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Chapter 15 : A New Reality
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“The Daily Prophet?”
“Read it.” Mum’s standing over my bed, arms folded and hair sticking out at crazy angles.
Oh, shit. Don’t tell me.
MINISTER’S DAUGHTER ABUSES REPORTERS, CLASSMATES
Rose Weasley, daughter of embattled Minister of Magic Hermione Weasley, lashed out at reporters in the Ministry’s Atrium yesterday afternoon whilst travelling home from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
The former Head Girl furiously denied allegations saying she was stood down from her position due to misconduct, saying, “I was stood down because little f***ers like yourself decided I was biased towards the Ministry, and in my place appointed a fanatical DOWIAH member named Antigone Islington who started the riot in the Great Hall…So you can shove your allegations where the sun don’t shine!”
Weasley was also seen to attack a Prophet reporter with a Stunning Spell, and was swiftly escorted from the building by Head Auror Harry Potter.
In response to the claim she started the riot in the Great Hall, Acting Head Girl Antigone Islington said, “Rose Weasley is, understandably, emotionally unstable due to the recent death of her brother, and as the murderer is still unknown, she naturally looks for a scapegoat. I would like to assure the wizarding community that I did everything in my power to stop the riot from happening, and would venture a suggestion that her attacking myself and Head Boy Riordan Carter with Stunning Spells just prior to the riot did not help matters.”
“But wait, there’s more,” Mum says icily, throwing something else onto my bed. “I don’t want to hear your excuses right now, Rose.”
Heart racing, I pick up the magazine she’s just thrown at me: a copy of Witch Weekly, with my furious-looking face gracing the front cover along with the headline “Minister’s daughter tells all.”
“What the fuck?” I yell furiously. “I didn’t tell them anything!”
I flick through the magazine furiously, coming to a two-page spread featuring a large photo of me storming through the Atrium and an inset of Scorpius looking overly pompous standing with Draco and Astoria.
“YES, WE ARE TOGETHER!”
After months of speculation, Minister of Magic Hermione Weasley’s daughter Rose confirmed her relationship with Scorpius Malfoy, the son of DOWIAH leaders Draco and Astoria. In response to reporters’ questions about the relationship, Rose said, “There is nothing illicit about my relationship with Scorpius.”
However, there are many who would disagree with the statement. “There has always been animosity between the Weasleys and the Malfoys,” says a source. “And to have the parents on opposing sides means both families will have a sense of betrayal.”
Scorpius’s parents are reportedly unhappy with the relationship, particularly after his joining Unity, the official support organisation for Minister Weasley’s proposition to lift the Statute.
“He’s betraying them,” says a friend of the Malfoys, “And as far as Draco and Astoria can see, it’s all because of Rose. He’s madly in love with her, which means he’ll do anything she asks of him, including joining Unity.”
I don’t bother to read any more, instead hurling the article across the room, trembling with fury. “How dare they?” I whisper through gritted teeth. “How dare they?”
“Rose, calm down.”
“Calm down?” I repeat incredulously. “You’re telling me to calm down? After all this garbage they’ve written about me? After all this…all this bullshit?” I hear my voice rising but I don’t care; I’ve given up trying to keep control.
“Rose, dealing with the press is just something you’ll have to learn to do. Preferably before another tirade like the one you unleashed in the Atrium makes Prophet headlines. How many times have I told you to watch what you say to reporters?”
I ignore her, pointedly yanking clothes out of my wardrobe, and she leaves. In seconds I’m dressed, having hastily thrown on green and silver Slytherin Pride robes for Christmas with my all-Gryffindor extended family. I’m in an antagonising mood today.
Not bothering to do anything about my hair, I march out of the house and down the path that leads from the front door.
“Rose!” Mum calls after me. “You haven’t had breakfast yet—Don’t you leave this house, you could be killed—ROSE WEASLEY, WHERE ARE YOU GOING?”
“Be right back,” I yell, Disapparating with a sharp crack and arriving outside a foreboding wrought-iron gate. I rap it sharply with my wand, and a house-elf’s squeaky voice greets me.
