her father’s face. He swore under his breath and Rose cried out as he lunged across her towards Scorpius. Hugo groaned, rolling to one side to avoid being squashed and Rose grabbed at her father’s arm. She vaguely noted Harry was there, his wand held firmly as he examined Selina and Elspeth. Scorpius had kept them unconscious, lying where they had fallen, and tied them tightly with magical rope.
“You’d better explain yourself, Malfoy,” Ron snapped.
“Dad, no. I’m okay; we’re all okay. We’ll explain in a moment,” Rose said firmly.
Ron’s eyes narrowed. “You’re sure?”
“I’m sure. Let him go, please,” she begged and slowly, Ron released the front of Scorpius’ shirt, sitting back on his heels. The sound of apparition split the air and they all tensed; Rose reached for her wand, only to remember that Elspeth had taken it from her. Ron stood up, lifting his wand high as footsteps hurried through the broken house towards them.
“Put that bloody thing down,” Draco Malfoy snapped, stepping into the growing morning. “Where’s my son?”
“How did you know...” Ron began.
“Your wife. It’s nice to know someone cares enough to keep me informed.”
“I’m fine, Dad,” Scorpius said wearily. Draco crossed the room, bending like Ron had done and looked into his son’s face. Without another word, he pulled Scorpius into his arms and held him tightly. Rose felt tears prick her eyes and she realised she still had hold of Scorpius’ hand. She let go and Scorpius’ arms went around his father, like a child seeking comfort.
“I’m so sorry,” Rose heard Draco whisper. She saw Scorpius tremble, saw his shoulders shake as he sucked in a gulp of air. Harry came forward, Lucius’ Death Eater mask held lightly in his hands.
“Where did this come from?” he asked gently. Draco did not release his son; he merely lifted his head, his gaze moving to Harry’s outstretched hand
“That’s my father’s,” he said in a low voice, his eyes red-rimmed and glassy. “It should be in a locked box under the drawing room floor.”
“Selina had it,” Scorpius explained, his voice rough. “She took it from the Manor before she disappeared. She made me wear it...I had that thing on my face.”
“I see,” Harry said slowly.
“She compelled me; she used the Imperius curse,” Scorpius said shakily. “It was horrible – I was aware of what I was doing, but I was powerless to stop it. That’s how Rose...got hurt,” he mumbled. “Selina wanted me to,” he paused, taking a deep breath, “Kill...”
Ron sucked in a breath of anger and Rose gave him a warning look. Hugo mumbled something and Harry turned to him.
“You need to go to St Mungo’s,” he said firmly and Hugo shook his head, wincing. He had a rather large bruise forming on his forehead and Rose wondered what Elspeth had hit him with.
“I’m alright, a bit dizzy, but I’m alright. I just wanted to say that it isn’t Scorpius’ fault, none of it. Selina is crazy. She wants to bring back the days of Voldemort. She believed she was doing -” Hugo broke off into a fit of coughing.
“She wasn’t herself,” Rose said quietly. “Neither was Elspeth. There was something wrong with them; it was like they were Imperiused, but who would do that?”
Harry looked at Lucius’ mask, still nestled in his hands. “I think I know.”
“My father can’t have compelled anyone,” Draco snapped, “He’s comatose.”
“I know that, Malfoy,” Harry replied calmly. “But this,” he held out the mask, “is somehow connected. I want to take it back to the Ministry, have it examined, maybe get a Curse Breaker to look at it.”
“You think it’s cursed?” Ron asked, coming over to look at the mask with critical eyes.
“Perhaps,” Harry conceded. “Malfoy...”
“Destroy the bloody thing for all I care, Potter. I don’t want it back in my house.”
“If Scorpius was Imperiused, how did he break the compulsion?” Rose asked her Uncle. Harry smiled grimly.
“You were lucky,” he said to Scorpius, though perhaps he was speaking to Rose as well. “Selina was obviously not skilled in the Dark Arts. If she was, you’d still be acting out her will. You have to really mean an Unforgiveable Curse, and be strong enough to maintain it.”
Rose frowned. “Where is Lucinda?”
“We don’t know, but there are people looking for her. Raven will be alright though.”
“What happened to her?” Scorpius breathed.
