Ah, mia amici, I haf brought for yooh a new chap-tur of which JK may take ze credit <3
Problem 38: I have a letter from the Malfoy household.
I can’t stop staring at it. It has a silver crest on it, which is how I know where it’s from, but I haven’t yet dared to open it. Truth be told, I’m a little worried that it’ll say something about me being involved with Scorpius.
I mean, Mr Malfoy did stop Scorpius from having any contact with me before. This time, I’ve got a letter. This has to mean something.
Perhaps if I ignore it, it will disappear!
Back to my toast.
“Aren’t you going to open that?” Caspar asks. We’ve come to a sort of unspoken truce: we’re friends again, but I get to give her ‘I have the moral high ground’ look whenever I like and she can’t challenge it. So far, it’s going quite well.
I glare at the Evil Letter and take a bite of my honey-soaked toast. I can almost sense Caspar’s exasperation. And Olivia’s glances. Oh yes, I can tell she’s looking at Caspar and I and she’s probably throwing a pout or a haughty expression in too, but there’s no way I’m going to look back at her and give her the satisfaction of knowing that I’m still going to be looking at her too.
Because that would be getting dangerously close to Square One, which is essentially me being friends with both Caspar and Olivia and them clawing each other’s eyes out behind my back.
This way, Olivia can safely break up with Luke – oh, it’s not going to be a pretty sight, but I’m sure it’s coming – and the whole Caspar and Evie wanting to have lots of sex thing can be worked out with minimal casualties.
And I can focus on this letter.
Or focus on not focusing on it, as it were. If I push it under my plate just so...
Scorpius hasn’t arrived to breakfast this morning, so I can’t even ask him whether his dad is about to yell at me through the medium of words. Last time I met Mr Malfoy, he was hauling me out of Hogsmeade, and looking smug about it, too.
“Rose,” Lily says under her breath, dropping onto the bench beside me, “We need to address the Louis issue.”
“What issue?” I sigh, “It’s his own fault.”
She pulls a face at me. “Very nice of you to notice, but he’s freaking out. Do you know what Auntie Fleur said in her last letter? She asked him about his job choices, and then whether he thought that he would meet a nice girl soon.”
I stare at her blankly. “...Yes?” I finally question, and Lily huffs at me.
“For God’s sake Rose, he’s freaking out because now he thinks that Auntie Fleur will hate him for not having a girlfriend!” she exclaims, taking a slice of toast from the rack, “I heard he broke something in Ravenclaw tower in frustration.”
“Louis can’t break things, he’d feel guilty and fix it,” Caspar says dryly, “Stop listening in at the bathrooms.”
“It was in the paper!” Lily defends, drawing a copy of Felicity’s awful editorial from her bag. “See! It says right here –“
“Is that me on the cover?” Caspar questions, her voice stone cold. “If that girl has put me – Christ, it is.”
“Oh dear,” I say softly, taking the newspaper from Lily to her frustration. It looks like a front page expose concerning the scandalous love lives of the Seventh years. Indeed, Caspar is featured, as am I. And Olivia. And... Albus?
“I know, it’s weird,” Lily comments, “Look how they described Albus.”
“’Sexy Seventh Year Strumpet’? Really? That’s disgusting!” Caspar scrunches her nose up. “’Looks like the entire Gryffindor Quidditch team are slatterns’?! That girl, I swear, I am going to come back and haunt her when I’m dead, and write stories for a ghostly newspaper in which I chronicle each and every one of her bowel movements.”
“Nice,” Lucinda drawls, leaning over my shoulder to see the article, “Really classy. Remind me why I am supposed to be your friend?”
“How come you’re not in here?” I shoot back, “What happened to your great sexual exploits?”
She shrugs, sitting neatly beside me. “Never got around to it. Decided to focus on my studies. Good morning, Evie.”
Evie materialises beside Caspar, and tentatively takes her hand. She smiles in reply. It’s so mushy, I’m shocked that they’re not breathing marshmallows.
“Well, since no one seems to care about Louis’ issues, I guess I’ll solve them myself,” Lily sniffs haughtily, reclaiming her newspaper.
“No, I do care!” I protest.
“I care more,” Lucinda says gleefully, “I hear that he’s so angry he’s destroying Ravenclaw tower.”
Lily tosses her hands into the air, throwing me a sigh. “Thank you! I knew that at least someone had to have been keeping an ear to the ground!”
“Ooh, I was so sure that they would just fall into love without another hitch,” Lucinda moans, twirling her hair around her finger as she reaches for the porridge, “He punched him in the face, you know?”
“Sweet Merlin,” I moan, “I have been up since five o’clock doing Quidditch practice, and all you guys can find to talk about is my cousin’s sexual identity crisis.”
“My thighs hurt from the running drills,” Lily says in my general direction, before turning back to Lucinda. I roll my eyes and take a last bite of toast before fishing the letter out from beneath my plate and standing up to leave. Caspar raises a hand in acknowledgment, but most of her attention seems to be on Evie right now, as they quietly and earnestly discuss something. I don’t know. I’ll ferret it out of her later.
My life has just gotten weirder this year.
I mean, it was weird before, but kissing Scorpius and Lily’s meow and mice... it’s all been odd. And teary. There’s been a lot of crying this year, which is odd. Must be the NEWTs.
They are not going badly for me, but they’re not much fun, either.
Speaking of not much fun... this letter.
It’s like a massive weight in my hand, heavier than my school bag, which is crammed full of books and random bottles of ink, so... Pretty heavy. Goddamn Mr Malfoy, sending me a suspicious letter so close to my next rehearsal, and more importantly, the first Quidditch match of the season. The draw means it’s Hufflepuff versus Slytherin, but still. I need to be on top form for intimidation.
