Chapter 1 : Love rule #1
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AN - Welcome! Thanks for taking the time to read my little story. Just a heads up that this could prove triggering for anyone who does or who has suffered from any form of an eating disorder. Also, don't forget that you're perfect just the way you are.
Chapter image by emccentric
Love rule #1 - When in crisis, eat chocolate
The ebb and flow of the waves against the beach was relaxing, but it didn’t quite distract me from my self-consciousness. I could feel sand sticking to my bum and there was something crawling over my arm. Was I burning yet?
“Oh, stop moving, would you?” Sophie complained from beside me. She was trying to paint my nails but I kept shifting uncomfortably.
“Sorry,” I grumbled, “Tell me again why this is fun?”
“Because,” Callie said from my other side, “What don’t you love about the beach?”
I could list a lot of things. My History of Magic book was getting ruined and the sun reflecting off the pages meant I couldn’t read it without hurting my eyes. If we went swimming then water would get everywhere, and sand would get in even more places than that. Plus the salt water made my hair feel like steel wool.
“You’re getting pink, Rose,” Sophie said, glancing up from my nails.
“That’s because I’m British and red-headed. I’m burning up,” I whinged.
“Oh, boo-hoo!” Callie snapped, whacking me with her magazine. ‘Loose five kilograms in five days!’, ‘Fab or drab: Which of these celebrities have let themselves go?’ was emblazoned across the front cover. I eyed my friend’s toned stomach, feeling like a whale in my oversized shirt and board shorts. I told them I was wearing so much for sun protection, but we all knew it was because I was so self-conscious. “Just try to enjoy yourself, yeah?”
“I’ll stop complaining once this torture is over,” I said grinning. They both rolled their eyes at me, classic gestures I knew well. Meeting on the Hogwarts Express in our first year meant we were all well versed in each other’s quirks and characters. Back then, Callie had been a scrawny, snub-nosed rascal. Looking at her now, all I could see was long blonde hair, slim, tanned limbs and a breathtaking face. Sophie was still as tiny as she had always been, but now she had curves in the right places and sparkling eyes which made you want to smile.
I lay back on the towel and took a deep breath. We had the whole beach to ourselves which was relaxing. Shell Cottage was visible behind a few sand dunes, but Uncle Bill, Aunt Fleur and my French cousins were in France visiting their other family.
“I’m so not looking forward to this school year,” Sophie muttered for what must have been the fourth time that day. School wasn’t one of hers or Callie’s strengths, and they were both already stressing about it.
“Do you remember Jenna Smith’s face last year, when she came out of her Transfiguration exam?” Callie said in a hushed voice, putting down her magazine. “Suppose we look like that too?”
“It’ll be Charms that does that to me,” Sophie sighed. Poor Jenna Smith, she didn’t even finish her N.E.W.Ts before they carted her off to Mungo’s. The stress had been all too much.
“You’ll be fine,” I insisted. In a way, I had been practicing for this year since the moment I was born. Mum was constantly pressuring me into doing well at school. My grades were a testament to the hours I spent in the library. The size of my butt is a testament to my library time, too, I thought.
“Easy for you to say, Weasley,” Callie grumbled, and it was my turn to roll my eyes.
“Look,” I sighed, “If you go to class and you do the work we’re given, you won’t have a problem!”
I closed my eyes against the bright sun, feeling a headache building. Truth to tell, I was concerned about the looming school year. There was so much pressure to perform perfectly and to be perfect that I was starting to feel inadequate.
Sophie distracted me by saying, “So Rosie. I had dinner with Callie’s family a few nights ago and Jake couldn’t stop talking about you.”
I pushed myself up on an elbow to get a better view of Sophie. “First of all, where was my invite, you cows? And second, that would be because Jake is my friend and we haven’t spoken much this summer.”
“Yeah, well, he’s my twin and I reckon he wants to shag you,” Callie said, and I turned bright pink.
“Crude and untrue,” I muttered, embarrassed.
“He’s cute,” Sophie said with a grin, nudging me. I shifted away from her with a glare.
