Scorpius, who seconds before had been so enraged, seemed to have the same realization. It was one of those surreal moments where everyone understood what had happened just a little too late to prevent the wreckage. Scorpius’ face froze in a horrified, gape-mouthed expression. He seemed to debate whether or not to turn around, but obviously decided to man up and face his friend.
Rose Weasley stood with surprising composure in the face of such a shocking statement. For several of the longest moments of Sophie’s life, no one said anything. What was there to say?
Suddenly, Scorpius burst out in the beginnings of an apology, but Rose cut him off.
“Don’t worry about it Scorpius,” Rose reassured with a smile. “Its no big deal.”
All seven teenagers gaped at her. She awkwardly adjusted the many bags in her arms, took a deep breath, and began again.
“So you aren’t in love with me,” she said, lightly. “I’m not in love with Sophie. Sophie’s alright if I say that. Aren’t you Soph?”
“Err,” Sophie was jolted out of her appalled stupefaction. “No. I mean, yes. You’re right, Rose.”
“See, it really doesn’t matter. Besides, its not as though I asked you to love me. I didn’t. Ask you to, I mean,“ Rose finished briskly, if awkwardly.
And with that, Rose began to walk off down the street, toting all her books and school supplies with her. She had barely gotten ten steps before Scorpius shook himself out of his stupor.
“Rose,” he called. “Let me…can I help you carry your—“
“Don’t worry about it, Scorp,” Albus interjected. “I have to head that way anyway.”
Albus gave his mate a brisk clasp of the shoulder before he left to do damage control. Scoprius was still to embarrassed to argue, and so the rest of the teenagers stood in semi shock as Albus relieved Rose of her load and the two walked down the streets of Diagon Ally.
The group of teenagers watched until Al and Rose were beyond hearing distance, at which point Scorpius let out a frustrated groan and sank his head into his hands.
“Don’t worry, Scorpius,” Lily said kindly. “Rose wasn’t bothered by it at all. Its really kind of funny if you think about it.”
Scoprius looked up at her miserably, as though he wished the ground would swallow him. The point wasn’t that Rose seemed ‘fine’ (although Sophie would now bet Rose was much less than ‘fine’). The point was that no half-way decent guy wanted to say something so horrible to a girl, any girl. How do you apologize for something like that?
The awkward feeling in the group was palpable. Scorpius was miserable, Sophie, Lily and Molly felt uncomfortable, and Dom and Roxy were trying their hardest not to laugh hysterically. Sophie wisely decided it was time for the group to go their separate ways.
“Alright,” Sophie announced. “I….just remembered that I need another book. Why don’t you guys go in and order. I’ll just go back and get it. Scorpius can come help me.”
The boy in question managed to lift his pitiful head to look at her.
“I need you to come with me and carry the books,” Sophie informed Scorpius. ”Just order me one of those Sundays that changes flavors in your mouth. I’ll be back in just a minute,” She instructed Roxy.
Sophie pinched the material at Scorpius’ elbow and pulled him in the direction of the book store. As they separated, Sophie and Scorpius heard the barely suppress giggles of Roxy and Lucy, with Molly’s muffled admonishments running counterpart.
Sophie handed the boy her bags and turned to the North end of Diagon Alley –back towards Flourish and Blotts. The pair walked a ways in silence before Sophie said:
“So how are you going to fix this one?”
Scorpius gracefully tripped over nothing in his surprise. Sophie waited calmly for the boy to regain his footing and reply. Scorpius just groaned, well aware that he had truly put his foot in his mouth this time.
“Well,” he said finally. “There’s only one thing to do. I’ll have to marry her.”
Sophie burst out laughing. “Why, to preserve her honor?” She giggled.
“Don’t laugh at me, I’m miserable!” Scorpius announced, but he was smiling too, in a sad way. There was silence for a few moments before he continued. “What if she doesn’t talk to me after that?”
Sophie looked sideways at the younger boy. He really did look miserable. He was terribly worried that he had hurt a friend and had no way of resolving the issue gracefully.
“She will talk to you again,” Sophie reassured. Scorpius shot her an exasperated look, clearly questioning her judgment. Sophie only smiled.
“It’ll be awkward at first,” she allowed. “But you are too good friends to let your friendship disintegrate over something this insignificant.”