Draco sighed. “She’s in a coma. Clara found her in her room, at the Manor, at lunch time yesterday. Her mother had come to collect her. She was taken to St Mungo’s but they said it’s not serious.”
“She’d been cursed,” Harry put in and Rose shuddered. “We don’t know who is responsible yet.”
“Come on,” Ron ordered gently. “St Mungo’s for the lot of you; these two will have to be placed under guard,” he indicated Elspeth and Selina.
“Can I just go home?” Scorpius asked quietly. “I want to see my mother.”
Ron gave his children a shrewd look and sighed when he saw their expressions. “I suppose you two are going to refuse medical treatment as well?”
Rose and Hugo both nodded. “Can we go back to the Manor?” they asked in unison. Scorpius reached for Rose’s hand again and she let him take it, not caring who saw or what they thought.
“The Healer’s can come to us, Weasley,” Draco said, a small smile playing at his mouth as he looked between his son and Rose. “Do your job, and Astoria and I will make sure your children are looked after.”
Ron sighed. “Hermione will kill me.”
“I’ll Owl you later, Dad,” Rose whispered, feeling strangely like crying again. She was exhausted. The adrenalin that was flying around her body was making her itchy but at the same time, she felt like she could sleep for days. Harry and Ron set about preparing Selina and Elspeth for disapparition to St Mungo’s. Before they left, Harry returned Rose and Hugo their wands.
“I will need to interview you formally,” he said to Scorpius, “Rose and Hugo as well.”
The three of them nodded and Rose watched as Harry, Ron and their prisoners disappeared. “What will happen to them?” she asked softly.
“I hope they lock them up,” Draco muttered, pulling Scorpius to his feet. Rose shook her head, standing up also, reaching her hand out to her brother.
“I don’t think it will be as simple as that,” she replied, her voice rough. Draco merely shrugged and asked who out of Rose and Hugo was strong enough to Apparate back to the Manor. Rose said she’d do it, slinging her arm around her brother, who closed his eyes and let his head drop awkwardly to her shoulder. Rose kissed his forehead, smiling when he smiled, and spun them around.
The Healers arrived at the Manor in moments; Astoria had placed them on alert and when Draco walked through the front door still supporting Scorpius, she raced forward and flung her arms around them both. Rose was momentarily shocked to hear her sob, feeling a tear slip from her own eye. Astoria stepped back, wiped her eyes and turned to Rose and Hugo, moving forward to embrace them, straining to reach her slender arms around the siblings at the same time.
“I’m glad you’re both safe,” she whispered, before moving away to let the Healers in. After being given a clean bill of health, Hugo was ordered to rest. The Healers declared he had a concussion, but other than that, he would be fine. Rose watched as her brother climbed the stairs, his feet heavy, Scorpius going with him. They both paused at the top, turning to look back at her and she smiled, feeling stiff and tense. She was still so adrenalised and wondered had her parents and Uncle Harry felt like this, all those times they were on the run, and fighting Death Eaters, surviving. Her heart was pounding loudly in her ears, and although her breathing had returned to its normal rhythm, her lungs felt tight and stretched.
Exercise, she decided quickly, I need exercise. She knew she would not be able to sleep while feeling so alive, so she dashed up the stairs and into her room, swapping her crumpled and dirty clothing for her swimsuit. There was, Rose noted with annoyance, a hole in the side of her shirt, and a stain on the backside of her shorts. She tossed the clothes in a pile in the corner of the room, deciding to leave them to her mother. Hermione was brilliant at removing stains and mending things.
The pool was just long enough for laps, and Rose swam hard, pushing her body, feeling her muscles burning with each stroke. Gradually, as she ploughed through the water, she felt the tension easing – felt everything begin to melt away. She stopped when she reached the far end of the pool, touching the bottom and leaning against the wall, breathing deeply and feeling suddenly exhausted.
The sun reached down through the branches above her and she lifted her arm, imagining she could grasp the rays with her hand.
“I used to do that.”
Rose froze. She knew that voice well enough by now; would know it in her sleep. Swallowing, she looked towards the other end of the pool. Scorpius was standing with his arms by his sides. Even from where she was, Rose could see that he was tense.