“You mean you stopped staring at Fred's bum long enough to look at Jake? I find that hard to believe,” I said, raising my eyebrows. It was Sophie’s turn to blush. She had liked Fred since sixth year but refused to do anything about it.
“Whatever,” Callie said with a sigh, tapping out of the conversation. She opened her magazine again and ignored us. I think I frustrated her with my lack of interest in the opposite sex. There was just so much on my plate all the time, and if I got the Head Girl position that I’d been wanting since I was five, then I definitely wouldn’t have time for anything, especially boys, this year.
“Okay, done!” Sophie suddenly exclaimed, putting the lid on the pink nail polish bottle.
“I don’t know how you do it so well,” I said, examining my nails, “Whenever I try to paint my own nails it ends up looking as if I did it while blind folded and drunk.”
Sophie laughed, looking pleased. “Practice practice practice! Aren’t you hot in all those clothes?”
I tugged on the hem of my oversized shirt and shook my head. “No, and I’ll burn if I don’t wear them. Mum will kill me.”
“She’s going to kill you over something one day, why not a little sunburn?” Sophie coaxed, and I shook my head again. I didn’t want them to see my pale limbs and squishy stomach, I was too embarrassed.
“Rose,” Callie said through gritted teeth, “Take the sodding shirt off.”
“Anyone would think you wanted to see me in just a bikini,” I tried to joke, but neither of them cracked a smile. I never used to be so self-conscious. It was only when the other two started getting dates and I spent more time alone in the library and at dinner that it started. Was everyone staring at me as I scoffed my treacle pudding? Was the Hufflepuff quiddich team judging me as they passed by on their weekly run around the lake? Did that girl laugh at me because of what I was wearing?
“It’s okay Rose. It’s only us three out here and we both think you have a lovely body. I wish you could think the same.” Sophie’s voice was kinder than Callie’s, as usual.
Sighing, I swept the shirt over my head before I could talk myself out of it. The sun did feel nice on my shoulders and the sea breeze cooled my skin.
“There,” Sophie began, “Doesn’t that feel bet –“
She was interrupted by some whoops, voices and footsteps pounding across the sand. My head snapped around to see my brother, Hugo, running towards us. He was followed by my favourite cousin Albus, another cousin Fred, Callie’s twin Jake and their friend Scorpius Malfoy.
I immediately scrabbled in the sand for my shirt, shooting the girls murderous glares as I did so. “Did you know they were coming?” I hissed, but they both shrugged, shaking their heads. I really couldn't get angry at them considering the boys often showed up wherever and whenever the hell they felt like it.
I couldn’t get my shirt on fast enough. Hugo stood before us, eying Callie appreciatively, before groaning, “Oh dear Merlin, Rose. Who the heck let you onto the beach without a ski suit? We can see all of your wobbly bits! Look away, Scorp, Jake. Save yourselves.”
I felt sick. I locked eyes with Scorpius Malfoy. He stood there bare-chested and in board shorts, a towel slung over one shoulder. His grey eyes reflected the disdain he’d always held for me, mixed with disgust at my body and attire. I couldn’t hide my utter humiliation and hurt in time, and his cheeks turned pink at my show of emotion. Malfoy hated when I was emotional.
With everyone's eyes suddenly on my pale, freckled and wobbly flesh, I'd never felt so huge, yet so pathetically small, in my entire seventeen years. And in that belittling moment I subconsciously resolved that I'd never feel so disgusting again in my life. I'd lose weight by any means possible. If I were skinnier, life would be better. If I were skinnier, I could be anyone other than who I was.
I finally managed to pull my shirt back on, dragging it over my head so fast that my hair exploded around my shoulders in an embarrassing display of red. Albus, my favourite cousin and close friend, smiled sympathetically at me but offered no support. Fred was already chasing a seagull, and Jake was staring at me with a look much akin to a puppy dog staring at his favourite toy.
I didn’t even hear the girl’s voices as they tore viciously into my brother, chasing him away down the beach.
And Malfoy. Malfoy’s grey eyes never left my awful body, not even when I stood up and stormed into the house.
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