Scorpius shook his head unhappily but seemed somewhat better. Sophie looped her arm through the younger boy’s and gave him an affectionate squeeze. “Really,” she was saying,” its going to be alright—“
But suddenly the pair was blinded by a series of flashing lights followed by the whirring and clicking of what could only be a camera. Sophie, caught off guard, turned into Scorpius’ shoulder, shielding her eyes from the onslaught.
“Sophia, are you and James on another hiatus?” Came one aggressive, yelling voice.
“What’s he done this time?” a second voice interjected.
Sophie pulled Scorpius by his arm once she could see again, not replying to either of the questions. This kind of thing was unfortunate but not uncommon. It was best to keep going until they lost the photographers.
The two reporters continued to heckle the teenagers as they turned to go, unsatisfied without some sort of juicy story or comment. Finally, bored with the cold shoulder he was getting, the second started attacking Scorpius.
“Stealing another bloke’s girl, Malfoy?” He taunted. “That’s not exactly exemplary behavior!”
“’e can’t help it,” the other chimed in. “It’s not like his moral compass exactly points north, do it? Apple doesn’t fall far from the—“
“I haven’t stolen anything!” Scorpius exploded. “Besides, Soph and James haven’t been together since—“
Scoprius stopped in horrified silence, catching himself before finishing the sentence. Unfortunately the damage was already done.
“Scorpius!” Sophie nearly shrieked, over the absolute mayhem that had erupted after his statement. Scorpius groaned in utter defeat, as the paparazzi clicked pictures with an alarming frequency, shouting questions as they did so.
Sophie grabbed Scorpius to run, but they got no more than two shops down before a dozen more reporters and photographers cornered them, all yelling.
“Ms. Hinds, care to comment on your recent break up with—“
“—Is this your new man—“
“How does it feel to be single?”
“What do you have to say about the rumors that James slept his way through the Holyhead Harpies last season?”
“Is the explanation for the recent weight gain Sophie?”
It was as though an aggressive sea of flashing lights and jostling elbows surrounded Sophie. No matter where she looked, there was no escape—only another microphone shoved in her face and more invasive questions. She began to feel panicked and claustrophobic. Not knowing what else to do, Sophie grabbed Scorpius’ hand and apparated away from the mob.
The pair stumbled on the grass outside of the Potter’s land, the closest a wizard could apparate to the house. Sophie took a series of calming breaths and blinked the flashing lights of her vision. To her left, she heard Scorpius sink to the ground, groaning, “Twice in one day!”
Sophie struggled not to loose control of her temper, but she felt as though she could shoot fire from her eyes right then. Not even looking at the boy, she grabbed Scorpius by the collar of his shirt, hoisted him to his feet, and hauled him off towards the Potter’s house. Apparently, Albus and Rose had decided to come home rather than go for ice-cream, because they came out of the house as Sophie and Scorpius approached.
“What happened,” asked Albus warily, noting Scorpius’ look of abject shame and Sophie’s murderous gaze.
“Soph, I am so sor—“
“Chatty Circe over here told the paparazzi that James and I broke up,” said Sophie, pointedly, brushing past Albus and Rose to get into the house.
“Oh goodness,” Rose commented in a resigned tone—already reporters were lining up as close as they could get to the house, clamoring for new information.
Sophie made a beeline for the kitchen, where she knew Mrs. Potter had some blueberry ice-cream left over. Behind her she could hear Scorpius’ miserable voice explaining what had happened. “Good!” thought Sophie. “Let him be miserable. He’s ruined everything. Now I won’t be able to walk in public ever again.”
The trio of sixth years entered the kitchen just as Sophie managed to find the left over ice cream.
“Sophie, I am so, so sorry. I don’t know what happened. I was angry and it just slipped out…” Scorpius trailed off, not knowing what to say next.
“Whatever. Its not like I can expect anything else out of you anyway.”
Sophie could not remember regretting saying anything more than she did right then. Even as the words were coming out of her mouth she wished she had had the presence of mind to slap a hand across her mouth to muffle herself. Scorpius just turned and walked from the room to be miserable on the patio, while Rose and Albus stared at her in disapproving silence.
After they heard the quiet click of the door announcing that Scorpius was outside, Rose looked Sophie in the eye and said,” That was uncalled for and cruel.”