“Mind if I join you?” His voice was deep and low, but she heard it as clearly as if he had whispered in her ear. She nodded, forcing herself to speak, suddenly feeling chilled.
“You should be resting.”
“So should you.” He smiled, a gentle quirking of his lips, and Rose watched with a deep throbbing hunger as he shed his shirt and slipped into the water. Fear and desire mingled inside her, blending together and beating into the very marrow of her bones. Her heart pounded like a drum, her body shaken by that endless rhythm, that carnal spiral of need that grasped hold of her. The water was up to his shoulders now, and the distance between them suddenly became miles, not metres, and slowly, inexorably, he swam towards her. Dappled light from the sun overhead bounced across the surface of both the water and his skin, painting him with golden shadows. Rose held her breath, mesmerised, as he moved closer to her, his arms cutting smoothly through the water. He did not take his eyes from her face and she swallowed, holding his gaze as he stopped, inches from her.
His hands shot out and came to rest on her waist and Rose was no longer cold – she was boiling, her body aflame. Glancing down, she could see his fingers against her skin. Their bodies glowed beneath the water, both pale as ice. “You saved me,” Scorpius whispered.
“You would have broken that compulsion on your own,” Rose replied. “It was never strong enough.”
“Maybe, but you helped.” He smiled and moved closer, bringing their bodies together. Rose thought her skin would explode she was so tense. “Relax,” he murmured, his fingers stroked lightly, just once, against her lower belly and she wanted to scream.
He pulled away a fraction to look at her, his expression worried. “Are you frightened of me? I would never hurt you, Rose, you have to know-”
Rose put her fingers against his lips. “I know, Scorpius. It isn’t that.” She wasn’t frightened of him; she was terrified of herself, of what she was allowing to happen. She was scared of being hurt, of giving in so completely to him. “Why me? There were a hundred women willing to be your wife and you could have had any of them, but...”
He smiled rather sadly. “That’s exactly why I didn’t want any of them, Rose. Don’t you understand? I don’t want someone who likes me for my name, for my father’s money and for the lifestyle I could give them. I want, need, someone who wants me for me, without all of those attachments.” He paused, his expression serious. “Had you have entered, or even applied, for that ridiculous competition, we would not be here, right now, because I would have written you off as just another fortune-seeking superficial witch.”
“I do understand that, but I still don’t understand why you want me.” Her voice was a scratchy whisper that she immediately hated. She had wanted to sound confident, sure of her question but her head was a mess and her insides were quickly turning to liquid. She felt she would float away and dissolve.
“Because,” Scorpius answered; he stepped nearer to her. Only the water separated them now: a flimsy barrier. “You don’t care about those things. Because you seem completely unimpressed by that part of my life, and because you are completely willing to tell me when my behaviour is unacceptable.” He laughed lightly and kissed her before she could respond. “And because you won’t kiss my feet. I don’t need to be treated differently to anyone else, and I hate that I am sometimes.”
“I didn’t realise,” Rose said honestly. “You always acted the role so well.”
“All my life,” he replied rather sadly. “Can I ask you something now?”
“Of course,” Rose whispered, her head spinning. She had never known, in all the years they had been acquainted, that he felt like that, and she realised how wrong her opinions had been. She had been prejudiced.
“What do you expect of me? If this is going to go anywhere at all, I need to know.”
Rose swallowed, and glanced down at the water, thinking, before looking up and into his eyes. “I expect honesty, respect, communication and for you to be yourself. You don’t have to pretend with me, Scorpius; I’d rather see your flaws than have you try to be perfect.”
“I can do that,” he said softly. “All of that.”
“I don’t know you at all,” Rose commented quietly, “But I think I have seen glimpses of who you really are; last night, when you...”
“Tried to kill you?” he supplied, his voice low and tortured.
She shook her head. “When you stood up to them, when Selina...you played her, you played her so well. You could have easily given in and done what she wanted, but you didn’t. It brought us time.” She looked at him admiringly, amazed when he blushed. Laughing, Rose kissed him, throwing her arms around his neck and pulling him close.
“I need to tell you something,” he said quietly, pulling away from her.
“Anything; you can tell me anything,” Rose said.