“Who visits the house of Master and Mistress Malfoy?” the elf asks, having just appeared behind the gate.
“I’m Scorpius Malfoy’s girlfriend.”
The elf nods furiously. “Locky remembers Master Scorpius’s lady friend. Young master will be pleased to see miss. Miss must follow Locky.”
Surprised that Draco and Astoria haven’t given Locky specific instructions to bar the house should I show up, I follow the elf up the sweeping path and into the elegant entrance hall. At this point the elf disappears, and I stride down the hallway, not knowing exactly what I’m doing here.
“Rose!” Scorpius nearly barrels into me, looking extremely startled and more than a little bit alarmed at the sight of me. He’s wearing nothing but pajama pants, and it strikes me that I haven’t seen him topless since he whipped off his shirt in victory after a particularly good Quidditch practice. It’s not a bad sight.
“Scorpius,” I return calmly.
“What are you doing here?”
“Your parents in?” I ask, ignoring the question.
“Yes,” he replies quietly, sneaking a furtive glance towards the massive dining room.
“Good, because I need to talk to them.”
He stares at me incredulously. “Why?”
“Shit went down that you don’t know about. Come with me?”
“I have no shirt on,” he hisses, looking extremely embarrassed by this.
“Oh, please, you weren’t born clothed, your parents have seen worse.”
“Not for ten years.” He casts me a brief appraising look. “Slytherin colours were a good choice,” he comments, before bolting up the stairs.
He returns fully clothed and robed, fastening a button as he descends the stairs, and offers me his hand. “I’m not going to pretend to know what this is about, but you know the first thing they’re going to think when we come in is that you’re pregnant.”
“I’d love to know how that would have happened.”
“Yeah, but they don’t know that. Merry Christmas.”
We push open the doors leading to the dining room and approach Draco and Astoria.
You could cut the tension with a knife in the seconds where nobody speaks, until Draco finally breaks the silence. “What’s she doing here, son?”
“Um,” I begin, not sure how to explain, considering I don’t know myself. “Well…”
Astoria eyes me with the beginnings of suspicion. “Rose,” she says sharply, “You’re not pregnant, are you?”
I toy with the idea of saying yes, just to see the reaction.
“No!” Scorpius says swiftly. “No, no, we haven’t…” He coughs and studies the floor.
Draco studies the silverware on the table. “Good to know.”
“Why are you here, Rose?” Astoria asks.
“You don’t read Witch Weekly, do you?”
“As a general rule, no.”
“There’s an article in it. Focusing mainly on how much you hate the fact Scorpius and I are together.”
Another long, uncomfortable silence.
“Sit down, Rose,” Astoria says quietly.
I take a seat at the table as Scorpius hovers almost nervously beside it.
“Are you waiting for an invitation?” Draco asks him pointedly. “You do live here.”
“What did the article say?” Astoria asks.
“It said a lot of things. My personal favourite was the bit about how I’m a manipulative bitch who has Scorpius wrapped around my finger and that’s why he’s in Unity. Or words to that effect.”
“I can assure you we never said anything along those lines.”
“It was an unattributed source. But that’s not why I’m here.”
“At last, we find out,” Draco comments.
“Do you think that?” I ask baldly. “Do you think it’s my fault? Do you think Scorpius is just following me around like a blind puppy?”
“We didn’t know,” Astoria says quietly. “We didn’t get a chance to talk to Scorpius about it, all we could see was that you’re the leader of Unity Hogwarts, and Scorpius suddenly joins without a word to us. Personally, I’ve tried to reserve judgement on the matter until we hear from Scorpius himself.”
I want to ask how she cares to explain the general coldness towards me over the past several months, and the ‘Get off my son’ comment the other day.
“All right,” Scorpius says. “Rose, do you love me?”
“I would bloody well hope so.”
“And what’s more likely,” Scorpius continues, “Your dad having a heart to heart with the portrait of Severus Snape, or you falling in love with someone who follows you like a blind puppy?”
“Has to be the Dad and Snape man-love.” I see what he’s doing.
“You could never fall in love with someone who can’t think for himself?”
“And you’re in love with me?” This boy could be a lawyer.