With that, Rose turned and followed Scorpius. Sophie dropped her head into her hands, furious with herself. She hadn’t meant it. She knew Scorpius was already miserable for what he said to Rose, and that he felt horrible about letting her relationship status slip. She knew that people made mistakes. She knew that she wasn’t really mad at Scorpius. But she had just been so upset at that moment, she had let something incredibly malicious slip out. Merlin, this day had gone south in a hurry.
“I don’t know exactly what happened. I wasn’t there,” came Albus’ disapproving voice. “But you have no right to speak to Scorp like that.”
Sophie took a resentful bit of ice cream, not quite calm enough to apologize for her actions, no matter how ashamed she was of them.
“He didn’t intend to tell, he didn’t do it vindictively. He was provoked—its happened to all of us. I don’t understand why you are angry.”
“I’m angry,” shot back Sophie, her fury rekindling a bit with this opposition. “Because he started a mob in Diagon Alley by discussing my personal business to reporters. And you can’t understand that?”
“You were the one who told us—him. “
“Yeah, and I’m regretting that now.”
“Look, Sophia. You knew what would happen after your break up. He isn’t the one who splashed your incredibly messy and public relationship across the tabloids. That was you. Maybe if you had shown an iota of discretion before, you wouldn’t be in this predicament now.”
Sophie had never been so mad at anyone in her entire life. It took all the strength she had not to take Mrs. Potter’s china bowl and chuck it at Albus Potter’s smarmy head. Instead, she hissed, “Yeah, well no one asked your opinion Albus!” and stalked out, slamming the door childishly after her.
Once alone on the porch, Sophie put her face in her hands for a moment, holding back tears. After three deep breaths, she looked around until she saw Scorpius, sitting slump-shouldered on the steps leading down to the lawn. Rose sat next to him, arm comfortably around said shoulders, murmuring comfortingly to him.
At least, Sophie thought, if nothing else, Rose and Scorpius are friends again. Sophie came close and cleared her throat to make her presence known.
Rose looked up with a face that said I hope you are happy with yourself. The look Sophie sent back was apologetic and signaled she wanted to talk to Scorpius alone. Rose gave her friend one last pat on the back and wandered off, close enough to see but not hear.
Scorpius wouldn’t even look at Sophie when she sat next to him. For a moment, Sophie wasn’t sure she had the mettle it took to apologize—not that she didn’t want to, but it took an incredible strength to face your own incredible failings.
“I didn’t mean it, Scorp,” she began quietly.
“I deserved it,” the boy’s reply was muffled.
“No, you didn’t. You really didn’t. We are friends. And you don’t deserve me treating you like that. You made a very simple, very forgivable mistake. I was mad because I felt very scared. I hated being mobbed like that. It doesn’t happen, but when it does, its terrifying. I was scared, so I lashed out at you.”
“It was really frightening,” Scorpius allowed, his head coming up a bit. “But Merlin, Soph, I’m so sorry about letting it slip.”
“Its nothing. Really. I was the one who broke up with my boyfriend. The reporters were the ones who let it get out of hand.”
Scorpius was silent for a time. So, just to make sure, Sophie added,” I have never regretted saying anything more. You are a reliable and trustworthy friend. I really hope you know that.”
Scorpius nodded, and Sophie smiled.
"So what now?" Scorpius asked.
Sophie shrugged. "I guess I'll have to get a hold of James. Go talk to my mother."
"Good luck," said Scorpius, making Sophie laugh. Sophie signaled to Rose that she and Scorpius were done. The three walked back into the house together, almost at ease until Sophie caught sight of Albus.
He met her look for look, completely unashamed of the accusations he had made earlier. Sophie looked away in anger with a stab of a feeling that felt uncomfortably like heartbreak. She walked passed him without speaking and headed to the fireplace. Just as the floo fumes began to whoosh her away towards the ministry, she heard Rose ask, “What did you say to Sophie?”
Guys, I'm so sorry. I just caught up in all kinds of school craziness. I so apologize for the wait. However, I do hope you liked it!
I know, I know--Mad because Albus and Sophie aren't speaking?
Me too. But at least Rose and Scorpius are on good terms again!
Anyway, I thought I would hurry up and get this one out. I'm going to be honest with you. There probably won't be another update until at least mid May. Finals have priority. I hope you can wait that long!
The title is a parody of "Thus Spake Zarathustra" by F. Nietzsche and the quote is from Much Ado About Nothing (Another of my favorite Shakespeare plays).