He took a deep breath. “I cast the Dark Mark; I remember doing it, but it’s like it wasn’t me, or something – like I watched myself do it. I don’t even know how I did it, or whose wand I used. It wasn’t mine – I got Hugo to check.”
“Have you told your father?”
“No,” Scorpius said with a sigh. “How do I tell him that? How do I tell grandmother it was me? I scared the life out of her, Rose.”
Rose reached for his hand, squeezing it gently. “I’m sure, considering everything, they will both understand.”
Scorpius walked with her to her room, and at the door, they both paused, unsure of where the moment was headed. He said nothing, resting his head against the doorframe, watching her. There was worry in his eyes that Rose didn’t want to see so she reached for his hand.
“I need to sleep,” she whispered and he nodded. “Will you stay?”
Scorpius smiled, and she stepped back, allowing him access to the room. He swept her into his arms and kicked the door shut dramatically, making Rose giggle. She made him wait while she had a shower and when she came out, he was already asleep, lying curled up in the middle of the large bed. She stood and looked at him, studied him in the gentle light that snuck through the sheer curtains, before climbing slowly onto the bed, sitting by him, her hands fluttering, unsure of what to do. He looked so peaceful she didn’t want to disturb him. There were still shadows under his eyes, identical to the ones she had just witnessed on her own face, but his skin had colour and his breathing was deep and restful.
She lay herself down beside him, propping herself on her elbow, still watching him. His eyelids fluttered, his eyes moving beneath the lids – his skin was almost transparent there and she reached out a finger and touched one lid gently, smiling. She traced the length of his nose, his cheekbones and jaw. Very slowly, Rose trailed her fingertip along his lips, wanting to kiss him again. She moved down his chin and throat and smoothed her hand, palm flat, across the broadness of his chest. He stirred, one arm reaching and she moved closer, stroking the hair from his forehead.
“You are absolutely delicious, you know that?” she whispered, feeling silly for saying it, bending to plant a kiss on his cheek. His arm tightened around her and she rolled over, letting him pull her close to the warmth of his body. There, Rose drifted into sleep.
When she woke, it was the middle of the afternoon, and Scorpius was gone. She lay in bed a moment, staring up at the white ceiling, wondering what to do now. She tried not to take offence at his absence, figuring he slipped out to shower or see his parents and didn’t wish to disturb her, but her stomach niggled and a little voice started whispering in her brain that she’d been a fool.
“Shut it,” Rose hissed, rolling onto her stomach and burying her face in the pillow. It smelt like him and made her smile. The door clicked open and she lifted her head to see Scorpius step inside the room, a silver tray in his hands. Rose laughed lightly.
“I thought you might be hungry,” he said, setting the tray down on the writing desk. Rose smiled, climbing out of bed and stretching.
“Actually, I am. Thank you.”
Scorpius blushed a little and busied himself with the food. Rose watched him, realising how awkward he seemed and she took over gently, nudging his hands away.
“One step at a time,” she said softly. He stepped back, obviously relieved and conjured an extra chair for himself, sitting down. After they had eaten, Rose sat back, contented.
“So,” Scorpius said, pushing his plate to one side.
Rose smiled. “So.”
She surprised herself, standing up and grabbing his hand, dragging him to her. “Shut up, Scorpius.” She wrapped her arms around him, buried her face in his neck, and waited, her breathing heavy and her chest tight. It took him a split second to catch on; he spun her around and walked them backwards, until her legs bumped against the edge of the bed.
He paused, pulling away, his eyes tracing her face. Reading her. Rose sensed him hesitate, so she pushed herself up and onto the tips of her toes, closing the gap between them. Their lips met and as she slipped her hands beneath his shirt, Rose felt a strange rush of power when he sucked in a breath and leaned into her, his back arching as she dragged her nails slowly down his flesh. Her fingers traced his ribs, the curve of muscle that spread across his bones, so very different from hers. Where he was hard, she was soft; she tugged at his shirt and he ripped it over his head, tossing it away onto the floor somewhere.
She wanted him more than she thought possible. This was not her, this passionate, dizzy creature. Rose felt so far from herself, and the more she contemplated that, the more she decided she liked it. She liked this side of herself; the side she had not known existed. She liked that she could be eager and intense and slightly wild. She also liked that someone else seemed to like it.