“Last time I checked.”
“Nothing further. Mum, you know I love you, right?”
“If you say so,” Astoria replies, the beginnings of a smile on her face.
“And in your experience, have you ever known me to follow your instructions if I deem them contrary to my interests?”
“Then you would say that my affection for you has no impact on my obedience to instructions.”
“Therefore, applying the same logic, my affection for Rose would have no impact on the likelihood of my joining Unity, and for me to do so would insinuate that it is not contrary to my own interests.”
Silence from Draco and Astoria.
“I rest my case,” Scorpius says simply, standing and walking out of the room.
“Lily, my favourite sister!” James swans out of the Scamanders’ fireplace, waving a brief greeting to Luna and flinging himself into an armchair beside me. “Merry Christmas for yesterday.”
“No demanding to know why I’m here?”
“I figured you’re about to tell me. Unless it’s to try and convince me to come home, because I’m not keen.”
“No, you’re too stubborn for that,” James replies. “I thought I should make contact, seeing as we’re in the same boat here.”
“With the exception that you ran away, and I don’t live at home anyway,” James concedes. “Does Hogwarts have a DOWIAH group?”
“Yes, but it’s run by pricks.”
“The Head Prefects. Riordan isn’t too bad, but Antigone is just too full of herself. Lorcan and I just meet up with some friends every week or so, and we get The Voice of Reason.”
“That’s a good system,” James agrees, nodding. “But what I really wanted to talk about was…” He glances around, seeing Scamanders watching us and pretending not to. “Screw it, Muffliato. As I was saying, what happens when it comes to war?”
“We’re already at war.”
“I know, but…the fighting. The actual battles. Fighting against Mum and Dad and Al…Lily, we can’t do that. We can’t.”
“You’ve chosen your side,” I point out. “You can either fight for it, or you can sit on the fence pretending that you have an opinion, pretending you believe in the cause. What’s it worth if you can’t follow it up with action?”
“They’re our FAMILY, Lily!”
“I’ve heard enough about the damn family! Family doesn’t come into it!”
“Family doesn’t come into it? Who are you and what have you done with my sister?”
“Just another person who can’t cope with the idea that I can make my own decisions, are you?”
“This isn’t about your damn quest for identity, Lily, it’s bigger than that! It’s about life or death! Don’t you understand that?”
“I understand perfectly,” I reply coldly. “Do you understand that I’ve found a cause I’m willing to risk everything for?”
“Including the lives of Mum, Dad and Al,” James finishes grimly. “Right, I get it.” He stands, walking out of the lounge and into the Floo.
I stay at the Scamanders’ for the rest of the Christmas holiday, and Luna asks if I want to stay over Easter break as well.
“I love Mum, but she can be incredibly oblivious sometimes,” Lorcan whispers the night before we return to Hogwarts.
“Well, it’s not like I’m waking up in your bed every morning.”
“Even if you were, I don’t think she’d cotton on.”
“Don’t underestimate her.”
“It’ll be nice to get in touch with the Honour Guard again,” he comments, ignoring my statement. “Do you ever feel like you’re getting too comfortable at home?”
“Well, I haven’t been home for a while.”
“You know what I mean.”
“Yeah, I do. I get the feeling things will be really intense soon.”
“Do you think they might let us go on Operation Crusade soon?” he asks quietly, almost trembling at the thought.
“Do you want to go?”
“Yes. Do you?”
“Yes. Being part of something…Something real that the Guard does, rather than just visiting Headquarters learning curses and Occlumency…”
“It’s all preparation. But when we get back, we’re going to put that preparation into action.”
“There’s a meeting tonight at half seven, you look like shit,” Natalia informs me.
“Thanks,” I mutter. I feel like shit, too. Trust me to fall sick now.
“Seen old Pomfrey?” she continues. “Because you’ll want to be at your peak.”
“Why, what are we doing?”
Natalia arches an eyebrow. “Same thing as we always do, I imagine. When was the last time you were sick and tried to perform Dark magic?”
“I have,” she says. “Once. It doesn’t work.”
“I’ll bear that in mind.”