I wander from the hall in the vague direction of Defence Against the Dark Arts. I’m sure that I will learn much from Professor Bell, and shall be enlightened in many ways. Or, alternately, she will give me back my essay on the threat vampires possess in terms of curative measures, and then we will learn some more about things that could kill us. Coming up to the first round of practical lessons, with any luck.
I need to read this letter.
I need to get to class.
I speed up to a pace with a purpose, passing the meandering student population and the painting of Augustus the gondolier. The further I get into the school, the sparser the patches of students get, and there are even some paintings still asleep as I stride past. It’s sort of nice, being early. I haven’t had too much experience with that recently. I’ve been missing lessons for friends, and then I was ill, and now I need to panic and catch up. Damn, damn, damn and blast.
I make it into the class room before Professor Bell has even arrived, and tuck myself into the corner furthest from the door at the back of the room. And then I stare at the letter some more. Maybe if I stare at it for long enough, it will vanish and then I won’t have to worry about it any longer.
My traitorous hands are breaking the seal on the letter. Pealing it open. Holding it at eye level.
Dear Miss Weasley,
With respect I must inform you that my son must focus on his studies. He cannot afford to be in a relationship. Please terminate your engagements with him.
The unwritten “you are a fucking Weasley” reads loud and clear.
“Great,” I sigh to myself, and stow the letter away as people begin streaming through the door. “Just great.”
Scorpius remains a thought in the back of my head until my free lesson, at which point I set off over the grounds to where Scarlett pointed.
“Near a tree” were her helpful words, although I’m not even sure that she’d seen him in the last couple of hours. Or heard me ask the question. Perhaps she just guessed.
She’s good like that.
Oh Merlin I need to talk to him. Properly. About serious relationship things. Without snogging.
This is going to be difficult.
Tramping over the grounds in my uniform and a scarf, letting the wind slowly wreak havoc on my hair, is not the best way to spend my free. But this letter means that it’s time to Talk. In capitals.
I am not ready for this! It is a very short time since I last had to Talk to someone, and that time I was being sort-of dumped by a boy I was sort-of dating for a stupidly short amount of time.
I can see blonde hair. That must be Scorpius. I’d recognise that head anywhere.
I can’t believe that I’m willingly doing this. Pausing, I take the letter out of my school bag and take a deep breath. Time to be the bigger person.
As I approach Scorp, he looks up and offers me a quirk of the lips. He is also holding a letter that looks suspiciously like it has a Malfoy crest. I sit down next to him, leaning back against the oak he’s half-hiding behind.
“I’ll show you mine if you open yours,” I volunteer bravely, poking him with the letter.
He sighs. “Alright then. On the count of three. One, two, three...”
We both open the letters as slowly as is possible, and then I take the second look at the most damning letter I have received in my life.
“’Dear Scorpius,’” Scorpius reads, “’I have heard rumours that you have been involving yourself in the company of those who are most likely to drag you down. Your aim this year was to focus on your education. If I hear that you are no longer working towards your studies, I will be forced to remove you from Hogwarts to assist you with your exams. Signed, your father.’”
Scorpius has a face like thunder. He pulls out his wand and the edge of the letter starts curling into a flame, paper crackling.
“Hey, it’s okay,” I say softly, intending to offer comfort – I’m sure I can find it somewhere – but he huffs angrily and opens his mouth to cut me off.
“It’s -- I can’t let his choices rule my life!” He cradles his head in his arms, elbows rested on his knees. From inside his impromptu cocoon, he mumbles “I don’t know what to do.”
Well, me neither. I’ve never been given an ultimatum for a relationship from someone’s dad before – a warning, once, but that was one time and it hardly counts. All I wanted to do this year was... well, a few things, but mainly it was pass my exams and go. But suddenly everyone has problems, even my teachers, and obviously I am supposed to be dealing with that too.
This would all be easier if I was a hermit.
Hermits have it about right: no people, no problems. Sweep out your cave for a laugh, if you’re feeling adventurous.
But I’m not a hermit.
I’m a Weasley.
I have three weeks until I’m supposed to perform at a ball, five days until I have an essay due on narcoleptic essences, roughly half an hour until I’m due to go to Charms, which I share with Scorpius.
Scorpius, my boyfriend, who is practically in the foetal position. Time to take charge.
“Have you been to any lessons today?” I ask, smoothing the tuft of hair visible behind his left ear. Scorpius shrugs. “Okay. Well, clearly I am having a negative effect on your studies if you’ve spent all this time out here.” This draws out a half-hearted breath of laughter, one that could be lost in the wind. I should be a comedian. “We’re going to sit here for exactly one minute more – no more, no less. Then, we are going to go to Charms together, you are going to sit nicely and take notes because it’s probably important to show some willing. You will attend the rest of your lessons like the excellent student you are, and finally, sometime between the end of lessons and the start of curfew, we are going to figure this thing out. Okay?”
Scorpius has emerged from his arms, and I manage to give him a smile, my letter still sitting on my lap. The side of his mouth tilts up.
“You’re pretty smart for a Weasley, I guess,” he teases quietly, taking my hand in his and lacing out fingers together.
“You’re not bad, for a Malfoy,” I reply with a grin, “Come on! Minute’s up, time to go.”
Scorpius pouts in a dramatic fashion, but I will not be swayed, using the tree to help push me to my feet. And I swear, if I wasn’t in uniform and had even the slightest level of elegance, it could have been a graceful climb.
Still attached to my hand, Scorpius stands up and brushes himself off. He plants a kiss on my cheek, and we wander back to the castle, leaving the letters to blow in the wind, the remnants of Scorpius’ still smoking.