It was liberating, and Rose pulled away to watch the way Scorpius’ eyes darkened as he reached for her. This was what it meant to be a woman, this power and heat and naked need. Scorpius turned to liquid beneath her hands, amazing her with the sounds that rose from his throat. He allowed her to explore him, to touch her fingers to his chest, to trace the outline of his collar bone and jaw and to simply look at him. He closed his eyes, his chest rising and falling rapidly.
“You’re over-dressed, Weasley,” he mumbled, eyes still closed. Rose hesitated. It was one thing to admit she liked him and that she wanted him, but it was another to get naked with a boy she had known, and despised, for most of her life. His eyes opened and he grinned at her. “What happened to the woman who wanted to eat me alive?”
“I did not say that,” Rose muttered; in truth, she did want to eat him alive.
“You said I was delicious.” The grin grew wider and Rose’s face grew hotter. “That implies eating.”
“I thought you were asleep,” she whispered, looking away, until he slid his finger beneath her chin and tilted her face up. They stared at one another, his eyes dark as swirling storm clouds, his lips slightly parted. His cheeks were flushed, his hair ruffled at the back and there was a tiny bead of sweat resting on his forehead. Rose reached up and brushed it away with the tip of her finger. Slowly, he leant towards her and her eyes fell closed as he kissed her with an intensity that was frightening. Rose felt her belly swoop low, felt her muscles clench and tighten, and she realised she was not breathing.
“We don’t have to do this yet.” His lips were fire on her skin.
“Do you want to?”
“Do you?” He waited, and when she didn’t say anything, when her body went to mush, all muscle pooling together in one relaxed puddle beneath her skin, she folded into him.
Rose wasn’t sure how long they laid there, wrapped around one another, but she didn’t care. She felt like fire in his hands and she didn’t want it to end. She wanted the moment to continue, to burn until she was nothing but ash.
Neither of them heard the door swing open.
“Hey, Rose, mum and dad...woah!”
They both froze. She could hear his heart beating over the roaring in her ears and she slowly turned her head. Hugo stood open-mouthed in the doorway.
“Hugo!” Rose screeched, glad she wasn’t naked. “Don’t you bloody knock? Get out!”
“You have terrible timing,” Scorpius said calmly, tossing a pillow at Hugo, who blinked and backed quickly out of the room. The fire in Rose’s body had morphed from lust to deep embarrassment. She closed her eyes, wanting to disappear.
“Yeah, well, mum and dad are here, so you’d better...hurry up, or finish up, or...whatever, and get downstairs,” Hugo said through the door. “You don’t want them coming looking for you, especially not when-”
“Alright!” Rose shouted. “Just get lost. We’ll be down in ten minutes.”
They heard Hugo sigh from behind the door. “I know I said I was okay with this relationship but I don’t know if I’m okay with you having sex with my sister; that might take a bit of getting used...”
“Go. Away,” Scorpius growled. Rose smiled and nudged him and he sat up, taking his wonderful heat with him. They listened to Hugo’s footsteps fading away.
“I hate my brother,” she said, reaching out to touch a finger to Scorpius’ hip. She stroked slowly from hip to hip, watching as his eyes fell closed and smiling when he groaned. She hooked her finger under the edge of his pants. “He ruins everything.”
“I know,” Scorpius said weakly. “Rose...don’t do that, please.”
She giggled; his eyes snapped open and he winked and climbed off the bed. Rose watched him dress, not wanting to stop looking at him. He held out his hand and she took it, letting him pull her to her feet where he handed her her clothes. “Let’s go see your parents.”
There was something about the way he said it, slightly nervous and hesitant and courageous all at once, that made Rose smile. “What are you thinking?”
“That I need to make an honest woman out of you, Rose Weasley,” he replied, reaching out and buttoning her shirt for her.
The world suddenly dissolved; Rose backed away a step.
He frowned, and then laughed loudly. “I just meant we should enlighten them; before Hugo does, at least.”
Rose cursed, and strode from the room.
Chapter title from the song, UFO by Sneaky Sound System
this is the second last chapter guys!!
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