“Portkey leaves at twenty-five past on the dot,” she continues. “Meet in the Room as usual, and pass the message on to Lorcan.”
I make my way to Charms, sliding into a seat beside Lorcan. “Room of Requirement, Portkey leaves at twenty five past seven.”
“I’ll be there. Are you okay? You look half dead.”
“I feel half dead. I blame food poisoning. Or a virus. I don’t know, but I’m not enjoying it.”
Professor Malfoy enters the classroom, turning to us and clapping her hands together. “Good morning. How was Christmas break for everyone?”
There’s a chorus of “good” and “all right.”
“Anyone study Charms over the holidays?”
“Disappointing. However, I do have something I hope will get you excited about Charms all over again. Let me show you something.” With a flick of her wand, a wispy silver eagle materialises, swooping across the room.
“Patronus Charms,” she says, and the eagle vanishes. “Used to repel Dementors, Lethifolds, and sometimes even as a messaging system.”
There’s a general gasp of awe at the sight. I exchange glances with Lorcan; after what we’ve been learning at the Honour Guard, Patroni are nothing.
“The interesting thing about Patroni,” Professor Malfoy continues, “Is that Dark wizards cannot cast them.”
“Wouldn’t that make an Auror’s job easy then?” someone asks.
“Not necessarily,” Malfoy says. “There’s always a possibility that the wizard in question just doesn’t know how to cast a Patronus and to convict anyone on Dark magic, you need evidence that they committed it, not just that they have the inclination towards it. The Patronus is a complex piece of magic that requires high concentration. The incantation is Expecto Patronum, but what makes the Patronus tricky is that it is a manifestation of positive thoughts. The easiest way to cast a Patronus, especially for when you’re just starting out, is to focus on your best memory. If you suffer from clinical depression, I suggest taking a happy friend with you if you expect to encounter Dementors.”
After this kindly suggestion, the class stands and begins to practice casting the spell.
“Expecto Patronum,” I say confidently. Dad taught me the Patronus a few years ago, mine takes the form of a fox.
“Expecto Patronum,” I repeat, and still there’s no sign of the Patronus.
Dark wizards can’t cast Patroni. For one brief, fleeting second, the realisation that I have become a Dark wizard threatens to overpower me with panic and fear, and I feel faint.
“Lily?” Lorcan asks, alarmed. “Lily? Are you okay? Professor!”
“Yes?” Malfoy comes hurrying over, and my eyes blur as she approaches. “Lily? Are you not feeling well?”
I shake my head.
“Lorcan, take her to the hospital wing, would you?”
“Of course.” Lorcan slips an arm around my shoulders and helps me out of the classroom. I feel weak, and I hate it.
“Told you you looked half dead,” is all he says as we make our way to the hospital wing.
“Lily Potter!” Madam Pomfrey exclaims when we arrive. “Had your father in and out of here all the time when he was at school, your mother too—Quidditch players, I tell you, they make up half my workload…” She helps me over to a bed and turns sternly to Lorcan. “Back to class, young man.”
“No buts. No healthy student is allowed in the hospital wing during classtime. Now off you go.”
She shooes him off and bustles over to me. “Potter, Potter, Potter,” she mutters to herself. “Did you have enough to eat for breakfast this morning?”
“Plenty, Madam Pomfrey.”
“Eat anything bad last night?”
“Have you been vomiting?”
She looks me over with a practiced eye. “Now, I know this is a silly question to ask you, but it’s policy that I have to ask. You’re not sexually active, are you?”
Oh, Merlin. Kill me now.
“One could say I am,” I admit, and as the heat rises to my cheeks I’m comfortable in the knowledge I’m no longer deathly pale.
Pomfrey’s reaction is limited to a raising of the eyebrows and a slight tutting. “Not in the school, I hope.”
I really, really am not enjoying this conversation.
Pomfrey’s now waving her wand over me and muttering an incantation that I imagine would be the Latin translation for ‘diagnose.’ Still feeling somewhat gross, I stare at the ceiling and hope I’ll be better by the Honour Guard meeting tonight.
“It appears you are pregnant.”
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